BROOK COTTAGE BOOKS PRESENTS: THE SECRET OF HILLCREST HOUSE by MELANIE ROBERTSON KING 20 June – 1 July 2016

The Secret of Hillcrest House 4-4-2016 Front Cover-page-001

THE SECRET OF HILLCREST HOUSE

BY

MELANIE ROBERTSON-KING

Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Release Date: April 16, 2016
Publisher: King Park Press

Sometimes there’s more to a house than bricks and mortar.
Hillcrest House is one such place. Perched on a cliff in the picturesque town of Angel Falls, there is more to this Victorian mansion than meets the eye. When referring to the house, the locals use the word haunted on a regular basis. Strange visions appear in the windows, especially the second-floor ones over the side porch. Even stranger events take place within its four walls.
Rumour has it, the original owners, Asher and Maggie Hargrave, never left their beloved home. They claim the couple and their family are responsible for driving people away. Over the years, Hillcrest House has changed hands numerous times. No one stays long. Renovations begin then stop and the house is once more abandoned. The latest in this long line of owners is Jessica Maitland.
Will Jessica be the next one to succumb or will she unravel The Secret of Hillcrest House?

PRAISE FOR MELANIE ROBERTSON-KING….

Melanie Robertson-King’s latest novel serves up a delightful blend of the supernatural and spicy romance, Lynn L. Clark, author of The Home Child, and Fire Whisperer & Circle of Souls: Two Novellas of the Supernatural, & The Accusers

Intrigue, dark buried secrets, hot romance and a neat twist in the tale make this riveting reading, Sheryl Browne, MA Creative Writing, Choc Lit Author

A fun read that keeps you guessing right up to the surprise ending, Dayna Leigh Cheser, Author of Janelle’s Time, Moria’s Time, Adelle’s Time, & Logan’s Time.

MY REVIEW

Although I have to confess to being a romance girl I’m always keen to step out of my comfort zone on occasions and this was one of them.  I was drawn into this book from the first page.  Jessica Maitland has sunk her savings into Hillcrest House in the small town of Angel Falls. It was too much coincidence that she’d been doodling the exact same house on pads and paper for some time; she had to have it.  Having made the purchase without actually looking over the place, she’s shocked to find it in a very dilapidated state.  As soon as she steps through the doors things begin to happen.  Fuses blow, doors that appear locked are suddenly open, there are apparitions and children’s laughter.  And then there are the crows.

I really enjoyed this story; ghostly and sometimes scary happenings which relate back to the family who once lived here.  With the aid of policeman Alain Fournier, as Jess begins restore the old house she also gradually pieces together the tragic history of the Hargreaves and eventually makes a surprising discovery. Jess and Alain’s romance also provides a perfect balance with the supernatural suspense.

A great read guaranteed to keep you turning the pages.

4_stars

 

