Men of the Cross – sale July 28-29

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July 28-29 – Two Day Sale on Amazon (U.S.)

Get Men of the Cross for $1.99 (ebook)

Why do you want to pick up Men of the Cross for this great low price? Well, it’s cheaper than that latte at the local coffee shop and will stick with you a lot longer! And Book II of the Battle Scars series is now available. You could skip Men and go straight to Book II – both novels work as stand-alones. But if you read Book I, you will have fuller insight into the relationship of characters Henry de Grey and Stephan l’Aigle.

Men of the Cross is a B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree. indieBRAG is the Book Readers Appreciation Group which has a selective review process. They have  a two-fold mission: “to discover new talented self-published authors”; and to “provide an independent, broad-based and reader-centric source to advise the public which indie book merit the investment of their time and money.”

The novel has had some splendid reviews, too –

“A vivid picture of the Third Crusade.”
–Professor Andrew Latham, author of The Holy Lance

“A historical romance with a difference . . . very well researched a
and historically 
competent . . .”
–Christoph Fischer, author of Ludwika:
a Polish Woman’s Struggle To Survive In Nazi Germany

“If Mary Renault had chosen to write about the Crusades instead of ancient Greece and Persia, she could not have done any better–and that is high praise, indeed.”
–Bo, on Goodreads

“Trauma and passion in a battle of bodies and souls.”
–Christopher Monk, aka The Anglo Saxon Monk

Get Men of the Cross on Amazon now!

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Charlene Newcomb is the author of the Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. For King and Country, book II of the series, was published on 2 May 2016. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Mailing List. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

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Review: Men of the Cross (Battle Scars, #1) by Charlene Newcomb

Christoph Fischer has written a wonderful review of Men of the Cross.

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Today I have the 21878750pleasure of sharing my review of Men of the Cross (Battle Scars, #1)
by Charlene Newcomb, a 2014 B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree

“War, political intrigue and passion… heroes… friends and lovers… and the seeds for a new Robin Hood legend await you…”

The tag line doesn’t promise too much. A historical romance with a difference, this very well researched and historically competent story illustrates events taking place between 1190 and 1193, namely parts of King Richard’s Crusade to the holy land.
It revolves around two very different knights: Henry de Grey, strong in his faith and passionate about the mission to take Jerusalem back from Saladin’s army. Stephan l’Aigle’s is more worldy a warrior.During their journey and through their adventures the two develop their attraction to each other. This includes a m/m relationship with a heat level of 2 (out of 5), which means there is some erotic content but nothing too graphic. Unlike more gratuitous…

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moments in Third Crusade history: 10 july 1190 – the bridge collapse on the River Rhône

From the archives…

Charlene Newcomb

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It is highly likely that most of us missed this in European history classes, but Medievalists familiar with the Third Crusade and Richard the Lionheart may recall that today is the anniversary of the collapse of a bridge near Lyon in the year 1190. Last year, I’d mentioned that the chronicler of the Itinerarium (that is, Chronicle of the third crusade : A translation of the itinerarium peregrinorum et gesta regis ricardi) does not provide much detail, except to describe the aftermath of what could have been a major disaster for the crusading armies. (What if the Lionheart had died?) The Itinerarium states that Richard ordered boats tied together across the river to get his army to the opposite bank. (What a sight that would have been!) In The Annals of Roger de Hoveden, the chronicler writes, “the bridge, being thronged with men and women, broke down, not without doing injury…

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Special sale – For King and Country

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July 6 – 8 

Get For King and Country for $2.99/£1.99 (ebook)

See what the reviewers are saying:

“The history is sharp, the action appropriately bloody, the passion undeniable.”
Christopher Monk (aka researcher/consultant and The Anglo-Saxon Monk)

“With a blistering siege scene, daring escapes and a truly dastardly villain there is something for everyone here.”
thurinius (aka author LJ Trafford)

“The anguish, the joys, the sorrows, leap from the page…”
Paul Bennett, Historical Fiction Reviews

“Beautifully written, chock-full of historical details imparted elegantly throughout, For King and Country is a compelling and wonderful read.”
–author Anna Belfrage, Historical Novel Society Indie Award winner 2015 

With reviews like these, can you go wrong?

Get For King and Country now! 

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Charlene Newcomb is the author of the Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. For King and Country, book II of the series, was published on 2 May 2016. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Mailing List. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

Talking about the book: Days of Sun & Glory by Anna Belfrage

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Title: Days of Sun & Glory
Author:  Anna Belfrage

A tidbit about the author
Born in Sweden, raised in Peru & Colombia. Anna notes that where her classmates in Bogota “were constantly talking about the future (or football, at which I excelled) I was mostly dreaming about the past. I had no desire to become a business woman – I wanted to be a medieval knight.” Obviously, Anna cannot be a medieval knight, but man, oh man, can she write brilliantly about them!

The story
“…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…”–from the author’s website

Days of Sun & Glory is Book II in Ms. Belfrage’s The King’s Greatest Enemy series and pulls us back into the life of Sir Adam and his wife Kit. Concerned that you haven’t read Book I? Don’t be. This book works fine as a stand-alone. And I say that as someone who is barely familiar with this particular time period.

