Monday, 20 June 2022

The Coffee Pot Blog Tour is pleased to host: Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer (The Elizabethan Series, Book 3) by Tony Riches

 


Book Title: Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer

Series: The Elizabethan Series, Book 3

Author: Tony Riches

Publication Date: 1st May 2022

Publisher: Preseli Press

Page Length: 332 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Tour Schedule Page: 


Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer

(The Elizabethan Series, Book 3)

By Tony Riches

Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has been called the last true Elizabethan.

He didn’t dance or joust, didn’t come from a noble family, or marry into one. So how did an impoverished law student become a favourite of the queen, and Captain of the Guard?

The story which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy follows Walter Raleigh from his first days at the Elizabethan Court to the end of the Tudor dynasty.


Read an Excerpt from Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer, by Tony Riches


Durham House, London, May 1583

I could list a dozen reasons not to fall for Elizabeth Knollys, Lady Leighton. As a gentlewoman of the privy chamber, under the judgemental glare of the queen, her conduct had to be exemplary. Lady Leighton was also married – to Sir Thomas Leighton, Governor of Guernsey – and was a cousin, once removed, of the queen.

With a jolt, I realised why I couldn’t deny my feelings for her. Elizabeth Leighton was the embodiment of Queen Elizabeth as she could have been at my own age. Her lustrous golden-red hair was her own, her pale skin smooth and perfect. Her eyes regarded me not with fierce power, but with what I hoped was admiration, even longing.

‘You don’t dance, Master Raleigh?’ She’d found me watching the capering courtiers at the May Day celebrations at Greenwich Palace. The musicians played loudly, and she moved so close I could breathe in the scent of her perfume, delicate and sensual. Intoxicating.

‘I never learned to dance, my lady, and have no regrets.’ I sensed her gentle warmth as our thighs touched, and was filled with half-forgotten feelings. 

She smiled, revealing perfect teeth. ‘No regrets?’ She turned to watch the laughing dancers, most of whom looked as if they’d enjoyed a little too much wine. ‘How I wish I could say the same.’

The unexpected sadness in her voice surprised me. ‘I was only talking about not learning to dance, my lady. I regret many things. I’ve passed thirty, and have no wife or children. I don’t even have a proper title.’

‘I regret marrying a man I rarely see, nineteen years my senior.’ Her hand brushed my thigh as if by accident, sending a frisson of arousal through my body. ‘My greatest regret is having no time for my two daughters, who barely know me.’

We were breaking the strictest rules of court, in such a public place. I’d not forgotten Alice’s warning about the ladies of the queen’s bedchamber. Be wary of them, Captain Raleigh, lest they harm you with their gossip. I’d been lonely since she’d left, and longed to take Lady Elizabeth Leighton in my arms.

If destiny brought us together most days in the privy chamber, it was adventure that drove my reckless feelings. I missed the sense of ever-present danger in Ireland, and had almost forgotten the rebellious man I’d been in my youth.

I lay awake at night dreaming of her, reliving every moment with her at the May dance. I heard the unmistakeable invitation in her words, and saw the glint of promise in her amber eyes. It would be madness to pursue her, a great risk to my reputation – and hers – yet I couldn’t put her from my mind.

She’d worn a jewelled pendant at her breast, in the form of a dove and serpent. I knew them as the emblems of mildness and prudence, yet in my daydreams I wondered if she was a dove, and I the snake who threatened our futures with temptation to taste the forbidden fruit.

I rose at first light to capture the lines of the verse that kept me restless in my bed. I shivered in my nightshirt as I sat close to the window overlooking the grey river, changing and crossing out words until I was satisfied.

Lady, farewell, whom I in silence serve.

Would God thou knewst the depth of my desire,

Then might I hope, though naught I can deserve,

Some drop of grace would quench my scorching fire.

But as to love unknown I have decreed,

So spare to speak doth often spare to speed.

Yet better ’twere that I in woe should waste

Than sue for grace and pity in despite,

And though I see in thee such pleasure placed

That feeds my joy and breeds my chief delight,

Withal I see a chaste consent disdain

Their suits which seek to win thy will again.

Then, farewell! Hope and help to each man’s harm!

I read my words aloud, sure no servants would hear my voice so early in the day. I had to say farewell, as there could be no future for us in this world. My intent was honourable – to end our liaison before it began. Yet some faint glimmer of hope and longing made me add a final verse.

The wind of woe hath torn my tree of trust,

Care quenched the coals which did my fancy warm,

And all my help lies buried in the dust.

But yet, amongst those cares which cross my rest,

This comfort grows, I think I love thee best.


