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Too early to think of Christmas?

Never! Certainly not when you can still get this collection at the amazing pre-order price of just 99 cents!

Enjoy this stunning holiday collection from some of your favorite Dragonblade Publishing authors in this collection of never-before published seasonal tales.

My offering is HER CHRISTMAS WHITE KNIGHT, another Tudor romance telling the continued tale of Mistress Julia Wentworth from LORD OF THE FOREST. Can she reform herself in time to find true love? You’ll just have to order the anthology and see.

Imagine, if you will, that it is Christmas Eve.

The candles are snuffed, one by one, and a hush falls over the parlor. The children have gone to bed, and a tall, gloriously decorated Christmas tree looms in the shadows of the hearth’s dying embers. A tattered copy of Charles Dickens’ masterwork, “A Christmas Carol” sits, cold and lonely, upon a table nearby.

A small gust of wind, hurling from the seam of an ill-fitting window, blows the cover open. The first chapter appears… “Marley’s Ghost”…

The clock on the wall chimes midnight.

Now, the magic happens.

From the gaily bedecked halls of Regency England to the cold and crisp air of the Scottish Highlands, and everything in between, enjoy the magic of a holiday collection that has drawn inspiration from Charles Dickens’ most beloved literary works. Where the ghosts of Christmas, the incandescent spirit of a tiny disabled boy, and the joy that is the very heart of the Christmas season come alive.

USA Today and Internationally bestselling authors bring you their version of a Dickens-inspired holiday in O NIGHT DIVINE.

This collection includes:
Kathryn Le Veque
Caroline Lee
Chasity Bowlin
Collette Cameron
Hildie McQueen
Maggi Andersen
Mary Lancaster
Meara Platt
Violetta Rand
Alexa Aston
Anna Markland
Anna St. Claire
Aubrey Wynne
Charlotte Wren
Elizabeth Ellen Carter
Elizabeth Johns
Elizabeth Keysian
Emily E K Murdoch
Emily Royal
Lynne Connolly
Maeve Greyson
Whitney Blake

Free books and a chance to win a $50 gift card

Need cheering up? Grab these free “HISTORICAL ROMANCES WORTH FALLING FOR”!
35+ romances & a chance to win a $50 gift card!
Get your books HERE.
Enter to win gift card HERE.

Completing the Tudor picture…

So, what personal accessories might a Tudor lady have? When I was a Living History re-enactor at Kentwell Hall’s Tudor re-creations, I had a basket, a bag and a belt for carrying everything I was likely to need for the day. Modern items were concealed beneath a cloth on my basket. My eating and drinking utensils lived in either my basket or my coarse-weave shoulder bag, and smaller items were suspended from my belt.

You may not approve of everything I carried around with me, but I was really trying to get into the Tudor mind-set and truth was, a lot of people were superstitious, particularly in rural communities. Hence the lucky rabbit’s foot. There is also a mole’s “spade” in the photo, worn for its healing properties. I assure you, both animals had died of natural causes before the items were taken. We didn’t like to waste ANYTHING.

You can see in the photo the Tudor “turnshoes” made for me by my wonderful partner, Tim, who taught himself the art of shoemaking and cobbling. He had to do a lot of that at his very first Kentwell because the weather was so wet, everyone’s homemade shoes kept falling apart!

You will also see my coin purse, known as a hanging pocket. Pockets as we know them today weren’t really “in” until later in the Sixteenth century. I suspended both pocket and lucky animal feet from my belt with leather loops.

Also in the photo is a rosary. This is an exact replica of one found on the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s favourite battleship, which sank in the Solent in 1545. By that time, such symbols of the Catholic faith were not commonly found amongst Englishmen. Catholicism returned with Queen Mary in 1553 but became increasingly unwelcome under Elizabeth 1st, and you would do well to keep any Catholic sympathies well-hidden, or risk inquisition by Sir Francis Walsingham and his spy network.

A further insight into the Tudor era

At risk of going on about being a re-enactor at Kentwell Hall, I have another photo to share with you. As I mentioned before, participants in this Tudor era Living History experience had to look and sound authentic, and their utensils and tools had to be authentic too.

Of course, we all needed to eat, whether there were visitors or schoolchildren present or not. No sandwiches, baked potatoes or tomatoes for the Tudors! They weren’t introduced until the late Sixteenth Century.

