Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Spotlight + Giveaway: The Girl Who Fought Napoleon by Linda Lafferty

The Girl Who Fought Napoleon
by Linda Lafferty

Lake Union Publishing
September 20, 2016
Paperback; 442 pages

In a sweeping story straight out of Russian history, Tsar Alexander I and a courageous girl named Nadezhda Durova join forces against Napoleon.

It’s 1803, and an adolescent Nadya is determined not to follow in her overbearing Ukrainian mother’s footsteps. She’s a horsewoman, not a housewife. When Tsar Paul is assassinated in St. Petersburg and a reluctant and naive Alexander is crowned emperor, Nadya runs away from home and joins the Russian cavalry in the war against Napoleon. Disguised as a boy and riding her spirited stallion, Alcides, Nadya rises in the ranks, even as her father begs the tsar to find his daughter and send her home.

Both Nadya and Alexander defy expectations—she as a heroic fighter and he as a spiritual seeker—while the battles of Austerlitz, Friedland, Borodino, and Smolensk rage on.

In a captivating tale that brings Durova’s memoirs to life, from bloody battlefields to glittering palaces, two rebels dare to break free of their expected roles and discover themselves in the process.

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

The Girl Who Fought Napoleon is on a blog tour!
About the Author:

Linda Lafferty was a teacher for nearly three decades, in schools from Madrid, Spain, to Aspen, Colorado. She completed her PhD in bilingual special education and worked in that field; she also taught English as a second language and bilingual American history. Linda is the author of four previous novels—The Bloodletter’s Daughter, The Drowning Guard, House of Bathory, and The Shepherdess of Siena—all of which have been translated into several languages. The Drowning Guard won the Colorado Book Award for Historical Fiction. She lives in Colorado with her husband.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Blog Tour Q&A + Giveaway: Dido's Crown by Julie K. Rose

Please join me in welcoming author Julie K. Rose to Let Them Read Books! Julie is touring the blogosphere with her third historical fiction novel, Dido's Crown, an adventurous tale of Tunisia and France in the 1930s. I recently had the chance to ask Julie a few questions about her novel and writing historical fiction. Read on and enter to win a paperback copy of Dido's Crown!

Set in Tunisia and France in 1935, Dido’s Crown is a taut literary-historical adventure influenced by Indiana Jones, The Thin Man, and John le CarrĂ©.

Mary Wilson MacPherson has always been adept at putting the past behind her: her father’s death, her sister’s disappearance, and her complicated relationship with childhood friends Tom and Will. But that all changes when, traveling to North Africa on business for her husband, Mary meets a handsome French-Tunisian trader who holds a mysterious package her husband has purchased — a package which has drawn the interest not only of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, but the Nazis as well.

When Tom and Will arrive in Tunisia, Mary suddenly finds herself on a race across the mesmerizing and ever-changing landscapes of the country, to the shores of southern France, and all across the wide blue Mediterranean. Despite her best efforts at distancing herself from her husband’s world, Mary has become embroiled in a mystery that could threaten not only Tunisian and British security in the dangerous political landscape of 1935, but Mary’s beliefs about her past and the security of her own future.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Hi Julie! Thanks so much for visiting Let Them Read Books today!

Dido's Crown takes place a world away from your previous novel, Oleanna. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write this story? 

I started writing the book while I was still trying to finish Oleanna in 2011. I was having a terrible time getting through that last draft of that book and needed to switch gears. This novel is so different than Oleanna, so it helped jump-start my creative brain.

I've always been interested in North Africa but had never planned on writing about the Maghreb. But I had a really powerful dream in which I was flying (Supergirl-style!) over the beaches of Tunisia and I suppose I took it as a sign. I also love reading historical fiction set slightly off the beaten track, so it was natural to dig into learning about this beautiful country.

Were any of your characters inspired by real-life figures?