EXCERPT

The wind picked up making it difficult for Jessica to return the contents to the pouch. As she turned to place them in her purse, a face and hands appeared in the window over the side porch. “There’s someone in there,” she gasped, pointing to the location.
“Keys. I’ll need them unless you want me to break in.”
Transfixed by the image, Jessica couldn’t look away. She extended her arm and dropped her ring holding her house and car keys into his hand.
“You stay here,” he ordered before sprinting to the front of the house.
The face appeared to be that of a young child. After a few minutes, the image faded. She blinked thinking it vanished because she’d stared at it for so long, but even that didn’t help.
Frightened by the disappearance, she dashed after the officer.
When she stepped through the door, the pungent smells of damp and stale assailed her nostrils. Out of habit, Jessica reached for the light switch. She discovered an old-fashioned push button one indicative of knob and tube wiring. That was another expense she wasn’t prepared for.
At one time, the dark wainscoting in the foyer shone. Now it was dull, dingy and covered with dust. The paint above it and on the ceiling had peeled and curled. Flakes littered the floor and stairs. She grabbed a loose piece of paint from the wall and gave it a tug. It pulled away with little resistance.
Two large rooms stood on either side of the main hall. Jessica entered the one to her left. Pocket doors, off their tracks, cut off part of the large doorway. Yellowed wall and ceiling paper hung from crazy angles. The plaster it once covered now exposed. Sheets covered the furniture. At one time, they had been white but now, layered with dust. Jessica thumped her hand down on the back of a sofa forcing a cloud of the grubby powder into the air. Choking, she scurried out and into the room across the corridor.
It, too, was in the same state but in here, boards didn’t cover the windows. Sun shone through grimy panes of glass, and dust particles floated in the air trapped by the beams of light.
The sound of footfalls on the stairs echoed through the house. Jessica turned. She gasped and clapped her hand over her mouth. On the back of a sheet-covered sofa, lay a pristine, long-stemmed red rose.
The officer stepped into the room, securing his truncheon to his belt. “I thought I told you to stay outside.”
She didn’t reply. Stood shaking and pointing at the flower. Tried to speak but no sound came out. The room started swimming in front of her eyes. Her mouth went dry. She felt cold and clammy.
Jessica came to outside on the verandah with no idea how she got there or what happened.
“You fainted,” the cop said. “I caught you before you fell and brought you out into the fresh air.”
She stared at him and nodded only half understanding what he told her.
“By the way, I’m Alain Fournier.” He flashed a smile revealing brilliant white, perfect teeth. “And you are?”
“J-Jessica Maitland.”
“There was no one anywhere in the house. I’ve checked it from top to bottom.”
“But …,” she sagged against his shoulder.
How could that be? She saw the face in the window and the hands pressed against the glass. If no one had been inside the house, how did that rose get there? It was fresh. Not wilted. It made no sense. Her mind had to be playing tricks on her. Tired from the long drive and concentrating on the GPS directions, all she wanted was sleep.

ABOUT MELANIE ROBERTSON-KING

Melanie author photo croppedMelanie Robertson-King has always been a fan of the written word. Growing up as an only child, her face was almost always buried in a book from the time she could read. Her father was one of the thousands of Home Children sent to Canada through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland, and she has been fortunate to be able to visit her father’s homeland many times and even met the Princess Royal (Princess Anne) at the orphanage where he was raised.

 

 

MELANIE’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Melanie-Robertson-King-221018701298979/
Twitter: @RobertsoKing https://twitter.com/RobertsoKing
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6543072.Melanie_Robertson_King
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melanie-robertson-king-72298065
Blog: Celtic Connexions http://www.melanierobertson-king.com/wp02/
Website: http://www.melanierobertson-king.com

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BROOK COTTAGE BOOKS PRESENTS: STORM CHILD BY SHARON SANT 20 – 24th June 2016

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Genre: YA FANTASY
Release Date: 21ST April 2016
Publisher: Lightfoot Press

In a Victorian era where the industrial revolution has been replaced by superstition and magic, Britain is a place where wolves roam freely and children with magic are snatched from the streets. This is home for thirteen-year-old witch, Annie and her baby sister, Georgina. When their mother dies, Annie and Georgina find themselves saved from the workhouse by the mysterious Ernesto Black. But Black’s motives are far from pure and soon Annie faces new, even more dangerous threats. What does Ernesto want from Georgina? And can Annie trust the other teenagers living with Ernesto: Polly, who has her eye fixed firmly on inheriting Ernesto’s fortune and will do anything to make sure she gets it, and the charming Isaac, who would do anything to win Polly’s affections – legal or not.

Fearing for Georgina’s safety, Annie is faced with a terrible choice: she can try to guard her sister from the ever-present threat of Ernesto, or she can leave the child out in the wilds of the New Forest in the hope she’ll be found and taken in by a new family, ignorant of her powers. Annie chooses to leave Georgina’s future to chance and steals her away from Ernesto’s house in the dead of night.

But Annie’s troubles are far from over as her actions set in motion a chain of events that will take her and Georgina into danger she could never imagine. This danger drags country girl, Charlotte Harding into the fray and threatens every one of the teenagers, and it leads them right into the heart of the powerful organisation responsible for the assassination of Queen Victoria, an organisation that wants only one thing: Hell on Earth – quite literally…

FROM THE BEST SELLING AUTHOR OF THE MEMORY GAME AND THE SKY SONG TRILOGY, STORM CHILD IS BOOK ONE OF THE STORM CHILD TRILOGY.

