Get swept away to
Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire (past & present),
the Crusades, the War of the Roses, the Regency era, and the Golden Age of Piracy.
Eight authors share the history and setting of their books.
Be sure to follow the links after my post to
read all the authors’ posts and then go pick up a great read
for only 99cents/99p for the holidays!
Men of the Cross
Time period: Medieval – 12th century
Richard the Lionheart. Saladin. Who hasn’t heard these names? I wasn’t a student of medieval history back in high school or college, but I knew of these two men. Sadly, I would not have been able to tell you they lived in the 12th century and were involved in the Third Crusade. Those were things I learned around 2007 when a BBC Robin Hood series placed them in context for me, and subsequently led to my overwhelming need to write a novel set during that war.
But first, I had to do a lot of reading and research! So let me take you back to the 12th century, to the time of the Third Crusade…
A Time of Conquest
Throughout the 1170s and 1180s, the ruler Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, also known as Saladin, unified Muslim factions from Egypt to Syria. His army defeated forces of the Kingdom of Jerusalem at the Battle of Hattin in July 1187. Nearly every Christian stronghold in the region, including the major coastal port cities of Ascalon, Jaffa, and Acre, fell to Saladin and he set siege to the city of Jerusalem. When word arrived in Rome in late October of the devastating loss at Hattin (where Saladin had also captured remnants of the True Cross), Pope Gregory VIII issued the call for a holy crusade. The city of Jerusalem had surrendered to Saladin in early October, but that news had not yet reached the Christian West.
For many Christian princes, kings, and nobles, the call to crusade meant putting aside regional conflicts. Among them, Henry II of England and Philip II of France had fought on and off in the 1180s in what is present-day France, but agreed to lay down arms. Unfortunately, Henry’s son Richard, Duke of Aquitaine – the man who came to be known as Lionheart – had become incensed when Henry would not recognize him as his heir unless Richard relinquished Aquitaine to his younger brother John. Richard responded by pledging loyalty to King Philip, and the conflict between Henry and Philip with Richard continued until Henry died in July 1189. At that time, Richard and Philip agreed to a peace and began to make plans to go to the Holy Land. Richard was crowned King of England in September 1189, and he and Philip met in Vézelay (in present-day France) the following April to begin the arduous journey to the Holy Land.
Richard and Philip had little love for each other, and as history would prove, Philip could not be trusted. Richard arrived in the Holy Land in June 1190 and joined Philip and other forces involved in the siege of Acre, including those of another future enemy, Leopold of Austria. Taking back Acre would be a critical step in the campaign to secure Jerusalem.
Religion and the Church
The Church dominated the lives of Christian peoples in medieval times. Secular rulers in the West answered to the Pope’s authority (though throughout the period, political struggles did exist). The call for the Third Crusade that came from Rome promised salvation for any person who “took the Cross.” It may have motivated many to this pilgrimage (as it was called then) to Outremer to wash away sins. Sin was also forgivable through confession – penances and/or a coin or two in clerics’ pockets would do the trick – and even the worst of sins could be forgiven. The idea of Heaven and Hell were very real.
Men of the Cross
This sets the background for my novel Men of the Cross. The young knights Henry de Grey and Stephan l’Aigle join the thousands of men in spring 1190 on the pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Henry is a devout Catholic and a naive, inexperienced warrior. Stephan is a battle-hardened knight who is cynical about the Church. The events of the novel and the developing relationship of the two fictional main characters takes place over the period March 1190 – March 1193, from Henry’s first meeting with Stephan and boarding a boat in Southampton to rendezvous with King Richard in Tours for the journey East until their return to England.
The reader becomes part of Richard’s army through the eyes of Sir Henry and Sir Stephan – they observe their king’s struggles first-hand. Life in a medieval army is not filled with flowery chivalry. These men cross great distances over land and sea, survive the elements, see the horrors of war, nearly lose their own lives in fights against the Saracen army, and come to question their beliefs about love and war. Henry struggles with his growing feelings for Stephan knowing that sodomy was a mortal sin in the eyes of the Church. Political intrigue abounds as Richard’s allies become enemies. Through it all, the knights’ loyalty remains with Richard.
They will endure battles in Messina, Sicily, the siege and massacre at Acre, the coastal march south with skirmish after skirmish, the Battle of Arsuf, Jaffa, and the march east to Jerusalem – twice – the truce with Saladin – sailing home – the harrowing flight through Bavaria where King Richard is captured – and back to England. You will be there.
