Men of the Cross by Charlene Newcomb


A wonderful review for Men of the Cross!

Originally posted on Historical Fiction reviews:


When I started this book I expected a story about the Third Crusade; one that would bring to the fore the majesty and the folly of the venture.  Those elements were certainly on display as the author leads the reader on an exciting, entertaining and surprisingly evocative tale.  From the mustering of Richard’s knights to the taking of Sicily and through all of the adventures they encountered before arriving at Acre.  The action is portrayed in nice detail, the political intrigue between Richard and Phillip gives the reader a taste of what that time was like and mimics a little I suppose what our time is like even now…that old adage that history repeats.  As to the characters, well I for one was drawn into their feelings, the ones of joy and the frequent bouts of sorrow and confusion.  The two main protagonists are fictional characters, Henry DeGray and Stephan…

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Veterans Day

I remember…

  • 9 weeks of Navy boot camp, with a drill sergeant who ripped our bunks & lockers to pieces and berated us for not having properly folded or stowed our gear
  • standing at attention on the drill field for several hours in the sun and then the rain
  • marching. lots and lots and lots of marching
  • arriving at my first duty station after boot camp, where I learned they’d placed me in a barracks filled with Army women on an Army base! Wait – didn’t I join the Navy?
  • language classes for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week for almost a year – in beautiful Monterey, CA
  • my Air Force buddies who decided I needed to see a nude beach near Big Sur
  • driving from CA to TX for my 2nd duty station – an Air Force base! (Checks uniform – yep, I’m still in the Navy.)
  • 3 months in TX where we could watch (or hear) the fighter jets practice take-offs and landings
  • my first job after training at the NSA at Ft. Meade, Maryland – an Army base, but hooray: there’s a barracks just for us Navy folks!
  • being on the job – I worked side by side with civilian Dept. of Defense folks, Navy, Marines, Army, and Air Force personnel
  • as a communications technician I did cool things like 1stripe
    • sorry, it’s classified, but you can read about CTIs on wikipedia – it was pretty incredible stuff for a 20 year old
  • the strobe light flashing to signal an incident
  • the quarter-size hole someone scrapped in the film-covered window so we could see the world outside
  • we rotated shifts: 2 weeks of days (7-3) followed by 2 weeks of mids (11-7)
  • the stress of not being to talk about the work I did
  • 5 years active duty + 1 year in the Reserves
  • that I never regretted serving my country. Would I do it again? You bet!

To all who have served, thank you. I am honored to be counted with you.

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Visiting with author Anna Belfrage and other news

sex-lastjudgementthelustful388Anna Belfrage invited me to visit with her last week (on her blog, that is). We talked “Of sodomists, sex, and sin in the Middle Ages – not as clearcut as you think.” We take a look at the Church’s definitions of sexual sins and talk a bit about how we have handled gay characters in our medieval novels. Anna’s new series takes place during the reign of Edward II who was accused of having intimate relationships with his favourites. I reviewed Book I last week.

In other news…

Men of the Cross was reviewed by the Historical Novel Society:

Charlene Newcomb has woven a gripping tale, recounting the crusade without ever [being] boring or laden down with pages of political detail. The five main characters are compelling, believable and likeable. Ms Newcomb does not do gore, which is a blessing for someone who does not particularly enjoy reading about it, but that does not mean the battle scenes are not powerful or that the sense of weariness and heat are not present – they are.”

Men of the Cross is one of 3 books highlighted in author Derek Birks’ Historical Fiction Cover of the Week goes to the Crusades!: I am thrilled to be mentioned alongside Angus Donald’s Outlaw Chronicles and Robyn Young’s Requiem. Check it out.

And in Battle Scars II news: I finished another round of edits. I have a few places marked that I want to take a final look at, and I’m working on that slam-bang opening. I hope to be working with the cover designer by the end of November and formatting the manuscript for Amazon print and Kindle in December. If all goes well, For King and Country will be published in early 2016.


men_small for blogSweeping battles, forbidden love,
and 2 knights fighting for Richard the Lionheart
A 2014 B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree
and Readers’ Favorite
Get it from Amazon


Posted in Battle Scars, book reviews, interviews | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Talking about the book: In the Shadow of the Storm by Anna Belfrage

SotS.BelfrageTitle: In the Shadow of the Storm (The King’s Greatest Enemy I)
Author:  Anna Belfrage

A tidbit about the author
She always planned to be a writer “in between being an Arctic explorer, a crusader, or the Lionheart’s favourite page (no double entendre intended).” I don’t know when this prolific writer sleeps. She published the 8th book in the award-winning The Graham Saga a few months back. She recently took a break from her CFO day job. She is a mother of 4 and a wife who loves to bake, and “imagination is something [she has] in spades.”

The story
“Adam de Guirande owes his lord, Sir Roger Mortimer, much more than loyalty. He owes Sir Roger for his life and all his worldly goods, he owes him for his beautiful wife…  So when Sir Roger rises in rebellion against the king, Adam has no choice but to ride with him – no matter what the ultimate cost may be… The Welsh Marches explode into war, and soon Sir Roger and his men are fighting for their very lives. When hope splutters and dies, when death seems inevitable, it falls to Kit to save her man – if she can.” 

The scene that made you smile or cheer

“She had no notion of who he was, but had a vague recollection of standing beside him some hours back at the  door of a chapel. At the door of a chapel? Kit hiccupped; this man was her new husband…”

I felt sorry for Kit, but it is Ms. Belfrage’s description of the scene that made me smile. There is also a scene a bit later with mention of naked ducks, prowling foxes, and a henhouse. “It is my hen.” Well done, Ms. Belfrage. :)

The place where you wanted to throw the book across the room
Oh my, Ms. Belfrage. What have you done?! Kit . . . Despenser.  And Guy. Horrible, horrible. (Sorry, dear readers. I can’t provide any details because of spoilers.)