Excerpt

The basket the girl carried was almost as large as her and she gasped as she stumbled, nearly dropping it. It had been dragged on a stolen handcart along dark, silent roads until she reached the edge of the heath. The cart was useless on the dense undergrowth here and now she walked with her precious cargo, crooning to it as she laboured under its weight.
Biting back tears, she took one last look around. Her gaze returned to the lights of the tiny house. Was this close enough? Would the basket be found? What would happen if it wasn’t? But the girl had no choice. The alternative was a fate far, far worse.
She opened her mouth and clear, high notes rang out across the darkened terrain. A few moments passed, the girl singing in the darkness, until a shadow appeared on the horizon and crept towards her. The wolf approached and bowed its head.
‘Thank you,’ the girl said. ‘You will protect her until she is claimed. After that, your will is your own again.’
The wolf stared at the girl, as if in a trance. Then it sat next to the basket and turned its eyes to the heath.

Buy Links
AMAZON UK
AMAZON US

WRITING ACROSS GENRES BY SHARON SANT

I’ve been writing professionally for almost ten years now. I started out writing young adult fiction, and now I write young adult (predominantly fantasy and paranormal), children’s fiction and romantic comedies. People think that’s weird when I tell them, they ask how I can possibly keep my head in all three vastly different genres. The books aren’t even remotely similar in style – while the chick lit is warm and uplifting, the YA is often dark and bleak. My kids’ books are as zany as can be – these are where I let my imagination really fly and they’ve covered everything from talking skeletons to pocket sized dragons.  The funny thing is, I don’t find it hard writing in all these different styles at all; it’s all a question of retuning, a bit like a radio finding a new station.  I sit down to write, I find the headspace that suits the book I’m working on, I surround myself with stuff that creates the mood, like music, and I begin.  Often my own mood affects what I decide to write; I might be feeling darker, less fluffy one week, and so I write something that reflects that.

I love working in a constantly changing landscape. If I had to write just one type of book, all the time, I’d get bored.  But this way, when I’ve had enough of one thing I can retune and begin something that feels fresh and different.  I read widely, and in many different genres too, and I think this definitely helps. You can see instantly the style and structure in different types of books, what is required to make a book in a particular genre work, and you learn to mimic that in your own.

I’d like to write a thriller next. My agent thinks I’m bonkers, but after three years together she understands how my brain works. She’d ask me to write only one type of book if she could (it would be a lot easier for her to sell) but she knows it would be a waste of time!

ABOUT SHARON SANT

23776_1435621208482_8239110_nSharon Sant was born in Dorset but now lives in Staffordshire. Aged eight she wrote a poem about ET, which received the ultimate praise of being pinned onto the classroom wall, and from that moment on she knew she’d never stop writing. She graduated from Staffordshire University in 2009 with a degree in English and creative writing. She currently works part time as a freelance editor and continues to write her own stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes across many genres, when not busy trying in vain to be a domestic goddess, she can often be found lurking in local coffee shops with her head in a book. Sometimes she pretends to be clever but really loves nothing more than watching geeky TV and eating Pringles.

Young adult novels Sky Song, The Young Moon and Not of Our Sky (the Sky Song trilogy), The Memory Game and Runners were all released in 2013 to glowing reviews. Dead Girl Walking followed in 2015 and she has a new trilogy planned for 2016, the first book of which, Storm Child, is due for release in April.

Sharon also writes children’s fiction under the name of Summer Hopkiss.
To find out more you can follow her on twitter where she’s always happy to chat: @sharonsant or find her on Facebook. You can also go to her website: http://www.sharonsant.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharonjsant/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SharonSant
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6888220.Sharon_Sant
Blog: http://www.sharonsant.com
Website: http://www.sharonsant.com

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BROOK COTTAGE BOOKS PRESENTS:LEARNING TO LOVE by SHERYL BROWNE 20 June – 1 July 2016

LEARNING TO LOVE

BY

SHERYL BROWNE

 

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Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 14th 2016
Publisher: Choc Lit

Sometimes help comes from the most unlikely places …

Living in a small village like Hibberton, it’s expected that your neighbours help you in a time of need. But when Andrea Kelly’s house burns down, taking
all her earthly possessions with it, it’s the distant and aloof Doctor David Adams – the person she would least expect – who opens his door not just to her, but to her three kids and slightly dotty elderly mother as well.
Andrea needs all the help she can get, dealing with aftermath of the fire and in the suspicious absence of her husband, Jonathan. But, as she gets to know David and his troubled son, Jake, she begins to realise that maybe they need her help as much as she needs theirs …

Previously released by the author. Revised, edited and republished by Choc Lit in June 2016.

