Sunday, August 30, 2015

Spotlight on Sacrifice by Gwendolyn Beynon

June 5, 2015 | Dark Pages Publishing
GENRE: Historical/Fantasy/Romance


528 A.D. Cymru (Wales)

Melangell is a ‘Lifebringer’, a dragon-maiden learning to protect one of the land’s most ancient mysteries, y Ddraig. She expects to pass her years as have a score of teachers before her—sequestered, safeguarding an egg that barely moves from year to year, never using the deadly and secret skills she has been taught. But the King’s relentless pursuit of this most holy relic throws her into the middle of war and though she is not yet adept Melangell must enter captivity with the egg to defend the sleeping dragonling within.

Her abductor is Cai ap Cynyr—fierce warrior, loyal brother and sword-arm to the high Chieftain, Artwr. He has been scouring the land for the relics Artwr demands to ensure triumph against the Angles invading from the east. Cai uses the Lifebringer’s mystique to master his armsmen, but when he spirits Melangell and the dragon egg further into seclusion, she grows intrigued by her captor. But she is a Lifebringer—sworn only to y Ddraig—and Cai must deliver the dragonling to Artwr to at last drag himself out of his legendary brother’s deep shadow.

And all the while, the egg readies itself to emerge…

*Sacrifice is the first in a series of three books based around y Ddraig (the Dragon) set in sixth-century Arthurian Wales, featuring characters based on Welsh myth, literature and/or history*

Buy the Book


Book Trailer


About the Author

Australian author, Gwendolyn Beynon, comes from a long line of storytellers of Welsh and Cornish stock. She grew up reading romance and fantasy novels but the y Ddraig series is her first foray into historical fantasy.
The idea for the y Ddraig series came while on a pilgrimage to Wales (the land of her fathers) where
she was visiting holy wells and ancient yew trees. She grew captivated with the way that the ancient stories of Welsh literature, myth and history still co-existed comfortably in contemporary Cymru, and by the atmosphere of mystery that still exists around much of Wales’ natural spaces.
An Arts graduate from Curtin University (with double-majors in Film and Theatre), Gwen has worked in communications all her life. She sold her first book in 2008 and has been writing for a living with her hounds at her feet and Celtic music as a backdrop ever since.
For more information visit Follow Gwendolyn on Facebook and Goodreads.


Sacrifice Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 24

Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight & Excerpt at Unshelfish

Tuesday, August 25

Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Wednesday, August 26

Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, August 27

Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, August 28

Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Saturday, August 29

Review at 100 Pages a Day

Sunday, August 30

Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Monday, August 31

Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, September 1

Review at A Bibiliotaph’s Reviews
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Wednesday, September 2

Review at Broken Teepee
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, September 3

Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, September 4

Review at I’m Shelf-ish


Thursday, August 27, 2015

TLC Book Tours: Review of Come Away With Me by Karma Brown + Giveaway!!

Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: August 25th, 2015
Pages: 368


A heartbreaking and emotional story of love and loss, COME AWAY WITH ME is one woman’s discovery that life is still worth living, even if it’s not the life you planned.

One minute, Tegan Lawson has everything she could hope for: an adoring husband, Gabe, and a baby on the way. The next, a patch of black ice causes a devastating accident that will change her life in ways she never could have imagined.

Tegan is consumed by grief—not to mention anger toward Gabe, who was driving on the night of the crash. But just when she thinks she’s hit rock bottom, Gabe reminds her of their Jar of Spontaneity, a collection of their dream destinations and experiences, and so begins an adventure of a lifetime.

From the bustling markets of Thailand to the flavors of Italy to the ocean waves in Hawaii, Tegan and Gabe embark on a journey to escape the tragedy and search for forgiveness. But they soon learn that grief follows you no matter how far away you run, and that acceptance comes when you least expect it. Heartbreaking, hopeful and utterly transporting, COME AWAY WITH ME is an unforgettable debut and a luminous celebration of the strength of the human spirit.

What Did I Think About the Story?

Please excuse me while I gush a little bit (well,  maybe a lot!) about Come Away With Me by Karma Brown. It has been quite a while since a book made me actually, physically big, fat, hiccup-inducing tears...but that is exactly what happened on and off as I read this story. The raw emotions these characters are experiencing are written so vividly I at times felt like I could feel their pain, anger, anxiety and hollowing sadness along with them. While this did bring about some strange looks from my husband and dogs I am so happy to have experienced these feelings along with Tegan. This is a story that will consume you, and in my opinion that makes one hell of a great read.

After the accident Tegan can't seem to get out of her own head or see past her grief, and is so filled with an emptiness and livid anger that she can't help but want to hide away from the world and lash out at anyone who even attempts to get her to think about a time when she can start healing and moving on. While I have thankfully never experienced a tragedy like Tegan's, my son was born two  months early and had to spend the first month of his life in the hospital. He is now a healthy, happy ten year old, but I will never forget going home from the hospital without  him and the abject emptiness I felt the first time I walked through the door without him in my arms. Ms. Brown nails describing this feeling and made me instantly sympathize with Tegan and the myriad physical and emotional symptoms that come along with an accident like she experiences.

