Anna Belfrage and 5 Fun Facts about …

THE GRAHAM SAGA

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First of all, thank you dear ladies at bookworm2bookworm for inviting me to post on your blog. Being a bookworm myself, I feel quite comfortable in your company! And now, with no more ado, let us leap straight into the fun facts about The Graham Saga:

1. At last! After years of futilely trying everything from mystic mumblings in the darkness of my wardrobe (I was young and had overdosed on Narnia) to touching every single stone circle I came upon, I had more or less given up on time travelling. And then Alex Lind popped into my head, a vibrant woman born in 1976 – and presently living out her life in the 17th century. Yay! Time travelling by proxy – a much safer approach than the real thing.

“Huh,” says Alex, giving me a look that should reasonably have frozen the blood in my veins to ice, “why must you subject me to all this… this…”
“Adventure?” I offer.
“Chaos! Upheaval!” she retorts. She rubs at her hip, at present very sore after her recent encounter with some bad-ass characters down in Barbados.
“Do you want me to write you back to your own time?” I ask, even if I know what the answer will be. Alex can no more live without her 17th century husband – wonderful, gorgeous Matthew, complete with magic hazel eyes and a slow smile that has Alex (and me) melting like a popsicle whenever he turns it our way – than she can live without her lungs.
“Of course not!” she snaps predictably. I smile, she smiles, we turn in synchronisation to regard Matthew, at present busy with his horse. “But how about something less exciting next time round?” she adds.
“Umm…” Nope. Definitely not less exciting – that’s what you get when you go time travelling.

2. The Graham Saga is set in the 17th century because this is by far one of the more fascinating periods in history – and surprisingly under-represented in historical fiction. The poor century is stuck between the 16th century with fascinating female characters like Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, and the late 18th, where ladies like the Hapsburg empress Maria Theresa and her more famous daughter Marie Antoinette took centre stage. 

But seriously, the 17th century has so much going for it! The establishment of the American colonies, the birth of modern science and the Enlightenment, the constant religious conflicts between Protestants and Catholics (well: between all Protestant factions as well), the first steps towards the future modern democracies – this list can go on and on.
The Graham Saga touches upon a number of these themes. I put my characters through a lot, so over the series Matthew will experience the utter humiliation of living like a slave, Alex will experience the debilitating fear of being branded a witch, they will lose loved ones, be forced to leave their home in Scotland due to religious persecution, seek a new haven in the religiously tolerant Colony of Maryland, come face to face with the nastier aspects of slavery, come into contact with the displaced Native Americans –and then we have the Graham family’s particular nemesis, the horrible Burley brothers. All in all, a spicy soup that would not have been quite as spicy had it not been set in the –taa daa – 17th century.

3. Things I have learnt while researching this series:
No, it is not fun to use moss instead of toilet paper, but it does the job.
Woollen stocking itch – a lot.
Boiling linen is a very effective way of getting those sheets clean (and I used a pine based soft soap) but it is a killer for your back! Lifting steaming wet sheets with a wooden oversized ladle requires concentration and strength. And let’s not start on the state of my hands afterwards…

4. I never intended to write a series – but once I realised that Alex and Matthew had no intention of leaving me alone until I documented all of their adventures (well, most of them) I decided to write the entire series before doing any thinking regarding publication. And as the series evolved, there were a number of occasions when I had to go back to a previous book and tweak or change something. 

“And what makes you think we’re done with you?” Matthew asks from the corner in my head where he is presently lounging, all six feet plus of him.
“What more can happen to you?” I ask.
In reply, he just chuckles and fades away. I hate it when he does that – fade away, I mean. What if he’ll fade away for good once I’ve released the last book in The Graham Saga? No, no, no, no – I can’t allow that to happen, so I guess I’ll do some extra writing just to keep him and his wife alive and well in my head. “Rachel Cooke eyed her mother with disdain. Old and fat, these days Helen Cooke mostly wept, rocking back and forth as she bemoaned her present fate. Crying never helped. Rachel kicked the cat out of the way and ….” Ha! I wonder what Matthew and Alex will make of little Rachel and her five foot six of prickly adolescence.

5. I really set out to write historical fiction. You know, a serious thing reflecting the chaotic 17th century, with the girl-meets-boy ingredient secondary to the overall intrigue. Alex and Matthew had other ideas, and pretty soon I had a love story on my hands – and quite the sizzling love story at that, what with how those two burn for each other. Not that it is easy for a modern woman to rub along with this 17th century hunk of mine. 

