Friday, January 15, 2021

My review of Beneath Black Clouds and White By Virginia Crow @DaysDyingGlory @maryanneyarde

Beneath Black Clouds and White

By Virginia Crow

Despite adoring his family and enjoying frequenting gaming tables, Captain Josiah Tenterchilt’s true love is the British Army and he is committed to his duty. As such, he does not hesitate to answer the army’s call when King Louis XVI of France is executed.

Accompanied by his wife to Flanders, Josiah finds his path crosses with a man who could not be more different from him: an apprentice surgeon named Henry Fotherby. As these two men pursue their own actions, fate and the careful connivance of a mysterious individual will push them together for the rest of their lives.

But it is a tumultuous time, and the French revolutionaries are not the only ones who pose a threat. The two gentlemen must find their place in a world where the constraints of social class are inescapable, and ‘slavery or abolition’ are the words on everyone’s lips.

Beneath Black Clouds and White is the prequel to Day's Dying Glory, which was published by Crowvus in April 2017.

Book Title: Beneath Black Clouds and White
Author: Virginia Crow
Publication Date: 11th April 2019
Publisher: Crowvus
Print Length: 637 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Military Fiction/Family Saga


A heart-wrenching story of loss, war and the inequality between black men and white, Beneath Black Clouds And White follows Henry Fotherby as he navigates his life through being an army surgeon, desperate to help people, and the relationships he builds with those he encounters at war.

What to say! When I initially sat down to read this book, I was not expecting what I received. My want to protect Fotherby from all that he experiences was so very immense, as he is a character that doesn’t deserve any of what he gets from life. His only desire is to look after people, to save lives, and what he is given in return is loss and pain, the very loss that he has prevented so often in his work. His friendships with the Tenderchilts and the Portlands were portrayed so beautifully that, at times, I felt like I was friends with them, alongside Fotherby, and I felt the losses and joy as if it were my own. The development of all the characters has been penned so wonderfully, that by the end of the story, it was clear to see how they had all grown and changed. The years of loss, war and friendship had shaped them as people that were barely recognisable from the people they were in the first few chapters.

Alongside Fotherby, the lives of Josiah and Elizabeth Tenderchilt and their three daughters, as well as the extended Portland family, are followed. Josiah Tenderchilt’s desire to be a part of the army and Elizabeth’s gentle and caring nature clash as she worries for his safety and Fotherby’s presence alongside them both leads to a deep friendship and a debt that can never be repaid. I felt deeply for the various members of the Portland family that Fotherby grows close to, especially Delphina and Rosanna, although the terrible curse that the family appears to be under brought heartache alongside the friendships.

The underlying impacts of racism that Fotherby encounters only enhance his character. Who is he to ignore the blatant ill-treatment of men no different than himself, except for in the colour of their skin? Sticking up for those who are used to the abuse is something that many people around Fotherby don’t expect. It is evident by the response of the black servants that Fotherby converses with that they aren’t used to being treated as an equal, much less having a white man talk to them as a friend, which is heartbreaking to read about as they question whether Fotherby is being genuine or not.

If there were ever a book that I would happily read again, as soon as finishing it, this book would be the one. Virginia Crow has written a book that I not only enjoyed every word of, but one that will stay with me for a long time. Don’t let the size of this book fool you, for the time will fly by, as it did for me as I struggled to turn the pages fast enough.

I Highly Recommend.

Virginia Crow

Virginia grew up in Orkney, using the breath-taking scenery to fuel her imagination and the writing fire within her. Her favourite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, sometimes mixing the two together such as her newly-published book "Caledon". She enjoys swashbuckling stories such as the Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and is still waiting for a screen adaption that lives up to the book! When she's not writing, Virginia is usually to be found teaching music, and obtained her MLitt in "History of the Highlands and Islands" last year. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, especially as a tool of inspiration. She also helps out with the John O'Groats Book Festival which is celebrating its 3rd year this April. She now lives in the far flung corner of Scotland, soaking in inspiration from the rugged cliffs and miles of sandy beaches. She loves cheese, music and films, but hates mushrooms.

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

My review of A Rooster for Asklepios (A Slave's Story Trilogy, Book 1) By Christopher D. Stanley #HistoricalFiction #BookReview #CoffeePotBookClub @aslavesstory @maryanneyarde


A Rooster for Asklepios 
(A Slave's Story Trilogy, Book 1)
By Christopher D. Stanley

Marcus, a slave in the household of Lucius Coelius Felix, enjoys a better life than most slaves (and many free citizens) as the secretary and accountant of a wealthy aristocrat.  His master is rising in the civic life of the Roman colony of Antioch-near-Pisidia (central Turkey), and his responsibilities and income are growing as well. If this continues, he could soon earn enough to buy his freedom, set up a small business, and even marry.  

Then misfortune strikes, and his master falls into a deep depression that is exacerbated by a nagging illness that his physician is unable to cure.  The future looks bleak until the physician receives a dream from the healing god Asklepios calling Lucius to travel hundreds of miles across western Asia Minor to his sanctuary at Pergamon for treatment and, he hopes, a cure.
Accompanied by Marcus and his new wife Selena, Lucius embarks on a long and eventful journey in which both master and slave encounter people and ideas that challenge long-held beliefs about themselves, their society, and the world around them.  Values are questioned, loyalties tested, and identities transformed in a story that brings to life a corner of the Roman empire that has been neglected by previous storytellers.