As the story progresses the reader not only gets to go along with Tegan and Gabe as they travel to three dream locations but, disbursed throughout, are chapters that go back into Tegan and Gabe's life so we get to see how their love developed and the life they had been living up until the horrible accident.  These chapters are filled with laughter and love, and if you haven't fallen a little in love with Gabe by the end I would be shocked. He is such a kind, patient person with Tegan and his careful treatment of her as they travel to Thailand, Italy and Hawaii was beyond touching. Oh, and be prepared to add these three locations to your bucket list, if you haven't already, because Karma Brown's ability to transport the reader made me feel like I was riding an elephant, taking a cooking class filled with ripe tomatoes and garlic and learning how to surf right along with Tegan and Gabe. She hits all the senses with a bang and I am now ready to put my backpack on and take off!

There is a twist towards the end of the novel that actually made my heart start beating faster. I honestly didn't see it coming and it really hit me harder than I would have expected given the fact that these things weren't really happening. Regardless, I think it was perfectly done as it drives the story in a direction that will finally come to a conclusion with a sense of satisfaction and hopefulness. After all the tears I was very happy to come to this sort of conclusion!

I can't recommend Come Away With Me enough, to anyone who wants to travel along on a sometimes sad yet always fascinating adventure with some unforgettable characters. The fact that this is Karma Brown's debut novel is astounding to me, and I can tell you that she has found a forever-fan in this reader.


What Did I Think About the Cover?

Beautiful! If you just take it at surface value, it is eye-catching, colorful and makes you think of vacation and travel, which plays a huge part in the story. Looking a little further at what could be the symbolism of the cover, we have Tegan, currently in the bright, calm waters about to be overtaken by the much darker, turbulent waves. Tegan battles with her emotions throughout the story so this could represent that perfectly. However you decide to look at it, I think it's as stunning as the story.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of Come Away With Me in exchange for an honest review! Be sure to continue below for information on the author, the blog tour and how you can enter my giveaway to win your own copy!

Praise for Come Away With Me 

Karma Brown has written a book that will make you feel like you’ve traveled the world without leaving your seat. COME AWAY WITH ME is full of lush locations, memorable characters, and a turn of events that is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Brown’s work is as smart as it is effortless to read.”—Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do
leaving your seat.

Buy the Book


About the Author

Karma Brown is a National Magazine Award winning freelance writer and journalist, and a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. She lives just outside Toronto with her family and writes powerfully emotional upmarket women’s fiction, in the vein of Me Before You. COME AWAY WITH ME is her first novel.
Find out more about Karma Brown on her website and on The Debutante Ball. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Giveaway Time!!!

I am so excited to be able to offer up one copy of Come Away With Me for giveaway (US/Canada only)!! All you have to do is enter your name and email address on the giveaway form HERE. Please be sure to leave both your name and your email on the form so I can contact you if you are my winner (no email address, no entry!). For extra entries you can follow the blog in various ways (all links are on the right hand sidebar) and leave the name/email you follow with on the form. That's it!
I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner on September 3rd, 2015 and will announce the winner here as well as email the winner for their mailing address. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before I have to pick another winner. If you have already won this giveaway on another site please let me know so I can pick a new winner and give someone else a chance to win a copy of this remarkable book.
Good Luck!!

TLC Blog Tour Schedule for Come Away With Me

Monday, August 24th: Book Dilettante
Tuesday, August 25th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, August 26th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, August 27th: A Literary Vacation
Friday, August 28th: From L.A. to LA
Monday, August 31st: Romancing the Book – review and Q&A
Tuesday, September 1st: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, September 2nd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, September 3rd: The Bookish and the Romantic
Monday, September 7th: Lavish Bookshelf
Monday, September 7th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Tuesday, September 8th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Wednesday, September 9th: Always With a Book
Thursday, September 10th: Bookmark Lit
Monday, September 14th: girlichef
Tuesday, September 15th: Why Girls Are Weird
Wednesday, September 16th: The Reading Date
Thursday, September 17th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Monday, September 21st: Book Mama Blog



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Spotlight on Roman Mask by Thomas Brooke

Publication Date: June 29, 2015
Formats: Kindle & Paperback
Pages: 388

Genre: Historical Fiction/Adventure/Action

Rome AD 9

Augustus Caesar rules Imperial Rome at the height of its power, as the Roman Empire stretches across the known world. Cassius, son of one of her most powerful families, is the personification of Rome’s imperial strength: wealthy, popular, a war hero with a decorated military career – none of Rome’s fashionable parties are complete without him – except, he hides a secret.

After his nerve is broken in Germany, the thought of genuine armed combat is enough to send him into a cold sweat of fear and shame. But this doesn’t dissuade him from living off a false reputation so he can continue a life of casual affairs, wine, and parties, as he is seduced by the many vices of Rome.