CHOC LIT

EXCERPT

I don’t know how you feel, David, do I? I don’t know you, other than what you’ve told me.’
David looked at her levelly. ‘The truth.’
‘The truth?’ Andrea was really incredulous now. ‘Apart from the one or two inconsequential little things you forgot to tell me? Or was it more than that, David? Three? Four? A hundred?’
‘Two! Twice. Bloody hell, Andrea …’
And that made it all right? She forced back the tears she desperately didn’t want to cry in front of him, again. ‘And I thought Jonathan was being devious. You take the biscuit, David, you really do.’ Shaking her head, Andrea moved to walk past him.
‘I’m nothing like Jonathan, Andrea,’ David said quietly. ‘I care about you.’
Andrea turned back. ‘And Jonathan doesn’t?’ She knew in her heart that her relationship had been floundering long before the fire that had blown her world apart, before David … She didn’t believe Jonathan’s tale about why he hadn’t been able to contact her any more than his claim to have found Dougal in the park. He’d been piling lie on top of lie since that dreadful night, and she would tackle him. Right now, though, she was more interested in what lies this man might concoct to extract himself from his mess.
‘Did he tell you the assessors had been?’
‘I haven’t had a chance to speak to him yet.’ Andrea walked on.
‘He’s hiding something, Andrea,’ David called after her. ‘I’m not sure what, but the fire, his preoccupation with Dee’s mental state, his story … It just doesn’t add up.’
Disbelieving, Andrea whirled around. ‘You’ll stop at nothing, will you? You paint yourself as a poor wounded hero, torn apart by grief and guilt and the havoc you created, and then you have the nerve to point out other people’s failings? Why?’
‘Andrea, I … I don’t know.’ David shrugged hopelessly. ‘I just want you to be careful, that’s—’
‘I mean, I’m no great catch, am I?’ Andrea went on, her fury growing. ‘Was what just happened between us another one of your mistakes, is that it?’
‘No!’ David fixed angry eyes on hers. ‘Dammit, Andrea I do care about you. I—’
‘I’m going.’ Andrea turned away.
‘Andrea, don’t.’ David caught her arm. ‘Please. The kids …’
‘Don’t you dare, David,’ Andrea warned him angrily. ‘Don’t you dare try to manipulate me through my children!’
‘They’re getting ready for bed, Andrea. There’s no point in upsetting them tonight.’
‘Me upsetting them?’ Andrea was flabbergasted.
‘Jake …’ David swallowed. ‘Give me a chance to speak to him, Andrea. Please, I’m begging you.’
Andrea felt her heart break inside her afresh, for Jake, for David, too, who was going to have to live with the devastating consequences of his actions; for Sally, who would surely need her friendship now, but which this man had made impossible. For herself.
‘Stay,’ David implored. ‘Please? For tonight, at least.’
Andrea studied his face, saw the desperation in his eyes; eyes where so many conflicting emotions played out. How little did she really know him? She could have loved him. Did, still. Yet hated him.
‘For Jake’s sake,’ she said, dropping her gaze to his hand still on her arm.
Relief flooding his face, David released his hold. ‘Thank you,’ he said, closing his eyes.

LEARNING TO LOVE – MY REVIEW

Well what can you say?  Sheryl never disappoints. She writes the kind of stories you would like to go on for ever. She’s a great observer. No one dimensional characters here; hers come with strengths, weaknesses and plenty of emotional baggage. And this, I’m sure is why it’s so very easy to empathise with them.

