Claiming the Rebel's Heart Book Tour

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Dyers and the Great Migration - Guest: Christy Robinson

A few years ago, a group of writers with a passion for the 17th century and a determination to provide a forum for people interested in this period of history to find information about the life and times of the people, came together to form the HOYDENS AND FIREBRANDS. One of the newest Hoydens is writer, Christy Robinson and it's my pleasure to have her as my guest today to showcase her two fabulous novels based on movement of people between England and the "New World" that occurred during the mid 17th century.

Christy has written a pair of novels set in the 17th-century Great Migration from England to early-colonial America. Although written in novel format, the books focus on one (real life) couple (May and William Dyer) and their famous associates, and follow a timeline of actual events, showing the remarkable, world-changing people who precipitated oppression and freedom, law and grace, enslavement and redemption. And ultimately, it was death that saved lives and ensured liberty for centuries to come.

Mary Barrett Dyer, 1611-1660, was comely, dignified, admired for her intellect, and known in the court of King Charles. But how did she become infamous in England and America as a heretic who gave birth to a monster? Was she responsible for curses falling on colonial New England in the form of great earthquakes, signs in the heavens, and plagues? What possessed the ultra-righteous Governor John Winthrop to exhume her baby before one hundred gawkers, revile her in his books, and try to annex Rhode Island to get its exiles back under Boston’s control?

In Mary Dyer Illuminated, follow William and Mary Dyer from the plague streets and royal courts of London to the wilderness of America where they co-founded the first democracy of the New World 135 years before the Declaration of Independence. While living in the Puritan theocracy of Boston, Mary participated in a new religious movement that would be recognized today as evangelicalism. When she miscarried a “monster” fetus with severe neurological defects, Puritans called it God’s judgment for her heresy. The Dyers became co-founders of the colony of Rhode Island, where William was appointed attorney general, the first attorney general in America. They were only getting started.

In the second of two volumes, Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This, the Dyers return to war-torn England and lay a foundation for liberty that resonates in the 21st century. William was appointed commander of the Anglo-Dutch War in New England, including what would become New York. Mary stayed in England for nearly five years, and became a Quaker convert. When she sailed back to America, she was arrested and imprisoned, but when William obtained her release, Mary placed herself in danger several more times. Why did beautiful, wealthy Mary Dyer deliberately give up her six children, husband, and privileged lifestyle to suffer prison and death on the gallows?

The two novels  are compelling, provocative, and brilliantly written, blending historical fact and fiction to produce a thoroughly beautiful work you won't want to put down. The author has reconstructed a forgotten world by researching the culture, religions, and politics of England and America, personal relationships, enemies, and even the events of nature, to discover who they were.

Both books are available on AMAZON. Click HERE for the link.

Statue of Mary Dyer at Philadelphia Quaker HQ

Christy K Robinson is the author of two (five-star-reviewed) historical novels and one nonfiction book centered on the mid-17th-century Great Migration from England to New England, the books spotlighting the Quaker martyr Mary Barrett Dyer. Christy’s books may be found at her Dyer blog, (click HERE). She has been a magazine and book editor since her university days, as well as a piano teacher and church musician for many denominations. At her parents’ instigation, she inhaled historical fiction and “real” history as a young schoolgirl, and helped her mother research the family genealogy very early on—long before the advent of the internet.

EXCERPT: From Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This, (© 2014 Christy K Robinson, used by permission)

July 1653
Raby Castle, County Durham, England

            Before the household could awake and notice her absence, she took her Bible with her and left the crenellated castle through its gatehouse with the statues of medieval warriors on the top of the battlements.
Mary crossed the grassy park outside the walls and sunken formal garden, and entered the edge of the wood. She sat on a tree stump and listened to the birds chattering in the trees. Having been a city girl in her youth, she was unfamiliar with which birds sang which songs, but she thought she recognized the goldfinch by its plumage.
Only because the eye blinked did Mary notice the head of a doe that had settled down to ruminate in a stand of leafy saplings. The deer seemed little concerned with Mary’s presence, for they were nearly as tame as cattle.
With the sunrise came a slight breeze and the leaves trembled on a wide-spreading oak. Almost as if she could see the wind, she sensed tendrils of sweet summer herbal-scented air riffling the pages of her open Bible. When she focused her eyes on the words there, she read, 
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Then slowly, as the invisible tendrils of air caressed the ends of her hair and her cheeks, she relaxed, submitted to its ministrations, and inhaled, and with the intake of breath, she began to be filled with the love of God. Mary could feel it traveling from her heart through her core and to her limbs, and it was not unlike the butterfly flutters of a child quickening in her womb. As she was gradually filled with the love and Light, strength and power, Mary began to tremble with joy. No love in her life had ever filled her like this. Not her parents or dear friends, not her beloved husband William, not the joy of new motherhood, and not her teacher, Anne. She rose to her feet in reverence and lifted her hands.
Nothing could separate her from this love, for now it had become part of her. It was not in her blood—it was her blood. It was not the flesh of her arms or legs—it was the power that made them move. It was not the English summer air she breathed—it was the very life-breath of the Creator.
It was not an audible word in her ears, but an orchestra in her spirit, which said, “Mary, my child, I have ordained you to be a light in the world, a friend to the sick and imprisoned, a balm to the persecuted, a voice for the silenced, a banner to rally weary warriors.”
Mary replied without speaking. “Yea, and joyfully I go, Lord.”
Gradually, over a few minutes, the trembling faded away, but she felt no sense of loss or emptiness, for the love remained. Everything in her life had a purpose and a destination, which she did not yet know, but she was ready for the journey.