However his scandalous life is soon upset by a summons from the Emperor’s wife. It ends his happy decadent life and returns him to Germany to assist the Roman legions in their greatest ever trial, and the events that will resound down in history, in the dark forests of the Teutoburg…

Praise for Roman Mask

“Thomas Brooke brings vividly alive the Rome of Augustus Caesar. Violent, sex obsessed – not unlike our own century – we see the savage pleasures of the ancient world through the eyes of a charming rake back from the wars with a not entirely justified reputation for heroism.
Brooke’s debut is an undoubted success. I thoroughly enjoyed Roman Mask – the first of a series, I hope.” – David Roberts, Author of Sweet Poison and The Corinth crime novels.


Buy the Book


About the  Author

Thomas Brooke lives in London where he works in the exciting, and sometimes crazy, fashion world. He is also a committed writer and he spends as much time as he can in his beloved Northumbrian hills, where up until recently could be seen walking with his black Labrador Fergus, who sadly
passed in January 2015. Fergus was a constant companion to the writing of the novel and prevented many writers’ tantrums.

Roman Mask is Thomas Brooke’s second novel, although this will be the first available for sale.

As well as writing novels, he also writes a blog on both historical and fantasy genre novels.

For more information on Thomas M D Brooke, visit and You can also find him on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Roman Mask Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 24

Kick Off & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, August 25

Excerpt & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, August 26

Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, September 1

Spotlight at Curling up by the Fire

Wednesday, September 2

Excerpt at Boom Baby Reviews

Thursday, September 3

Review at Just One More Chapter

Saturday, September 5

Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Monday, September 7

Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Tuesday, September 8

Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, September 10

Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Sunday, September 13

Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Friday, September 18

Review at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, September 23

Review at Genre Queen


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Interview with Andy Kutler, Author of The Other Side of Life

Please join me in welcoming Andy Kutler, author of the new historical fiction time-slip novel The Other Side of Life, to A Literary Vacation! His book is already garnering rave reviews from readers, including Pulitzer Prize winning authors, and it looks set to become a smash hit. Andy's stopped by today to do an interview that I hope you will enjoy, and, as always, be sure to continue after the interview for more information about The Other Side of Life, where to pick up the book and much more!


Good morning Andy! I have become a huge fan of historical fiction time-slip novels as I love seeing how more contemporary characters interact with the past and the people who lived during that time. In The Other Side of Life you have your main character, a man who nearly lost his life at Pearl Harbor, go back in time to face fighting in the Civil War. Where did you come up with the idea?