Dr David Adams, struggles with his grief over the loss of his wife and unborn child.  He also faces a daily challenge, trying to heal the great emotional gulf between himself and his ten year old son Jake. Teacher Andrea Kelly is going through a rough patch with partner Jonathan Eden.  Work pressures and stressful family situations are taking their toll.

When Andrea’s house catches fire David rescues her children and in the absence of her partner Jonathan offers her shelter until she sorts herself out.

Andrea is a cross between Wonder Woman and Mother Theresa in the way she copes so patiently with two teenagers, a toddler and her forgetful mother Dee, a woman in the early stages of dementia.  David is a kind and honourable man putting himself out to help this family in need.  Inevitably the two soon become attracted to each other but when Jonathan suddenly turns up and Andrea’s friend Sally drops a huge bombshell concerning David you really are left wondering ‘What happens next?’

I loved everything about this book. It wasn’t simply a romance.  There was humour and drama as well. In fact everything we’ve come to associate with Sheryl’s writing. A totally brilliant read full of believable characters and true to life situations.

I would like to thank Brook Cottage Books for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Amazon Link: http://lrd.to/Learning-To-Love

ABOUT SHERYL BROWNE

Sheryl Browne03 small fileHeartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, Sheryl Browne brings you sassy, sexy, heart-wrenching fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for the Best Romantic e-book Love Stories Award 2015, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

Recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer, Sheryl’s contemporary fiction comes to you from award winning Choc Lit.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Buy | Buy US | Pinterest
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Choc Lit | Romantic Novelists’ Association

 

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BROOK COTTAGE BOOK TOURS PRESENTS: THE FLOWER SELLER BY ELLIE HOLMES 6 – 17 JUNE 2016

the flower seller

ALL SHE WANTED WAS A LOVE SHE COULD BELIEVE IN.

Jessie Martin believes that when it comes to love there are three types of people: the skimmers, the bottom dwellers and the ones who dive for pearls. Jessie is a pearl diver. She had thought her husband William was a pearl diver too. But when William leaves her for a younger woman, it’s not just Jessie’s heart that is broken, her ability to trust is shattered too.
Refusing to retire from the battlefield of life, Jessie resolves to put her heartache behind her. She doesn’t want to be that woman who was too scared to love again. There has to be another pearl diver out there; all she has to do is find him.
When fate brings handsome flower seller Owen Phillips into her life, Jessie believes he may be the one but is her fragile trust about to be shattered all over again?
The Flower Seller is a warm, engaging read about love, deceit, betrayal and hope.

BUY LINK
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EXCERPT

It had been her daughter Hannah’s idea to put an advert in the Abbeyleigh Gazette. ‘It’s time to take yourself out of your comfort zone, Mum. Why don’t you get Anne to give you a hand with the ad?’
Sucked into the vortex of her daughter’s enthusiasm, Jessie had agreed before she could talk herself out of it.
‘So, what have you got so far?’ Anne had asked over margaritas in Spike’s Bar.
‘Newly single brunette, slim, attractive, early forties, non-smoker, good sense of humour, would like to meet man thirties/forties for friendship and maybe more,’ Jessie read aloud.
Anne pretended to fall asleep and Jessie slapped her arm.
‘Bit dull, sweetie!’ Anne said with a smile. ‘For starters, you should put early thirties. Everyone knocks a few years off. And do you really want to say slim? It’s practically shorthand for flat-chested and you’re not. How about “great figure” instead?’
‘That’s a bit conceited, isn’t it?’
Anne threw her a look. ‘It’s an advert, Jessie. You’re meant to be selling yourself.’
‘Blimey! I’ll just get some fishnets and a red light, shall I?’
‘You know what I mean. You should put something in there about being outgoing. That usually leads to some interesting propositions.’
‘But I’m not outgoing,’ Jessie said.
‘For goodness’ sake, outgoing just means you’re up for a bit of fun. I’m not suggesting for a moment that you put “open-minded”. Now that would lead to some replies that would make your hair stand on end. And obviously your WLTM has to be a man in his late twenties or early thirties.’
‘Has to be? This is my advert, remember? Not yours!’
Anne smirked. ‘So you’d prefer “Recently dumped flat-chested brunette, early forties, lives life with the handbrake on, would like to meet man forties/fifties for visits to the library”?’
‘I’d prefer not to be doing it at all.’
Anne squeezed her hand. ‘I know, sweetie. And you can stick another pin in your effigy of William when you get home but right now we need to get you back out there before life passes you by.’

