Do you often find yourself browsing your local antique stores, binge watching shows like Penny Dreadful and Downton Abbey, and fondling leather-bound classics at the bookstore?
I know I can always count on Jane Austin and Henry James to lift my spirits whenever I’m down in the dumps. Give me a sunny day at the Renaissance Fair and I’m giddy for a week.
I found my love of literature by reading historical fiction and romance. Today, I’m happy to share that love with you by introducing you to three talented writers who just so happen to write historical fiction.
First up is Mari Christie, writer of historical fiction and editor extraordinaire. She has a brand new release out about a newsman that’s caught between his Southern family upbringing, his own values, and his life in the North with his wife and children just as the Civil War breaks out. I’m in the middle of Chapter 11 and completely enthralled. Here’s a peek into Blind Tribute, which just released July, 28th, 2017.
The Wentworths were founding members of the club, had contributed most of the building fund and many of the Negroes who had built it. Behind the wall to their left, on one of the frame beams, he and Edward had carved their initials when they were seven or so.
Harry’s father—Palmer Harrold Wentworth the Second, called Second since the day his son was born—came through the door from the dining room.
“You have no claim on our family history or this club. I’m sorry I gave you my name.”
His father’s tall, thin frame was tensile as a fencing foil, and his face like the dry husk of a topiary labyrinth, sharp angles and deep lines, compelling, thorny, and difficult to escape. His grey hair, the thick, wiry hair he’d passed down to Harry, and to Harry’s son, was tied in a queue and much thinner after ten years, but his suit looked exactly the same, as did the expression on his face.
“You’ll not be joining anything,” he barked. “You are a damned Yankee and a traitor to the South. Go back to Philadelphia where you belong.”
“Father. It’s lovely to see you in such good spirits.” His half-smile hid wary eyes. “I had assumed from your responses to my past infractions that the shock of my arrival might have killed you.” He raised his glass to his father’s health and took a sip.
The long veins on the sides of his father’s neck distended and began to quiver. “I am long since accustomed to your disregard for your family and position.” His tightly-wound fists were a concession to his better nature. “Your mother and sister are distraught, and you would have them ostracized rather than rein in your propensity for gossip and scandal.”
“My opinions are hardly gossip. Not a year ago, Harper’s called me a national treasure.” Harry turned to the man who had declined his cigar, now two seats away at the bar. The man stuttered and tried to look away, but Harry kept his gaze. “I’m sure you must have read a few of P. H. Wentworth’s opinions. Would you consider them gossip?”
His father was the one who answered: “Your opinions are nothing short of treason. Only your mother’s defense has kept me from calling you out already.”
“I have no such compunction,” Edward spat. Harry remembered Edward had been a hell of a good brawler in the down-rent pubs at Oxford, and he had the same look in his eye now. He might finish off hundreds of Yankees before the war was over, starting with Harry. “Unless you’d like to meet me at dawn, I’d suggest you leave.”
“I try not to do anything at dawn but read the newspaper. But,” Harry offered, “I’d be happy to meet you for supper any evening to renew our acquaintance.” Harry considered his cigar, which might not be in his hand much longer. “Either of you.”
“I am nothing but sorry we ever had an acquaintance. It’s time for you to leave.”
Harry puffed on his cigar, and waited to see if his father or Edward would be the one to bodily throw him out the front door. Before the answer presented itself, two big barmen converged and tried to grab his arms. He yanked himself away, downed the last of his drink, and thumped the glass back onto the bar. “I suppose I shouldn’t bother to come to the house.”
Harry’s father took two threatening steps toward him. “If you contact your mother or sister, I will run you through.”
Harry held his ground without flinching, but a sense of finality imbued his father’s words, such as Harry had never heard in more than fifty years of animosity between them. He drew on his cigar one last time and strategically retreated before his father decided to murder him in cold blood, in broad daylight, before witnesses.
“Anne and your grandchildren send their best,” Harry called over his shoulder. The manager handed him his coat and hat as he reached the door.
Harry had answered his own question, with less trouble than expected. If his own family would cast him out, he couldn’t count on anyone in the Confederacy remembering him fondly.
As America marches toward the Civil War, Harry Wentworth, gentleman of distinction and journalist of renown, finds his calls for peaceful resolution have fallen on deaf—nay, hostile—ears, so he must finally resolve his own moral quandary. Comment on the war from his influential—and safe—position in Northern Society, or make a news story and a target of himself South of the Mason-Dixon Line, in a city haunted by a life he has long since left behind?
The day-to-day struggle against countervailing forces, his personal and professional tragedies on both sides of the conflict, and the elegant and emotive writings that define him, all serve to illuminate the trials of this newsman’s crusade, irreparably altering his mind, his body, his spirit, and his purpose as an honorable man. Blind Tribute exposes the shifting stones of the moral high ground, as Harry’s family and friendships, North and South, are shattered by his acts of conscience.
Mari was “raised up” in journalism (mostly raising her glass at the Denver Press Club bar) after the advent of the web press, but before the desktop computer. She has since plied her trade as a writer, editor, and designer across many different fields, and currently works as a technical writer and editor.