The scene that made you laugh out loud or cheer; the place where you wanted to throw the book across the room
Usually these are two separate questions, but I have combined them here. I was torn between laughter and groans watching the jealous reactions of both Kit and Adam, the two main characters. In this sequel to In the Shadow of the Storm, they have been married more than two years and have been to hell and back for each other. Their devotion to and love for each other is so vivid and well drawn. The bits of jealousy had me getting impatient with them both after a while.

My cheers are too numerous to count, but I absolutely love Ms. Belfrage’s portrayal of young Prince Edward. In this particular scene he is standing up to his father as Edward II tries to throw Adam out:

“I cannot have a man suspected of traitorous activities in your household.” [Edward] gestured at the men-at-arms “Take de Guirande away.”
[snip]
“You’re shaming me,” Prince Edward said.
“Shaming you?” The king looked at Adam, then at his son.
“Sir Adam is my liegeman. He has pledged himself to me, and I, in return, have pledged to protect him – isn’t that what liege lords do?” The prince turned wide eyes on his father.

A memorable line (or two)

Kit on Hugh Despenser…

…Kit would gladly have nailed his intestines to a tree and have him walk around it until he’d disembowelled himself, she had to admit the man exuded  some sort of magnetic allure, his sharp features enhanced by the neatly trimmed beard that clung to his cheeks and chin, his eyes glittering under dark, straight brows.

Oh, Anna, you have such a way with words!

Kenilworth was like a dog with fleas, always  itching, always restless.

…the autumn wind painted roses on her cheeks.

My verdict – ****4.5 stars****
Book II of Ms. Belfrage’s series The King’s Greatest Enemy, is well researched with plenty of historical details that will transport the reader to the 14th century. Ms. Belfrage makes her characters come to life, and if you aren’t cringing with fear every time Hugh Despenser comes on scene, why not?! Evil radiates from that man.

This is a turbulent era in England’s history and even readers unfamiliar with this particular time period will be drawn into the fictional life of Kit and Adam de Guirande drawn against the reign of Edward II. Kit and Adam find their lives governed and their hands tied by the politics and intrigue surrounding them. Spies are everywhere. Kit serves Edward II’s queen, Isabella, who, untrusted and unloved, plots against her husband. Adam’s former allegiance to Edward’s enemy Roger Mortimer, now exiled in France, makes him a traitor in Edward’s eyes. Adam may have sworn his allegiance to Edward’s son, but Despenser and the king seek any excuse to throw him into the dungeon, or worse, execute him. I was genuinely frightened for both the fiery Kit and the loyal Adam, which shows how much I cared for them.

When they become embroiled in Mortimer’s plot to raise money and an army to fight Edward, the stakes become deadlier. Queen Isabella and Prince Edward are sent to France to negotiate a peace, and Adam and Kit with them. The tale becomes heart wrenching as their family is torn apart and the young prince becomes a pawn in his mother’s hands. Will Adam and Kit stand by the prince, the queen, and Mortimer? The story of King Edward II and his favorite, Hugh Despenser, is one that in and of itself sounds more fiction than fact. But it is true, an incredible twisted history that Ms. Belfrage breathes life into with the help of her fictional characters.

Highly recommended.

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Giveaway – For King and Country

This giveaway ends in 2 days! Sign up now.

Charlene Newcomb

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Enter to win one of 3 signed copies! This Giveaway will run June 6 – July 5. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

See what the reviewers are saying:

“A breathtaking gallop through Richard the Lionheart’s England.”
–Sharon Bennett Connolly at The Review

“…emotional journey… With a blistering siege scene, daring escapes and a truly dastardly villain there is something for everyone here.”
thurinius (aka author LJ Trafford)

“Beautifully written, chock-full of historical details imparted elegantly throughout, For King and Country is a compelling and wonderful read.”
–author Anna Belfrage, Historical Novel Society Indie Award winner 2015 

“…the anguish, the joys, the sorrows, leap from the page while shes ties the threads of the web together. Strong characters, vivid detail and an interesting take on the Robin Hood mythology make this page turning adventure a joy to read.”
Paul Bennett, Historical Fiction Reviews

With reviews…

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Excerpt from Men of the Cross

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Book II? Well, I can’t buy that because I haven’t read Book I.

Of course, I would love you to read both Battle Scars books, though I think – as does at least 1 reviewer – that For King and Country will work as a stand-alone. But let me entice you with a scene from Book I, Men of the Cross:

From Chapter 5…

THEY’D HAD THEIR ALE to celebrate Henry’s victory and within moments the sky opened sending all the revelers scrambling to find cover. Stephan and Henry retired to the king’s pavilion with a score of other knights. King Richard had not returned from a hunting expedition in the woods nearby, but squires and servants had scrounged up succulent venison and lamb and laid them out on one of the long trestles. The fire had been warm, the food plentiful, and the games exhilarating though Stephan lost at chess—twice.