Mostly we ate pottage, a kind of bean stew to which you can add whatever you can get your hands on that won’t poison you! Everyone had their own bowl and wooden spoon, or a pewter spoon if you were gentry level or noble. Or just stinking rich. I still have my horn beaker, spoons, and wooden bowl, as well as my eating knife- a modern replica of a genuine Elizabethan knife dug up on an archaeological site in London.

The paintings of Pieter Breughel are a very good reference source for Tudor era clothing, accessories, and eating utensils.

This photo shows my personal eating implements. My latten (pewter) spoon and knife were hung from my belt so they were always to hand. And when I worked in the Tudor kitchen, I had a cutting knife too.

Don’t miss out on giveaways and a book release!

Okay, so TODAY is the day my Tudor romance LORD OF THE FOREST launches. I would love you to take a look at a book which readers are finding a lot of fun (as I intended it to be), featuring a hero I call my “Tudor Tarzan”.

I would also love it if you could spare a little time to pop over to the Dragonblade Readers group today and join me for a quirky quiz. You’ll get a chance to win a $10 Gift Card and some ebooks. Join me here- https://www.facebook.com/groups/274839866984258/ between 4 & 5 pm EST (9-10 pm GMT/UTC). Good luck!

UK paperback giveaway contest

To celebrate the release of Tudor romance LORD OF THE FOREST, I have some signed paperbacks of the first two books in the TRYSTS AND TREACHERY series to give away to lucky UK readers. There are two ways to win. If you don’t already, then please follow me on Bookbub, and let me know what your Bookbub name is so you can be entered into the draw. Here’s the link to Bookbub- https://www.bookbub.com/profile/elizabeth-keysian. If you are already a follower on Bookbub, then please pop over to my Twitter page and like and retweet the pinned tweet. Please remember, this is a contest for UK winners only (due to postage issues) but if you live elsewhere and want a chance to win some ebooks, I’ll be giving away some of these in the Dragonblade Readers Group on 27th/28th October. Here’s the link- https://www.facebook.com/groups/274839866984258/

Today, I am privileged to be hosting Tonya Ulynn Brown on the blog, talking about her latest novel, and Mary,Queen of Scots.

Separating Fact from Fiction

 By Tonya Ulynn Brown

Some portions of this post have been taken from the Separating Fact from Fiction section at the back of The Queen’s Almoner.

Although Thomas Broune is a fictional character, his and Mary’s story is woven around many of the events that happened in Mary’s life. The ill-fated life of Mary Stuart reveals that she was doomed from the very beginning of her return to Scotland. Mother and fatherless, and without a consort to consult, she was thrown into a role for which she had been ill-prepared. Raised to be the wife of a king, one must question whether she was truly prepared to single-handedly take up the reins of the monarch and rule with the grit required of a sixteenth century sovereign.

Mary was renowned for her kindness and her actions prove that she thought more with her heart than with her head. Ruling during a time of great upheaval of reformation within the church, she is the voiceless victim of many a greedy and ambitious man. I can accept that she may have been a weak ruler, but I refuse to accept that she was the conniving, conspiring harlot that many attribute her to be. From her half-brother Lord James Stewart, to her third and final husband (who shall remain nameless for the sake of not spoiling it for readers) and every man in between (and even those after her arrest in England which I do not mention in my story at all) she came in contact time and time again with smart, strong men that could have been of great assistance to her, had they chosen to do so.

Out of this belief was born the character of Thomas Broune. I was determined to give Mary someone who could guide her and love her through all her missteps in the courts of Scotland. I wanted someone who might shed light on why Mary may have made some of her decisions. I used the events that surrounded her life, then created conversations that might have led up to the actions that she took. Thomas was loyal and sensible and selfless. All the things that Mary needed in an advisor, but never had in reality. However, for the sake of true history, he ultimately could not save her. As much as I contemplated the idea of writing an alternate historical ending for Mary, in the end, I just couldn’t do it. Perhaps it was out of respect for her memory and what she endured. Who knows.

The term almoner is not heard too much in today’s vernacular. Almoners were responsible for the distribution of alms to the poor. They served in a role much like what a pastor would do today. Mary did indeed have an almoner. He was a part of her household and with her while she was under house arrest in England. He was a French Jesuit named De Préau (in some accounts he is called De Préan or even, Le Préau). In reality, De Préau was a Catholic clergyman, not Protestant, as I have made Thomas. And of course, there was never any romantic inclinations between Mary and her true almoner. He served as her confessor and spiritual advisor, guided her in prayers and gave other spiritual advice.