Available on #KindleUnlimited.

mybook.to/Raleigh


Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the lives of the Tudors. He also runs the popular ‘Stories of the Tudors’ podcast, and posts book reviews, author interviews and guest posts at his blog, The Writing Desk. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website tonyriches.com and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches


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Tuesday, 14 June 2022

The Coffee Pot Blog Tours present; The Wistful and the Good by G. M. Baker

 


Book Title: The Wistful and the Good

Series: Cuthbert’s People

Author: G. M. Baker

Publication Date: 4th April 2022

Publisher: Stories All the Way Down

Page Length: 341 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Tour Schedule Page: 

The Wistful and the Good 

(Cuthbert’s People, Book 1)

By G. M. Baker

The mighty are undone by pride, the bold by folly, and the good by wistfulness. 

 Elswyth's mother was a slave, but her father is a thegn, and Drefan, the man she is to marry, is an ealdorman's son. But though Elswyth is content with the match, and waits only for Drefan to notice that she has come to womanhood, still she finds herself gazing seaward, full of wistful longing.

From the sea come Norse traders, bringing wealth, friendship, and tales of distant lands. But in this year of grace 793 the sea has brought a great Viking raid that has devastated the rich monastery of Lindisfarne. Norse are suddenly not welcome in Northumbria, and when Elswyth spots a Norse ship approaching the beach in her village of Twyford, her father fears a Viking raid.

But the ship brings trouble of a different kind. Leif has visited Twyford many times as a boy, accompanying his father on his voyages. But now he returns in command of his father's ship and desperate to raise his father's ransom by selling a cargo of Christian holy books. Elswyth is fascinated by the books and the pictures they contain of warm and distant lands. 

But when Drefan arrives, investigating reports of the sighting of a Norse ship, Elswyth must try to keep the peace between Drefan and Leif, and tame the wistfulness of her restless heart.  


 Read an Excerpt from The Wistful and the Good

Granny Hunith, was an elderly woman. Edith had been her last child and she was well past her sixtieth year, though no one seemed to remember when she was born, and if she knew herself, she was not telling. Hunith and Kendra had disputed for several years over which of them was the elder, for it was some distinction to be the oldest woman in the village. Kendra’s impending death would secure Hunith her supremacy, an event she looked on with a mixture of triumph and regret. 

She was sitting on a bench outside her hut, a spindle busy in her hands while she watched several small children—offspring of Elswyth’s Welisc cousins—playing in the dirt at her feet. She was dressed in rough-spun brown like a slave, though underneath she wore fine-spun linen, so as not to itch from the wool. She had the face of an aging well-tanned cherub, framed with long grey hair that her various daughters and granddaughters, noble and slave alike, kept immaculately combed for her. 

The children leapt up and ran to attach themselves to Elswyth’s skirts when they saw her coming, begging for the nuts or apples that Elswyth usually had with her when she came to visit Granny. But today she had forgotten to bring anything, so she kissed each of them on the cheek and sent them away. 

“Hello, Granny,” she said as they approached. She and Leif were hand in hand, though neither had consciously offered a hand to the other. 

“So you’ve brought your swain to see me at last, Elsy,” Hunith said. 

“No, Granny, this is Leif.”

“Help me up, young man,” Hunith said. 

Leif offered her his hand and she pulled herself to her feet. She did not let go of his hand, however, but held him with one hand while she inspected him with the other, testing the muscle in his arm and forcing open his mouth so she could inspect his teeth. She lifted the corner of his bandage and made him bend over so that she could smell the wound.

“It’s fresh, Granny,” Elswyth said. “It wouldn’t smell yet. I bound it with honey so it would not fester.”

Hunith nodded. “Well, he’s fit,” she said, when she had completed her inspection. “Very tall. Tall men are good in battle, but it can be hard work birthing their babies. Big babies could get stuck inside a wee thing like you.”

“I’m not having his babies, Granny.”

“Waiting till the wedding, then? You are taking her on faith, young man? Don’t worry, we’re a fertile lot, and we birth easy.”

“I’m not marrying him, Granny. I’m marrying Drefan. Don’t you remember? This is Leif, the captain of the Norsk ship on the beach.”

“Norsk? You still remember the old gods, young man?”

“We honor Odin, Thor, and Ran.”

“And what of the Christ, then?”

“I will give no offence to your Christ, in his own country.”

“Good lad. Will you be taking Elsy back to Norway, when you marry?”

“I am not marrying your granddaughter, Lady.”

“Lady? You’re not in the hall now, young man. I’m not an Anglish lady, and I won’t hear it said. You heed me?”

“Yes…”

“You should call me Granny, since you are marrying Elsy.”

“He’s not marrying me, Granny. I’m marrying Drefan. You would have met him several times already, if only you would come to the hall when he visits.”

“I’ll not go to the hall, and Drefan of Bamburgh will not come down to the slave huts to visit me. But this young jarl of yours, he comes to see me when you ask him to. He regards the whole of you, not the half. He will make you a good husband.”

“But I’m not marrying him, Granny. Stop being dense. I know you’re not really.”

“She has a temper, this one,” Hunith said, still holding on to Leif’s hand. “But she has a good heart. Do not beat her. She will disobey you sometimes, but she will be sorry for it. She has a good heart, and beating would only turn her sour.”

