Gotta love 3 day weekends. One more day to get the usual chores done, and of course, spend a few more hours working on Book III of my Battle Scars series. My habit on writing weekends is to stay away from the Internet for the morning except to post the English Historical Fiction Authors weekly round up to social media on Sundays. But I made the mistake(!!) of checking email this morning before I’d settled into the opening of a new scene.
And there it was – an email from Helen Hollick, the Managing Editor of Indie Reviews for the Historical Novel Society (HNS).
“I am delighted to inform you that the above book has been reviewed by the Historical Novel Society and has been given an Editor’s Choice Selection, which also means that your book has been longlisted for the 2017 Annual Indie Award.”
If you felt the earth shaking and heard ear-splitting shouts across the galaxy, well, that was me. So much for the new scene. Those mercenaries who have captured Henry, Stephan, and Robin will have to wait a few more hours. (Sorry, boys.) I had to share my news, email friends and family, try to get my heart rate back to normal. It isn’t easy to come back down to earth and concentrate on writing after news like this. What a tremendous honor. I am thrilled beyond belief! Here is the HNS review:
When Henry de Grey left England to ride with his king in the third crusade, he was more of a boy than a man. Now he has returned, and the experiences he’s survived in the Holy Land have not only left him marked for life, they have also shaped him into a person who knows who he is and what he wants. Unfortunately, what Henry wants does not conform with the expectations of society – the times he lives in have little tolerance for a man who loves another man.
While the love story between Henry and his lover Stephan d’Aigle is a recurring theme, the main story centres round the ongoing political events. King Richard is a prisoner in Austria, and the huge ransom demanded for his release is yet another burden for the common man in England. No wonder that some listen to Prince John and his cronies, a whispered suggestion that maybe England would be better off without this crusading – and expensive – king of theirs.
Henry, Stephan, and their companion, Robin – a rather novel interpretation of the legendary Robin Hood – have no intention of allowing the traitorous Prince John to succeed. Plots and counter-plots, smuggled weaponry and food – all comes to a head at the siege of Nottingham.
Ms Newcomb is obviously entirely at home in this historical setting. Excellent descriptive writing brings the historical context into life, drawing the reader into the medieval world. Henry and Stephan are wonderfully developed characters, supported by a colourful cast which includes everything from a charming Little John to Elle, Henry’s intended bride who has no more desire to marry him than he does to wed her. All in all, an excellent read, quite impossible to put down, despite its length!
Whew. Thank you to reviewer Anna Belfrage, to Helen Hollick, and to HNS.
PostScript: in fall 2016, HNS decided to revamp its Indie Review program and apparently there will be no shortlist and no award in 2017 for Indies.
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 and is available on Amazon. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Newsletter. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and to let you be the first to know about special offers.