The characters in Dido's Crown are all themselves, and don't really (at least consciously!) have any real-life analogues. That said, the haughty look Mary has a tendency to sport was directly influenced by the actress Eva Green.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: Discovery of Desire by Susanne Lord

From the Back Cover:

To the East India Company, he's the ideal explorer: unwed, uncomplaining, strong as an ox and profitable. There's nothing Seth Mayhew can’t find—until his sister disappears en route to India. The expedition is the first he fears he may fail, until he discovers a valuable, and irresistible, ally sailing on the same ship to Bombay. 

But Wilhelmina Adams is on an expedition of her own—for a husband. With six sisters, no dowry and no marriage prospects in her Derbyshire village, Bombay promises a husband and security. But assisting a dangerously distracting explorer won’t improve her prospects. 

It’s an inevitable partnership, but the winds of fate are ever changing. Adventures that begin in the bazaars of Bombay can diverge to the slums of London and patchwork fields of England. And at each port of call, Seth and Mina will have to risk everything to unearth the heart’s greatest prize.

My Thoughts:

Seth Mayhew is on a mission to find his missing sister. With a reputation of being able to hunt down the rarest botanical specimens, he has high hopes of being able to pick up Georgie's trail to bring her and her young ward home. On a steamer bound for India with dozens of "venture girls," young women with limited prospects at home who are coming to India to find husbands, he manages to steer clear of them until they disembark in Bombay. But as he meets with Tom, an associate who has promised to help him track down Georgie, he comes face-to-face with venture girl Wilhelmina Adams, and Cupid's arrow strikes hard. But there's one big problem: Mina is promised to Tom. And besides, he doesn't have time for courtship; he's got to work with Tom to find the people in the East India Company who can help him find his sister.

From a large family with no dowries for their many daughters, and with one sister already fallen into disrepute,  Mina Adams and her sister Emma have come to India in search of a better future. Both sisters have been in correspondence with gentlemen and have arrived at an understanding, but only one meets them when their ship arrives. Emma's intended is a no-show, and while Tom is there for Mina, he is nothing like the man she has come to know via his letters. And she can't leave Emma. While the rest of their fellow venture girls choose their husbands and set off for their new homes, the Adams sisters are desperately hoping Emma's fiance will arrive. But each day that passes diminishes the hope that he will come, and each day gives Mina more time to fall in love with a man who is not her fiance. Drawn to Seth's strapping masculinity, self-deprecating wit, and flirtatious charm, she vows to do all she can to help him find his sister. But as new information comes to light and time runs out, Mina and Seth will have to decide whether they want to make the riskiest venture yet: taking a chance on true love.

This is the second book in the London Explorers series, but it stands alone just fine. However, I felt a bit misled by the book description. With Seth on a mission to find his sister, and the blurb describing an adventure and multiple ports of call, I was all set for an exciting and romantic journey where Seth and Mina would work together to find his sister. I don't want to spoil the story too much, so I'll just leave it by saying that's not quite what happens. The story takes longer than I would have liked to really kick into gear, and when it does, it is the characters and their interactions that carry the bulk of the story rather than plot.

While I was disappointed that exploring didn't actually figure into the story, I still found this a charming and witty read. Seth was quite unlike any hero I've come across in romance. He's a working-class man with no ambitions for anything else except a home of his own for a family someday. He calls himself stupid, and while I would agree he's not the sharpest tool in the shed, I would say his problem is not that he's stupid, but that he's too trusting and has a hard time discerning deception and fakeness in others. (Which might make a reader wonder how he managed to become such a lauded explorer, but I chose to ignore that niggling question for the sake of the story.) And his reputation as the world's worst flirt is richly deserved. I found him totally endearing. There was much to admire in Mina as well, from her bravery in crossing an ocean, to her determination to take care of herself and her sisters, and her desire to help Seth and stand up for him.

Overall, Discovery of Desire was a light, sweet read, worth checking out for its exotic setting and unconventional hero. And I am incredibly intrigued by the mystery surrounding Emma's wayward fiance, and if the next book in the series is about them, I will definitely be reading it.