“I would never beat her,” Leif said.

“You will be a good husband. She will be a good wife. She can’t sew, but she will entertain your guests and take good care of your children.”

“Granny…”

“You may tell your mother I approve the match,” Hunith said, dropping Leif’s hand and taking both of Elswyth’s hands in her own. Then she pulled Elswyth close and whispered. “Come to me before your wedding night. I have a salve that will make things easy for you, and herbs to put in his food, and a charm for under the pillow.”

“I’m sorry, Leif,” Elswyth said. “Sometimes she’s lucid as a bishop and sometimes she’s just dotty. This must be a dotty day. Let’s go and see if the monk has finished his prayers.

Elswyth kissed her grandmother goodbye. Leif bowed to her and thanked her for receiving him. They turned and walked back toward the hall, her hand falling into his again, without either of them noticing. 

Hunith sat back on her bench, picked up her spindle, and watched them go, a contented smile on her face. She could always tell when the weather was changing, long before other people noticed the sun come out or the clouds roll in.

Universal Link:  Barnes and Noble:  Kobo: Apple Books: Laterpress: 


G. M. Baker has been a newspaper reporter, managing editor, freelance writer, magazine contributor, PhD candidate, seminarian, teacher, desktop publisher, programmer, technical writer, department manager, communications director, non-fiction author, speaker, consult-ant, and grandfather. He has published stories in The Atlantic Advocate, Fantasy Book, New England’s Coastal Journal, Our Family, Storyteller, Solander, and Dappled Things. There was nothing much left to do but become a novelist. 


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Monday, 6 June 2022

The Coffee Pot Blog Tour presents: The Accursed King (The Plantagenet Legacy Book 4) by Mercedes Rochelle




Book Title: The Accursed King

Series: The Plantagenet Legacy

Author: Mercedes Rochelle

Publication Date: 18th April 2022

Publisher: Sergeant Press

Page Length: 282 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


Tour Schedule Page: 



The Accursed King 

(The Plantagenet Legacy Book 4)

By Mercedes Rochelle

What happens when a king loses his prowess? The day Henry IV could finally declare he had vanquished his enemies, he threw it all away with an infamous deed. No English king had executed an archbishop before. And divine judgment was quick to follow. Many thought he was struck with leprosy—God's greatest punishment for sinners. From that point on, Henry's health was cursed and he fought doggedly on as his body continued to betray him—reducing this once great warrior to an invalid. Fortunately for England, his heir was ready and eager to take over. But Henry wasn't willing to relinquish what he had worked so hard to preserve. No one was going to take away his royal prerogative—not even Prince Hal. But Henry didn't count on Hal's dauntless nature, which threatened to tear the royal family apart. 


This book is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription



A King Under Siege (Book 1) The King’s Retribution (Book 2) The Usurper King (Book 3) 

The Accursed King (Book 4)


Amazon UK:  Amazon US:  Amazon CA:  Amazon AU: 


Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Her first four books cover eleventh-century Britain and events sur-rounding the Norman Conquest of England. The next series is called The Plantagenet Lega-cy about the struggles and abdication of Richard II, leading to the troubled reigns of the Lancastrian Kings. She also writes a blog: HistoricalBritainBlog.com to explore the history behind the story. Born in St. Louis, MO, she received by BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979 then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to “see the world”. The search hasn’t ended! Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.


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Thursday, 2 June 2022

Coffee Pot Blog Tours present: Muskets and Minuets by Lindsey S. Fera


Book Title: Muskets and Minuets 

Author: Lindsey S. Fera

Publication Date: 19th October 2021

Publisher: Zenith Publishing (imprint of GenZ Publishing) 

Page Length: 486 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction 


Tour Schedule Page: 



Muskets and Minuets 

 Lindsey S. Fera


Love. Politics. War.

Amidst mounting tensions between the British crown and the American colonists of Boston, Annalisa Howlett struggles with her identity and purpose as a woman. Rather than concern herself with proper womanly duties, like learning to dance a minuet or chasing after the eli-gible and charming Jack Perkins, Annalisa prefers the company of her brother, George, and her beloved musket, Bixby. She intends to join the rebellion, but as complications in her personal life intensify, and the colonies inch closer to war with England, everything Annali-sa thought about her world and womanhood are transformed forever.

Join Annalisa on her journey to discover what it truly means to be a woman in the 18th cen-tury, all set against the backdrop of some of the most pivotal moments in American history.

Trigger Warnings: Violence and battle scenes, sexual assault, mild sexual content, and profanity.


Read an Excerpt 

The dirt road curved upward, and Annalisa followed until she reached the top. Beneath the hazy dawn before her, the Charlestown peninsula stretched across shimmering waters, southeast toward Boston. She squinted at the faintly visible slopes of Dorchester Heights far to the south. Steep, green islands were not the only things to speckle the harbor. Three-masted warships littered the inlet with billowing ivory sails, each one crowned with the blue, red, and white flag of Britain. 