I needed the story to originate around 1940 or so, and what happened to the USS Nevada at Pearl Harbor struck me as a perfect setting to introduce my protagonist, Mac Kelsey. Readers will get their first glimpse at the core of this man as he reacts to the first bombs falling, and see the trajectory of our country, and Kelsey’s life, completely change in those moments. Going back to the Civil War, with his knowledge of future outcomes and events, will shed further light on his character. A central theme in most time-slip novels is the extent a character’s action can alter the course of future events. My story tracks with that, but in what I think is a wholly unique way. I’ll have to save that surprise!
Oh I love surprises in novels! One of my favorite aspects of time slip novels is seeing just how much someone's actions in the past can affect the future and in what interesting ways. On the historical side, what draws you to historical fiction? Are there any particular times in history you gravitate towards or do you just enjoy history in general?
Like most readers, I’m drawn to really creative stories with compelling characters, but I also love to learn new things. As much as I think I know about history, particularly American history, I’m still constantly learning more. And there are so many extraordinary events that have remained relatively obscure and deserve a spotlight of their own. That is why I included the story of the USS Nevada in my book. As for particular historical periods I am drawn to, I really enjoy any major episode in American history, from the Revolutionary War through the Cold War. I generally stick to American history, but I do enjoy novels set during the Napoleonic wars, and I’m now trying to learn more about World War I, which I know so little about.
YES, I 100% agree with you regarding those hidden gems of history that  need to be brought into the light and explored! I tend to gravitate towards European history myself (especially British History) but just this year have become drawn to America's Civil War. With all the books I want to read and my busy schedule there isn't enough time in the day to ever get to them all! What does a typical day in your life look like?  When do you fit in time to write?
A typical day? Scheduled chaos! I have a day job, and I’m there by dawn every day. I get home in the late afternoon, try and get a run in, pick up my kids at school, and cook dinner when I’m not shuttling them to their baseball/softball/you name it activities. I write in the evenings, and on a really good night, I squeeze in an hour of Game of Thrones or Modern Family. There is literally not a minute for me to waste, but honestly, that time crunch keeps me focused and on-task. It’s crazy, but it works for me.
Wow, you are BUSY! I'm always amazed how you wordsmiths are able to find the time to write, especially when you incorporate a day job, family life and the extraneous tasks that come in to play when a book gets published. Speaking of that, a lot of authors have become huge on social media, not only promoting their work but interacting with their readers and offering up giveaways, book recommendations, etc. Are you a big proponent of using social media in this way? How do you prefer to interact with your fans?
Absolutely. I have had a few exchanges of my own with highly-successful, best-selling authors, asking them for advice, or even just letting them know how much I enjoyed their writing. I’m always amazed that these authors find time not only to answer my notes, but with thoughtful and engaging responses. My view is, if these literary giants can make time for me, then I can certainly make time for anyone who has gone to the trouble of purchasing and reading my book. I’ve really expanded my digital footprint in recent weeks, not only launching my web page but also using Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter to engage with readers. Still, I do have a soft spot for good old-fashioned email. I appreciate that personal touch.
It is wonderful you take the time out of your busy life to interact with your readers! I can tell you, from the reader's perspective, that makes a HUGE impact on  us....authors are our rockstars!! I'm sure this is no surprise to you, however, since I’ve noticed that a lot of authors are also big readers. When you have time for leisure reading what sorts of books do you gravitate towards? Have you read anything good lately?
I am passionate about reading, and no matter how disorienting my life can be, I make time to read. It’s one of the things I enjoy most about traveling – the ability to consume entire novels in a few days. Historical fiction is my genre of choice, and I recently finished Jeff Shaara’s “A Fateful Lightning”, which is a novel about Sherman’s march through Georgia and South Carolina near the end of the Civil War. Loved the book, and love Shaara’s style of telling a story through the eyes of a handful of real-life historical figures. I also enjoy more contemporary thriller novels – Lee Child, Alex Berenson and Joseph Finder are at the top of my list.
Oh, I haven't heard of Shaara's "A Fateful Lightning"! It sounds amazing and I've added it to my crazy-long wish list! Are you working on any future books at this time? If so, can you tell us a little about it?
I’m sort of in the Cocktail Napkin Phase and hope to advance soon to the White Board Phase.  Since my ideas are still being developed, I don’t want to reveal anything. But one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received is to write about those things you are most passionate about, and that will very much be the case with my next effort.
Well you definitely have my interest piqued! I'll be on the look out for what you have to come and am happy to experience The Other Side of Life now that it is out. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by A Literary Vacation and share your insights with us!
Everyone please see below for more about The Other Side of Life. Doesn't it sound wonderful?!
Publication Date: August 11th, 2015
Publisher: Neverland Publishing Company LLC
ISBN-13: 978-0-9903148-9-9
Library of Congress Control Number: 2015909320
Genre: Historical Fiction
December 1941, Pearl Harbor. A peaceful Sunday morning turns into a devastating attack on American soil. Naval officer Malcolm "Mac" Kelsey is severely wounded while defending his ship. A flawed man abandoned long ago by his alcoholic wife, Kelsey has been mired in despair and hopelessness following the accidental death of Lucy, the young daughter he considers the only redemptive aspect of his life. Near the point of death, Kelsey is brought to what he believes to be an afterlife where he is offered an opportunity to shed his past memories and embark upon an alternate path in another place and time. Eager to escape his torment and begin a more tranquil existence, Kelsey accepts, only to feel quickly betrayed as he soon finds himself back in the midst of battle, this time as a Union soldier at the dawn of the Civil War. 
 Through Antietam, Gettysburg and four years of relentless fighting, Kelsey attempts to cast aside his painful past while trying to survive the horrors of combat. He crosses paths with compelling figures on both sides of the conflict determined to persevere and return to those they left behind. Idealistic Ethan Royston, promoted from the enlisted ranks, believes in preserving the Union but is plagued by insecurity and self-doubt. His closest friend, West Point-trained Cal Garrity, remains loyal to his home state of Virginia despite his misgivings about the virtue of the Southern cause. The war will divide these friends, just as it will divide Garrity from his adoring wife, Emily, the charismatic and headstrong daughter of a prominent Norfolk shipbuilder, forced to face the onset of war alone. 
 Each will endure unimaginable hardship and brutality that will forever reshape their core beliefs and values. Each will find their strength and resolve tested as they search for self-purpose, humanity, and reconciliation. Most of all, Mac Kelsey will discover the very essence of life and death, and whether the new beginning he has long coveted will bring him the inner peace he has so desperately sought.


Author Bio

Andy Kutler is a writer living in Arlington, Virginia. A native of Madison, Wisconsin and a graduate of Michigan State University (B.A.) and Georgetown University (M.A.), he has previously worked on the senior legislative staff of two United States Senators before serving as a senior policy officer with the U.S. Secret Service. He is working today as a consultant to the national security

While Andy's writings have appeared in The Huffington Post and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Other Side of Life is his first novel. Andy's interests include travel, military history, his Wisconsin sports teams, and most importantly, spending time with his wife and two children. You can learn more about the author at and can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Buy the Book


Praise for The Other Side of Life

“The Other Side of Life imaginatively mingles brutal scenes of Civil War battlefields with thought-provoking moral issues. It describes the conflicted loyalties and sufferings of that tragic era and the spiritual growth of the book’s hero—a naval officer wounded in the Pearl Harbor attack—and those he becomes close to when he is transported to the past. The swift-moving, compelling narrative grips the reader from first page to last.” -- Bernard Weisberger, historian and author of America Afire: Adams, Jefferson, and the Revolutionary Election of 1800 