My Rating:  3.5 Stars out of 5

*This review was originally posted to Romantic Historical Reviews.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Blog Tour Excerpt: Sunrise Crossing by Jodi Thomas

by Jodi Thomas
Harlequin; August 30, 2016
$7.99 U.S.; 384 Pages

Return to peaceful Crossroads, Texas, where community comes first and love thrives in the unlikeliest places… 

Yancy Grey is slowly putting his life back together after serving time for petty theft. As he rebuilds an old house, he finally has a sense of stability, but he can't stop thinking of himself as just an ex-con. Until one night, he finds a mysterious dark-haired beauty hiding in his loft. But who is she, and what secret is she protecting? 

The art gallery Parker Lacey manages is her life—she has no time for friends, and certainly not lovers. But when her star artist begs Parker for help, she finds herself in a pickup truck, headed for the sleepy town of Crossroads. A truck driven by a strong, silent cowboy… 

Gabe Snow has been a drifter since he left Crossroads at seventeen after a violent incident. When he accepts a job in his hometown, he'll have to decide whether he can put the worst night of his life behind him and build a future in the community that raised him.

Praise for Jodi Thomas:

“I love the depth Jodi Thomas brings to her characters, and the chance we have to see them developing over a period of time. It makes for very satisfying reading. Some relationship angst, some mystery and danger, a long time quest to be fulfilled. Great mix of a story.”
—Goodreads Reviews

“Thomas weaves each character’s story together into one great tale that is sure to keep you reading late into the night!”
—Amazon Reviews

“Thomas is a wonderful storyteller, and her latest offering is a great example of her work—a tender and sweet story of romance. Readers will have their heartstrings gently tugged as the featured characters find their way to one another.”
—RT Book Reviews




January 2012

VICTORIA VILANIE CURLED into a ball, trying to make herself small, trying to disappear. Her black hair spread around her like a cape but couldn’t protect her.

All the sounds in the airport were like drums playing in a jungle full of predators. Carts with clicking wheels rolling on pitted tiles. People shuffling and shouting and complaining. Electronic voices rattling off numbers and destinations. Babies crying. Phones ringing. Winter’s late storm pounding on walls of glass.

Victoria, Tori to her few friends, might not be making a sound, but she was screaming inside.

Tears dripped off her face, and she didn’t bother to wipe them away. The noise closed in around her, making her feel so lonely in the crowd of strangers.

She was twenty-four, and everyone said she was a gifted artist. Money poured in so fast it had become almost meaningless, only a number that brought no joy. But tonight all she wanted was silence, peace, a world where she could hide out.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Days of Sun and Glory by Anna Belfrage

From the Back Cover:

Adam de Guirande has barely survived the aftermath of Roger Mortimer’s rebellion in 1321. When Mortimer manages to escape the Tower and flee to France, anyone who has ever served Mortimer becomes a potential traitor – at least in the eyes of King Edward II and his royal chancellor, Hugh Despenser. Adam must conduct a careful balancing act to keep himself and his family alive. Fortunately, he has two formidable allies: Queen Isabella and his wife, Kit. England late in 1323 is a place afflicted by fear. Now that the king’s greatest traitor, Roger Mortimer, has managed to evade royal justice, the king and his beloved Despenser see dissidents and rebels everywhere – among Mortimer’s former men, but also in the queen, Isabella of France.

Their suspicions are not unfounded. Tired of being relegated to the background by the king’s grasping favourite, Isabella has decided it is time to act – to safeguard her own position, but also that of her son, Edward of Windsor. As Adam de Guirande has pledged himself to Prince Edward he is automatically drawn into the queen’s plans – whether he likes it or not.

Yet again, Kit and Adam are forced to take part in a complicated game of intrigue and politics. Yet again, they risk their lives – and that of those they hold dear – as the king and Mortimer face off. Once again, England is plunged into war – and this time it will not end until either Despenser or Mortimer is dead.

Days of Sun and Glory is the second in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.