“Mine?” Alex’s tone is frigid. “What do you mean, ‘mine’?”
“In the sense that I created him,” I try, but she is not mollified.
“I hear you saying ‘mine’ again about my man and I’ll rinse your mouth out with lye,” she says. Oh dear… my tongue shrivels.
“It’s not all that easy rubbing along with Alex either,” Matthew points out, bringing us back to the original subject. He smiles at his wife in a way that belies his statement, but I know for a fact that there are moments when he is very tempted to belt this opinionated stubborn woman of his. And as to Alex, there are days when she would gladly kick Matthew, irritated beyond reason by his old-fashioned ways. But the moment their fingers brush, the moment their eyes meet, all of that is irrelevant: the only thing that truly matters is that he is her man and she is his woman – that is how it is, that is how it will always be, from well before they were born to long after their death. (And here the author has to take a couple of composing breaths, utterly weakened by that word “deaths”…)

One Print Copy/One Winner/INTERNATIONAL!

03_Anna Belfrage

AUTHOR BIO: Anna Belfrage is the author of six published books, all part of The Graham Saga. Set in the 17th century, the books tell the story of two people who should never have met. Matthew Graham is a devout Presbyterian, a veteran of the Commonwealth armies and a man who, initially at least, has a tendency to see the world as black and white. Alex Lind is an opinionated modern woman who has the misfortune (or not) of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, thereby being dragged three centuries back in time to land concussed and badly singed at an astounded Matthew’s feet.

Anna can be found on amazon and on her website or her blog! You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

02_Revenge & RetributionREVENGE & RETRIBUTION

Revenge and Retribution is the sixth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

Life in the Colony of Maryland is no sinecure – as Alex and Matthew Graham well know. But nothing in their previous life has prepared them for the mayhem that is about to be unleashed upon them.

Being labelled a witch is not a good thing in 1684, so it is no wonder Alex Graham is aghast at having such insinuations thrown at her. Even worse, it’s Matthew’s brother-in-law, Simon Melville, who points finger at her.

Not that the ensuing hearing is her main concern, because nowadays Alex’s entire life is tainted by the fear of what Philip Burley will do to them once he gets hold of them – there is no longer any ‘if’ about it. On a sunny May afternoon, it seems Philip Burley will at last revenge himself on Matthew for every single perceived wrong. Over the course of twenty-four hours, Alex’s life – and that of her family’s – is permanently changed.
As if all this wasn’t enough, Alex also has to cope with the loss of one of her sons. Forcibly adopted by the former Susquehannock, Samuel is dragged from Alex’s arms to begin a new life in the wilderness.

How is Alex to survive all this? And will she be able to put her damaged family back together?

Graham Saga Titles

Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star

Anna Belfrage’s Book Blast of …

The  Graham Saga

ab aritwThis is the story of Alex and Matthew, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him.

It all began the day Alex Lind got caught in a thunderstorm. Not your ordinary storm, no this was the mother of all storms, causing aab lcitw most unusual rift in the fabric of time. Alex was dragged three centuries backwards in time, landing more or less at the feet of a very surprised Matthew Graham.

In a series of books we follow the life and adventures of the expanding Graham family, both in Scotland and in the New World – and let me tell you it is quite an exciting life, at times excessively so in Alex’ opinion.

ab tpsSometimes people ask me why Alex had to be born in the twentieth century, why not make her a woman born and bred in the seventeenth century where the story is set? The answer to that is I have no idea. Alex Lind is an insistent, vibrant character that sprung into my head one morning and simply wouldn’t let go.

Seductively she whispered about terrible thunderstorms, about a gorgeous man with magic, hazel eyes, about loss and sorrow, about love – always this love, for her man and her children, for the people she lives with. With ab anla throaty chuckle she shared insights into a life very far removed from mine, now and then stopping to shake her head and tell me that it probably hadn’t been easy for Matthew, to have such an outspoken, strange and independent woman at his side.

At this point Matthew groaned into life. Nay, he sighed, this woman of his was at times far too obstinate, with no notion of how a wife should be, meek and dutiful. But, he added with a laugh, he wouldn’t want her any different, for all that she was half heathen and a right hand-full. No, he said, stretching to his full length, if truth be told not a day went by without him offering ab sitgfervent thanks for his marvelous wife, a gift from God no less, how else to explain the propitious circumstances that had her landing at his feet that long gone August day?