Under the name Mari Christie, she has released a book-length epic poem, Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness: Poetry of the Mayan Underworld, and under pen name Mariana Gabrielle, she has written several Regency romances, including the Sailing Home Series and La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess. Blind Tribute is her first mainstream historical novel. She expects to release the first book in a new family saga, The Lion’s Club, in 2018.
She holds a BA in Writing, summa cum laude and With Distinction, from the University of Colorado Denver, and is a member of the Speakeasy Scribes, the Historical Novel Society, and the Denver Press Club. She has a long family history in Charleston, South Carolina, and is the great-great niece of a man in the mold of Harry Wentworth.
All links to purchase Blind Tribute may be found here: www.books2read.com/blindtribute
Next up we have Quenby Olson, writer of historical romance and historical suspense. I have read several of her books, and each and every time I fall more in love with her writing. A master of prose and imagery, I’m always eager to get my hands on her next release. Here’s a peek at The Bride Price, available August 1, 2017.
“And if I do marry this man you’ve chosen, do you promise—” She stopped herself there. All her life, she’d known how well her father had kept to his promises. “Will I still be able to see Katie and Sarah? Will they be allowed to visit with me?”
He eyed her for a minute, and she wondered what thoughts he was choosing to entertain. “You may see them as often as is convenient,” he said at last, and in that moment she knew that he was keeping something from her.
“I see.” She needed time to think, a day, a week, perhaps an entire year. But she knew her father and she knew that he would not give her the single tick of a clock if she asked for it.
Her sisters. . . If she was still allowed to see them, to have teas and outings with them, maybe even to have them over to stay at her new home, then perhaps she could still have some influence over their lives and prevent their father from using them as pawns in the endless game he played to regain the fortune he’d already lost.
“Make your choice, Emily.” Her father had turned back to the fireplace, his fingers sliding over the elaborately carved woodwork with the caress of someone who would pinch the entire house and place it in his pocket if he could. “The sooner we can sweep up this mess you’ve made, the less tarnish we’ll have to scrub off the family name when we’re trying to dupe a few fellows into picking up Katie and Sarah, eh?”
She heard the sound of footsteps above her, followed by the opening and closing of a door beneath her feet. It was almost profane, she thought, that the day-to-day activities that burdened other people’s lives should be allowed to continue while she stood there and watched as her own life, her future, was so swiftly and irrevocably demolished.
To save her family from scandal, Emily Collicott must marry.
Ruined in her first season in London, she is given no choice but to wed her father’s pick for a husband, or be cast out from her home. Emily agrees to marry William Hazlitt, a man she hardly knows. But William remembers her. Growing up as a tenant on her father’s estate, he admired her from afar, their lives kept separate first by class, and then by loss.
Emily seeks to begin a new life with this quiet man to whom she finds herself wedded. But the scandal she escaped in London soon finds her again, the very man who destroyed her reputation threatening to tear down the happiness she’s found with her new husband. To keep from losing everything, she must either make a deal with a devil… or learn how to defeat one.
Quenby Olson lives in Central Pennsylvania where she spends most of her time writing, glaring at baskets of unfolded laundry, and chasing the cat off the kitchen counters. She lives with her husband and three children, who do nothing to dampen her love of classical ballet, geeky crochet, and staying up late to watch old episodes of Doctor Who.
You can purchase The Bride Price on Amazon here: http://a.co/1BWn24d
Last, but not least, we have Lawrence Hogue, writer of historical romance as well as other fiction and non-fiction. As a member of The Speakeasy Scribes, I have read a couple of his shorter works, and can vouch for his mastery of ink on a page. In a nutshell, he’s awesome. Here’s a little peek at Daring and Decorum, also available August 1, 2017.
At last Anthony broke the silence. “Elizabeth, I have been meaning to apologize for my behavior when the highwayman assaulted you.”
“Apologize? For what should you apologize? We were all of us in danger.”
“Yet I should have prevented his outrageous behavior toward you. It is a moment I will regret for the rest of my days. When I think that we used to play games of chivalry in this very spot, and then when the opportunity for true chivalry arose, I was not up to the challenge. You stood up for yourself more than I did.”
I stole a glance to see him staring dejectedly at the lane before us. “Perhaps, in such a situation, a woman can get away with what a man could not. Had you provoked him more than you did, he might have shot you. And you did challenge him to a duel.”
“Empty bluff and bluster. I knew he wouldn’t honor such a challenge. No, it was my duty to protect you, and I failed. And now Father bids me to follow him to London.”
The silence lengthened once more. “You depart today, do you not?”
“We leave within the hour. I wanted to pay my respects before leaving.”
“It is most appreciated,” I said, employing that cautious reserve through which I had always hoped to safeguard both our hearts, though now my preoccupation with the highwayman also played a part. I was searching for a different subject for our conversation when he went on.
“Elizabeth, is there no chance your father will send you to London for the latter part of the season?”