My Thoughts:

Days of Sun and Glory is the second book in Anna Belfrage's The King's Greatest Enemy series. I enjoyed the first book, In the Shadow of the Storm, though I pointed out a few issues that kept me from rating it higher, and I'm happy to say I enjoyed this book more. It's hard to review books in a series without giving away spoilers from earlier installments, so I am going to skip a detailed plot recap and attempt to avoid major spoilers from both books! Here goes:

At the end of In the Shadow of the Storm, Kit and Adam de Guirande have survived Roger Mortimer's first rebellion, and after imprisonment, torture, and harassment at the hands of King Edward II's favorite, Hugh Despenser, they are hoping for a quiet life at their country estate. But since Adam had to swear allegiance to the young Prince Edward to secure his life and his freedom, they know that dream is not likely to be reality, and it is not long before they are recalled to court. But now that Roger Mortimer has escaped the Tower and has been given refuge in France, court is even more dangerous for anyone even suspected of having ties to Mortimer. Still Despenser's target, Adam is tested daily, and though he struggles to keep his head above water, he and Kit are inexorably drawn into the web Isabella and Mortimer are weaving around the king and his favorite. And when Isabella and Mortimer are finally reunited, nothing will stand in their way. Kit and Adam face danger and betrayal from multiple foes on a journey that takes them from the royal residences in England to the French court of Charles IV and the Count of Hainault and finally back to the shores of England in an invasion that changes the course of history.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Review: A License to Wed by Diana Quincy

From the Back Cover:

Perfect for readers of Madeline Hunter, Lisa Kleypas, and Sabrina Jeffries, the Rebellious Brides series continues with a sizzling tale of forbidden love between a socialite and a scholar—who might just be an infamous spy.

Lady Elinor Dunsmore made the mistake of falling for her older brother’s best friend, who vanished after a night of unbridled passion. Six years and a lifetime later, their eyes meet across a Paris salon. Her friends and family believe she’s dead, but Elle is very much alive. She’s now associated with a ruthless general, who wants her to seduce the man who broke her heart in order to learn his deepest secrets. Is Will a mild-mannered scholar—or the notorious agent they call The Razor?

The bastard son of an earl and an actress, Will Naismith always knew he was an unsuitable match for Elle Dunsmore, no matter how powerfully he ached for her. And yet he almost allowed his desires to spoil her glittering future. After the agony caused by Elle’s supposed death, Will has devoted himself to the Crown, but his entire life has been leading up to this unexpected reunion. As much as he still wants her, though, he must not succumb to lust once again. For his mission is delicate—and Elle is delectably dangerous.

My Thoughts:

After the sudden death of Elinor Dunsmore, the young woman he loved, Will Naismith spent the next six years throwing himself into his work, traveling the globe and rooting out information close to home, all in service to the English crown. We first met him in Spy Fall, where he helped Elinor's brother unmask a traitor and discover the whereabouts of Elinor's daughter. Now in Paris on a new assignment, Will is shocked to come face-to-face with none other than Elinor herself, very much alive, the darling of post-Revolution society, and mistress of one of France's most dangerous men. As Elle evades his questions, discounting the love they once shared, and continues to grace the arm of the man Will is tasked with stopping before he can divulge state secrets, Will realizes this Elinor is nothing like the woman he once loved beyond all reason, and she's likely a traitor to her homeland. When one of his top agents goes missing and a connection to Elinor is uncovered, Will must put the past behind him and fulfill his duty to king and country, no matter the cost.

Will Naismith is the last person Elle ever expected to see in Paris. Though she wants nothing more than to lose herself in his embrace, which still sets her heart racing after all these years, she has no choice but to keep him at arm's length. That is until her ruthless general companion tasks her with seducing Will in an effort to uncover the identity of Le Rasoir, England's top intelligence officer in France. Since the general is holding the whereabouts of her missing daughter over her head, Elle is forced to comply. Even though she has secrets of her own, nothing prepares her for the secrets Will is hiding or the lengths he is willing to go to in the name of duty. But as the two circle each other in an effort to outsmart and outlast, all while attempting to deny the connection between them, the game they are playing turns deadly, and both will have to decide what they are willing to risk for love, for each other, and for the chance at a future they never thought they could have together.