Still, dear reader, it isn’t always easy. At times Alex thinks he’s an overbearing bastard, at others he’s sorely tempted to belt her. But the moment their fingertips graze against each other, the moment their eyes meet, the electrical current that always buzzes between them peaks and surges, it rushes through their veins, it makes their breathing hitch and … She is his woman, he is her man. That’s how it is, that’s how it always will be.

‘Revenge & Retribution’ 

ab rar

BOOK BLURB: ‘Revenge & Retribution’ is the sixth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveler Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

Life in the Colony of Maryland is no sinecure – as Alex and Matthew Graham well know. But nothing in their previous life has prepared them for the mayhem that is about to be unleashed upon them.

Being labeled a witch is not a good thing in 1684, so it is no wonder Alex Graham is aghast at having such insinuations thrown at her. Even worse, it’s Matthew’s brother-in-law, Simon Melville, who points finger at her. Not that the ensuing hearing is her main concern, because nowadays Alex’s entire life is tainted by the fear of what Philip Burley will do to them once he gets hold of them.

On a sunny May afternoon, Philip finally achieves his aim and over the course of the coming days Alex sees her whole life unravelling, leaving her family permanently maimed.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Alex also has to cope with the loss of one of her sons. Forcibly adopted by the former Susquehannock, Samuel is dragged from Alex’s arms to begin a new life in the wilderness. How is Alex to survive all this? And will she be able to put her damaged family back together?

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo

*GIVEAWAY: 

To win a set of Anna Belfrage’s Graham Saga (Books 1-6) please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Two winners will be chosen. Giveaway is open internationally!

>>>>> a Rafflecopter giveaway <<<<<

Anna BelfrageAUTHOR BIO: I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s website. You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Spotlight on ‘Serpents in the Garden’ by Anna Belfrage

ab sitgBOOK BLURB: After years of hard work, Matthew and Alex Graham have created a thriving home in the Colony of Maryland. About time, in Alex’s opinion, after far too many adventures she is really looking forward to some well-deserved peace and quiet.

A futile hope, as it turns out. Things start to heat up when Jacob, the third Graham son, absconds from his apprenticeship to see the world – especially as Jacob leaves behind a girl whom he has wed in a most irregular fashion.

Then there’s the infected matter of the fellow time traveller Alex feels obliged to help – no matter the risk. Worst of all, one day Philip Burley and his brothers resurface after years of absence. As determined as ever to make Matthew pay for every perceived wrong – starting with the death of their youngest brother – the Burleys play out a complicated cat and mouse game, and Alex is thrown back into an existence where her heart is constantly in her mouth, convinced as she is that one day the Burleys will achieve their purpose.

Will the Burleys succeed? And if they do, will the Graham family survive the exacted price?

Serpents in the Garden is the fifth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

Publication Date: March 1, 2014
SilverWood Books
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

Buy Links: Amazon CA / Amazon US / B&N / Book Depository / Chapters / Fishpond / Kobo

EXCERPT PDF Download:

Serpents in the Garden chapters 1-3.pdf
(224.9KB)

Graham Saga Titles

Book 1: A Rip in the Veil
Book 2: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book 3: The Prodigal Son
Book 4: A Newfound Land
Book 5: Serpents in the Garden
Book 6: Revenge & Retribution (coming August 2014)
Book 7: Whither Thou Goest

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Tour Schedule: HERE.

Tour Hashtag: #SerpentsintheGardenTour

*GIVEAWAY: 1 Commenter/1 eBook or Paperback copy

*International 

Anna BelfrageAbout the Author: I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

Anna Belfrage on Social Media: Website / Facebook  / Twitter.

‘True to the Highlander’ by Barbara Longley

bl ttthSTORY: Treachery rules the Highlands of 1423. With their king captured by the English, Scottish nobles plot to ransom James behind the back of the brutal regent holding their land in his iron grip. But not every clan wishes to see King James back on his throne…

Sitting atop this powder keg of bloodthirsty rivalries, Malcolm of clan MacKintosh takes the mysterious, lone maiden he finds along his road as a bad omen…though an undeniably beautiful one. When he attempts to save her from a rogue within his own garrison, she deftly brings Malcolm to his knees. Who is this willful lass who has so quickly laid siege to his heart?