September 17, 1653
Newport, Rhode Island

William Dyer sat at the bench with Nicholas Easton, after adjourning the Court of Admiralty, and organized his notes and papers before leaving for home. Easton was working on a letter to the Commissioners of the United Colonies regarding Captain Thomas Baxter, the young privateer captain.
Two weeks before, Baxter had seized the Desire, a barque owned by Samuel Mayo and three other men of Barnstable in Plymouth Colony. Baxter claimed that the Desire was carrying on trade with the Dutch, though Mayo was only carrying goods from Reverend William Leverich of Sandwich to a new farm at Oyster Bay on Long Island, within English limits.
Baxter had put Mayo and his captain off the Desire at West Harbor, a larger and deeper harbor about ten miles west of Oyster Bay, claiming he had a commission from Rhode Island to offend the enemy Dutch, and all who did business with them.
Mayo and Lt. William Hudson of the Honorable Military Company of Massachusetts, on duty at the English outpost there, had come to Newport to investigate Baxter’s privateer claim.
Dyer and Easton called the Admiralty Court to session, and made a response to Mayo’s claim of Baxter’s actions.
Now, at the conclusion of testimony, Easton dictated a letter to the court clerk. 

16 Sept. 1653
Loving friends,
            Having received your complaint regarding Captain Thomas Baxter, I hereby affirm that Mr. Baxter has been authorized by Rhode Island, under a commission of the English Council of State, to offend the enemies of England, and all who treat with the Dutch. He is bound to bring his prizes into Newport for trial, that the state may get its share.
            Mr. Baxter tells us that he knows of no English patent or charter for the lands at Oyster Bay or the West Harbor, where he seized the sloop Desire, and that the place is known as Martin Gerretson’s Bay, in Dutch territory.
However, Mr. Mayo testifies that he, Mr. Wright, and Mr. Leverich purchased the land from the Indians, and he requests that his ship be brought to Connecticut or New Haven if it must be held for trial.
            We regret the inconvenience this has caused Mr. Mayo and the other owners of the barque, and assure you of a speedy hearing with the commissioners of the United Colonies when it meets at Hartford

            He signed the letter and its copies, and the original was given to the fuming Samuel Mayo, who said through gritted teeth that he would appeal to a higher court.
            “That would be my advice to you, anyway, sir,” said Dyer. “The Desire could remain impounded until the case comes up on the court calendar, probably six months from now. That will be a severe hardship for its owners, unless you post a bond with the court and reclaim your ship for the interim. If you win the suit, you’ll have your bond returned, and Baxter may be assessed damages.”
            Samuel Mayo and William Paddy became sureties for the bond and filed a suit against Thomas Baxter, and left the meetinghouse.
            Dyer and Easton remained at the bench, talking.
“Meanwhile,” said William, “Baxter, eager to make his fortune, sailed off to Connecticut’s Fairfield harbor and seized a Dutch ship there, which caused the Dutch to fit out two more ships to go after Baxter.”
Easton sat back in his padded chair and toyed with the gavel. “The commissioners of the United Colonies will renew their warning that the Dutch keep out of the rivers, harbors, and bays, and cease all Indian trading in our territory. Baxter and Hull, if they dare to make raids or to engage with the enemy, will run to Connecticut inlets for refuge—and perhaps to cache their prizes if we’re not vigilant.”
“I have no doubt,” Easton continued, “That in the matter of the Desire, the commission will find for Mayo and Leverich, and Baxter will be censured or fined. Legally, Baxter had a right to raid the Dutch waters and take the ship and its cargo as prizes on mere suspicion that it was trading with the Dutch. The lands and waters won’t be under New Haven, Connecticut, or Massachusetts control without a patent for its founding.”
            Will nodded. “But morally, Baxter knew it was an English ship with English cargo, and he was a fool to set a blaze like this. It’s exactly what Gregory Dexter protested would happen in the Providence assembly in May.”

Friday, March 14, 2014

Taking tea with... Sydney Jane Baily (and Giveaway)

With this week's guest, Sydney Jane Baily, I am back in historical country, in the elegant years following the American Civil War. 