De Préau was mentioned in Mary’s last will and testament. She requested that he be allowed to continue to receive two stipends that he had previously enjoyed. She also asked that the king allow the almoner to continue in his service and be given some small allowance that he might pray for Mary’s soul for the rest of his life.

References for Images:

https://pixabay.com/photos/middle-ages-knight-monarch-man-3947821/

https://pixabay.com/photos/fairy-queen-fairy-queen-fantasy-3420136/

Amazon UKAmazon USBarnes and Noble

Sometimes loyalty to the queen comes at a cost.

Thomas Broune is a Reformer and childhood friend of the young queen, Mary Stuart. When Mary embarks on a new life in her estranged homeland of Scotland, Thomas is there to greet her and offer his renewed friendship. But the long-time friends grow closer, and Thomas realizes his innocent friendship has grown into something more. Yet he is a man of the cloth. Mary is the queen of the Scots. Both of them have obligations of an overwhelming magnitude: he to his conscience and she to her throne. 

When he must choose between loyalty to his queen or his quiet life away from her court, he finds that the choice comes at a high price. Driven by a sense of obligation to protect those he loves, and crippled by his inability to do so, Thomas must come to terms with the choices he has made and find a peace that will finally lay his failures to rest.

Here’s where you can buy the book-

Amazon UKAmazon USBarnes and Noble

Here’s a little bit more about the author-

Tonya Ulynn Brown was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, USA, but now calls southeastern Ohio home. She spent her younger years right out of college, living in Europe and teaching English as a second language. She attributes her time in Eastern Europe as being one of great personal growth, where her love for history, the classics, and all things European was born. Tonya holds a Master’s degree in Teaching and is now an elementary school teacher where she uses her love of history and reading to try to inspire younger generations to learn, explore and grow. Along with all the historical characters that she entertains in her head, she lives with her husband, two sons and a very naughty Springer Spaniel. Her mother has also joined their home, making for a cozy and complete little family.

Connect with Tonya:

WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads.

Direct experience of Tudor Life!

It really helped that I had been a historical re-enactor at Kentwell Hall before I wrote my Tudor TRYSTS AND TREACHERY series. I thought it would be fun to share with you some of the items I needed to recreate an authentic Tudor experience.

This photo shows what we called “butter hands”. Nowadays, they are called “butter pats” and are literally used to pat the liquid whey out of the butter as it is being shaped. I used the whisk, made from bendy hazel twigs, to whisk up the cream for making butter.

The goose feathers were used when I made sugared rose petals. You have to paint the egg white onto the petals to make the sugar stick. The petal then hardens and can be used as an edible decoration on Tudor desserts.

I am proud to present to you Catherine Kullmann’s latest Regency novel, “The Potential for Love”!

I’m thrilled to be able to host this post as part of the Coffee Pot Book Club Blog Tour. Read on to find out about the book, the author and the fascinating historical background against which the story is set.

Here’s the story-

1816

For over six years, Thomas Ferraunt’s thoughts have been of war. Newly returned to England from occupied Paris, he must ask himself what his place is in this new world and what he wants from it. More and more, his thoughts turn to Arabella Malvin, but would Lord Malvin agree to such a mismatch for his daughter, especially when she is being courted by Lord Henry Danlow?

About to embark on her fourth Season, Arabella is tired of the life of a debutante, waiting in the wings for her real life to begin. She is ready to marry. But which of her suitors has the potential for love and who will agree to the type of marriage she wants?

As she struggles to make her choice, she is faced with danger from an unexpected quarter while Thomas is stunned by a new challenge. Will these events bring them together or drive them apart?

We are celebrating the release of the special hardback edition of The Potential for Love during this tour. With a beautiful dust jacket over an elegant laminated cover, it will enhance any library and is the perfect gift for lovers of historical women’s fiction and historical romance.

The book is available as an ebook, a paperback or a hardback, from the following retailers-

Amazon

Waterstones

Barnes and Noble

The Historical Backdrop to The Potential for Love

By Catherine Kullmann

The first quarter of the nineteenth century was one of the most significant periods of European and American history whose events still resonate after two hundred years. The Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland of 1800, the Anglo-American war of 1812 and the final defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 all still shape our modern world. But the aristocracy-led society that drove these events was already under attack from those who saw the need for social and political reform, while the industrial revolution saw the beginning of the transfer of wealth and ultimately power to those who knew how to exploit the new technologies.