MY REVIEW

Jessie and husband William work in the same law practice.  Jessie gave up her career when daughter Hannah was born but returned to work later to pursue her dream of becoming a partner in the firm.  Hannah is now at university and it is apparent Jessie and William are going through a difficult time in their marriage.  Work pressures, getting Hannah settled in uni, the unexpected death of William’s father, all of these make their contributions. However the biggest problem is that these two once very much in love people have lost the ability to communicate with each other.  Then just before their wedding anniversary is due William drops a bombshell – he wants out of their marriage because he has met someone else. Stunned by this revelation, Jessie at first thinks it’s someone from work. But  the news is even worse when William reveals it’s a 24 year old hairdresser called Chelsea. Jessie knows William is a strong, arrogant individual, someone who already has a partnership under his belt.  In the past these traits have been kept for his court room appearances but now she finds them turned on her as he tries to persuade her on a 50:50 split of their home, The Lodge.  Jessie refuses to budge.  She has loved and nurtured this house since they bought it why should she give it up so her husband can buy his new girlfriend the house she wants?

Realising divorce is inevitable Jessie, persuaded by Hannah, joins a dating agency.  Her first date invites her to a wedding evening do where she meets the much younger Owen Phillips.  Owen is calm,  mature for his years and supportive. He seems to be just what Jessie needs in her currently turbulent life. But is he too good to be true?

Written against the backdrop of the market down of Abbeyleigh this had a slight feel of ITV’s Dr Foster about it. Jessie was a great character determined not to let William ride roughshod over her with his demands to sell the house and have a fifty:fifty split.  She fights back by hiring a smart lawyer and turning the whole thing around.  William suddenly realises where money is concerned he’s destined to be the loser if he can’t make his demands more realistic.

Chelsea put in a few appearances but didn’t have a big supporting role . However, from the glimpses we had of her it was clear she was putting a lot of pressure on William with her demands for a house and a big wedding.  And as for Owen, well…you’ll have to read The Flower Seller to discover how things play out between him and Jessie.

The Flower Seller is so well written it’s difficult to believe that this is a debut novel.  Ellie Holmes has created some wonderfully memorable characters in this very thought provoking and unputdownable read. Having experienced divorce I can honestly say what happens between Jessie and William feels incredibly real. A brilliant piece of storytelling.

And now I’m really looking forward to Ellie’s next book.

I would like to thank Brook Cottage Books for the complimentary copy of The Flower Seller in  exchange for an honest review.

 

ABOUT ELLIE HOLMES

Paula GuyverEllie Holmes writes commercial women’s fiction and romantic suspense. She takes her inspiration from the beautiful Essex countryside and the sublime Cornish coast. The Flower Seller is Ellie’s first full-length novel. Ellie is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association. To find out more please visit http://www.ellieholmesauthor.com

AUTHOR LINKS
https://www.facebook.com/EllieHWriter
https://www.twitter.com/EllieHWriter
https://pinterest.com/EllieHWriter
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15076107.Ellie_Holmes

 

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BROOK COTTAGE BOOK TOURS PRESENTS: ISABELLA OF ANGOULEME: THE TANGLED QUEEN BY ERICA LAINE 13 – 17 JUNE 2016

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Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: October 2015
Publisher: SilverWood Books

Set in the thirteenth century, the kingdoms of England and France are struggling over territory as the powerful Angevins threaten the French king. In regions far from Paris local fiefdoms disregard all authority.
The Tangled Queen is the story of the little known and very young Isabella of Angoulême who was abducted by King John in 1200. She became his second wife and queen consort, aged 12. He was the most reviled king in English history and his lust for her led to the loss of Normandy and the destruction of the Plantagenet Empire, which then brought about the Magna Carta.
Isabella came of age in England, but was denied her place in court. Her story is full of thwarted ambition, passion, pride and cruelty. She longed for power of her own and returned to France after the death of John to live a life of treachery and intrigue…

 

EXCERPT
Excerpt from Isabella of Angoulême: The Tangled Queen Part 1.