Alethia Goodsky has met all kinds working at the New York Renaissance Festival, but no one like the fortune-teller who tasks her with a cryptic life-saving mission and flings her into the fifteenth century. Now Alethia must rely on her wits to unravel the mystery in this violent land. Malcolm has sworn to protect her, but her gifts may soon make her his protector. With enemies closing in, Alethia must choose between finding a way home…and remaining true to her Highlander.

REVIEW: New York- Present Day

Alethia Goodsky has the gift of being able to read people…. knowing if they tell the truth or lie. She’s working at a Renaissance Festival and feels like the fortune-teller is always watching her. She always tries to give her a wide berth but one day finds herself walking past the tent and getting invited in. Madame Giselle gives her a pendant with a crane on it which takes her by surprise because her father’s people, the Anishinaabe, belong to the Crane clan. Another surprise is that the pendant was crafted long ago in Scotland. Her mother had Scottish ancestry. She had been a MacConnell. Giselle tells her she has deeper gifts than she realizes. Alethia had lost both her parents at a young age and her grandmother raised her. As she goes to leave the tent she finds herself flung into the past.

Northern Scotland – 1423

Malcolm MacKintosh is heading to his father with an important missive when he finds Alethia passed out cold on the ground. He and his men are wondering who she is and why she’s there, alone. They clearly think she’s highborn because of her clothing and jewelry. She comes to, he snatches her from the ground and puts her on his horse and refuses to go back for her bag which was a huge mistake. Malcolm cannot know why her belongings mean so much to her, especially her violin. She uses her self-defense tactics and presses on his neck putting him to sleep. She jumps from the horse and runs. He comes to and goes after her, finding one of the men who was with his group, a Hugh Fraser, circling her. He makes Hugh leave which angers Hugh. Malcolm thinks him a spy for the Red Comyn and knows him to be cruel, spiteful, and perverse. They’ve made an enemy.

These two…. they keep me laughing! Alethia is a spitfire. Malcolm is entranced by her and loves her spunk even though at times he surely could find himself pulling his hair out. She wins the love of his people and her sight will save his clan. Their way will be full of deadly threats but the love they share will see them through.

This is the first book I’ve read by Barbara Longley and as soon as I finished reading this I bought HEART OF THE DRUID LAIRD. I find myself anxious for book 2 in the Loch Moigh series, THE HIGHLANDER’S BARGAIN.

*Leah for b2b

*Book provided by the publisher through NetGalley

Leah’s 2013 choices for…

Five Star Reads are:

XMTS VRI know we all have our favorite genres and our favorite authors. As for me, I read all types of historical books. Even a few contemporaries.

I had many 4 – 4 1/2 star reviews this year but I thought I’d post about my 5 star reads and you will see by my list just where my heart lies when it comes to genres, which doesn’t mean that I won’t give high marks to contemporary novels.

I gave a very high 4 1/2 to ‘Spin’ by Bella Love.  I am hooked! You can check out my review here.

Now, back to my FIVE STAR reads and so, here we go….

Julianne Lee and her Tenebrae series

‘Knight Tenebrae’, ‘Knight’s Blood’ and ‘Knight’s Lady’.

“Trapped in a place not their own, two strangers find the only thing they can count on is one another”.

Follow Alex and Lindsay as they travel back through time to 14th century Scotland. All three books take you on their journey. I was simply full of emotion throughout all three books. Read Mel’s reviews for the series here.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder and her Highland Warriors series

 ‘Sins Of a Highland Devil’, ‘Temptation of a Highland Scoundrel’ and ‘Seduction of a Highland Warrior’, along with SOTC PBthe novella, ‘Once Upon a Highland Christmas’.

I can tell you that Sue-Ellen brings medieval Scotland to life for me every time I go into one of her stories. They are full of humor, mystery, highland magic, warfare, and love. All are filled with history bits that will keep all history buffs happy. You can read my reviews for the series here, here & here, with Melanie’s review for the novella here,

Monica McCarty and ‘The Hawk’

It is part of the Highland Guard series and I highly recommend it. They all received high marks from me but Eric “Hawk” MacSorely stood out above the rest. She is another auto-buy for me. You can read my review here.

Diane Darcy and ‘She Owns The Knight’

I can’t express enough how much I enjoyed this book! I am sitting here smiling from ear to ear as I write this. If you love 13th century England, laughing, and watching as two people learn what love is all about, this story is a must buy! You can read my review here.