Strictly speaking, the Regency refers to the period from February 1811 when the then Prince of Wales became Prince Regent due to the mental incapacity of his father, King George III until the King’s death January 1820 when the Prince succeeded him as George IV. But long before he became Regent, the Prince’s extravagant lifestyle and love of pleasure and the arts had begun to shape British society, a society that had already been shaken by two revolutions. The first resulted in the loss of the American colonies while the second led the royalty and aristocracy of France to the guillotine. In 1781, British forces marched out of Yorktown to the tune of The World Turned Upside Down and in the succeeding decades, it must have seemed to the British that nothing was the same again. And if nothing is the same, why not try something new?

Like the sixties of the twentieth century, the Regency was a period of great change made immediately visible by a revolution in fashion. Wide hooped skirts gave way first to less voluminous gowns and then to skimpy white muslin dresses that looked almost like shifts or petticoats. Elaborate hairstyles were abandoned in favour of short curls or classical, Grecian styles. Men abandoned their ornate silk and satins in peacock colours for garments based on a country-gentleman’s riding clothes.

In literature, the romantic poets reigned, at their head Wordsworth and Coleridge, not to mention the notorious Lord Byron who said after the publication of Childe Harold in 1812 ‘I awoke one morning to find myself famous’ and who, after their first meeting, was described by his later lover Lady Caroline Lamb as ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’, although this was certainly a case of the pot calling the kettle black Unable to compete with Byron, Walter Scott turned to writing novels and Jane Austen’s six novels, all published during the Regency, enthralled discerning readers.

Country dances gave way to quadrilles and, scandalously to the waltz where, instead of making up sets of dancers, a couple could revolve in close proximity to each other unhindered by the other dancers in a set (think of the difference between square-dancing and jive). The lyrics of Thomas Moore introduced traditional Irish melodies to the wider world. Architecture moved from neo-classicism to neo-gothic, via a few exotic detours such as the Egyptian style – crocodile-footed furniture anybody?—and the exotic orientalism of the Regent’s Pavilion at Brighton.

But the Regency had its dark side too. It was a very unequal society. At the top of the pyramid sat royalty, the nobility and gentry i.e. those wealthy enough to maintain their families, including servants from unearned income. These households amounted to just over 5% of the population. The small, glittering world of the haut ton was made possible by the labour of the poorly paid lower classes. Fortunes were won and lost gambling and the gentleman’s code of honour required him to pay his gambling debts, even if this meant that tradespeople and other creditors went unpaid.

A series of enclosure acts reduced the rights of the peasants and reinforced the dominance of the land-owners. The Corn Laws, by imposing restrictions and tariffs on imported grain, also benefited the landowners but kept the price of bread artificially high. Poor harvests and a downturn in the economy after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, together with increasing resentment at the lack of parliamentary representation led to unrest and public protest, There was constant unrest in Ireland where the Catholic majority were barred from sitting in either house of Parliament and forced to pay tithes to an alien church.

The Potential for Love is set in 1816, starting almost nine months after the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815 put a final end to twelve years of war with France. Napoleon has been defeated for the second time and exiled to the tiny Atlantic island of St Helena. The United Kingdom must now count the cost of the long war, both human and financial. Some families mourn their loved ones while others welcome sons, fathers, brothers who have spent years away from home.

It is very much a patriarchal world where women, especially married women, have few or no rights but they have begun to raise their voices, demanding equality and emancipation, even happiness.

©Catherine Kullmann 2020

All about Catherine Kullmann

I was born and brought up in Dublin and moved to Germany on my marriage in 1973. Before my marriage, I was an administrative officer at the Department of Finance in Dublin. I worked as attaché at the Irish Embassy in Bonn until my eldest son was born. Following a twelve-year stint as a full-time mother, I joined the New Zealand Embassy in Bonn, where I was administration officer. My husband and I returned to Ireland in 1999 and in 2009, following a year’s treatment for breast cancer, I took early retirement from my position as Director of Administration and Human Resources at a large Dublin law firm.