Name of Book: A Rooster for Asklepios 
Series: A Slave's Story Trilogy (Book 1)
Author: Christopher D. Stanley
Publication Date:  May 23rd 2020
Publisher: Amelia Books
Page Length: 522 pages 
Genre: Historical Fiction

A Bull For Pluto
(A Slave's Story Trilogy, Book 2)
By Christopher D. Stanley

After a lengthy and eventful stay at the sanctuary of Asklepios in Pergamon, the time has come for Lucius and Marcus to return to Antioch.  Selena had been sent home earlier when Lucius learned that she was pregnant, and the impending arrival of the winter snows could soon make it impossible for them to reach their destination before the child is born.

To Marcus’s surprise, Lucius announces that he plans to stop for a while in Hierapolis to bask in the healing waters of the city’s renowned hot springs.  Here Marcus meets a young woman named Miriam who challenges him to embrace his long-hidden Jewish ancestry.  Marcus is torn between his budding love for Miriam and the cost of heeding her advice.

A tragic decision by Lucius seals their fate, as their full attention must now be devoted to preserving Lucius’s life.  They reach Antioch in time to learn that Lucius’s son Gaius has failed miserably in his management of the household while his father was away.  If Lucius should die, Marcus, Selena, and her unborn child will be at the mercy of this tyrant.  To fend off this danger, Lucius must tell Marcus the full truth about his past, a truth that will ensure Marcus's future at the cost of his master's honor.  Can he bring himself to act before his inevitable end?

Name of Book: A Bull for Pluto
Series: A Slave's Story Trilogy (Book 2)
Author: Christopher D. Stanley
Publication Date: June 17th 2020
Publisher: Amelia Books
Page Length: 325 Pages 
Genre: Historical Fiction

Praise for A Rooster for Asklepios and A Bull For Pluto

This compelling and enjoyable story offers the reader a superb 'insider' view of life in the first-century Greco-Roman world. I enjoyed traipsing around Anatolia with Lucius and Marcus!"
-Dr. Terence Donaldson, Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament, Wycliffe College, Canada

"The realism of this story reflects the author's deep first-hand knowledge of the landscape and culture where the narrative takes place."
-Dr. Mark Wilson, Director, Asia Minor Research Center, Antalya, Turkey

"This well-researched book really brings the Roman world to life!"
-Dr. Alanna Nobbs, Professor of Ancient History, Macquarie University, Australia

"The amount of research, imagination, and effort involved in crafting this story earned my admiration, and stirred my curiosity, too."
Dr. Mark Nanos, Lecturer, University of Kansas, USA


I don’t think I have ever read a book that was so meticulously researched. I really got a sense of what life must have been like during this era. It is very obvious, from the very beginning of this novel, that the author, Christopher D. Stanley, has a clear understanding of the history - I guess being a professor at St. Bonaventure University who studies the social and religious history of the Greco-Roman world must help! The story itself was utterly engrossing. This is one of those books where I seemed to forget I was actually reading. Instead, it felt as if I was witnessing the events - watching as the plot plays out. It really is quite an extraordinary book.

Marcus was a character that really intrigued me. He is a slave, but he holds a significant position in his master’s household—and he is undoubtedly more dependable than his master’s heir. The complicated dynamics between master and slave during this era is portrayed with a great deal of skill and knowledge. The author has also taken great pains to demonstrate the different social structure in this era, and I was surprised to learn that the stigma of being a slave did not leave once the said slave was free. They were still regarded as second-class citizens. 

I thought the depiction of Lucius Coelius Felix was fabulous. Lucious has a mysterious illness, in which the physicians can seemingly find no cure for. It is his seek for a cure that really drives this story forward. His illness also demonstrates that superstition and the belief in the Gods were an extremely important part of the culture and how they really did dictate the lives of not only those who believed, but their neighbours as well.

I was also interested in reading about the treatment of the Jewish community during this era. I thought the insight into this community was fascinating.

A Rooster for Asklepios (A Slave’s Story Trilogy, Book 1) is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. If you like your stories to be set in the Ancient World, then I think this is a book that you will enjoy.


CHRISTOPHER D. STANLEY is a professor at St. Bonaventure University who studies the social and religious history of the Greco-Roman world, with special attention to early Christianity and Judaism.  He has written or edited six books and dozens of professional articles on the subject and presents papers regularly at conferences around the world.  The trilogy A Slave’s Story, which grew out of his historical research on first-century Asia Minor, is his first work of fiction.  He is currently working on an academic book that explores healing practices in the Greco-Roman world, a subject that plays a vital role in this series. 

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

My review of A Painter in Penang (Penang Series, Book 3) by Clare Flynn #HistoricalFiction #APainterinPenang #CoffeePotBookClub @clarefly @maryanneyarde

A Painter in Penang
(Penang Series, Book 3)
By Clare Flynn

Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington hates everything about living in Kenya and longs to return to the island of Penang in British colonial Malaya where she was born. Expulsion from her Nairobi convent school offers a welcome escape – the chance to stay with her parents’ friends, Mary and Reggie Hyde-Underwood on their Penang rubber estate.
But this is 1948 and communist insurgents are embarking on a reign of terror in what becomes the Malayan Emergency. Jasmine goes through testing experiences – confronting heartache, a shocking past secret and danger. Throughout it all, the one constant in her life is her passion for painting.

From the international best-selling and award-winning author of The Pearl of Penang, this is a dramatic coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a tropical paradise torn apart by civil war.

Publication Date: 6th October 2020
Publisher: Cranbrook Press
Page Length: 362 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction


Malaya seems a world away for sixteen-year-old Jasmine, and try as she might, she just cannot seem to settle in Nairobi. With a sympathetic step-mother, Jasmine is allowed to return to her beloved Penang, where she will stay on Mary and Reggie Hyde-Underwood rubber plantation—little did any of them know what the future had install.