When an editor turns her hand to writing...

Welcome to my parlour, Sydney. George will pour for us. What is your preference for tea?

Usually, I like a strong Irish tea, like Barry’s Gold. I let it steep for about four minutes, add a teaspoon of honey, and a goodly splash of whole milk. (Unless it’s evening, then let’s have a Long Island Iced Tea!) (AS: I have come across this habit of putting honey in tea with a few of my American guests... I suppose it's no different from a lump of sugar!)

You write wonderful historical romances set in nineteenth century America (is it correct to call it Victorian when talking about stories set in the US?)?  This is a period we think we know from westerns and other Hollywood movies but what is it about this period that sparks your passion?

It’s not normally called Victorian, no. It seems that this genre is now generally referred to as Americana. It’s a bit tricky to classify because my time period, 1870s and 1880s, is after the Civil War, so it’s not a Civil War romance, nor is it a Western though there are elements of Westerns in my stories. A cowboy may happen through or one of my heroes may enjoy riding horses. Still, if a reader wants a true Western, he or she would be looking in the wrong book. My characters spend as much time on trains and in hotels and, as they do on horses and in saloons.

This late nineteenth-century period is one of tremendous ingenuity and growth in America. Trains crisscross the country and meet in the middle, making travel easier and faster. Telephones are finding a place in businesses and homes. Gas lamps are giving way to electricity.

If we were transported back in time, we’d find these people to be very modern and extremely familiar. For me, as a storyteller, I like to set my characters in a time period when I know they will have a great life. The country has gone through a terrible war on home turf but it’s nearly 20 years in the past, and WWI is in the distant future. It is a safe yet exciting time with loads of opportunity. And I absolutely love the fashion. I spend way too much time researching the clothing; there are so many examples that still survive. Even as the silhouette and the bustle change over the decades, the women maintain a look that is elegant, stylish, and simply beautiful. The men have some good choices, too. I love a man in a duster (long coat), but I also think their dress suits, morning suits, and vests are equally attractive.

You have come from a background in publishing and editing. When did the bug to write your own stories hit and what made you decided to choose the indie publishing route?

I am a late bloomer as far as finally getting published is concerned. I wrote a novel at age 17 (about 100,000 words) and kept on writing ever since. However, I let myself get distracted by life, including college, grad school, publishing career on the other side of the desk, marriage, children, pets. You name it, I would put it first. And when I was a production editor for college textbooks, I simply could not look at a computer screen at night to write my fiction.

I didn’t seem to have the discipline to write regularly and follow through with finding an agent or a publisher. I wrote my first historical romance about fifteen years ago and sent it off by snail mail. I even had some interested parties, but it was a busy time in my life. Within a few years, I had two children under three. I kept putting writing on the back burner. I wrote a contemporary novel a few years back and started shopping it around. Again, I had interest. But in the back of my mine, my historical was my best work, and I knew it needed another chance. I decided to self-publish. I followed it with two more historicals featuring family members from the first book, and I have just completed a prequel to this series.

My big news, however, is that I recently signed with a publisher, EPW, which is re-publishing my first three books, as well as producing the recently completed prequel and as-yet unwritten fourth book. They were impressed enough with my reviews to offer me a contract. After the fourth book, I have an idea for an Edwardian historical romance with a tortured hero who simply won’t leave me alone. I can’t wait to write his story.

You are the power behind “Cat Whiskers Studio” which offers website and editing services to writers as well as being a small press in its own right.   What led you to set this service up?

Why Cat Whisker Studio?
Because cat whiskers are really lucky—
even luckier if the cat is still attached.
As a freelance editor since 1994, I worked for many publishers, mostly handling non-fiction projects. Eventually, I began to dabble in website design. I created Cat Whisker Studio as an umbrella company for all my freelance work, both for websites and for publishing services. Up until recently, I used my own imprint, Cat Whisker Press, to publish my books, but as mentioned above, I’m going to try an outside publisher and see how it goes.

(To find out more about Sydney's Author services at Cat Whiskers Studio, click HERE)

I am assuming you are a cat person? Tell me about the cats in your life?

The girls
Oh, the cats in my life! I have been truly blessed. I have been loved by some splendid felines, and I have loved them wholeheartedly in return. My first cat, Sandy, we got when I was 13 years old. I had her through high school, college, grad school, about eight moves or more, and even getting married. She passed away 17 years later (though we don’t know her true age as she was a shelter kitty). She was a bold, fearless, orange tabby—a great hunter and an awesome companion. We had a special connection, and I am so grateful to have had her in my life.