I have always enjoyed writing, I love the fall of words, the shaping of an expressive phrase, the satisfaction when a sentence conveys my meaning exactly. I enjoy plotting and revel in the challenge of evoking a historic era for characters who behave authentically in their period while making their actions and decisions plausible and sympathetic to a modern reader. In addition, I am fanatical about language, especially using the right language as it would have been used during the period about which I am writing. But rewarding as all this craft is, there is nothing to match the moment when a book takes flight, when your characters suddenly determine the route of their journey.

The first quarter of the nineteenth century was one of the most significant periods of European and American history, a period whose events still resonate two hundred years later The Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland of 1800, the Anglo-American war of 1812 and the final defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 all still shape our modern world. The aristocracy-led society that drove these events was already under attack from those who saw the need for social and political reform, while the industrial revolution saw the beginning of the transfer of wealth and ultimately power to those who knew how to exploit the new technologies.

I write historical fiction set against this background of off-stage wars, of women frequently left to fend for themselves in a patriarchal world where they have few or no rights but must make the best lives they can for themselves and their families. While real people sometimes have walk-on parts, the protagonists and their stories are pure fiction. As well as meeting their personal challenges, they must also cope with external events and the constraints imposed by society. The main story arc is romantic. I am particularly interested in what happens after the first happy end—how life goes on around the protagonists and sometimes catches up with them.

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A hero with amnesia and an indefatigable heroine

I thoroughly enjoyed writing the story of the romance between the two main characters in LORD OF THE FOREST, Book 3 in the Trysts and Treachery series. I thought I might experiment by putting a few excerpts and extracts out there.

Here’s the main drive of the story-

You can take a man out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the man.

She failed to save the man she loved. She won’t make the same mistake again.

Desperate to avoid a suffocating marriage, Clemence plans to dazzle at court, and remain as chaste as The Virgin Queen. Then she’s rescued from kidnappers by the mysterious Lancelot, and only a betrothal to him can save her reputation. But what could induce her father to give her to a man with no memory, no status, and no home but the forest? Especially when that man has a propensity for throwing people into horse troughs, getting himself poisoned, and being accused of murder.

In his forest home, he’s a king among both beasts and men.

Lancelot does everything differently. He can’t help it; he’s been living free in the forest with no memory of shame, sin or the reason for wearing clothes. No memory of anything at all, in fact, although his dreams reveal he’s had a close brush with death. But was he a victim or quite the opposite?

Living hand-to-mouth in his woodland lair, Lancelot is used to helping himself to what he wants, and he wants Clemence. But when she drags him back into the real world, he soon realizes that she will bring him either salvation… or oblivion.

Here’s the excerpt. If you’re wondering about the sword, the setting is England in 1585. Our hero has just been taken back to his home, though he has no memory of the place. The heroine is trying to restore his memory, despite him being concerned about what dark secrets might be unearthed…

“He tried the weight of the sword, then swung it around in an arc. His arm seemed to move of its own accord, blocking imaginary blows to his shoulders and legs.

“Some of my knowledge has been restored by reading your father’s books. Some things I simply remember—or at least the knowledge comes back if I worry at it like a terrier at a rat. And sometimes, skills return to me—like this.” He swung the sword again, stabbing it with pinpoint accuracy at the center of a red poppy on the tapestry. “Hopefully, more abilities will return if I have need of them.”

“You have scars on your back. Someone attacked you with a sword or a knife, and evidently bested you.”

A fact he had to face, though he hated it. “Mayhap I had no weapon with which to defend myself. Or was already incapacitated.”

She grimaced. “Then it was a cowardly attack. Mayhap I should have a sword, too, in case I need to defend myself.”

He immediately sheathed the ancient weapon he’d found, and fastened the belt around his hips. “Not while I draw breath, you won’t. If you hold a blade, your attacker will feel forced to use his own. If you have no weapon, he’ll be more inclined to parley. Besides, what need have you of steel when you have me to protect you?”

She tossed her head. “I suppose you’ll tell me next that swordplay isn’t so much fun as it looks. And I thought you a free spirit, with a mind open to new ideas, eschewing the everyday rules by which we live.”

He’d thought himself a free spirit, too, by comparison. But when it came to Clemence, he found he could happily follow the rules if it kept her safe.

“When I know what I know and how I know it, I might then be in a position to teach you, oh, courageous maid. But for now, I am the one wearing the sword, and intend to keep it that way.”

If you want to pre-order the book, you can do so here-

http://mybook.to/lordoftheforest

http://mybook.to/lordoftheforest