I allowed him half a smile, careful not to let my gaze linger too long on his bright blue eyes or the smooth skin of his high cheekbones, tanned from his recent outings afield. “I’m sure he’s worried that an eligible bachelor would capture my heart and take me far from home.” Anthony knew as well as I that Father had not the means to send me, along with Mrs. Simmons, to London. “No, he is happy that I content myself with Devonshire society. It does not trouble me.”
He was silent for several moments more, then said, “I wish I could stay in Devon. Town is not for me — too crowded, too many people to know and their ranks to keep track of. I prefer it here in the country. I don’t see what London has to offer, and I grow tired of having my every move directed by my parents.”
I kept my attention on the lane ahead of me, unwilling to lead him farther into danger. “What is there to occupy you here, now that the sporting season has ended?”
But my efforts were of little use. He stopped in the lane and placed a hand on my arm, his voice low and filled with meaning as he replied, “More than you know, Lizzie.”
That was the moment at which, to please Father and Mrs. Simmons, I should have turned my pleading eyes upon him and asked, in all innocence, whatever could he mean? Following which, he would no doubt pour out his heart and kiss my hand, pledging that he would stand up to his father in choosing a mate.
But I knew how that would end, for I was sure that Anthony had not the heart to defy his father for long. And even if he did, where could it lead? For it was well known that the bulk of Holbourne’s lands were free of entail, and Lord Highdown could dispose of them as he wished, leaving Anthony the poorest Earl in the kingdom when he took the title. Would Anthony commit himself to a life of relative poverty and humiliation in order to marry me? I was certain not. The inevitable result would be heartbreak for us both, the loss of our friendship, and my own reputation sullied as the foolish girl taken in by the frivolous romances of a nobleman.
Now I was glad for all my father’s training, as it allowed me to steady myself for what I must do. “Come now,” I said, masking my true feelings with more playfulness than I felt. “I haven’t a doubt that you will be a great hit in the ton. Half the eligible girls will be falling over themselves to capture your attentions. You will make your parents very happy and proud.”
For a moment he seemed to consider defying his parents’ wishes, proclaiming allegiance to his own heart, but then his expression grew more determined as his upbringing as a gentleman and heir to the Earldom asserted itself. “You have always been my greatest friend, Lizzie. You always have much better sense than I do.”
“You sound as if you are off to war! I hope we will be the best of friends for years to come, when our children are playing together on family visits.”
I gazed at him as calmly as I could, then we continued our walk, maintaining our silence until we reached the joining of the lane that led to his family’s estate, where we bid our farewells. I continued toward the village, conscious of a certain hypocrisy in urging my friend to ignore the demands of his own heart, when I could not quiet my own thoughts after one kiss from a stranger, and a rogue at that.
Elizabeth Collington, the twenty-year-old daughter of a country vicar, longs for more than the circumscribed life of her 18th-century Devonshire village. When a highwayman steals a kiss along with her mother’s necklace – provoking feelings of which her father would never approve – she suddenly has a secret no one must know. But the highwayman also has a secret: “he” is actually a woman.
Will the story of the highwayman’s past – complete with a tyrannical husband, a gloomy castle, and a daring escape into London’s underworld – persuade Elizabeth to abandon propriety in favor of passion? In the end, can the lovers make an independent life in a world where women are little more than property, evading both the redcoats and the jealous young lord who would tear them apart?
Daring and Decorum is comedy of manners wrapped around a gothic tale; a mashup of Jane Austen, Alfred Noyes’ poem The Highwayman, Robin Hood, and Moll Cutpurse; and a passionate case for the freedom to love whom one chooses.
Buy Links for Daring and Decorum:
Lawrence Hogue’s writing is all over the place and all over time. He started out in nonfiction/nature writing with a personal narrative/environmental history of the Anza-Borrego Desert called All the Wild and Lonely Places: Journeys in a Desert Landscape. After moving to Michigan, he switched to writing fiction, including contemporary stories set in the desert and fanfiction based on the videogame Skyrim. He’s a fan of folk music, and got the idea for Daring and Decorum while listening to Loreena McKennitt’s outstanding adaptation of Alfred Noyes’ poem, The Highwayman. When not speaking a word for nature or for forgotten LGBT people of history, he spends his white-knighting, gender-betraying energies on Twitter and Facebook, and sometimes on the streets of Lansing, MI, and Washington DC. He’s been called a Social Justice Warrior, but prefers Social Justice Wizard or perhaps Social Justice Lawful Neutral Rogue.
That’s three fantastic books for all you histfic fanatics. That should keep you busy for a while.
So tell me, what’s the last historical fiction or historical romance you read that knocked your socks off?
I write sweet and spicy romance, and enjoy reading a wide range of genres. Exploring the art of the written word is a passion, and I delight in both page-turning conflict and stomach-flipping chemistry. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. My dream is to travel the world with my laptop, creating captivating characters and dreamy escapes. I sing constantly, if a bit off-key to my family’s chagrin. I’m also a klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.
Signup to join My Dream Team: http://eepurl.com/bjAzz1