A Similar Taste in Books – by Linda Banche
Historical Period: Regency
Book 1 of Love and the Library: Clara and Justin
“Pride and Prejudice” has always brought lovers together, even in the Regency.
Justin has a deep, dark secret—he likes that most despised form of literature, the novel. His favorite novel is “Pride and Prejudice”, and, especially, Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Intelligent, lively, fiercely loyal Miss Elizabeth. How he would love to meet a lady like her.
Clara’s favorite novel is “Pride and Prejudice” and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Intelligent, steadfast and willing to admit when he is wrong. Can such a splendid man exist? And can she find him?
One day in the library, they both check out copies of their favorite book. When Justin bumps into Clara, the magic of their similar taste in books just might make their wishes come true.
A sweet, traditional Regency romantic comedy novella, but not a retelling of “Pride and Prejudice”.
Sales Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/247691
On sale for 99 cents at Smashwords only with coupon code FF67C (not case sensitive)
Kingdom of Rebels – by Derek Birks
Historical Period: Fifteenth Century – the Wars of the Roses
When all hope is gone, only death lies in wait…
England in 1468 is a nervous kingdom. King Edward IV has fallen out with his chief ally during the Wars of the Roses, the powerful Earl of Warwick.
Ned Elder, a young lord whose sword helped to put Edward on the throne, has been forced out of England by Warwick.
Far away on the Scottish border, a beleaguered fort, Crag Tower, desperately awaits Ned’s return. Led by his fiery sister, Eleanor, the dwindling garrison is all that remains of his brave army of retainers. Unknown to all except the loyal knight, Ragwulf, Eleanor has Ned’s young son in her charge – a son who has never seen his father. But, as border clansmen batter the gates with fire, the castle seems certain to fall.
One by one Ned’s family and friends are caught up in Warwick’s web of treason. The fate of the Elders and those who serve them lies once more in the balance as all are drawn back to Yorkshire where they face old enemies once more. Eleanor can only hope that Ned will soon return. She must fight to keep that hope alive… and when Lady Eleanor fights, she takes no prisoners…
Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00MQA6826/
Search for the Golden Serpent (Servant of the Gods, Book 1) – by Luciana Cavallaro
Historical period: – 600 BCE Ancient Greece
The story is about Evan, an architect whose been having strange dreams. He received an unexpected phone call from an entrepreneur from Greece who wants Evan to restore his Family’s home. He dismissed the caller and regarded the person as a crank. During a dream, he met the mysterious entrepreneur, Zeus, who catapulted him back in time, five hundred years before the birth of Christ. Evan, an unwilling participant finds himself entangled in an epic struggle between the gods and his life.
Children of Apollo (Eagles and Dragons – Book I) – by Adam Alexander Haviaras
Historical Period: The Roman Empire, A.D. 202
At the peak of Rome’s might a dragon is born among eagles, an heir to a line both blessed and cursed by the Gods for ages.
Lucius Metellus Anguis is a young warrior who is inspired by the deeds of his glorious ancestors and burdened by the knowledge that he must raise his family name from the ashes of the past. Having achieved a measure of success in the emperor’s legions in North Africa, Lucius is recalled to Rome where he finds himself surrounded by enemies, cast into the deadly arena of Roman politics.
Amid growing fears of treachery, Lucius meets a young Athenian woman who fills his darkening world with new-found hope. Their love grows, as does their belief that the Gods have planned their meeting, but when an ancient oracle of Apollo utters a terrifying prophecy regarding his future, Lucius’ world is once more thrown into chaos. Ultimately, he must choose sides in a war that threatens to destroy his family, his faith and all that he has worked for.
Available here on Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo: http://eaglesanddragonspublishing.com/books/children-of-apollo-eagles-and-dragons-book-i/
Sea Witch (Voyage One) – by Helen Hollick
Historical Period: The Golden Age of Piracy – 1716
Escaping the bullying of his elder half brother, from the age of fifteen Jesamiah Acorne has been a pirate with only two loves – his ship and his freedom. But his life is to change when he and his crewmates unsuccessfully attack a merchant ship off the coast of South Africa.