Victoria Roberts and ‘X Marks The Scot’

TH MMcCThis is #2 in the Bad Boys of the Highlands series and I waited patiently for Declan and his story and was so excited when I finally got it in my hands.

I knew there was a wonderful man behind the rogue. Laidain is just the woman for him too, one who won’t let him hide behind his blether, and one who is strong enough to stand her ground with him and everyone else for that matter.

This story is packed with treason, danger it seems around every turn, secrets discovered that condemns some and saves another, and laughter…..tons of laughter!

Patricia Bracewell and ‘Shadow on the Crown

Loved this story! From the history to the direction Patricia took this story in, her writing had hooked me in!

I felt for Emma as she accepted her lot in life and smiled when she stood for herself when needed. King Aethelred was constantly suspicious of everyone and because of his guilt, found himself tortured by visits from his murdered brother’s ghostly shadow. He also blatantly carried on with Elgiva, his mistress. I enjoyed the way Ms. Bracewell took the story line with Athelstan, the King’s son and his relationship with Emma. Through her words she brought OUAHC SEWcharacters into my life to love and hate, and added with the history, this became one of my most favorite reads this year. I cannot wait for the next on this series to see what she brings us next!

Kris Kennedy and ‘The Conqueror’

This author’s words move me. Period. I feel a deep connection while reading her work and urge you to give her a try if you haven’t yet. You can read my review here.

Margaret Mallory and ‘The Chieftain’

This is book 4 in the Return of the Highlanders series.

From beginning to end she had me captured in their world. My heart-felt warmth as I read the epilogue. I enjoyed watching their love come to fruition and talk about HOT!! I loved the mystical parts of this story. Tearlag and Ilysa and their sight, the fairy glens and the chants… ghostly sightings and the legends surrounding them all call to my heart. Scotland is full of lore and Margaret Mallory does an TIW KKexcellent job of bringing it to life.

She left me aching to walk the fairy glens, graveyards, and hills with standing stones. You can read Melanie’s review here.

Tanya Anne Crosby and her Highland Brides series. 

‘The MacKinnon’s Bride’, ‘Lyon’s Gift’, ‘On Bended Knee’ and ‘Lion Heart’ were re-reads for me that kept calling for me to pull out. Screamed at me actually. ‘Highland Song’ is a new addition to the series and stole my heart just as swiftly as the others did.

I found Tanya when I started reading 20 years ago and she was instantly catapulted to the top of my favorites list.

To me, her writing pulls at my heart and wraps me solidly within its pages.

You can read my reviews for the series herehereherehere, and here. You can now get the first 4 in the series in a boxed set…Cheaper that way, only $9.99!

So, there you have it! The stories that hit 5 stars for me this year and in no particular order. I would love to hear what everyone else read this year that received a 5 star rating. Feel free to share with us and give us your recommendations.

Now, I’m looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings into my reading world.

*Leah for b2b

Julianne Lee stops by b2b …

‘The Scottish Play Murder’ by Anne Rutherford aka Julianne Lee

TSPM ARBOOK BLURB: The first production of The New Globe Players was marked by murder. Now Suzanne Thornton’s company dares to mount the most cursed of plays…

When charming Scotsman Diarmid Ramsay asks to play the titular role in Macbeth, he sets off a flurry of excitement among The New Globe Players. Despite protests from the company director that performing the “Scottish play” will lead only to disaster, Suzanne decides that the show must go on—with herself acting the part of Lady Macbeth, opposite the handsome stranger.

Rehearsals begin—but then rumors about Ramsay arise, implicating him in the death of a sailor found behind the Goat and Boar. Is the man a murderer, possibly involved in a plot against the newly restored king? Suzanne refuses to believe it, until another murder connected to Ramsay occurs.

It seems the curse of Macbeth may have been unleashed, leaving Suzanne no choice but to use her wits and her wiles to determine if Ramsay is a gifted actor—or a murderous villain.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iBookstore

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EXCERPT: 

He said to the voice, “Tell your business.”

“Louis, let him in. I can’t hear him out there.”