Leo taking it easy...
My husband and I found Leo, a buff-colored Maine coon, under our lilac tree one winter; never a hunter, he was starving and had frostbite, and he was very happy to come in from the cold. I didn’t want to get as attached to him as I had to Sandy, so we got a kitten from the shelter to keep Leo company. Chloe was an all-black, part Siamese, super smart talkative girl. She wanted to live on my shoulder or on my lap, and I let her as much as possible. As it turned out, I got just as attached, and Chloe decided early on that I was her special person. Calm and dignified, Leo passed in 2012, and Chloe passed at age 19, two days before Christmas this past year (2013). I am reeling a bit as my animal family has been quite decimated.

Perry and old Chloe
We still have two cats, Sabby (16 lbs. of tuxedo cat) and Coco Puff (fluffy craziness), each adopted from a shelter, one for each of my children. They are unique and loveable, but I haven’t got the same connection. I suppose that lightning cannot strike too many times in the case of cat/human love.

I also have my very first dog ever, Perry, a rescue from Tennessee, part Beagle (in the face), part “you name it and someone says he is it”: Australian shepherd, Border collie, feathered-tail spaniel. Who knows? But a smart, herding, silky-furred, and active dog. He has added a different dimension of unconditional love. I’m thrilled to have him in my office every day and, of course, he makes me walk (or run) the way the cats never have.
(AS:  Thanks for sharing the stories of your animals! I would not be without my feline companions)

You have a series of three (the Sanborn-Malloy series) what was the inspiration and the links in this series?

I already mentioned the first book in the series which I wrote years ago; I rewrote An Improper Situation and published it in October of 2012. That story of a female writer in the 1880s—isolated, secluded, and not traditionally marriage-minded, nor maternal—came to me with the idea of a man and two children suddenly showing up on Charlotte’s doorstep in a small-town in Colorado. I had to figure out who they are. Turns out they are from urban Boston, and they need her as much as she needs them. One of the hero’s sisters inspired my second book, An Irresistible Temptation. Sophie is a classical pianist with a broken heart who crosses the country to find her destiny and, of course, true love. Charlotte’s brother stars in the third book, An Inescapable Attraction, when he reconnects with a love from his past on a wild race-and-escape story with trains, riverboats, and horses, gamblers, gun fights, and sexy romance.

Thank you so much, Alison (and George) for allowing me to take tea with you. One last thing: I read all genres of historicals while I’m on my exercise bike, including medieval, highlander, and regencies. I would love to hear from readers of your blog about their favorite time periods. 


With her chestnut hair and striking green eyes, Charlotte should be the catch of Spring City, CO. But she wears her independence like an impenetrable suit of armor, cloaking her identity behind her male nom de plume. A 24-year-old confirmed spinster, she won’t risk heartbreak; that is, until a handsome stranger arrives.

Boston lawyer Reed Malloy has a solemn mission—deliver two orphaned children to their Colorado cousin. He's not prepared for Charlotte being utterly beguiling, or for her flat-out refusal to raise her kin. It will take some firsthand persuasion to complete his legal duty and resolve more tantalizing issues.

When Charlotte forsakes everything familiar and is welcomed into the high society of the Boston Brahmins, concealed malice, sinister forces and scorned women emerge. With passions ablaze, Reed and Charlotte find themselves in a very Improper Situation. 

Available at:  Amazon
For all 3 Sanborn- Malloy books visit Sydney's Amazon page

Sydney Jane Baily completed her first novel at the tender age of 17. Thankfully, that manuscript currently resides in an undisclosed secure location. She went on to get B.A. degrees in English literature and in history, and an M.A. in literature with a concentration in Romanticism. During her career while continuing to write stories, she has been a copy editor, cat snuggler, proof reader, production editor, mother of two, developmental editor, indexer, and dog walker, among other things literary and not. Besides writing historical romances, she also writes contemporary women's fiction, and believes in happily-ever-after stories for an already challenging world. Though born and raised in California, she resides in New England with her family—human, feline, and canine.
Sydney welcomes email from fellow writers and readers at

Join Sydney and I for a discussion on your favourite historical period and Sydney will giveaway a copy of an Improper Situation to a randomly drawn commenter.

AS:  No prizes for me... but of course my favourite historical period is the English Civil War... but I do find American history interesting partly because of the parallels with Australian history (without the wars!). Having had ancestors who fought in both the American War of Independence and the American Civil War, I think I am about as American as the next person... :-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cover Reveal... Lord Somerton's Heir (a Regency Romantic Suspense)

The book is written (and rewritten and cut and polished), the edits are done (and redone and cut and polished). The blurb and tag line are settled... all that remains is THE COVER... and here it is... the gorgeous cover to the May 1 Escape Publishing release... LORD SOMERTON'S HEIR.

From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams, only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.

Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. But, her dreams are shattered, as she is taunted from the grave, discovering not only has she been left penniless, but she is once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.

But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?