“Mayhap you should give up the game,” Henry said.

Broad-shouldered William of Abingdon slapped Stephan’s back and laughed. “Listen to Henry. But dice? You’ve not played with me since we left Tours.”

Henry looked between the knights. He’d learned that “play” might have multiple meanings and merely smiled shyly. “I cannot watch you lose another penny,” he said. “I bid you goodnight.”

“Victory!” Stephan shouted as Will turned him round and steered him to the dice table. Will plopped down beside Stephan and fingered the cubes as a crowd gathered. He tossed them with a quick flick of his wrist. Their audience groaned at Will’s first roll, but cheered at Stephan’s pair of fours. Ultimately, Stephan won, but that might have been because Will’s hand was more interested in the muscles of Stephan’s thigh than in the toss of wooden cubes. Stephan thought his own restraint admirable, especially when Robin stopped to talk and Will grew more daring in his exploration. Stephan was more than ready when other knights departed for the evening or bedded down in the pavilion and Will asked him back to his own tent.

Creaking wagons woke Stephan a few hours later. Will snored softly next to him, his hand resting at Stephan’s waist. Stephan rose and shook off his exhaustion. He pulled on his hose and tunic and tugged aside the tent flap. Yawning, he stretched in the cool morning air. He wagged his head to clear it, tried to focus on the hum of activities around him. Where one tent after another lined the road five or six deep in both directions when he’d gone to bed, there now were empty, trampled plots of dirt. Hundreds of tents had been dismantled. A few campfires smoked and sizzled with breakfast but goods had been stowed and the pilgrims were making ready for one more day on the road.

Stephan called over his shoulder. “Will, get out of bed and I shall help you pack up the tent. We’ll be left behind.”

A horse whinnied and Stephan turned. The young thief from Tours came around the side of Will’s tent. He held Tempête’s reins out to Stephan. “I saddled him up for you, my lord.”

Stephan eyed the boy suspiciously—what mischief was this?  Straightening, he walked toward boy and horse, inspecting Tempête from nose to haunches. He stroked the destrier’s neck. He checked the saddle, pleased to see the boy had tightened the straps perfectly. His saddle bag was packed tightly. Had the thief replaced its contents with useless rubbish?

Allan looked wounded. “It’s all there, my lord, including two pennies loose at the bottom.”

An honest thief, Stephan thought. Still, what was he after? “Sorting through my bag, were you?”

“Just to pull the wineskin you’d stuffed there. You’ll need some ale on the march today.”

“I do not remember asking you to see to Tempête.”

“You did not, my lord. Me and Little John saw you speaking with the one they call Sir Robin last night. Heard that you were to ride at the vanguard this morn.”

Stephan slapped his thigh. “Christ!” He gaped at the eastern edge of the valley where wagons were already kicking up dust.

“Sir Robin was looking for you when the sun came up. Told him we’d hurry you along. I talked it over with Little John. We thought it best to retrieve your horse first and then wake you.”

“Little John?”

“My friend.”

“The dark-haired lad?”

“Aye, my lord,” Allan said, pointing to the boy peeking out from behind a nearby wagon. Little John held chunks of bread and cheese out to Stephan.

“Wait right here.” Stephan hurried back into the tent. “Will?” He shook the naked knight and then tossed him a grey tunic carelessly thrown to the ground when they’d come in during the night. He slipped his surcoat over his head and then found his sword belt beneath Will’s cloak. “There are two boys outside,” he said as he secured the belt round his waist. “I shall give them a coin to help you. Mayhap one can find your squire.”

“It cannot be daylight.”

“It is, and Robin is waiting for me.”

“I hardly slept, no thanks to you.”

“Complain, will you? See if I warm your bed again.” Stephan grabbed his cloak. Outside, he handed Allan a half penny. “You heard?”

“We shall help Sir William with his things.”

“Good. Then I shall be off.”

Allan handed him Tempête’s reins and fingered the frayed edge of Stephan’s cloak. “Little John is good at mending, my lord. He knows how to smooth the nicks in a sword, and shine it so bright that it might blind someone who intends you harm.”

“And you know horses.”

“That and much more, my lord. I would be glad to teach you a trick or two at the games.”

“You were watching me at the pavilion last night?”

“Aye. You should be wary playing that knight from Rotherham.”

“Oh?”

“He cheats.”

“You know how to beat a cheater, do you?”

“Aye, my lord.”

“Allan, is it?”

“Aye.”

Stephan encouraged Little John to come forward. He ripped a chunk of bread from the loaf in the boy’s hand. “Thank you.” He bit into the bread, studying the two boys. Rough around the edges. Thin and filthy. But this Allan—he had some useful talents. And a good heart. He could have escaped from Stephan in that chase, but he’d slowed down, concerned about his dark-haired friend. Stephan imagined he’d learn if Allan exaggerated Little John’s skills in time. “Find me when we camp for the night,” he told the boys. “I have a job or two you might help with.” He mounted Tempête and pivoted towards the vanguard. Pressing his heels to the horse, he called back,  “And I just might take you up on those tricks.”

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