With a show of reluctance, Louis hauled the door wide enough to allow the visitor to enter. In stepped a man in a skirt. Not just a skirt, but a checkered one that barely covered his knees. The woolen fabric of it overflowed his belt so lavishly that he threw the excess over his shoulder like a cape or shawl. Suzanne had seen a kilt once before, but that had been a dull brown with black threads running through it. This luxurious garment was a stunning red with green, black and yellow criss-crossing in large squares. The fabric was clean and appeared new, a rare thing in this neighborhood, and in her experience almost an oddity in a Scot. Beneath the kilt the visitor wore a clean white shirt that was equally stiff and fresh. His belt was dyed shiny black and bore a large, silver buckle wrought so finely as to bespeak a great deal of wealth. As did the sword that hung at his side from a black leather baldric. A utility dagger with a plain wooden handle was thrust into his belt without scabbard. For shoes he wore only soft leather without ornament or heel, and no leggings at all. It begged the question of what linens he might be wearing beneath the kilted wool, and though there had once been a time when Suzanne might have simply lifted the hem to find out, today she refrained for the sake of proving herself no longer a tart. At her age, that sort of behavior was less than amusing to most men and should be left to women far younger and comely than herself.

And besides, this man’s face caught her attention and held it. He had the black Irish coloring she’d always found appealing, with jet black hair, pale skin, and warm, ruddy cheeks. His mouth was red, and appeared to have the sort of habitual smile that made some people seem happy all the time. In addition, this man was actually smiling. His charm was palpable, and Suzanne felt if she stood in his presence long enough she would soon be covered in it, like spring pollen.

He looked straight into her eyes and said, “I’ve come for an audition.”

Suzanne blinked, surprised. This man appeared far too wealthy to need employment as an actor. Theatre was something one did when desperate and only when without skills other than lying. Certainly that was how she herself had ended up here. In the general scheme of things, acting was thought by most people as one step down from military service, one step up from thievery, and just around the corner from murder for hire. The wealth and beauty she saw standing before her was almost never found onstage.

Their visitor continued, in a rich, rolling brogue, “My name is Diarmid Ramsay, and I’ve been told you’ve a need for someone to play the title role in Macbeth.”

This was news to Suzanne. That play was one the troupe had not yet addressed, and she’d not heard mention of it from Horatio. She turned to call him from the ‘tiring house, and found he’d not left the stage. He was still there, staring at the brightly dressed Scot as if fascinated by the busy tartan wool. “Horatio!” she called. “Have you put out an audition notice regarding Macbeth?”

“I expect you mean the Scottish play.” An odd stress in his voice puzzled her, and he crossed himself as if she’d uttered a curse. When he kissed the wooden crucifix he wore around his neck, she knew she’d truly frightened him.

Oh, right. Nobody ever called that play by its proper name. Bad luck, or something. Horatio was a stickler for taking no chances with theatre superstition, going so far as to ban whistling in the ‘tiring house though he’d only just that year heard it was bad luck. “Very well, then, if you like. The Scottish play. Are we casting for it?”

“No, and we will not ever. ‘Tis terrible luck and I won’t have it.”

Suzanne turned to Ramsay. “I’m sorry, kind sir, you seem to have been ill informed. We’re not casting Mac…that play.” She took a glance back at Horatio.

“Are you certain?” asked the would-be Macbeth.

Horatio called out from where he stood, “We are most certain. No Scottish play for us. Every troupe that has performed that play has failed and dispersed soon after. ‘Tis bad luck.”

Suzanne frowned, thinking, and turned back toward Horatio. “Well, it seems to me the luck is not so much luck as simply timing. Everyone knows that a failing company performs popular plays to increase attendance. And you can’t deny it’s a popular play.”

“You’ll recall in the old days, the time Cromwell’s soldiers attacked us we’d just performed that play.”

“We were performing The Twelfth Night when they came.”

“But the day before it had been the Scottish play.”

“And you think we were cursed by Shakespeare?”

“’Twas the witches. The witches cursed us.”

“You mean the Double, double…”

“Stop!” Horatio pressed his palms to his ears and shut his eyes tightly. “Do not say it!” He crossed himself again, then quickly returned his right palm to his ear. He crouched, as if awaiting a blow.

Louis said mildly, “I’d like us to do Macbeth.” Horatio flinched, but Louis ignored him. “I’ve always enjoyed that play, all dark and mysterious like. I prefer the spooky ones. Witches and ghosts and all that there suchlike.”

“A young man such as yourself would know no better than to flirt with the powers of darkness. So exciting for yourself, but not so merry for those of us who know the ways of the world and how badly they can go awry. ‘Tis bad luck, I say. You can have your mystery, Louis, and keep it.”

Matthew said, “Not so mysterious, I think. Ambitious woman eggs on her husband to do murder, they both go mad with guilt, and everyone ends up dead.”

“Not everyone.”

“Everyone who deserves it, and then some. A crowd pleaser, that one.”

Suzanne allowed as she did rather like Macbeth, and thought it would be a good addition to the repertoire. Indeed, one might think it a necessary addition, being a crowd pleaser. “I think we should do it.”

***   ***   ***

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Julianne LeeAUTHOR INFO: At twelve I began to write for fun, which I think is the only real reason to write fiction. Daydreaming with a purpose, and gradually I realized I could gain approval for the very thing teachers used to criticize me for in class. When I was thirty I decided to write for money and bought a copy of Writer’s Digest.

Twelve years, twelve completed novel manuscripts, and eight proposals for uncompleted novels after buying that Writer’s Digest, I sold a novel. Son of the Sword was my thirteenth completed manuscript. Lucky thirteen. Since then Berkley has published two time travel series set in historical Scotland, and two straight historicals set in Tudor England. I also write historical mysteries set in Restoration London, under the pseudonym Anne Rutherford.

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‘She Owns the Knight’ by Diane Darcy

SOTK DDSTORY: Why does she have to travel seven hundred years through time to find a decent guy?

Brokenhearted Gillian Corbett finally finds the knight of her dreams…in the past. Unfortunately he’s bossy, overbearing, and…betrothed! Fortunately, he thinks she is his affianced, which keeps her from garderobe duty. Or worse, being hanged as a spy. She knows she has to get back to her own time before his real fiancé shows up and the truth is discovered, but until she finds a way, she’s going to squeeze every bit of enjoyment she can out of this situation. As far as she’s concerned, this is one relationship in which she gets to call the shots, not the other way around. The dowry provided by his betrothed bought him, lock, stock, and barrel. She’ll gladly whip him into shape for the girl who ends up with him. No thanks required. In the meantime, Gillian owns him, and as every twenty-first century girl knows…ownership has its privileges.

Why can’t he find a lady who is obedient, submissive…or at least not trying to kill him?

After a horrible first marriage that ended badly, Sir Kellen Marshall is determined to protect what is left of his dreams. He needs an heir, an alliance, and a chaste bride who has never loved another. Would that he’d been choosier in his specifications because what he’s ended up with is a loud, bossy, demanding female who will drive him daft at every opportunity. So why does he feel he’d like to lay the world at her feet if she’d simply give him the chance?

When modern meets medieval, can there be a happily ever after?

REVIEW: This story had me rolling in laughter! Hard belly laughs!

England 1260: Lord Kellen Marshall was married to a Corbett. His wife tried to poison him but she drinks the poison instead. Before she dies, she admits to despising him, to having a lover who fathered their daughter and the babe she carries.

After she dies, he knows that he could never trust another woman again, yet still demands of her father to send him another daughter to wed and if he fails, threatens war. 

England, present day: Gillian Corbett has broken her engagement and is spending her would be honeymoon searching for her genealogy in England. As she sits drawing a castle ruin and graveyard she is set upon by four young men. One tries to steal a gold ring her father gave her and as she’s running from them she falls into oblivion …

England 1260:… and finds herself set upon by four men on horseback wearing medieval clothing. 

Kellen and his men see what’s going on and ride out to investigate. Seeing the ring on her hand, which looks to be a Corbett seal, he takes her to be his intended and takes her back to the castle.

Gillian can’t believe what she’s seeing or where she’s at and thinks she’s either dreaming or badly hurt by the original guys trying to attack her and maybe she’s been knocked unconscious.

Kellen has a midwife check her to make sure she’s a virgin and she was screaming and cussing like a sailor at the women holding her down as our hero and his men have their mouths open while below listening to her ranting.

“Has the girl been raised in the barracks with the foulest of knights?” one of the knights asks.

As they go through her backpack they are amazed at the odd items they find in it. Her passport picture has them astounded. I was howling in laughter reading about them trying to figure out what the objects are. They think the zipper on her shorts is a chastity belt!

“She no longer had any doubt that she was wide awake. This wasn’t a dream, and she wasn’t in a coma. There was nothing like a good gynecological exam to snap a girl out of a delusion.”

I urge you to pick this book up and follow these two and their friends on their journey to love. I laughed and I cried. I wanted so badly to blink myself there with them. One of my favorite reads this year!

Leah for b2b