She shivered. Far nearer, and more visible through the summer smog, sat a large fortification atop one of Charlestown’s hills. The king’s warships pointed their guns at the rising land—land a thousand minutemen had worked all night to secure. 

George and Jack must be there now. 

Her throat tightened as she imagined Jack and George clutching muskets behind those ramparts. A thunderclap of artillery shattered the morning calm. At last, she was direct witness to the hostilities. Sweat trickled between her breasts bound in linen, but the fabric wicked all moisture, as did the menses apron between her legs.

I should face no troubles today as I did in Portsmouth. 

But the threat of her womanhood in disguise loomed.

A half-mile from Charlestown Neck, Annalisa lingered beneath a wide maple. The cacophony of cannonade washed over her with bitter resonance. Without her militia, she must find a way to safely cross the narrow strip of land. 

The clank of metal mixed with a scuffle of marching shoes, and two regiments of what appeared to be provincial militia, gathered across the road. The gentlemen in command, addressed as Colonels Reed and Stark by their subordinates, appeared sullen and stiff. Colonel Stark, a thin, older man who must be in his middle-forties, stood tall and imposing. He wore his cocked hat low over squinted eyes. With a scowl upon his sunken mouth, he held himself in readiness, and lifted his cutlass into the air. 

“Gentlemen.” Stark’s craggy voice severed the eerie silence between cannon fire. “Ready yourselves. We march across the neck.” 

This was her chance. She gripped her musket. The regiment marched passed at a deliberate pace, and she slipped in. 

“Watch yourself.” An older man scrutinized her as she stepped on his foot. 

Panicked, she lowered her hat, and fell in with the march. She must take extra care to blend in and keep her identity hidden, no matter the cost. 

When they reached Charlestown Neck, water glimmered on either side of the narrow strip. Gunboats and warships blasted artillery across, turning the ground to crumbled wasteland. A blazing cannon screamed forth and lodged itself into the earth mere feet from her. The ground quaked and Annalisa lost her footing. She tumbled and fell, the moist soil inches from her nose. A minuteman from behind scooped her up and continued the march, scarcely wasting a step. Shaken, she advanced across the neck. 

Bunker Hill rose before them. It was probably thirty feet high. Beyond it, a valley, then a smaller rise, Breed’s Hill, she’d heard them call it. There, atop the shorter mount, minutemen gathered behind six-foot high dirt walls and ram-shackled rail fences. 

Perspiration gathered on her brows and dripped down her back. Hand trembling, Annalisa wiped her forehead. The regiment stopped after they descended Bunker Hill. To her left, the grassy land sloped down toward the banks of the Mystick River. Colonel Stark crossed in front of the regiment with another officer. 

“My boys.” He gestured to the river. “Low tide opened up this beach. You are to secure it with stones to form a breastwork to the water’s edge. Three ranks of men will flank you from behind.”

Before she could sneak away, Annalisa fell in with a group descending the bank. They scurried over the edge and set to building a stone wall that would meet the brackish river waters.

A young, bright-eyed boy handed her a large stone. “This is madness, is it not?” 

She grabbed the heavy rock from him, and her knees buckled. Annalisa bit her tongue, unwilling to speak. The timbre of her voice over cannonade would surely give away her secret—the one secret she had left.

“Stack the stone, lad,” an older man barked. 

She placed the large rock atop the first row. 

“I daresay, we’re lucky to have made it this far.” The young man handed her another small boulder. 

“Nathaniel.” She gasped. 

He tipped his hat out of habit, then his brows lifted. “Ben Cavendish.”

They embraced for only a moment and Annalisa pulled away, her anxiety pulsating. Will he ask why I abandoned our militia at Concord? 

Hesitantly, she asked, “What are you doing here? Is Captain Foster here with the militia?” 

“No, I left the militia shortly before Concord. My family moved to Exeter in New Hampshire. I enlisted with Colonel Stark’s first New Hampshire regiment only a fortnight ago.”

Annalisa exhaled, relieved. He didn’t know she’d been detained in Topsfield that fateful day Ebenezer fell at Concord. 

“Here we are, Cav. Everything we believe in we get to fight for.” Nathaniel clapped her back, and his palpable vigor set her at ease—an old friend from her militia beside her in this fight. 


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A born and bred New Englander, Lindsey hails from the North Shore of Boston. A member of the Topsfield Historical Society and the Historical Novel Society, she forged her love for writing with her intrigue for colonial America by writing her debut novel, Muskets and Minuets. When she's not attending historical reenactments or spouting off facts about Bos-ton, she's nursing patients back to health in the ICU.