A memorable line (or several)

“Lord Thomas would not forgive me if I did not take care of his precious girl.”
“Precious?” Kit shook her head. “Not precious enough for him to visit my mother.”
“Precious enough that he stayed away. Precious enough that he had Father Luke installed as your chaplain. Precious enough that he has a collection of small likenesses of you and your mother, drawn by Luke and sent to him.”

My verdict – 4.5*****
Anna Belfrage has a way to transport a reader into another time and place, into the people of her story. When I opened the pages of In the Shadow of the Storm, 2015 was left behind. The sights, smells, and sounds of the early 14th century became home, though it is not necessarily warm or safe.

Forced  to assume the identity of the half-sister she did not know about, Kit becomes the wife of the unsuspecting Adam de Guirande in an arranged marriage that neither wants. The two fictional protagonists fall in love though Belfrage throws doubts and obstacles in their path every step of the way. Their relationship and Adam’s allegiance to Mortimer, enemy of Edward II and Hugh Despenser, leads to tension, heartache, edge-of-the-seat action, and drama. This kept me turning the pages, even when I wanted to slap Adam for being Adam. He can’t help being a 14th century man. But I know enough of medieval times to recognize that Ms. Belfrage gets it right: she gives us a very realistic picture of society, customs, and culture wrapped inside an excellent story. Kit recognizes her place as a 14th century wife, but she is a strong and independent woman. I found myself rooting for Kit and Adam throughout the book. (Did I mention the steamy sex scenes? Quite lovely.) And the antagonists? Oh dear… every time one steps on scene, I cringed.

Enter Kit’s life. Her fear is our fear. Her joy is our joy. I highly recommend this book. It is a wonderful read. I look forward to Book II in the series.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC (advance review copy) in exchange for an honest review.

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Agincourt 600


A fascinating look at the history leading up to the Battle of Agincourt on October 25, 1415…

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”
Henry V – William Shakespeare

Originally posted on History... the interesting bits!:

220px-King_Henry_V_from_NPGToday is the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, when Henry V and his small ‘band of brothers’ defeated the French with only a few casualties.

The Review Blog are hosting an Agincourt weekend, in celebration of the great victory, for which I wrote an article looking into the origins of the Hundred Years War.

Here’s a snippet:

Commemorating Agincourt: The Hundred Years War and The Road to Agincourt

This Sunday, 25th of October 2015, marks the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. One of the greatest battles in English history, it epitomises the pinnacle of English successes against their traditional enemy, France, during the epic struggle of the Hundred Years War. But what started it all?

The origins of the Hundred Years War go back 200 years before its outbreak, to Henry II. His marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine meant he was not only…

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#luckyseven – excerpt from Battle Scars II: For King and Country

I am editing away on For King and Country. Did I mention this book is coming in at more than 600 pages? (Almost twice the length of Men of the Cross!)  I am at the 75% mark on my edit, with a goal of finishing one chapter a day. That would bring me up to November 3. Keep your fingers crossed! I am so ready to get this in readers’ hands. Of course, I still have to get the cover art, write an author’s note, format for ebook and print, etc. etc.

In the meantime, how about a #luckyseven meme?  The rules for #luckyseven are:

  • Go to a page ending in a 7 in your current manuscript
  • Go to line 7
  • Post the next 7 lines or sentences – as they are – post on your blog or on Facebook!
  • Tag 7 other people to do the same

So here goes. Scene set up – without spoiling too much – knights Henry, Stephan and Robin have uncovered information about Count John’s traitorous operations in the Midlands, but…

“You’ll have me tending sheep to keep me from harm’s way.” Henry was on his feet. “I will not stand by while you—any of you—are in danger. Let me help. The wagons laid up in Grantham a few days back. That ginger-haired guard—”

“Henry, about Tuck…” Stephan’s eyes flicked to Robin. How much should he say?

“You know him from Normandy. You didn’t think to mention that?” Henry looked hurt. He swallowed hard. “Was he one of your lovers?”

“Tuck? He’s as chaste as most priests. Mayhap more.”

Let’s see if these folks want to participate:

Anna Belfrage, Alison Morton, Derek Birks,
EM PowellES MoxonMatthew Harffy, Steven A. McKay,


men_small for blogSweeping battles, forbidden love,
and 2 knights fighting for Richard the Lionheart
A 2014 B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree
and Readers’ Favorite
Get it from Amazon

Book II of Battle Scars: For King and Country
will be published in 2016.

Posted in Battle Scars, revising, teasers, works in process, writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

Not the Sheriff of Nottingham… Meet Lincolnshire’s Sheriff: Gerard de Camville

I am guest posting today on English Historical Fiction Authors with John’s Man in Lincoln: Gerard de CamvilleGerard is a late 12th/early 13th century sheriff, who like many men, paid King Richard (the Lionheart) to get his appointment. Richard needs the money for his Crusade to the Holy Land. But does money buy loyalty?

Enjoy the post about Sheriff de Camville. He won’t appear, but you will be hearing his name in For King and Country.


men_small for blogSweeping battles, forbidden love,
and 2 knights fighting for Richard the Lionheart
A 2014 B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree
and Readers’ Favorite
Get it from Amazon

Book II of Battle Scars: For King and Country
will be published in 2016.

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