Oh, this book. There are some books, as I am sure you are aware of, that can sweep you away and take you back in time to a place that is beautiful, yet foreign. Add to this magnificent landscape the dreams of a young sixteen-year-old girl and a politically unstable climate. I guess it is no surprise if I say that this book enthralled me. This is a novel that once started cannot be turned away from. It is utterly engrossing from start to finish—the characterisation, the setting, and the story enchanted me.

The historical setting of this novel has been thoroughly researched, and I thought the author has really captured the rising political tensions and the nervousness of the plantation owners. But not only that, Flynn has given her readers a very honest account of a young woman’s take upon the situation.  I thought the setting, the historical context, and the characters were wonderfully portrayed.

Jasmine is a protagonist that I really came to adore—she is so young, in some cases naively so, but she knows what she wants and her heart beats for Penang.

This is a novel that kept me up well into the night, and although I have not read the first two books in this series, I did not feel at all lost. Saying that, however, I do feel a desperate desire to read the first two books in the series.

I thought this book was brilliant—and I think you will too.

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Clare Flynn 

Clare Flynn is the author of twelve historical novels and a collection of short stories. A former International Marketing Director and strategic management consultant, she is now a full-time writer. 

Having lived and worked in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney, home is now on the coast, in Sussex, England, where she can watch the sea from her windows. An avid traveller, her books are often set in exotic locations.

Clare is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Authors, Novelists Inc (NINC), ALLi, the Historical Novel Society and the Romantic Novelists Association, where she serves on the committee as the Member Services Officer. When not writing, she loves to read, quilt, paint and play the piano. She continues to travel as widely and as far as possible all over the world.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

She Sees Ghosts―The Story of a Woman Who Rescues Lost Souls (Part of the Adirondack Spirit Series) By David Fitz-Gerald is free on #Kindle for a limited time @AuthorDAVIDFG @maryanneyarde


She Sees Ghosts―The Story of a Woman Who Rescues Lost Souls
(Part of the Adirondack Spirit Series)
By David Fitz-Gerald

A blazing fire killed her family and devoured her home. A vengeful demon haunted her. Ghosts of the Revolutionary War needed help that only she could provide. A young woman languished, desperate to survive, and teetered on the edge of sanity.

Mehitable grew up in a freshly tamed town, carved from the primeval forest. Family, friends, and working at the mercantile filled her days and warmed her heart. For Mehitable, life was simple and safe, until tragedy struck. When her family perished in their burning home, she retreated into a world of her own making.

As a young girl, she had seen glimmers, glimpses, and flickers of the spirit world. She closed her eyes. She turned her back. She ignored the apparitions that she never spoke of, desperately hoping they would leave her in peace. She was mistaken.

Grief-stricken, Mehitable withdrew from the human world. Ghosts were everywhere. They became bolder. She could no longer turn her back on the spirit world. Her friends feared for her survival. Nobody understood her. She would have to find her own way.

Fans of TV’s Ghost Whisperer and Long Island Medium will especially love She Sees Ghosts. This historical novel features memorable characters and delivers bone-tingling, spine chilling goosebumps. It stands on its own and it is the next installment in the Adirondack Spirit Series by the award-winning author of Wanders Far―An Unlikely Hero’s Journey. David Fitz-Gerald delivers a historical novel with a bittersweet ending that you won’t see coming.

Would she save the spirits’ souls, or would they save her? Only time would tell.

Publication Date: October 25, 2020 
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Page Length: 270 pages
Genre Historical/Supernatural

She Sees Ghost is free on #Kindle for a limited time only.

David Fitz-Gerald

David Fitz-Gerald writes fiction that is grounded in history and soars with the spirits. Dave enjoys getting lost in the settings he imagines and spending time with the characters he creates. Writing historical fiction is like making paintings of the past. He loves to weave fact and fiction together, stirring in action, adventure, romance, and a heavy dose of the supernatural with the hope of transporting the reader to another time and place. He is an Adirondack 46-er, which means that he has hiked all of the highest peaks in New York State, so it should not be surprising when Dave attempts to glorify hikers as swashbuckling superheroes in his writing. She Sees Ghosts―A Story of a Woman Who Rescues Lost Souls is the next instalment in the Adirondack Spirit Series.

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Sunday, December 27, 2020

Read an excerpt from Lady Estrid: A Novel of Eleventh Century Denmark by MJ Porter @coloursofunison @maryanneyarde


I so love being a host for The Coffee Pot Book Club! Today I bring you an excerpt from MJ Porter book! But first, let's check out the blurb:

Lady Estrid: A Novel of Eleventh Century Denmark 
By MJ Porter

Daughter, Sister, Duchess, Aunt. Queen.

United by blood and marriage. Divided by seas. Torn apart by ambition.

Lady Estrid Sweinsdottir has returned from Kiev, her first husband dead after only a few months of marriage. Her future will be decided by her father, King Swein of Denmark, or will it?

A member of the ruling House of Gorm, Estrid might not be eligible to rule, as her older two brothers, but her worth is in more than her ability to marry and provide heirs for a husband, for her loyalty is beyond question. 

With a family as divided and powerful as hers, stretching from England to Norway to the land of the Svear, she must do all she can to ensure Denmark remains under the control of her father’s descendants, no matter the raging seas and boiling ambition that threatens to imperil all.

Publication Date: 29th October 2020
Publisher: Independently Published
Page Length:
Genre: Historical Fiction 


While I eat, I study him. When I last saw him, he and Harald argued so fiercely that Cnut was forced to leave Denmark with his ship-men, and no means of supporting them. I know that they found and forged a settlement in Norway. I also know that he left his pregnant wife behind, in Gainsborough. But, I don’t expect to see Lady Ælfgifu and her sons here. My brother has, like my father before him, found a second wife, while his first one still lives. That sits ill with me, as it did when I understood what my father had done.  

I’ve never met my nephews. I should like to. Not that Lady Ælfgifu ever responded to my letter to her. I can only hope that it was received. I’ll probably never meet her to find out, and I don’t want to ask Cnut. He would accuse me of meddling.

And then a shape materialises before me, and I look upwards and realise, even in the shadows and flickering flames, that Edward, Alfred and Godgifu don’t take after their mother after all. 

Yet, I examine her all the same. Her features are sharp, no sense of softness to her, her eyes piercing, even in the dim lighting. I expected my brother to have a beautiful wife, but she is not, to my eyes at least, a beauty. Striking, yes, with her long blond hair, and rich adornings, I can see where Cnut gets the fashion from, but not a woman to arouse a man to desire.

“Cnut?” the voice is stringent, a demand, and I notice the curve of her belly and realise that she’s already ensuring her position as the mother of the Danish king’s heir. Cnut must find her in some small way appealing to have accomplished such a task. Was the child in her belly one of the bowed heads of my vision? I wish I knew, I truly did. It would help me understand what to do now.

“Emma?” Cnut only slowly rouses from his introspection. “Ah, Emma, yes, I would introduce you to Lady Estrid.”

Her gaze cuts deeper than any blade, and her lips immediately purse as she recognises the name.

“What are you doing here?” It’s hardly a welcome between sisters.

“I’ve escaped from your brother’s court. He had no intention of marrying me. It seems he was already contracted to marry another.” I voice the words in an echo of her tone. I need her to know that while she might be my brother’s wife, I’m his sister.

“No, that’s not right. My brother will abide by his oaths. Return to Normandy, seal the marriage.” She might as well just add, ‘you’re not welcome here,’ to her complaints.

“No, no, my sister will not beg a man to marry her. She’s far more valuable than that. Your brother has made it clear that he doesn’t wish to pursue a further alliance between my family and his own.”

Lady Emma dresses in a loose-fitting dress, and yet it’s easy to see how fine the fabric is, draped over her growing pregnancy. It’s as though it’s alive, as it slithers over her. I know her age, but if I didn’t, I would think her younger. Certainly, she’s young to have children as old as Edward, Alfred and Godgifu.

For all that, her face is tight with rage, and it makes her unappealing, even as she rubs her hand over her belly, as though to ensure Cnut realises she’s to be the mother of his child.

“Return to Normandy,” Lady Emma continues, her tone almost wheedling. “I’ll send word with you, one of my loyal retainers will escort you. My brother will soon appreciate that he erred, and the marriage will take place and be consummated.” As she speaks, Lady Emma runs her left hand over Cnut’s back, as though to soothe a babe and once more, I consider just what has happened to my brother. I hope he’s not about to be made a fool of by his new wife.

“My sister will do no such thing,” Cnut’s voice is firm, for all he reaches out and holds Emma’s hand still over the bulge of her belly. “It will be necessary to find a different husband for Estrid, someone who appreciates the honour, as opposed to someone who either fears it or simply dismisses it as unimportant.” Emma’s eyes flash with vehemence, and yet she holds her tongue.

Maybe I only imagined who had the greater hold over the other. 

I don’t much like talk of another marriage.

“I would sooner return to Denmark,” I interject, but Cnut is shaking his head, and the rest of my words remain unspoken.

“No, no, a husband for you can be found in England. It would be a waste to offer you to one of the few Danish jarls loyal to Harald.” 

I think to argue, but in my heart, I knew that by coming to England, I would place my future in Cnut’s hands. I must be more furious with Harald than I’d realised. Not that many jarls in Denmark remain unmarried. My sisters got the best of the men, and I don’t wish to be tied to one of the jarls sons. It would be beneath me.

“I saw your children,” I say, instead of continuing to argue, perversely pleased to see Lady Emma startle at the announcement. Perhaps she didn’t expect it, or maybe she’s forgotten that she’s birthed three children already.

“My brother will assist them in claiming land that’s mine,” Lady Emma states, the words staccato, a worry behind them that I can’t interpret. “My father gifted me with several estates on his death, and my brother will honour my wishes when he’s able.”

I note that she doesn’t ask how they fare. An unfeeling woman then. But Cnut is watching me, caution in his eyes, and I stop any further taunts from escaping my mouth. I can already tell that Lady Emma is as callous as Edward, Alfred, and Godgifu made me believe. She’s all about ambition. I recognise it. Lady Gunnhild is the same.

A servant materialises from behind me, taking my bowl away, and bringing me a goblet of wine, rather than warm wine. I sip the fluid delicately, pottage and a hot drink, finally thawing me, the thick furs making my skin lose the cold, clammy feel of the sea, which has lingered because I’ve refused to wait before seeking out my brother in Winchester. I didn’t enjoy the sea crossing in winter. I would advise against it to any who asked.

Cnut also takes wine, but Lady Emma is offered nothing. I think she’ll linger, but abruptly, she turns to leave.

“It’s a cold night,” Lady Emma announces, the words reaching me even though her back is to me. “I’ll be waiting for you,” and the statement is strangely ominous, and yet Cnut makes no attempt to follow her, but instead sips his wine appreciatively.

“What of your sons?” I hiss, the words angry because I’m not sure that Lady Emma is the right wife for my brother, not at all, and I decry her lack of interest in her older children.

“They are well, in Northampton, with their mother, and her brothers. They’ll come to no harm.”