Website:  Twitter: Facebook:  Instagram: 

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Tuesday, 31 May 2022

The Coffee Pot Book Blog Tour presents: The Oath (The Druid Chronicles, Book One) by A. M. Linden,


Book Title: The Oath

Series: The Druid Chronicles, Book One

Author: A. M. Linden 

Publication Date: 15th June 2021

Publisher: She Writes Press 

Page Length: 319 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Tour Schedule Page: 



The Oath

(The Druid Chronicles, Book One)

By A. M. Linden


When the last of members of a secretive Druid cult are forced to abandon their hidden sanc-tuary, they send the youngest of their remaining priests in search of Annwr, their chief priestess’s sister, who was abducted by a Saxon war band fifteen years ago. With only a ru-dimentary grasp of English and the ambiguous guidance of an oracle’s prophecy, Caelym manages to find Annwr living in a hut on the grounds of a Christian convent.

Annwr has spent her years of captivity caring for the timid Aleswina, an orphaned Saxon princess who was consigned to the cloistered convent by her cousin, King Gilberth, after he assumed her father’s throne. Just as Caelym and Annwr are about leave together, Aleswina learns that Gilberth, a tyrant known for his cruelty and vicious temper, means to take her out of the convent and marry her. Terrified, she flees with the two Druids—beginning a heart-pounding adventure that unfolds in ways none of them could have anticipated.


“Linden's well-researched tale eloquently brings to life a lesser-known period of transition in Britain. . . . The author has created a strong foundation for her series with well-developed characters whom readers can embrace. . . . [a] layered, gripping historical fiction.”— Kirkus Reviews


“The story rolls along at a lively pace, rich with details of the times and a wide cast of char-acters. [The] plotting, shifting points of view of the three engaging protagonists, and evoca-tive writing style make The Oath a pleasure to read. Highly recommended.” - Historical Novel Review

“Linden uses a fairy tale-like style almost as though this story has been passed down orally over the centuries.” - Booklist Review

Trigger Warnings: Sexual assault, child abuse


Amazon UK:  Amazon US:  Amazon CA:  Amazon AU: Barnes and Noble:  Waterstones: Kobo:

 Apple Books: 


Ann Margaret Linden was born in Seattle, Washington, but grew up on the east coast of the United States before returning to the Pacific Northwest as a young adult. She has under-graduate degrees in anthropology and in nursing and a master’s degree as a nurse practition-er. After working in a variety of acute care and community health settings, she took a posi-tion in a program for children with special health care needs where her responsibilities in-cluded writing clinical reports, parent educational materials, provider newsletters, grant submissions and other program related materials. The Druid Chronicles began as a some-what whimsical decision to write something for fun and ended up becoming a lengthy jour-ney that involved Linden taking adult education creative writing courses, researching early British history, and traveling to England, Scotland, and Wales. Retired from nursing, she lives with her husband and their cat and dog in the northwest corner of Washington State.


Website: Amazon Author Page:  Goodreads: 



Saturday, 28 May 2022

Read an excerpt from The Colour of Rubies by Toni Mount

 


 THE COLOUR OF RUBIES

Toni Mount

Murder lurks at the heart of the royal court in the rabbit warren of the Palace of Westminster. The year is 1480. Treason is afoot amongst the squalid grandeur and opulent filth of this medieval world of contrasts. Even the Office of the King’s Secretary hides a dangerous secret.

Meeting with lords and lackeys, clerks, courtiers and the mighty King Edward himself, can Seb Foxley decipher the encoded messages and name the spy?

Will Seb be able to prevent the murder of the most important heir in England?

All will be revealed as we join Seb Foxley and his abrasive brother Jude in the latest intriguing adventure amid the sordid shadows of fifteenth-century London.

Read an excerpt

At the board, Seb sat with Jude as they dined. The coney stew with dumplings was hot and filling, just what was needed. But Jude was in need of something else also.

'Your cheek looks to be somewhat inflamed,' Seb said. 'Did you bathe it with wine 

and put honey on those gashes?'

'Don't bloody nag me. You're worse than an old woman,' Jude said betwixt 

mouthfuls, reaching across to spoon another herb dumpling onto his platter before someone else took it. 'Where would I come by honey?' 

'You need some salve upon it, at least. I have some in my scrip, upstairs in the 

dormitory. Come. Cease stuffing your face with food and I shall tend to it for you. If we be fortunate, there may yet be a little wine remaining from last eve to wash those cuts.'

'Wine? Wine's for drinking, not for wasting on a little nick.'

'You did not bathe it at all, did you? What if it should fester?'

'I told you not to nag me but let's go to the dorm now. I'll have that wine – to drink, 

not to wash with.' 

Seb and Jude climbed the stair to the dormitory but their hopes of a little wine left from last night to cleanse Jude's cheek were dashed.

'I fear the servants have cleared all away,' Seb said when they saw the side board was

bare of any remnants of yesterday's payday feast.

'Drunk it, more like,' Jude said. 'No matter. It doesn't need bathing. Where's that 

salve you said you have?'