Watch this space for more details.... 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Beverley Eikli's MAID OF MILAN: Giveaway and Excerpt

It is an enormous pleasure to open my door to a dear friend, Beverley Eikli.  Beverley is touring the cyber world with her latest historical romance, MAID OF MILAN.  We have an excerpt from that book as well as the opportunity to go in the draw for a $20 Amazon gift card if you call past and leave a comment.

A little bit about Beverley...

Beverley Eikli is the author of eight historical romances. In 2012 she won UK Women's Fiction publisher Choc-Lit's Search for An Australia Star competition with her suspenseful, Napoleonic espionage Romance The Reluctant Bride, which has just been shortlisted by Australian Romance Readers for Favourite Historical in 2013.

In 2011 she was nominated for an ARRA award for her Regency romance A Little Deception, and in 2012 for her racy Regency Romp, Rake’s Honour, written under her Beverley Oakley pseudonym.

Eikli wrote her first romance when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.

After throwing in her job on South Australia's metropolitan daily The Advertiser to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, she discovered a new world of romance and adventure in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire.

Twenty years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s as an airborne geophysical survey operator during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland's ice cap, Eikli is back in Australia teaching in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University, as well as teaching Short Courses for the Centre of Adult Education and Macedon Ranges Further Education.

Find out more about Beverley and her amazing life (and books) at her website, blog, Twitter and Facebook

After three years of marriage, Adelaide has fallen in love with the handsome, honourable husband who nurtured her through her darkest hours.

Now Adelaide’s former lover, the passionate poet from whose arms she was torn by her family during their illicit liaison in Milan six years previously has returned, a celebrity due to the success of his book The Maid of Milan.

High society is as desperate to discover the identity of his ‘muse’ as Adelaide is to protect her newfound love and her husband’s political career.

Buy Links:



Chapter One

It was not the name by which she knew him. Since inheriting the title, he’d won celebrity as a poet and become the darling of the gossip columnists. Adelaide’s mother couldn’t keep those snippets of the real world from her, though she tried.

James. Fifth Viscount Dewhurst. Adelaide closed her eyes against the afternoon sun and tried to block her last memory of him: desperate, pleading. Not the James she knew – the irrepressible charmer who knew no woman could resist him, least of all Adelaide.

Tristan must have misinterpreted her shocked silence for memory failure, for he squeezed her hand and repeated,  ‘Lord Dewhurst. I’m talking about my old friend, James.’ Very gently he added, ‘He and his wife were very good to you, if you remember.’

If you remember…

Her husband’s reference to her previous life was almost more painful than the reference to James, though panic quickly succeeded shock at his next remark.

‘James is coming to visit us? Here?’ She gripped Tristan’s arm tighter and concentrated on the path. One foot in front of the other, head down so she didn’t stumble on the stones that bordered the hydrangeas from the neat gravel walkway.

Tristan continued to talk in the measured, comforting tone he used when her equilibrium was unsettled. In the past he’d sought her reassurances that she was comfortable with his plans; that there was nothing he’d neglected to facilitate her comfort. Always Tristan put Adelaide’s feelings first. Not today.

Tristan was too excited at the prospect of seeing his boyhood friend to recognise her horror, assuming Adelaide would be delighted to play hostess since she’d foolishly voiced the desire just last week to entertain more often.

She remained silent as she walked at his side, contemplating her own strategy if this visit was a fait accompli. She just needed to know when, so she could prepare.

‘At the end of the week!’ She repeated Tristan’s calmly delivered answer to her question in the tone Black Jack, the South American parrot she’d owned in Vienna, used to mimic the death throes of a man at the end of the gallows. A good thing her husband considered Adelaide an invalid, that he’d misconstrue the flare in her eyes, the gasp as she pressed against the pain in her side – her heart?

‘Adelaide, you are discomposed. Perhaps I should not have invited James without consulting you, but I thought since…’ Concern clouded his kind blue eyes as he trailed off.

‘He was very good to me.’ She whispered the old litany. It’s what Tristan liked to believe.

‘He was. Shall we go back to the house?’ He stooped to cup her face in his hands, as tender with her as if she were another of his rare hothouse blooms. As if she might wilt at the suggestion of anything beyond the ordinary, the mindnumbingly mundane.

And yet today she more than wilted as she stumbled on the smooth, carefully raked gravel path. Her heart was in danger of tearing in half. James. Here, at Deer Park …?

She pushed away the fear, straightening of her own accord. Adelaide could be a good deal stronger than Tristan believed her. Than her mother painted her.

‘So silly of me,’ she murmured, smiling as she tucked her hand once more into the crook of her husband’s arm, firming her step, indicating with a nod that they continue their usual
morning walk. Minutely managed and predictable. Around the path that bordered the maze, over the little bridge and across the lawn, skirting the deer park beyond the iron gated border to the dower house where her mother would be waiting. Keeping up the pretence of recovery in  response to his troubled gaze, she added, ‘Really, I’m perfectly fine.’ How many times had she made similar reassurances?