His lack of concern surprises me. They are his father’s grandchildren, their claim to Denmark is as strong as his own. I would have expected him to care more. And more, I think he’s wrong to be so passive about them. I might have gained his agreement that Lady Emma’s children in Normandy will remain free from his concern, but I’m not at all convinced that Lady Emma will offer his older children the same protection.  

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M J Porter  

I’m an author of fantasy (Viking age/dragon-themed) and historical fiction (Early English, Vikings and the British Isles as a whole before the Norman Conquest), born in the old Mercian kingdom at some point since AD1066. 

I write A LOT. You’ve been warned!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Sherry A. Burton is talking about the inspiration behind The Orphan Train Saga #amwriting #HistoricalFiction @SherryABurton @maryanneyarde


The Orphan Train Saga, Book 1
By Sherry A. Burton 

While most use their summer breaks for pleasure, third grade teacher Cindy Moore is using her summer vacation to tie up some loose ends concerning her grandmother’s estate. When Cindy enters the storage unit that holds her grandmother’s belongings, she is merely looking for items she can sell to recoup some of the rental fees she’s spent paying for the unit. 

Instead, what she finds are secrets her grandmother has taken to the grave with her. The more Cindy uncovers, the more she wants to know. Why was her grandmother abandoned by her own mother? Why hadn’t she told Cindy she’d lived in an orphanage? And how come her grandmother never mentioned she’d made history as one of the children who rode the Orphan Trains? 

Join Cindy as she uncovers her grandmother’s hidden past and discovers the life that stole her grandmother’s love.

Book Title: Discovery 
Series: The Orphan Train Saga, Book 1
Author: Sherry A. Burton 
Publication Date: December 25, 2018
Publisher: Dorry Press
Print Length: 229 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

The Inspiration Behind The Orphan Train Saga
By Sherry A. Burton 

In the mid-1850s, over 30k children were living on the streets of New York City. Children as young as four and five had to lie, cheat, and steal just to survive. Some of the children were true orphans; others were not. Either way, their situation was dire, and something had to be done. So, between 1855 and 1929, over 250k children from New York and Boston were sent west on what was later referred to as 'the orphan trains' to find new homes. Children most people haven't heard about. 

Mr Charles Loring Brace was instrumental in helping the children. Brace helped found the Children's Aid Society, with the soul mission to get the orphans off the street. They took children in although they soon became overwhelmed by the number of children needing their help.

Other institutions followed but were still no match for the cities ever-growing homeless children population. This is where the trains came into play, sending children from birth to eighteen west to less populated areas to help them find new homes. 

Notices were sent out, and placing agents rode with the children to oversee their placements. Committees were formed to help decide to whom the children were placed. The committee members were local business owners who knew the people who lived in their communities. While not every placement was a good one, we do know that the majority of children were better off than had they stayed in the city. 

My goal with The Orphan Train Saga is to keep the children's memories alive. While the children in my books are fictional, I use real history to tell their tales. I introduce seventeen of the eighteen children in Discovery, book one of The Orphan Train Saga. Discovery tells Mileta's story, and each book after that will tell one of the children's tale. The reader will follow each child from their earliest memory and find out what caused them to be without a home. The reader will journey with the children on the train and follow them to see what life has in store for them. 

 When I began writing this historical fiction saga, I thought I was writing towards adults.  While each book starts with the person's first memory, the children grow up, and there are real-life situations. With that said, the books are void of swearwords, and there is no overly graphic content. Since Discovery's release, December of 2018, I've received e-mails from children as young as nine, letting me know how much they are enjoying this saga and the history that surrounds it. I've received e-mails from decedents of orphan train riders telling me they are reading this with their young children so that the children can learn their family's history. So, now when I'm asked, I just say it's for ages 9 to 99+.

 Lastly, while Discovery can be read and enjoyed on its own if you decide to keep reading -which I hope you do- you'll want to read the books in order. Some of the children's lives are so intertwined that a subsequent book will give you a greater understanding of something from a previous book when told from a different perspective.

Sherry A. Burton 

Born in Kentucky, Sherry got her start in writing by pledging to write a happy ending to a good friend who was going through some really tough times. The story surprised her by taking over and practically writing itself. What started off as a way to make her friend smile started her on a journey that would forever change her life. Sherry readily admits to hearing voices and is convinced that being married to her best friend for thirty-eight plus years goes a long way in helping her write happily-ever-afters. Sherry is the author of The Orphan Train Saga novels, a planned eighteen book historical fiction saga that revolves around the historic orphan trains. Books in the saga include Discovery, Shameless, Treachery and Guardian. Loyal, the fifth in the saga, expected to release summer of 2021. Sherry resides in Michigan and spends most of her time writing from her home office, traveling to book signing events and giving lectures on the Orphan Trains.

Monday, December 21, 2020

My Reviews of Betrayal by various authors #histfictioneers #Betrayal #HistoricalFiction #CoffeePotBookClub @HistFictioneers @maryanneyarde


By Judith Arnopp, Cryssa Bazos, Anna Belfrage, Derek Birks,
Helen Hollick, Amy Maroney, Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, Tony Riches, Mercedes Rochelle, Elizabeth St. John, Annie Whitehead

Betrayal, treachery, treason, deceit, perfidy—all names for the calculated violation of trust. And it’s been rife since humans trod the earth.

A promise broken

A mission betrayed

A lover’s desertion

A parent’s deception

An unwitting act of treason

Betrayal by comrades

Betrayal by friends

Could you resist the forces of misplaced loyalty, power hunger, emotional blackmail, or plain greed? Is there ever redemption, or will the destruction visit future generations and even alter history? These questions are still with us today.