'In my scrip. I put it in the coffer by my bed.' Seb lifted the coffer lid and stared, 

dismayed, at what lay within. 'Oh, Jude. Look. My belongings ... See what has come to 

pass.'

'I warned you not to leave anything of worth in this bloody place. Why did you bring 

your damned scrip? You should've left it at home, as I told you, but do you ever listen to 

me?'

Seb knelt to take his things from the coffer. His scrip was there but emptied of all its contents. His box of chalks and charcoal had been opened, the lid thrown aside and the contents tipped out, colours mingling. Charcoal dust and crumbs besmirched everything. His one clean shirt and nether clouts were filthy with black dust and smears of red chalk. 

'What has been stolen?' Jude asked, sitting on the bed, feeling the wooden frame 

through the thin mattress and covers. 

'Naught at all,' Seb answered, frowning. 'My decent gloves be here; my shirt, grubby 

now, but undamaged otherwise; my drawing stuff, though the charcoal be but useless bits ... and the pot of salve we require. Naught has been taken. I do not understand.'

'Well, last eve, we were all paid, weren't we – except you,' Jude said. 'No doubt, the 

bloody thief didn't know that and hoped you'd put your money in the coffer. Probably, every other coffer has been ransacked as well.' 

Without a by-your-leave, Jude opened the coffer beside the bed opposite. 

'They didn't bother with this one; it seems undisturbed.' 

He did the same with the next coffer. 

'This one could've been looted.'

Seb joined him, peering into a mare's nest of clothing and odd items of gaming 

paraphernalia.

'Nay. 'Tis Robin's coffer. He being so untidy, it always looks thus. But see here.' Seb

found a purse, weighty with coin. 'Robin's winnings at dice last eve be safe and untouched.' 

Jude went to the next coffer beside Lawrence Duffield's bed.

'Shit! Damn it,' Jude cursed, sucking his finger. 'Why does any man need so many 

bloody pins?' He slammed the lid down. 

Hal Sowbury's coffer was undisturbed; his precious lute lay atop his neatly-folded spare 

garments. It became apparent, as they examined the other bedside chests, that Seb's was the only coffer to have been raked over.

'Mayhap, some bugger wants to make sure you know your place as the newcomer,' 

Jude suggested, sitting on his brother's bed whilst Seb smeared salve onto the gouges on his cheek as gently as possible.

'That may be so,' Seb said. 'These scratches look sore. How did you come by them?'

'Ow! Have a care, damn it.' Jude shoved Seb aside. 'How do you think?'

'Men be inclined to use their fists in a fight. Therefore, I would suppose they were 

made by a woman's hand, using her fingernails.'

'Bloody Chesca. She's due a sound beating when I get home.'

'Chesca did this to you?'

'Who bloody else would it be? That little bitch ...'

'Were you arguing? It must have been a matter of considerable concern.'

'Keep your bloody long nose out of my business,' Jude said, jumping to his feet and 

elbowing past Seb. 

'Keep the salve,' Seb said, closing the lid on the little pot. 'You may need it, if the 

inflammation is no better.'


 

Toni Mount is the author of several successful non-fiction books including How to Survive in Medieval England and the number one best-seller, Everyday Life in Medieval England. Her speciality is the lives of ordinary people in the Middle Ages and her enthusiastic understanding of the period allows her to create accurate, atmospheric settings and realistic characters for her medieval mysteries. Her main character, Sebastian Foxley is a humble but talented medieval artist and was created as a project as part of her university diploma in creative writing. Toni earned her history BA from The Open University and her Master’s Degree from the University of Kent by completing original research into a unique 15th century medical manuscript.

Toni writes regularly for both The Richard III Society and The Tudor Society and is a major contributor to MedievalCourses.com.  As well as writing, Toni teaches history to adults, and is a popular speaker to groups and societies.


Praise for Toni Mount's The Colour of Rubies

Tony Riches, author of The Tudor Trilogy “An evocative masterclass in storytelling.” 
 
Carol McGrath, author of the She-wolves trilogy “I was utterly transported - It’s superb”. “What a plot. What characters. Perfect pitch”.

“I loved the relationship between Seb and Jude”.

“The Colour of Rubies is a totally immersive experience as richly stitched as one of King Edward IV’s gorgeous tapestries. This cleverly plotted novel with its twists and turns will keep a reader page turning late into the night until the book’s final scenes. Sebastian and Jude are wonderfully realised personalities with similar emotions, concerns, fears and hopes we have have today. Their medieval London felt real and intriguing to me with unexpected dangers lurking in alleyways. I felt as if I was walking in Sebastian’s footsteps. With this thrilling novel Toni Mount has shown herself a master of medieval suspense. More please”.

Praise for Toni Mount's Sebastian Foxley Medieval Murder Series

Tracy Borman, historian and broadcaster “An atmospheric and compelling thriller that takes the reader to the dark heart of medieval London.”