He is to meet Tiola Oldstagh an insignificant girl, or so he assumes – until she rescues him from a vicious attack, and almost certain death, by pirate hunters. And then he discovers what she really is; a healer, a midwife – and a white witch. Her name, an anagram of “all that is good.” Tiola and Jesamiah become lovers, but the wealthy Stefan van Overstratten, a Cape Town Dutchman, also wants Tiola as his wife and Jesamiah’s jealous brother, Phillipe Mereno, is determined to seek revenge for resentments of the past, a stolen ship and the insult of being cuckolded in his own home.
When the call of the sea and an opportunity to commandeer a beautiful ship – the Sea Witch – is put in Jesamiah’s path he must make a choice between his life as a pirate or his love for Tiola. He wants both, but Mereno and van Overstratten want him dead.
In trouble, imprisoned in the darkness and stench that is the lowest part of his brother’s ship, can Tiola with her gift of Craft, and the aid of his loyal crew, save him?
Using all her skills Tiola must conjure up a wind to rescue her lover, but first she must brave the darkness of the ocean depths and confront the supernatural being, Tethys, the Spirit of the Sea, an elemental who will stop at nothing to claim Jesamiah Acorne’s soul and bones as a trophy.
Amazon Author link: viewAuthor.at/HelenHollick
Universal Amazon link: viewBook.at/SeaWitch
INCEPTIO – by Alison Morton
Historic Period: Modern/Roman (alternate history)
New York, present day, alternate timeline. Karen Brown, angry and frightened after surviving a kidnap attempt, has a harsh choice – being eliminated by government enforcer Jeffery Renschman or fleeing to mysterious Roma Nova, her dead mother’s homeland in Europe.
Founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women, Roma Nova gives Karen safety, at a price, and a ready-made family in a strange culture she often struggles with. Just as she’s finding her feet, a shocking discovery about her new lover, Praetorian special forces officer Conrad Tellus, isolates her.
And the enforcer, Renschman, is stalking her in her new home and nearly kills her. Recovering, she is desperate to find out why this Renschman is hunting her so viciously. Unable to rely on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures, Renschman sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it…
Amazon (universal link): http://authl.it/B00K5OO4QW?d
iBooks (UK): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/inceptio/id903741754
iBooks (US): https://itunes.apple.com/book/inceptio/id903741754
NookBook (UK): http://www.nook.com/gb/ebooks/inceptio-by-alison-morton/2940149661541
B&N Nook (US): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/inceptio-alison-morton/1114342315?ean=2940149661541
Men of the Cross (Battle Scars I) – by Charlene Newcomb
Historical period: Medieval – 12th century
War, political intrigue and passion… heroes… friends and lovers… and the seeds for a new Robin Hood legend await you…
Two young knights’ journey to war at Richard the Lionheart’s side sweeps them from England to the Holy Land in this historical adventure set against the backdrop of the Third Crusade.
Henry de Grey leaves Southampton in high spirits, strong in his faith and passionate about the mission to take Jerusalem back from Saladin’s army. Stephan l’Aigle’s prowess on the battlefield is well known, as are his exploits in the arms of other men. He prizes duty, honour and loyalty to his king above all else. But God and the Church? Stephan has little use for either.
Henry’s convictions are challenged by loss and the harsh realities of bloody battles,
unforgiving marches, and the politics of the day. Man against man. Man against the elements. Man against his own heart. Survival will depend on more than a strong sword arm.
Amazon (universal link) http://mybook.to/MenoftheCross
Flavia’s Secret – by Lindsay Townsend
Historical Period: Ancient Roman Britain, 206 AD
Spirited young scribe Flavia hopes for freedom. She and her fellow slaves in Aquae Sulis (modern Bath) have served the Lady Valeria for many years, but their mistress’ death brings a threat to Flavia’s dream: her new master Marcus Brucetus, a charismatic, widowed officer toughened in the forests of Germania. Flavia finds him overwhelmingly attractive but she is aware of the danger. To save her life and those of her ‘family’ she has forged a note from her mistress. If her deception is discovered, all the slaves may die.
For his part torn between attraction and respect, Marcus will not force himself on Flavia. Flavia by now knows of his grief over the deaths of his wife Drusilla and child. But how can she match up to the serene, flame-haired Drusilla?
As the wild mid-winter festival of Saturnalia approaches, many lives will be changed forever.
On sale at Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/flavias-secret