Read twelve tales by twelve accomplished writers who explore these historical yet timeless challenges from post Roman Britain to the present day.

Publication Date: November 17, 2020
Publisher: Historical Fictioneers
Page Length: 486
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Title: Betrayal
Authors: Judith Arnopp, Cryssa Bazos, Anna Belfrage, Derek Birks,
Helen Hollick, Amy Maroney, Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, Tony Riches, Mercedes Rochelle, Elizabeth St. John, Annie Whitehead


Death at the Feet of Venus by Derek Birks

Death at the Feet of Venus demonstrates the crucial need to have allies and soldiers that a leader can trust with their life. Despite the outcome of the negotiations he attends, in his desperate bid for a strong alliance, Ambrositus should be able to trust the people around him, right?

Matters of the heart, while coming second in importance, are not overlooked. For, even though his heart belonged to Inga, he was taking his trip to the negotiations with the lovely Lurotriga. Having such a beautiful woman so close by, despite his loyalty to Inga, cause certain passionate thoughts to make their way into Ambrositus’ head... 

Ambrositus is a wonderfully strong main character and the battle scenes were depicted so masterfully that I practically saw the action happening in front of me – the sound of the blows, the colour of the blood, the betrayal. I highly enjoyed reading Death at the Feet of Venus and the time flew by all too quickly as the pages turned themselves and I was sucked into the story.

Love To Hatred Turn’d by Annie Whitehead

Scandal, plots and loss, Love To Hatred Turn’d follows life at court during the reign of Edmund I, from the perspective of an outsider woman. A woman who, despite being related to noblemen, is caught up in rumours that may ruin her reputation forever. Alyeva was a character that I thoroughly enjoyed reading about. Her motherly instincts towards, not only her own children but also Prince Edgar, made her incredibly likeable. She is a loving and caring woman, despite what people say about her.

I wouldn’t say I liked Dunstan nearly as much as I liked Alyeva from the start, for Alyeva seemed to be putting all the effort into their friendship, whereas he didn’t pay her as much attention as I felt like she deserved.  Likewise, there were men who wanted her hand in marriage due to her relations, but those who asked didn’t deserve her. 

The narrative was woven beautifully into the history. Although I don’t know much about this era, I didn’t find myself being pulled away from the story in confusion. The descriptions were beautifully written and I fell more in love with the story as I read it.

A Knight’s Tale by Charlene Newcomb

A chivalrous knight whose preference is for men is not something that is often depicted in Medieval historical fiction, but this is a theme that Newcomb has explored. Stephen is a very conflicted but wonderful character although not without flaws. This short-story did bemuse me ever so slightly, as Stephen was very open about his tastes and I am not sure if that would have been the case in the 12th Century?

Stephen’s relationship with Geoffrey was fascinating. The bond between the two men was penned beautifully, from their friendship to their more intimate moments. I came to care deeply for them both as I read, wanting more than anything for their relationship to solidify itself into what it was pretending not to be – love. The time seemed to fly by as I read and the pages simply couldn’t turn fast enough.  

All Those Tangled Webs by Anna Belfrage

Edward III, Ned, may be the King of England, but he is young and power remains with the Regents, Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer. After Edward’s father abdicated, he was never heard of again. When Ned’s uncle, Thomas, hears a rumour that his brother may still be alive, he doesn’t hesitate to hatch a plan, to write a letter to his brother in the hopes that it won’t fall into the wrong hands. Despite his concerns for his brother, I thought this was incredibly selfish of him, as the safety of Margaret, their three children and their unborn child were not the priority to Thomas. 

Thomas’ wife, Margaret, was one of my favourite characters in this story. She was incredibly loyal to her husband, though his actions posed a threat to her family. Her emotions were penned beautifully, as she worries for Thomas and comes across conversations outside of her family that may pose a threat to his plan. 

All Those Tangled Webs tells a story of the fickleness of family, for Thomas only wants to save his brother, reunite Ned with his father, and return the rightful king to the throne. However, by attempting to save his brother, he puts his wife and children in danger, not to mention himself. The story was gripping and I couldn’t put the book down as I rooted for Thomas, hoping that his plan would go through without a hitch so that Margaret and her children would remain safe.

Family Or Fealty by Mercedes Rochelle

Thomas Percy has two choices – join his nephew, Henry (Harry Hotspur) Perry in a rebellion against the king, or risk facing the family member he loved so very dearly in battle. Thomas had already found himself in trouble, finding himself on the wrong side of a battle, but he had gotten away with it before. Now, however, King Henry IV was going against his promises and Harry wasn’t going to sit on the side-lines and watch.

This story is laid out so that you read what happened after it has already happened. You know the outcome, you know how things will end up, but still, I couldn’t help but hope against hope that Thomas would figure out a way to make things right. That maybe, just maybe, Harry and Thomas wouldn’t end up where they do.

The relationship between Thomas and Harry is penned beautifully – Thomas loves Harry and will do anything for him, let him do anything, and try to protect him as he does. The outcome is heart-breaking, but the journey is one that I greatly enjoyed. One that made me want to know more about these people and how they got to where they did, for Thomas is someone who has been in many difficult situations and always seems to have figured it out before. His downfall is that he can’t turn his back on his family, which makes him all the more likeable and exciting to read about.

Heart Of A Falcon by Amy Maroney

Estelle is a young Frenchwoman, living in Rhodes Town with her family. Her parents long to return to France, but her father must stay and remain in service to the Grand Master, in his position as master falconer. Besides, their funds are too insufficient to be able to get to France. When a letter arrives, offering Estelle a place in the court of the King of Cyprus, her parents jump at the chance. Who dared refuse a king? Especially one offering them gold. 

Estelle is a wonderful young woman who is caring, brave and smart. She looks after her siblings, taking over the role her mother doesn’t fill, and they look up to her, for good reason. She is not only the one teaching them French, but she can understand the languages spoken in Rhodes Town and speak them well, if not nearly fluently. I admired Estelle as I followed her from her family, from safety, into the unknown. Across a treacherous sea, into a new and unfamiliar land, so very different from the one she was used to. She is like one of the falcons her father looks after – she is strong, powerful, and deadly. If her family cannot achieve it, she will get them back to France, for she has courage and will stand her ground against those who would wish to deceive her. Estelle is penned as a beautiful soul, a loving woman I couldn’t help but like as I wished for her fortune to take a turn for the better, into a better life than the one she was stuck in.

Road To The Tower by Elizabeth St.John

King Edward IV is dead and his son, the soon to be Edward V, must be taken to London for his coronation. However, he is with the Woodvilles and not with Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who was declared Protector Of The Realm. 

Lady Elysabeth Scrope is the young king’s Godmother, a role that makes her family, and Gloucester calls upon her help to provide Edward with his spiritual welfare. Elysabeth wholeheartedly believes in sovereynté, the right of women to make their own decisions, without being influenced or controlled by their menfolk. Despite being faced with possibly the most difficult decisions of her life, with every choice she makes having an effect on the future of the country, Elysabeth stands steadfast in her beliefs, a woman strong in herself. The grief she puts up with from her sister, Margaret Beaufort, and from Harry Stafford shows her patience and tolerance, as well as signifying how much she will put up with to protect her beloved Edward. 

I, like most people, know the story of the princes in the Tower, but to read a story showing the events that prelude the Tower was interesting and gripping. Despite knowing the outcome, one cannot help but hope that, somehow, the princes never saw the inside of the Tower and history, as is documented, never came to pass.

House Arrest by Judith Arnopp

Allegiance can be a fickle thing, especially when your own interests are more important to you than loyalty. Margaret Beaufort cares only for her son, Henry, and his return from exile. Before his untimely death, Edward IV had been arranging Henry’s return, but when he died, Henry was forgotten. 

Margaret is often depicted as a cold-hearted woman, thinking only of herself and her son, but this story shone a light on Margaret that I haven’t seen before. The Margaret who is guilty of treason and is lucky to be alive, the Margaret who suffers loneliness under house arrest and wishes for human companionship. The Margaret who cares for the safety of the princes in the Tower and is distraught when she hears the rumour that they are both dead. It was interesting to see this side of Margaret, the side that doesn’t just care about her son, but whose motherly instincts extend outside of her own family. Her grievances and joyfulness are depicted beautifully and the pages were practically turning themselves as I read.

Drake – Tudor Corsair by Tony Riches

The English want revenge on the Spanish – too much damage has been caused. When Queen Elizabeth summons Francis Drake, away from court and anyone who might overhear their conversation, Drake is given his commands. He is to sail the Spanish trade routes and take their gold, for the English are building a navy and the Spanish gold would pay for it. Drake is a lenient man, whose station is seriously undermined at sea by those who can only be described as jealous of him. When faced with enemy sailors, or native islanders, Drake is kind and considerate, for while these people are expecting the worst, Drake does not want to take slaves or, if he can help it, kill anyone. Drake truly becomes a pirate, plundering Spanish ships, or taking them as his own. This is a story of adventure, for while there is a mission at hand, who can help but to refer to such a journey as one? 

Drake is a likeable character, who one can root for. The people who attempt to challenge him seem almost petty in their actions, for Drake may be lenient, but his tolerance can only stretch so far and mutiny is a serious matter. I was immersed in this story, sailing the seas alongside Drake, facing storms and defiance, and it was incredibly interesting to read about Drake and how such a sea voyage would have played out.

Honour Of Thieves by Cryssa Bazos

A royalist highwayman in a Parliamentarian England, James Hart lives a double life. Working at the Chequer gives him a home and friends, while the highway through Moot Hill allows him to build up an account for the prince, for when he returns to claim his father’s throne. However, when an old nemesis returns, with the intent to take the Chequer from its landlord, Henry Grant, James jumps into action. He can’t let his friend lose his inn anymore than he can lose his home. After all, he has a debt to settle with William Gardner and this gives him an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. I greatly admired James for, despite his stealing and general disregard for the law, he is loyal to the Royalist prince and would do anything for his friends. While Gardner has the law on his side, James has past grievances with him that push him forward in his plans. Even when everything starts falling apart, James doesn’t lose face in his ability to break into an impenetrable castle. This story had me on the edge of my seat with the fast-paced narrative and the action-packed heist that James arranges. It seems, not every highwayman breaks the law for himself and sometimes a little bribery goes a long way.

A Not So Bonny Betrayal by Helen Hollick

A normal life can be long, fruitful, with love, children and a home. However, Calico Jack Rackham much prefers life as a pirate, with a ship, adventure and fighting. Besides, who’s to say that life on the sea can’t involve love? 

The meeting of Jack and Anne Bonny started as a simple night together, then a few more, but that is all it could be for she had a husband and he was a pirate!

A story of adventure, love and avoiding those who seek to rid the world of pirates, I really couldn’t turn the pages fast enough as I delved into the lives of Jack and Anne. 

While the historical details about their lives are scant, this allowed Hollick a blank slate to add characters, such as Jesamiah Acorne, a pirate who does not have the same outlook to such a profession as Jack does. While Jesamiah is sensible, Jack is high-spirited and eager to find his own way in the world he lives in. A ship – that is what Jack desires, a captaincy of his own. He was a joy to read about, although I’m not certain the same can be said for Anne. If sleeping around to pay the rent while she was married was an indicator for anything, it’s that her love is fickle and she is only loyal when she has no other choice, or if it suits her needs. For Jack, his love for a woman that he cannot fully appease is his downfall. 

Both sea-bound and on land, this story captured my attention from start to finish and my curiosity was certainly piqued about the lives of Calico Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny, and what truth really lies behind the names that are so well known.

The Idealist by Alison Morton

The Roman Empire crumbled. However, Roma Nova did not. The difference? Roma Nova was ruled by women!

A mystery in the 21st century, alongside alleged treason in the 1840s, this alternative historical fiction story was a conundrum from start to end. The idea that a modern society of Romans still exists is an interesting concept and the women are strong enough to keep it running, instead of backing down and letting the menfolk take over when times get rough. Both Statia and Carina are beguiling characters and I felt strongly for Statia as Carina solves the mystery of the past. Full of twists, turns and deception, I was captivated from start to finish in the idea of a nation that didn’t fall, but prospered.

This was a fabulous short-story to end the anthology with.

In conclusion, this is a great book, filled with fascinating stories that explored the concept of Betrayal. Perfect for your morning coffee break.

This book is currently FREE on Kindle!

Judith Arnopp

A lifelong history enthusiast, Judith Arnopp holds an honours degree in English/Creative writing, and a Masters in Medieval Studies. Judith has written twelve novels to date, nine of which are based in the Tudor period covering women like Elizabeth of York, Anne Boleyn and Mary Tudor, but her main focus is on the perspective of historical women from all roles of life. The Beaufort Chronicle: The Life of Lady Margaret Beaufort (three book series) covers the transitional period between Bosworth and the death of Henry Tudor. She is currently taking a break from Tudor women and writing from the perspective of Henry VIII in "A Matter of Conscience."

Cryssa Bazos

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 and 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.

Anna Belfrage

Anna Belfrage wanted to become a time-traveller but ended up as a financial professional with a passion for writing and history. She has authored the acclaimed time travel series The Graham Saga, set in the 17th century, and the equally acclaimed medieval series The King's Greatest Enemy, set in 14th century England. Anna has also published The Wanderer, a contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal ingredients. Her latest release, His Castilian Hawk, is a story of loyalty and love set against the complications of Edward I's invasion of Wales.

Derek Birks

Derek Birks lives in Dorset, England, though he spent his teenage years in Auckland, New Zealand, where he still has strong family ties. For many years he taught history in a large secondary school before turning his hand to writing historical fiction. His stories, set both in the medieval period and late antiquity, are fast-paced and action-packed—almost no character is safe. He has also produced a series of non-fiction podcasts on the War of the Roses. When he is not writing, he enjoys travel, walking and watching films.

Helen Hollick

First published in 1994, Helen Hollick became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK), with the sequel, Harold the King (U.S: I Am the Chosen King), being novels that explore events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon's Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she writes a nautical adventure series, The Sea Witch Voyages. Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales, and Life of a Smuggler. She lives in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in North Devon, runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction, and occasionally gets time to write . . .

Amy Maroney

Amy Maroney lives in Oregon, U.S.A, with her family. She spent many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction before turning her hand to historical fiction. When she's not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, drawing, dancing, traveling, and reading. Amy is the author of the Miramonde Series, a trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail.

Alison Morton

Alison Morton writes the award-winning Roma Nova series featuring modern Praetorian heroines—tough but compassionate women. She puts this down to her deep love of Roman history, six years' military service, a Masters in History and an over-vivid imagination. It was hot that afternoon when, staring at a particularly beautiful mosaic, she started wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women. Now, Alison blogs, reads, cultivates a Roman herb garden and drinks wine in France with her husband.

Charlene Newcomb

Charlene Newcomb lives, works, and writes in Kansas. She is an academic librarian (retired) by trade, a U.S Navy veteran, and has three grown children. When not at the library, she is still surrounded by books trying to fill her head with all things medieval and galaxies far, far away. She loves to travel and enjoys quiet places in the mountains or on rocky coasts. But even in Kansas she can let her imagination soar.

Tony Riches

Tony Riches is a full-time author based in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK, and is best known for his Tudor trilogy. After a career in the Royal Air Force he held senior roles in the National Health Service and Local Government. When researching his books Tony likes visiting the actual locations and discovering elusive primary sources. In his spare time he enjoys sailing and sea kayaking.

Mercedes Rochelle

Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she received her B.A in Literature at the University of Missouri before moving to New York to "see the world". The search hasn't ended. Today she lives in Sergeantsville, N.J with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

Elizabeth St. John

Elizabeth St. John spends her time between California, England, and the past. An acclaimed author, historian and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Lydiard Park and Nottingham Castle to Richmond Palace and the Tower of London to inspire her novels. Although the family sold a few country homes along the way (it's hard to keep a good castle going thee days), Elizabeth's family still occupy them—in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their legacy. And the occasional ghost. But that's a different story . . .

Annie Whitehead

Annie Whitehead has written three award-winning novels set in Anglo-Saxon England:To Be A Queen, about the life of Æthelflaed, Lady of the Mercians; Alvar the Kingmaker set in the turbulent tenth century when kings died young and not always of natural causes, and Cometh the Hour, the story of King Penda the pagan king. Her nonfiction books are published by Amberley Books and Pen & Sword Books and she was the inaugural winner of the Historical Writers' Association/Dorothy Dunnett Society Short Story Award.