Writer’s Digest awards an Honorable Mention to For King and Country

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For King and Country

awarded an Honorable Mention
in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Ebook Awards

How cool is that?

Writers Digest award

Go get your copy now! For King and Country is currently Amazon exclusive, available in print and ebook formats. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read for free.

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Charlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of Battle Scars, 12th century historical fiction filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Newsletter. 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: Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage

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Title: Under the Approaching Dark
Author: Anna Belfrage

A tidbit about the author
As a child she wanted to be an Arctic explorer, a crusader or Richard Lionheart’s favourite page, and of course, a writer, and she couldn’t imagine a 9 to 5 job. “I was going to be a free spirit, an impoverished but happy writer, slaving away in a garret room. Life happened…” —from Anna’s website

The story
Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II has been forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over… —Amazon description

The scene that made you laugh out loud or cheer
King Edward III has tired of Scottish incursions and wants to teach the Scots a lesson. His advisors try to calm the impetuous, battle-naive youth in this scene:

“I dare say you’ll find the Scots are mostly like us, my lord,” Mortimer put in. “They eat, they shit, they swive, they fight and bleed, they die.”

“They are savages!”

“There are men of honour among them—their king for one, and Black Douglas is another true knight.” Mortimer pointed at one of the banners. “St George is a fine saint to follow into battle, but do not commit the mistake of underestimating your enemy—or denigrating him. And St George wasn’t English to begin with, was he?”

“As good as,” the king retorted. “England breeds the finest soldiers in the world.”

Thomas laughed. “Really, Ned, what nonsense is that? England is a land of sheep farmers and wool merchants.”

Lord Roger and the king looked equally displeased, making Adam bite back a smile.

The place where you wanted to throw the book across the room

Oh Kit, oh Kit… why in the world did you decide to meet Godfrey. Bad move, Kit. Stupid girl. (Sorry, can’t say more without spoilers!)

A memorable line (or two)

“I am but the puppet, am I not?”
–King Edward III to Adam de Guirande

“Men,” Kit muttered. “It’s only hair.”
Adam leaned towards her. “My wife, my hair. The matter is closed, Kit.”
–after Kit decides to follow the queen’s latest fashion, i.e., no veil, and her husband sends her back to get properly dressed!

My verdict – ****5 stars****
Ms. Belfrage has done it again. Under the Approaching Dark is book 3 in The King’s Greatest Enemy series, and it has passion, intrigue, and politics to keep the reader turning pages. If you aren’t familiar with England in the 1320s, never fear. Plunge into this book and you are introduced to the major players – the fictional Lady Kit and her husband Adam and the actual historical figures Edward II, Edward III, his mother Isabella, her lover Roger Mortimer, and others. We aren’t overburdened with backstory: it is woven in bits and pieces where needed. Ms. Belfrage draws us into the 14th century for a taste of life of the ordinary man, the minor baron and his wife, and of the royal family. It is easy to picture towns and manors, magnificent castles and minsters. And after visiting Lincoln last year, I was enchanted by Ms. Belfrage’s description of that medieval town, cathedral, and bishop’s palace. It took me back – it all feels authentic.

The novel brims with treachery, treason, and romance. Battle scenes, torture, and love scenes – some may be too graphic for the squeamish, but they are well written, full of emotion. There are great threats from rebellious barons. There is tedious everyday life and plenty of tension – between Adam and Kit, between Adam and the young king, and between Adam and his former lord, Mortimer. But I think what I most enjoyed about this novel is our window into the world of the young King Edward III. He becomes king when his father is deposed, and is a pawn of his mother Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer. Edward is bright. He is politically astute (most of the time). He knows – and resents – the control his mother has as regent. But he is also a vulnerable. This reader is rooting for him and greatly anticipating Book 4 in the series to see Edward as king in his own right.

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

DiverseReader – #Review & #Giveaway for For King and Country

king and country_smallMeredith likes For King and Country!! Maybe you will too.

To celebrate, I am doing a giveaway on DiverseReader for a chance to win an e-copy of this tale of war, passion, and forbidden love. You’ll also have a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Get over there now and read Meredith’s review. Enter the drawing! The drawing closes on Feb.28 so don’t delay.

And sign up for my Newsletter – I’ll send out occasional updates, news about giveaways and contests, and offer some exclusive content, including Fifty Shades of 12th Century England, a compilation of fun facts, trivia, and research.

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Charlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of her Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. 

A Discovered Diamond – Book Review of For King and Country

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There is a new site in town – rather, on the web – for reviews of historical fiction: Discovering Diamonds. You should definitely bookmark or follow this site if you are looking for good historical fiction.

And I am thrilled to report that For King and Country, Book II of Battle Scars, has been selected as a ‘highly recommended’ diamond. Read the great review.

“Ms Newcomb has stepped outside the normal restrictions imposed on novels set in these times in that her Henry and Stephan are not only comrades in arms, they are lovers. In a sequence of beautiful scenes, she breathes careful life into their passion, moments of tenderness and love that make it abundantly clear theirs is not a short-term relationship, theirs is the love of a lifetime.”

If you haven’t read the book, I hope the review might sway you! Give it a chance. Get the book on Amazon – it’s available in print and for Kindle.

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Charlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of Battle Scars, 12th century historical fiction filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Newsletter. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

Men of the Cross Review & #Giveaway on Diverse Reader

21878750Diverse Reader loved Men of the Cross!! Thank you, Meredith.

Check out Meredith’s review. Enter the giveaway for a chance to win an e-copy of this tale of war, passion, and forbidden love. You’ll also have a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Get over there now and enter the drawing! The drawing closes in 5 days so don’t delay.

And sign up for my Newsletter and I’ll send you a sample from Book II of Battle Scars, For King and Country.

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Charlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of her Battle Scars series, 12th century historical adventures filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. 

For King and Country – Editor’s Choice at the Historical Novel Society

king and country_smallGotta 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.

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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 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.

 

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.