Isabella smiled and yawned – it was time these chattering girls left. She dismissed them, haughty and impatient. Away they sped, some calling back to Isabella, jokes and remarks full of innuendo for her future. She frowned; this was not the way to treat a future queen.
‘Agnes, help prepare me for bed.’
Agnes closed the chamber door, unlacing the back of Isabella’s dress, folding the glorious red and gold silk into the large chest. Tomorrow Isabella would wear the blue gown, the splendid blue and silver fabric showing wealth and also loyalty. If red and gold had shown the power and wealth of the Taillefers, then the blue would mark their obedience and fealty.
Early the next morning Agnes was busy preparing a scented bath. Precious rose oil, drop by drop, turned the hot water cloudy. And then she was busy mixing the rosemary wash for Isabella’s hair. She would wear her hair loose today, and her small gold guirland.
Isabella woke up and saw Agnes looking at her, long and thoughtful, ready to make her stir, but she was already throwing back the covers and standing and stretching. Agnes nodded and together they moved to the bath, and Isabella slipped into the milky, perfumed water and rubbed the rosemary wash into her hair. She felt the water running down her back and shivered. Then she was being briskly dried by Agnes, who was determined to treat Isabella to the most thorough of preparations.
Her mother Alice entered the room and the three of them unfolded the wedding gown and dressed Isabella. Her chemise was soft and light, the dress heavy and cumbersome. Arranged within it, held within it as if caged, her face pale but proud, she moved to the window and looked down onto a courtyard full of people, horses, carts and wagons. A procession was moving through the crowd, with a stately canon and an even more stately bishop in the centre. The clergy were intent on their walk to the cathedral. Isabella clutched Agnes in a sudden fear. Then she rested her head on the window and took a deep breath. It was her wedding day.

AMAZON UK
AMAZON US

MY REVIEW

I found it very difficult to like Isabella.  Although she was only twelve years old she was not only an heiress, she was quite a self-absorbed young girl.  Betrothed to the much older Hugh Lusigan, she fostered with him, learning the skills to run his home when they eventually married.  Hugh was an honourable man who had postponed his wedding to Isabella, not willing to enter into marriage with a child.

A visit to the Lusigan’s from King John was to change Isabella’s destiny.  With a bad reputation around women and young girls, John saw this beautiful rich young girl  and wanted her. The thought of becoming Queen of England soon turned Isabella’s head. While John sent Hugh off on an errand likely to take several weeks, her parents, keen for such a prominent match took her home and allowed  John to marry her.

Even at twelve, Isabella was very materialistic, dreaming of  power and riches.  Returning to England to have their wedding blessed and live with him at court, she soon found all John really wanted was her young body and her riches. He was not at all interested in her as his queen or in giving her any power.

The book tells of her life with John, one of disappointment and frustration.  She has four children with him but spends most of her time almost exiled with them, cheated of the life at court she originally had planned. He does buy her expensive jewels but thinks nothing of taking the back to sell when he’s short of money.

John is a devious licentious man, extremely cruel and greedy, only interested in accumulating wealth and land and murdering those who get in his way.  It is easy to understand why the barons rebelled and forced the Magna Carta on him.  His greed, however, was such a singular focus in his life that it left him open to grave errors one of which cost him his lands in France.

This is an interesting historical account of Isabella’s life with John. Even after his death, she is kept from having any influence over her son Henry and the court he will establish.  Part one ends as she plans to return to her homeland in France and left me wondering what was in store for this very unhappy and frustrated woman.

4_stars

ABOUT ERICA LANE

erica blue for book tour blog1I was was born in 1943 in Southampton and originally studied for the theatre. I moved with my family to Hong Kong in 1977 and worked and lived there for 20 years, writing English language textbooks for Chinese primary schools and managing large educational projects for the British Council.
Since living in S W France I have been very involved with a local history society and have researched many topics, the history of gardens and fashion being favourites.
Isabella of Angoulême began in 2011 at a writing workshop run by Philippa Pride, the Book Doctor. The story of this young queen was fascinating and although she appears as a character in some other historical novels I wanted to concentrate on her entire life and her importance to the English and the French and the role she played in the politics of power. Part Two is being written now and my head is more or less permanently in the thirteenth century.

ERICA’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

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BROOK COTTAGE BOOK TOURS PRESENTS: BEAUTY AND THE RECLUSE by ELLIE GRAY 23 MAY – 3 JUNE 2016

 

Beauty_and_the_Recluse_by_Ellie_Gray-1800HR

Beauty and the Recluse by Ellie Gray

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 12th February 2016
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing

Following the recent death of her father, and in need of both a job and somewhere to live, Kiya takes a housekeeping job on the spur of the moment. She soon finds herself living in a beautiful but neglected mansion, working for a strange and reclusive man.
St. John is a man scarred by the past, both physically and emotionally, and is determined to live out his life alone. They are two very different people, drawn to each other almost against their will, but can Kiya convince St. John that he is not the monster he believes himself to be?

Kindle UK/Amazon UK
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MY REVIEW

A modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I warmed to all three characters – Kiya, St John and Dominic.   It was well written, believable and yet retained a definite fairy tale feel. I loved the way Kiya opened up a new world for reclusive writer St John, bringing both his house and garden back to life. She also made him challenge his perceptions of himself, giving him the confidence to go out into the world again. Both eventually find themselves falling for each other. Complications arise, however, when St John believe Kiya in love with his friend and publisher Dominic. The return of St John’s ex-fiancee Corinne bring doubts for Kiya.

A lovely page turning read with great characters.  My only niggle was the cover.  Personally I felt it didn’t reflect an absolute gem of a story inside.

 

EXCERPT

Singing softly to herself, Kiya was halfway into the room before she realised that she was not alone. From the corner of her eye, she saw St. John O’Neill spin around in surprise and she gave a startled cry, the vase slipping through her fingers to smash on the floor by her feet. He was a very tall man, easily 6ft. 5ins, broad-shouldered and muscular. His thick black hair, although clean, was long and unkempt, and his beard did not quite hide the vivid scar that ran from high on his right cheek down to his mouth. Incredibly bright blue eyes bore into her and, despite the scar and his rough, dishevelled appearance, Kiya was breathlessly aware that he was an incredibly attractive man. He continued to stare at her, radiating an aura of menace, and Kiya gave an unconscious shiver.
‘Seen enough?’ he asked coldly.
Blushing furiously, aware that she had been staring, Kiya quickly bent to pick up the pieces of shattered vase.
‘Leave it.’ His words were clipped.
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t realise what time it was. I’ll just clear…’ she babbled, nervously.
‘Dammit, I said leave it.’
Her hand jerked at his unexpected ferocity and she gave a yelp of pain as the sharp edge of the broken vase sliced her palm. She stood quickly, lifting her hand to check the severity of the cut, and felt a wave of nausea wash over her at the surprisingly profuse amount of blood pouring from the wound. She heard St. John mutter an explicit curse and looked up to see him striding quickly towards her, his expression furious.

ABOUT ELLIE GRAY

Ellie Gray Profile PicEllie lives in the beautiful East Riding of Yorkshire with her partner, David, and two children, Joe and Abbie.
Ellie is a contemporary romance author, published with the lovely Tirgearr Publishing, and is a proud member of the Romantic Novelist Association.
Her debut novel, Beauty and the Recluse, was published in February 2016 and her second novel, Love on the Nile, is due to be released in the Summer of 2016. Inbetween working full-time in public services and studying for an MSc in Public Management, Ellie is currently working on her third novel.

 

A few random pieces of information about Ellie:

• Favourite TV shows – The Walking Dead, The X-Files, Nashville, Dr. Who, The Great British Bake-off!
• Favourite Music – I’m an 80’s girl!, country, sixties, Elvis, classical (when I’m writing)
• Favourite Food – Indian, tapas, crisps, cheese
• Favourite Drink – black coffee – copious amounts when I’m writing, Sauvignon blanc when I’m not.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

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LinkedIn: Ellie Gray Author on LinkedIn
website: https://elliegrayauthor.wordpress.com

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