Of course, she hadn’t been fine when Tristan had made her mistress of Deer Park three years before; a marriage offer she’d only accepted because she believed she’d be dead of grief within the twelvemonth. And if not dead, then at least free of her mother. Neither had happened.

‘So James has left Milan.’ She forced herself to say his name. It came out as a faint thread of sound. James. He needed to stay far across sea and land if she were to have any peace in this life.

‘James’s father died three months ago so of course he must return from the Continent and take up his responsibilities at Dingley Hall.’ Tristan stopped and put his hands on her shoulders to study her more closely. ‘Darling, you’re very pale. Perhaps we should call Dr Stanhope—’

‘No!’ She truncated the hysteria in her response, adding with commendable calm, ‘Please, let us carry on.’

Tristan was clearly not convinced by her assurances, but he returned to his commentary as they walked sedately through Deer Park’s beautiful gardens. ‘James’s standing has changed with his father’s death, and now that his book has become a sensation so have his fortunes. He’ll be able to put to rights all that his father almost destroyed through his love of gaming.’ He gave a half laugh. ‘I’m told my old friend is nearly as famous as those fellows up in the Lakes. I daresay I should read The Maid of Milan before he arrives. Perhaps you’d enjoy it, Addy.’

The Maid of Milan. Dear God! An image of herself and James, naked limbs entwined upon a vast expanse of white linen tablecloth in the Villa Cosi after the guests had gone,  seared her brain.

No, she was getting beyond herself. James had continued living in Milan with Hortense, the wife he despised. Of course there’d have been other women after Adelaide had been dragged, screaming, from James’s arms. Adelaide could not be James’s Maid of Milan. Not after the terrible finale to their affair. In three years Adelaide had heard nothing from him. Nothing, except that one terrible, terrible letter …


Friday, March 7, 2014

Taking tea with... Jennifer Lowery and some very handsome Navy Seals...

So far this year I have entertained highlanders and cowboys and today its the turn of the Navy Seals.  Being ex military myself  I am right at home. Atten...shun!  (yes, boys... I am a Major... oh I do like it when men salute me!). Make way for my guest, contemporary action romance author, JENNIFER LOWERY

Welcome to my tea table (guys, just move those weapons along so Jennifer can sit down). Now, Jennifer, I can make a good strong military tea, but if you have another preference?

Hi Ms. Stuart and all you fabulous readers out there *waves* Thank you so much for having me today! And, tea is my favorite. I drink it every day so I would love a cup, thank you. The stronger the better.

Jennifer, it’s not just Seals, its mercenaries, navy pilots, CIA agents… what is the attraction of men in uniform for you?

Great question. It took a few years of writing in many genres and getting my feet wet before I finally found my niche with military heroes (AS I am a sucker for a man in uniform...!). I found myself writing all my stories with one thing in common: strong, alpha heroes who were protectors. Men in uniform put their lives on the line to protect and I think that is what draws me to them. They will do whatever it takes to keep whatever they are protecting safe. I find that incredibly sexy.

Like me, you are something of a “hybrid” author, having moved from a small press publisher into indie publishing. What prompted the move and how have you found the experience?

When the small press I was published with became a digital-first imprint of a bigger publisher I had a choice to make: sign new contracts or go on my own-something I had been considering already. I decided to go Indie because it was the best for my career for now.

I do love being an Indie author. I’ve met so many fabulous authors who have helped me learn the ropes. And the covers!! I just love being in control of my own covers. (AS... I agree. The degree of artistic control, particularly over the cover art is a winner for me!)

What occupies your time when you’re not writing? Are you still tied to the dreaded “day job”?

I’m a mom of two, but they are 14 and 20. My son is in college and my daughter a freshman in High School. They keep me pretty busy though J  I’ve been married to my hubby for 22 years.

I quit my job as a Respiratory Therapist four years ago to write full-time (AS:  Lucky you!). Writing has always been my dream and the time to do it was calling me so I took the plunge. I’m so glad I did!

Your latest re-release is Murphy’s Law, what was the inspiration behind this story?  

Murphy. He wouldn’t leave me alone, lol. I’m a pantser so all I saw in my head was this scarred hero who pushed away everyone he loved because of what he’d done in a Middle Eastern country. Then I saw this woman on the run. Her daughter, Abby, she was a surprise. I knew Sara would have a daughter, but I never knew she would be…sorry, you’ll have to read the book :-)

Murphy’s Law is the story of my heart. The second manuscript I ever wrote and one I just couldn’t let go. I love the characters so much. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

In honor of my re-release I am giving away an e-book copy of Murphy’s Law to one lucky commenter so please leave a comment with your EMAIL so I can contact you if you win!!

Thank you for having me today, Ms. Stuart!! I truly enjoyed your tea. I just want to send out a big THANK YOU to all my readers out there! Without you I wouldn’t be here. My wish is to one day meet each and every one of you so I can personally thank you for your generosity and support! 

And thanks for being a fabulous guest, Jennifer. OK, boys, by the left... quick march!

He lost his family. She gave them back to him.

Home is the last place Jon Murphy can go. After being held captive in Azbakastan, he returns to the States only to find he can’t face his mom and sisters with what he did while he was a prisoner, so he retreats to the mountains.

Widow Sara Sheldon has made a lifetime of mistakes and is now running scared from her husband’s powerful family, who are determined to take her daughter away from her. When her little girl goes missing in the Rockies, Sara enlists the only help she can find: a gruff recluse with tracking skills to admire and a body to covet.

A storm strands Sara and her daughter at Murphy’s cabin, leaving her no choice but to hope her in-laws don’t catch up while she plans where to run next. Murphy resents the invasion of his privacy, but can’t seem to keep his mind--or his hands--off Sara. How can she stand to look at him, with all his scars? He’s not nearly as honorable as she might think…only enough to make sure she’s safe, and then he’ll go back to being alone, the way he should be.

(CONTENT WARNING: Sexual content)      

Available on Amazon


Jennifer Lowery grew up reading romance novels in the back of her math book and on the bus to school, and never wanted to be anything but a writer.  Her summers were spent sitting at the kitchen table with her sisters spinning tales of romance and intrigue and always with a tall glass of ice tea at their side. 

Today, Jennifer is living that dream and she couldn’t be happier to share her passion with her readers.  She loves everything there is about romance.  Her stories feature alpha heroes who meet their match with strong, independent heroines.  She believes that happily ever after is only the beginning of her stories. And the road to that happy ending is paved with action, adventure, and romance. As her characters find out when they face danger, overcome fears, and are forced to look deep within themselves to discover love.  

Jennifer lives in Michigan with her husband and two children.  When she isn’t writing she enjoys reading and spending time with her family.  

Visit Jennifer:  Author Website   Facebook   Twitter   Romance Recipes

And don't forget to leave a comment (and your email addy) below and go in the draw to win a copy of MURPHY'S LAW... 


Friday, February 28, 2014

Taking Tea with... Angela Verdenius

It’s a great pleasure to welcome an ‘old’ friend, Angela Verdenius to my tea table this week. 

Angela and I first met way back when my first books were published through a small epress in the US. This was in the days when epublishing was viewed askance by the mainstream publishers and as for self-publishing... well that was "vanity" publishing and no self respecting author would do that! There was no such thing as an "e-reader" and I remember reading ebooks on my Palm Pilot (remember them?). So when was this "dark age" - 2007...not even 10 years ago!

Angela is offering a GIVEAWAY of her latest book, Adam's Thorn (more about that later)

So Angela, before we start, George is wheeling in the tea trolley, what is your preference?

Hmmmm…would you cringe if I said white tea with four sugars?!  (AS chokes and clutches her throat... strong sweet tea, good for shock!)  LOL  Can I add how honored I am to be sitting with you?  We go back a long way, we’ve seen a lot of changes, and I always feel a sense of meeting an old friend when I see you at conferences.  My Mum has never met you, but she knows your name! (AS: That's lovely! Thank you)

Angela, as I said above,  we first met many years ago as “epublished authors” with a small epress.  Back in the days before ereaders, epublication was definitely considered a lower form of publishing life.  What changes have you seen over the last few years?

Oh, so much has changed.  Ebook authors are now accepted along with the traditional authors, ebooks are being published by mass market publishers, ebooks are seen as an alternative to hard copies, and really, ebooks have paved the way for writing in genres that may not have once been accepted, and allowed us to push the boundaries.  Big-name authors have their works available in both ebook and hard copy formats.  I think it’s made us all equal and respected as authors.

It wasn’t that long ago that ebook readers were only known to a few people I met, now just about everyone knows what they are and owns one.  People love having so many books on one device without having to worry about space to put paperbacks/hardbacks.  

Can I mention how I used to have to cull my book collection every year because I ran out of room?  Heartbreaking! (AS: I pretty much only read fiction as ebooks these days... apart from anything else, my eyes can't take print particularly late at night and with an ereader I can adjust font size)

Am I right in thinking you started with writing science fiction romance (your Love, Heart and Soul series)?  What was the attraction of science fiction and are you still writing in this genre?

Correct, Alison.  I used to write science fiction romance, and wrote 18 full length novels in the Love, Heart & Soul series, as well as two novellas (not related to the LHS series).  I loved the freedom of science fiction, being able to make my own laws and cultures, not being forced to write according to what we all know and accept as normal.  Basically, my only limits were my imagination. 

Currently, I am not writing science fiction romance, but that’s not to say I won’t ever write more books for the Love, Heart & Soul series, I confess there are still a few characters I’d like to revisit and give their own story. 

In more recent years you have been writing contemporary romance with plus sized heroines – what led you on to this path?

I felt that my voice was getting stale and I wanted to try a different genre to ‘freshen’ my voice.  I started writing a contemporary romance featuring a plus-size heroine, and so Doctor’s Delight was born.  From there I had other characters coming forward and wrote their stories, and it went from there.

I really enjoy the plus-size heroines.  They are real - hey, we BBWs are out there!  Love knows no boundaries, and that includes size.  I know there are men out there who love a woman for who they are, not what they look like, and these are the heroes I value and want to write and read about.  And there are women out there who want to read about ‘real’ heroines finding love, women with whom they can identify.  Not every woman is a perfect size 12 (Aus size).  The heroines come in many sizes, with varying degrees of issues and confidence.  One thing I don’t do is mention exactly what size the heroine is, because I believe every reader will see her according to their POV.  As for the hero - well, who doesn’t love a strong, handsome hunk with eyes only for you?!  Everyone deserves a HEA!

I am in awe of your productivity level! Are you writing full time?  How do you organize your writing into your day?

Oh gosh, I wish I did write full time.  That’s the dream!  I work mostly shift work, with only two days per week of ‘normal hours’, so I always write before work or after work (depending if I’m on a late or early shift) and all day on my days off and holidays.  TV is only watched if there’s a program I really, really want to watch.  I only read in bed (or at the kitchen table for a stolen few minutes). Basically, I love writing, but it is my second job and I treat it as such, which keeps me disciplined.  I’m hoping to one day work part-time and write part time to make one living LOL.  Even better if I can just write full time! I’m still working on that million-dollar bestseller!

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Read!  I read in bed every night, never fail.  And when I’m having a break between writing books (usually a week off before starting a new one), then I read as much as I can, and I also tend to get horror DVDs and do a one-day marathon run .  Oh yeah, and I have this habit of browsing the internet, seeing what new books my favorite authors are bringing out, checking out other author websites to see what they’re up to, browsing Amazon, Smashwords, All Romance eBooks and other book places, checking out what new horror movies are coming out…basically playing guilt-free catch-up!

About every 4 - 6 weeks, I spend an afternoon with my friends and we hire a DVD, go to a movie, or have an early tea (evening meal) at the Dome and chat until the place closes .  It’s catch-up time for us all.

And finally, your cats.  So many authors are owned by cats (including me). Tell me about your two furry feline “mewses” and their importance in your life?

"Evie" short for "Eve of Destruction"
I actually have 9 furry feline “mewses”, but the one who keeps me company the most when writing is Evie (aka Eve of Destruction), mainly because she likes to try and pick a fight with me by lying all over the keyboard and doing weird things to my screen (AS: I have one of those... I am sure he thinks his name is 'B$##%^' Nuisance!).  I discovered a new program I didn’t know I had thanks to Evie and her habit of touching things!  She snoozes behind the computer, rolls beside it, lies on the hutch and looks down at me, accepts kisses and pats, and fights with me - that’s when we start shoving each other.  Okay, I push her away when she decides to start messing around with the keyboard, and she slaps back.  It really degenerates into a shoving match between us, but I love it when she’s there!  My other little writing buddy is Abby, who often flops on her back behind my chair and snoozes.  Now and again Lily will wander in and nap on the chair which I pull up beside me for her.

My cats mean so much to me.  They’re my furkids and I love them heaps.  They make me smile, laugh, and even shed a tear when something happens.  They relax me.  I just can’t imagine life without them.

Angela's latest book is ADAM'S THORN, a contemporary romance with a plus size heroine and, my favourite, a spook old house!

The arrival of Barbie Declan in his town brought up a lot of bad memories for Adam.  A lot.

The calm, controlled cop had Barbie acting like a shrew whenever he was near her.  Talk about guilt.

Now she had not only sparks of dislike between them, but something growing a little hotter.  As if that wasn’t disconcerting enough…

…there’s something very wrong with the spooky old house she’s inherited…

ADAM'S THORN is available from Amazon, Smashwords (all formats), ARE and Barnes and Noble. It will be coming out in print shortly.


I live in Australia where I am happily ruled by my cats. When not working as a nurse, I can be found at my second job - pounding on the computer keyboard bringing to life the characters lurking in my imagination.  Oh yeah, and drinking Diet Coke, playing with the cats and pretending I’m not procrastinating!

Reading has always been my escape, writing my dream. Horror, myths, legends, fantasy and history, there are no limits to the wonders to be found. And romance? Well, that adds the spice, hope and happiness ever after…

Join Angela and I in a discussion on the topic of the kind of qualities we look for in a hero....

Angela is offering a free Ebook Giveaway of Adam’s Thorn to a lucky commenter.

We like our heroes laid back and comfortable in their own fur....