“Andy Kutler has written a thoughtfully imaginative adventure across time, approaching the Civil War from a fresh perspective while creating memorable, compelling characters. The story flows beautifully and is consistently challenging.” -- Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, Now and Then Reader ( 

"Andy Kutler's war scenes are gripping, his characters vulnerable and honest, and his story ultimately triumphant -- an exciting journey back into two levels of the past." -- David Hardin, author of Emblems of Woe: How the South Reacted to Lincoln's Murder

“Employing some new twists on the novelist's technique of time travel, Andy Kutler sends a naval officer bombed at Pearl Harbor back to the Civil War. Among his comrades in a Union cavalry regiment he absorbs the enduring values of trust, loyalty, love, and selflessness during the chaos and tragedy of a war that took place a half century before he was born. Readers will find themselves immersed in this story and captivated by its principal characters.” -- James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom and The War That Forged a Nation
“Profound, smart, and entertaining – the path through The Other Side of Life is an amazing journey through history.” -- Joe Weisberg, Creator and Executive Producer of FX’s The Americans and author of An Ordinary Spy

“Andy Kutler has created a fascinating fictional account of the service of the 6th United States Cavalry in the Civil War. While the book is a work of historical fiction, Kutler nevertheless faithfully recreates day-to-day life in a Regular Army cavalry regiment during this country’s greatest and most decisive conflict. If you have an interest in understanding the travails of the common cavalryman during the Civil War, then you will enjoy this book. Kutler is a fine writer, and it shows in this, his first novel.” –- Eric J. Wittenberg, award winning author and Civil War cavalry historian
"As an ardent student of both history and anything that features time travel in any way, you can color this reader delighted and impressed. The worlds Kutler describes feel lived in and personal; familiar events feel freshly re-imagined. Never have stoicism and perseverance been so epically heroic. Stoicism is a word, right?" -- Ben Karlin, Emmy Award-winning writer and executive producer of The Daily Show and Modern Family

"In The Other Side of Life, Andy Kutler employs his feel for history and great imagination to transport a Pearl Harbor casualty back to the Civil War -- a vivid, novelistic evocation of drama and trauma in 19th and 20th century America." -- John W. Dower, historian, author and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize Award and National Book Award for Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War

Monday, August 24, 2015

Book Blast: Owen Archer Series by Candace Robb + Giveaway!!

The summer is heating up with the re-issue of Candace Robb’s Owen Archer historical crime series! Nine of the ten books were just released in eBook format, with all new, beautiful covers, and is now available to download for your eReader! At only $2.99 per eBook, it’s a FAB deal on a great series!

The Apothecary Rose (Book One)

“Suspenseful, historically accurate, and blessed with a wonderful cast of characters, THE APOTHECARY ROSE is an absolute delight from start to finish…” — Charles de Lint, author of the Newford Series

In the year of our Lord 1363, two suspicious deaths in the infirmary of St. Mary’s Abbey catch the attention of the powerful John Thoresby, Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of York. One victim is a pilgrim, while the second is Thoresby’s ne’er-do-well ward, both apparently poisoned by a physic supplied by Master Apothecary Nicholas Wilton. In the wake of these deaths, the archbishop dispatches one-eyed spy Owen Archer to York to find the murderer.

Under the guise of a disillusioned soldier keen to make a fresh start, Owen insinuates himself into Wilton’s apothecary as an apprentice. But he finds Wilton bedridden, with the shop being run by his lovely, enigmatic young wife, Lucie. As Owen unravels a tangled history of scandal and tragedy, he discovers at its center a desperate, forbidden love twisted over time into obsession. And the woman he has come to love is his prime suspect.

Lovingly detailed, beautifully written, THE APOTHECARY ROSE is a captivating and suspenseful tale of life, love, and death in medieval England.

The Lady Chapel (Book Two)

"A lovingly detailed background informs and animates the plot at every point.” —KIRKUS

Perfect for fans of both Ellis Peters and CJ Sansom, THE LADY CHAPEL is a vivid and immersive portrait of court intrigue and a testament to the power of the medieval guilds.

Summer in the year of our Lord 1365. On the night after the Corpus Christi procession, a man is brutally murdered on the steps of York Minster. The next morning his severed hand is found in a room at the York Tavern—a room hastily vacated by a fellow guild member who had quarreled with the victim.

Archbishop Thoresby calls on Owen Archer to investigate. As Owen tracks the fleeing merchant, he uncovers a conspiracy involving a powerful company of traders, but his only witness is a young boy who has gone into hiding, and his only suspect is a mysterious cloaked woman. When Owen discovers a link between the traders and a powerful coterie in the royal court, he brings his apothecary wife Lucie into the race to find the boy before he is silenced forever by the murderers.

The Nun's Tale (Book Three)

“[An] engrossing tale…imbued with the flavor of English medieval life, Robb’s story melds true events with fiction to create a gripping historical mystery.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Based on an enigmatic entry in the records of Clementhorpe Nunnery, this authentic, gripping mystery conjures a 14th century ripe with forbidden passions and political intrigue.

When young nun Joanna Calverley dies of a fever in the town of Beverley in the summer of 1365 she is buried quickly for fear of the plague. But a year later, Archbishop Thoresby learns of a woman who has arrived in York claiming to be the resurrected nun, talking of relic-trading and miracles. And death seems to ride in her wake.

The archbishop sends Owen Archer to retrace the woman’s journey, an investigation that leads him across the north from Leeds to Beverley to Scarborough. Along the way he encounters Geoffrey Chaucer, a spy for the king of England, who believes there is a connection between the nun’s troubles, renegade mercenaries, and the powerful Percy family. Back in York, however, Owen’s wife Lucie, pregnant with their first child, has won the confidence of the mysterious nun and realizes that there are secrets hidden in the woman’s seemingly mad ramblings…

The King's Bishop (Book Four)

“Robb continues to adeptly blend politics with period detail and three-dimensioned characterizations in the Owen Archer tales.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

From the marshy Thames to the misty Yorkshire moors, murder stalks Welsh soldier-sleuth Owen Archer and one of his oldest friends.

On a snowy morning in 1367, Sir William of Wyndesore’s page is found in the icy moat of Windsor Castle, and some whisper that the murderer was Ned Townley—a former comrade-in-arms of Owen Archer. Burdened with a reputation as a notoriously jealous lover, Ned cannot hope to clear his name; even Mary, his ladylove, is unsure of the truth. Hoping to put Ned out of harm’s way while solving the murder, Owen places his friend in charge of a mission to Rievaulx Abbey at the edge of the moors. But when the travelers receive news of Mary’s drowning, Ned vanishes into the wild.

Riding out in search of his old friend, Owen does not know whether he will be Ned’s savior or executioner. With his one good eye, Owen sees more than most, but now he must find a way to penetrate the curtains of power that surround the Church and England’s royal court and discover the truth of Ned’s innocence or guilt…

The Riddle of St. Leonard's (Book Five)

“Gripping and believable…you can almost smell the streets of 14th-century York as you delve deeper into an engrossing plot.” —PRIMA

In the year of our Lord 1369 the much-loved Queen Philippa lies dying in Windsor Castle, the harvest has failed, and the pestilence has returned. In York, the atmosphere of fear and superstition is heightened by a series of thefts and violent deaths at St. Leonard’s Hospital and rumors that these crimes are connected to the hospital’s dwindling funds. The Master of St. Leonard’s, Sir Richard Ravenser, hurries north from the queen’s deathbed to summon Owen Archer, soldier-spy, to investigate the scandal before it ruins him.

While Owen’s wife Lucie faces the plague-panicked townsfolk at the apothecary, Owen encounters a seemingly random series of clues: a riddle posed by one of the victims at the hospital, a lay sister with a scandalous past, the kidnapping of a child from the hospital orphanage, and a case of arson. The answer to the riddle of St. Leonard’s lies in the past, and as Owen’s family is caught up in the sweep of the pestilence, he must abandon them to race across the countryside to save the next victim.

A Gift of Sanctuary (Book Six)

“Robb deftly interweaves a complex story of love, passion and murder into the troubled and tangled fabric of Welsh history, fashioning a rich and satisfying novel.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Under the pretense of escorting his father-in-law and the archbishop’s secretary on a pilgrimage to the sacred city of St. David’s in Wales, Owen Archer and Geoffrey Chaucer are carrying out a mission for the Duke of Lancaster. England and France are at war, and the southern coast of Wales is vulnerable to invasion—Owen and Geoffrey are to recruit archers for the duke’s army and inspect his Welsh fortifications on the coast, while quietly investigating whether the duke’s steward at Cydweli Castle is involved in a French plot to incite rebellion in Wales.
But trouble precedes them in the cathedral city of St. David’s. On Whitesands Beach beyond the city a young man is beaten and left for dead, then spirited away by a Welsh bard. Shortly afterward a corpse clothed in the livery of the Duke of Lancaster is left at the city gate, his shoes filled with white sand. And at Cydweli Castle a chain of events begun by the theft of money from the castle’s exchequer ends in a violent death and the disappearance of the steward’s beautiful young wife. Owen and Geoffrey begin to see connections linking the troubles in city and castle, and see they must unravel the complex story of betrayed love and political ambition to prevent more deaths.

But in the course of his investigations in the land of his birth, Owen is haunted by doubts about his own loyalties…

A Spy For the Redeemer (Book Seven)

“Fascinating…crisp, evocative writing…. The tapestry here is rich and varied.”—CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER

Late spring in the year of our Lord 1370, and Owen Archer is anxious to leave Wales for home. His mission for the Duke of Lancaster complete, he attempts to arrange safe passage on a ship sailing for England, but the hanging of a stonemason interrupts his plans. On the surface it appears the young man was driven to suicide by a broken heart, but to Owen the signs all point to murder. As his investigation stretches on, however, Owen finds himself drawn into the influence of the leader of a Welsh rebellion whose manifesto speaks to his heart, and a choice is offered to him: join or die.

At home in York, Owen’s wife Lucie is troubled by rumors that her husband’s long absence is permanent, as well as threats by a customer who claims she was poisoned by a physic from the Wilton apothecary. Meanwhile, Lucie is tempted by the attentions of a friend’s steward, even as she uncovers a shattering betrayal in her own household.

The Guilt of Innocents (Book Nine)

“It’s…the Machiavellian intrigue that makes this such an enjoyable read. When the iron curtain came down people said the spy-thriller genre was dead. They were wrong. This is as full of intrigue as a Deighton or a Le Carré.” —THE GUARDIAN

Winter in the year of our Lord 1372. A river pilot falls into the icy waters of the River Ouse during a skirmish between dockworkers and the boys of the minster school, which include Owen Archer’s adopted son Jasper. But what began as a confrontation to return a boy’s stolen scrip becomes a murder investigation as the rescuers find the pilot dying of wounds inflicted before his plunge into the river. When another body is fished from the river upstream and Owen discovers that the boy Jasper sought to help has disappeared, Owen Archer convinces the archbishop that he must go in search of the boy. His lost scrip seems to hold the key to the double tragedy, but his disappearance leaves troubling questions: did he flee in fear? Or was he abducted?

On the cusp of this new mystery, Owen accepts Jasper’s offer to accompany him to the boy’s home in the countryside, where they learn that a valuable cross has gone missing. A devastating fire and another drowning force Owen to make impossible choices, endangering not only himself, but the two innocents he fights to protect. The bond between fathers and sons proves strong, even between those not linked by blood.

A Vigil of Spies (Book Ten)

“As always, Candace Robb writes a powerful story intertwined with genuine characters of the day.” —HISTORICAL NOVEL REVIEW

Archbishop Thoresby of York, the second most powerful cleric in England, lies dying in his bed. The end of his life is seen by the great families of the North as a chance to promote one of their own as his successor, and Thoresby himself announces he will leave the matter to the dean and chapter of York. On the eve of this decision, the dying archbishop agrees to a visit from Joan, Princess of Wales, wife of the Black Prince, heir to the throne of England, and Thoresby’s captain of the guard, Owen Archer, has no doubt that trouble will follow.

As soon as the company rides into the palace yard he is proved right: they arrive burdened with the body of one of their party, and Owen finds evidence that the man’s death was no accident. Within days of this discover, a messenger carrying an urgent message for the Archbishop is found hanging in the woods. With guards surrounding the property, it is clear that the murderer walks among the palace guests. The powerful Percy and Neville families are well represented in the entourage, including a woman who remembers an afternoon tryst with Owen as much, much more. Even the princess’ son is suspect. As Owen races to unmask the guilty and rid the palace of the royal party, his final wish for his lord is that he might die in peace.


Buy the Books


About the Author

Growing up, Candace Robb wanted to be a ballerina, tap dancer, folk singer, journalist—but on the day that she walked into Liz Armstrong’s undergraduate class on Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, that all changed. A gifted teacher, lively, witty, always laughing even when cringing at a lazy response, Dr. Armstrong launched into the opening stanzas, and within a few lines Candace’s ears adjusted to the middle English—and she was hooked. Chaucer’s psychological study of the two lovers was a revelation to her. The next quarter was The Canterbury Tales. That clinched it. Candace went on to graduate work in medieval history and literature, and ever since she’s been engaged in bringing to life the rich culture of the period, from the arts to the politics. She is the internationally
acclaimed author of thirteen crime novels featuring the sexy, brooding, clever Owen Archer, who solves crimes for John Thoresby, Archbishop of York and Lord Chancellor of England, and the young Margaret Kerr, searching for her missing husband and her role in a Scotland overrun by English soldiers. Candace is currently under contract with Pegasus Books for a new crime series set in 15th century York, the Kate Clifford mysteries, which will debut in 2016.

Writing as Emma Campion, Candace has published two historical novels about the women of the English court in the 14th century, A Triple Knot and The King’s Mistress.

Born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Candace grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has lived most of her adult life in Seattle, Washington, which she loves for its combination of culture, natural beauty, and brooding weather so like Yorkshire, Wales, and Scotland, which she visits as often as possible. She has taught the art of writing the crime novel in the University of Washington’s certificate program, and offers workshops in writing the historical novel and in creating and plotting the crime series. Candace (and Emma) blog about writing and medieval topics at A Writer’s Retreat.

You can find out more about Candace on her website and connect with her on Facebook,  Twitter and Goodreads.


Giveaway Time!!!

To enter to win one of three eBook sets of THE APOTHECARY ROSE, THE LADY CHAPEL, and THE NUN’S TALE complete the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of the tour page found HERE


 Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Giveaway is open internationally.
Only one entry per household.
All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Good Luck!!

Owen Archer Series Book Blast Tour Schedule

Monday, August 17

The Reading Queen
CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, August 18

Genre Queen
What Is That Book About

Wednesday, August 19

 The Lit Bitch
The Never-Ending Book

Thursday, August 20


Friday, August 21

 Boom Baby Reviews
Buried Under Books

Saturday, August 22

 Book Nerd

Sunday, August 23

Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, August 24

 A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, August 25

Puddletown Reviews

Wednesday, August 26

A Book Geek

Thursday, August 27

A Chick Who Reads

Friday, August 28

A Fold in the Spine


Friday, August 21, 2015

Spotlight on The Lady and the Minstrel by Joyce DiPastena

Publication Date: January 29, 2015
Publisher: Sable Tyger Books
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
Pages: 601
ISBN: 9780986239618

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

A forbidden love and a past they can’t leave behind . . .

In King John’s England, Robert Marcel chafes against the law that holds him bound as a villein on his lord’s manor. He tries to make a daring escape and is nearly caught by his cruel master, but a young girl helps him slip away.

Years pass and Robert takes up trade as a minstrel. Invited to play at a banquet for the notorious Earl of Saxton, he is stunned to come face to face with the girl he’s never forgotten—now Lady Marguerite of Winbourne, betrothed to the earl. Her status as a noblewoman puts her completely out of Robert’s reach, but he knows they are meant to be together. He vows to make her his wife no matter what the cost.

Lady Marguerite has often thought of the young man she helped escape. Her tender feelings for him quickly turn into much more when they are brought back into each other’s lives. She longs to be free to marry Robert, the man she loves, but that will require her to sacrifice all she holds dear.

They are tested at every turn by those bent on driving them apart and destroying what they have found together. Can their love truly conquer all?

Buy the Book



“DiPastena portrays . . . the world Robert and Marguerite inhabit, with a great deal of confidence and skill; this is a deeply-researched book that wears its learning very lightly, and it bears comparison well with other great novels of the Middle Ages. I loved the book and highly recommend it.” ~ Historical Novel Society

“A grand novel of epic proportions . . . Both Marguerite and Robert are rich characters with much depth and background. . . . The storyline is unique . . . The solution to Marguerite’s problem is inspiring!” ~ InD’Tale Magazine


“Why are you here? What do you want?” She wished to chill him again with her dignity, but the questions instead came out barely more than a whisper.

“To see you. To talk with you. To—” His voice snagged as the truth swept the impassive mask from his face. “Oh, heaven forgive me, to kiss you!”

His hand reached out again, then hesitated, hovering just below her chin. Instead of rebuffing him, she felt herself sway towards him ever so slightly. His fingertips, calloused from his lute’s strings, brushed against her cheekbone. Then her cheek cradled gently in his palm and the midnight eyes, no longer veiled, gazed into hers with a longing that took away her breath.

“I have thought of nothing but you since you gazed at me in the village today.” His voice shook slightly as the words spilled out in a rush. “Then when you smiled at me in the hall, I knew I was lost. I cannot hope to court you. I am only a poor minstrel, and you are betrothed to the Earl of Saxton. But one kiss—just one!—I would cherish to the end of my days. Just one, if you will grant it—and then I will be gone.”

Gone? Let him go now, when she had only just found him? Heaven could not be so cruel as to ask her to send him away so soon! If it took a kiss to bind him—

He must have taken her silence as assent, for he pulled her against his chest. He held her firmly, yet so gently that the embrace brought no pain to her back. Marguerite had never been in a man’s arms before. Her heart raced so hard a pleasurable little buzz of dizziness hummed through her mind and body. He did not look like a man who often hesitated to take what he wanted and yet when he bent his head towards hers, he checked himself just short of her lips. It was that instant of uncertainty in him, briefer than a heartbeat, that nudged her leap of faith in his honor and lifted her willing mouth and drifted shut her eyes.

And then she felt his mouth on hers, gentle, warm, strong, yet somehow cautious, as if weighing something in her, as if waiting … for what? Outrage on her part? Resistance? Oh, heavens! If Marguerite had felt dizzy before, her senses now swam in earnest, and she wound her arms around his neck and let her body melt against him and kissed him back as if all her future hung on this one moment.

About the Author

Joyce DiPastena dreamed of green medieval forests while growing up in the dusty copper mining town of Kearny, Arizona. She filled her medieval hunger by reading the books of Thomas B. Costain (where she fell in love with King Henry II of England), and later by attending the University of Arizona where she graduated with a degree in history, specializing in the Middle Ages. The
university was also where she completed her first full-length novel…set, of course, in medieval England. Later, her fascination with Henry II led her to expand her research horizons to the far reaches of his “Angevin Empire” in France, which became the setting of her first published novel, Loyalty’s Web (a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist). Joyce is a multi-published, multi-award winning author who specializes in sweet medieval romances and romantic historicals heavily spiced with mystery and adventure. She lives with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov, in Mesa, Arizona.

For more information visit Joyce DiPastena’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Lady and the Minstrel Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 10

Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, August 11

Spotlight & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Wednesday, August 12

Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, August 13

Spotlight at I Heart Reading

Friday, August 14

Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews

Saturday, August 15

Review at A Fold in the Spine

Monday, August 17

Interview at A Silver Twig

Tuesday, August 18

Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, August 19

Spotlight at Please Pass the Books

Thursday, August 20

Interview at Books and Benches

Friday, August 21

Review at Just One More Chapter
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation