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.


  1. Thank you so much for this lovely, detailed and insightful review!

  2. What a fabulous review - thank you so much for your great insights on each story!

  3. Fabulous reviews! Thanks for taking so much time with us!

  4. Such an amazing review, Bee. Betrayal sounds like a fabulous anthology.

  5. Thanks so much for this thoughtful and lovely review!

  6. Thank you so much for such a thoughtful and generous review!