Matthew Lewis author of Richard III Loyalty Binds Me “Toni Mount continues to delight with the superbly crafted Seb Foxley mysteries. Impeccable research and sculpted characters combine with an engaging narrative to create another irresistible story. This series goes from strength to strength, and I’m already looking forward to the next instalment”

J.P. Reedman, author of the I, RICHARD PLANTAGENET series: “Sebastian Foxley is the Cadfael of the 15th century”.

“The Sebastian Foxley Medieval Mystery Series by Toni Mount is not only filled by dastardly murders and gripping intrigue but contains many well-researched historical facts from the Wars of the Roses era” 

Samantha Willcoxson, author & historian “Toni Mount is simply brilliant”.

“If you love CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake (and I do) you will love Toni’s Sebastian Foxley”.

“From learning how a 15th century scrivener created illuminated manuscripts to venturing within the dank tunnels beneath the Tower of London, Toni is an artist who completely immerses the reader in another time and place and always leaves one eager for the next book.”

Stephanie Churchill, author of historical fiction and epic fantasy “Leave it to Seb to unravel another international spiderweb of intrigue, betrayal, murder, and deceit. Our flawed, loveable hero has done it again. And at the end of it all, his future is looking brighter than ever. I cannot wait to find out what happens to him next!”

Sharon Bennet Connoly, author and medieval historian “A beautifully crafted mystery that brings the dark, dangerous streets of medieval London to life. Toni Mount is a magician with words, weaving a captivating story in wonderful prose. The Colour of Evil is, to put it simply, a pleasure to read.” 

Rosalie Gilbert, medieval historian and author “The author's knowledge of medieval history shines through the narrative in the small details which enhance the story woven into it. The details about the inside workings of medieval trade practices lent themselves perfectly for a background to murder and deceit”.

“Recommended for lovers of historic fiction.”

Joanne R Larner author of Richard Liveth Yet trilogy: “I always look forward to a new 'Colour of...' book. I can't wait to see what escapades Seb Foxley and his brother, Jude, get up to next. They, and all the characters, are endearing and colourful. The books are always well written, conjuring 15th century London into the reader's mind and the plots are excellent!'

Mel Starr bestselling author of the Hugh de Singleton chronicles: “If I believed in reincarnation I would be willing to think that Toni Mount lived a previous life in 15th century London.  The scents, the sights, the tastes of the late Middle Ages are superbly rendered.”


Wednesday, 25 May 2022

The Coffee Pot Blog Tours present: Before Beltane (Celtic Fervour Series) by Nancy Jardine


Book Title: Before Beltane

Series: Celtic Fervour Series 

Author: Nancy Jardine

Publication Date: 29th April 2022

Publisher: Nancy Jardine with Ocelot Press

Page Length: 268 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Tour Schedule Page




Before Beltane 

(Celtic Fervour Series)

By Nancy Jardine


Two lives. Two stories. One future.

AD 71 Northern Britannia

At the Islet of the Priestesses, acolyte Nara greets each new day eager to heal the people at Tarras Hillfort. Weapon training is a guilty pleasure, but she is devastated when she is un-expectedly denied the final rites of an initiated priestess. A shocking new future beckons for Princess Nara of the Selgovae…

In the aftermath of civil war across Brigantia, Lorcan of Garrigill’s promotion of King Ve-nutius is fraught with danger. Potential invasion by Roman legions from the south makes an unstable situation even worse. When Lorcan meets the Druid Maran, the future foretold for him is as enthralling as it is horrifying…

Meet Nara and Lorcan before their tumultuous meeting of each other in The Beltane Choice, Book 1 of the acclaimed Celtic Fervour Series.


Read an excerpt

Travelling with the Druid.

While Lorcan was working out the most diplomatic reply, the elder’s gaze shifted to peer across the fireside. A darkness descended across the eyebrows before the old man hawked up some thick spittle which he spat onto the logs in front of him. The following words were bitter, almost stripping the bark from the logs that awaited being added to the fire.

“There are some young Brigante warriors in this room who have no patience at all, and no proper concept of trust.” Disgust dripped from every word the elder grated out.

Lorcan could see that it was not Maran, the druid, who was the focus of the elder’s attention but the newcomer named Bradwr.

Those around the fireside were drawn to attention when Chief Nudd’s voice level increased almost to a shout.

“Bradwr. Now you have eaten, I want to know what delayed your return for so long.” Nudd demanded of his warrior, his taut jawline indicating extreme displeasure. “You must have been at King Venutius’ hearth at the same time as the druid and Lorcan of Garrigill.”

Lorcan felt the chief’s gaze seek him out over the fireside, an imperious finger pointing in his direction.

“You do not have the excuse of visiting villages along the route as they did, Bradwr. So what detained you?” Chief Nudd was persistent, his intent focus demanding complete attention from his warrior.

Lorcan studied Bradwr. He did not remember having seen the man at Stanwick, but in all fairness Nudd maybe did not realise just how many men congregated around the king’s dwelling. And few were allowed to be at Venutius’ hearth at the same time.

“King Venutius gave me a task to do before I came home.” Bradwr’s tone was truculent.

Lorcan noted the man could not meet the chief’s gaze properly, Bradwr’s head turning aside as he found a place to put down his empty bowl at the fireside. A gesture that was both fidgety and discourteous.

“Did he now?” Nudd’s unimpressed and sarcastic tones drew even more of Lorcan’s attention. Something was definitely amiss.

“Did you perhaps visit a southern Brigante village?” Maran asked Bradwr. “Before returning here?”

Across the fire-glow, Lorcan noted the tiniest flare of anger across Bradwr’s eyes.

The chief’s impatience was rising further. “Tell me where you have been!”

Lorcan watched Bradwr’s chin firm, the pursing of the warrior’s lips indicating his own growing annoyance, yet there was a careless arrogance that Lorcan felt was misplaced given the circumstances.

“I headed southwards.” Bradwr’s answer was brief and unrepentant.

It did nothing to dissipate his chief’s anger.

Nudd’s chin jerked upwards to stare at the junction of the beams of his roundhouse, exasperation and other emotions causing him to smash his beaker down onto the floor rushes without a care of who might be hurt by it.

Maran probed further, his tone insistent, though Lorcan could see it was supremely controlled. “Did the king order you to inform one particularly important man about the next Beltane feast that is being organised at Stanwick?”

“What?” Bradwr’s instinctive question spilled out, the first signs of real panic flashing across his face. He sought out his chief rather than facing more of the druid’s questions. “What gives the druid the right to ask me such a question?”

Lorcan could see the tension that held Bradwr’s shoulders rigid, curled fists pressing against the spread of the warrior’s thighs.

Maran continued as though the outburst had not happened. “Or perhaps King Venutius instructed you to take news …” There was a definite hesitation before the druid continued, his focus entirely on Bradwr. “…to others in the south that there would be a larger than usual Beltane gathering at the king’s dwelling?”

Lorcan observed the druid closely. There was something about Maran’s expression that was the angriest he had yet experienced. There was a determined edge to Maran’s tone he had not heard before, and something well-repressed about Maran’s posture.

Chief Nudd’s anger was palpable when his piercing gaze dropped to focus entirely on Bradwr, his clenched teeth a terror in themselves. “What have you not told me, Bradwr?”

Bradwr flinched away from the stripping glare, the cornered look of a snared animal replacing his earlier arrogance, though he summoned enough courage to spit back.

“Venutius’ Beltane gathering might well be a large one, but Maran is unlikely to be there!”

Maran jumped to his feet. Pointing across his neighbour’s head to Bradwr, his words were for the chief. “Your warrior, sitting right there, is a traitor. He has been to no Brigante village. His information was taken to the Roman Legate of the Legio IX.”

Bradwr leapt up to his feet, screaming, “Death to all of the druids!” Launching his fist beyond the seated figure at his knees, Bradwr’s well-honed eating blade was embedded in Maran’s upper arm before anyone could stop him. Bradwr’s screams continued as he drew his knife free for another assault. “The Romans will be better friends to us than that traitor Venutius!”

Lorcan was around the fireside in a blink, but others nearer the chief hauled Bradwr free of the knife hilt before more damage could be done to the druid. Bradwr wriggled and squirmed but the grip around him was impossible to break.

The furious chief confronted Bradwr, chin to chin. “Traitorous scum. By your actions we can see you do not dispute the allegations of Maran, our druid messenger, who has faithfully brought us news for many, many seasons.”

Even though trapped, Bradwr continued to deride, “Roman rule is welcomed by many tribes to the south of us, and they now have a much finer life than we have. You have been foolish to resist Roman rule for so long.”

Nudd could no longer tolerate the conspirator in his midst.

“Haul that scheming filth out of my dwelling, and summon all of my people right now so that they can witness his punishment outside!”

Available on #KindleUnlimited


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Nancy Jardine lives in the spectacular ‘Castle Country’ of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Her main writing focus has, to date, been historical and time travel fiction set in Roman Britain, though she’s also published contemporary mystery novels with genealogy plots. If not writ-ing, researching (an unending obsession), reading or gardening, her young grandchildren will probably be entertaining her, or she’ll be binge-watching historical films and series made for TV. 

She loves signing/ selling her novels at local events and gives author presentations locally across Aberdeenshire. These are generally about her novels or with a focus on Ancient Ro-man Scotland, presented to groups large and small. Zoom sessions have been an entertain-ing alternative to presenting face-to-face events during, and since, the Covid 19 pandemic restrictions.

Current memberships are with the Historical Novel Society; Scottish Association of Writ-ers; Federation of Writers Scotland, Romantic Novelists Association and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She’s self-published with the author co-operative Ocelot Press.

Website:  Blog: Twitter: Facebook:  LinkedIn: Pinterest: BookBub: Amazon Author Page: Goodreads: