Monday, September 30, 2013

New Release & Giveaway - SHADOW BENEATH THE SEA by Joanna Lloyd

SHADOW BENEATH THE SEA - Joanna Lloyd’s newest historical romance releases September 30, 2013!
A great act of war; a greater act of love.
1915: Britain and Germany are at war and the waters off Great Britain have been declared a war zone. In six days the luxury ocean liner, Lusitania, sails from New York to England with 1,959 passengers on board.
Buy now at Amazon
The story of the 202nd Atlantic crossing of the luxury liner, Lusitania was one of the great maritime disasters of the last century. The actions of the German U-boat captain, as the great ship cruised the Irish coast, spawned a flood of conspiracy theories, investigations, a court case, hard questions of the British Admiralty, and targeted Captain William Turner as the scapegoat. The whole truth of this disaster was closely guarded to protect the actions or non-actions of the Admiralty.
However, there sailed on this ship a group of fictional characters whose motives for travel were as varied as their personalities. In the time it took to cross the Atlantic Ocean, in the microcosm of this floating universe, lies and deceit festered, secrets changed lives, money was made and lost and a deep and lasting passion ignited between Lillian Marshall and Edward James.
Although her whole body buzzed with enough adrenaline for her to flee to the furthest reaches of the ship, she sat as if glued to the chair. He hesitated for a moment, but she issued no invitation for him to join her. Unfazed by her lack of manners, he pulled up a chair and sat. Although his continued silence unnerved her, Lillian kept her eyes cast downward, finding her skirt particularly interesting.
Finally he spoke. “What’s going on over there, Lillian?” Her head jerked up, unprepared for such a question. She had expected him to make weak excuses about forgetting to inform her he was engaged to Lavinia Armitage.
“Wha … what do you mean?”
He leaned over and reached for her chin, lifting her head until their eyes met. “I’m sorry to say this, but I don’t trust your father. I’m certain I saw him deal from the bottom of the deck.”
A cold chill crept up her spine, and she licked her lips, her mouth suddenly as dry as an empty coal bin. Before she could answer, there was a collective gasp in the room. The colonel had folded his cards and relaxed back into his chair. Walter and Zeke stared, unblinking at each other.
“Did you hear me, Walt? I am calling you and raising ten thousand dollars.”
Her father pulled out a large handkerchief, patted his throat and put his money on the table. Lillian saw the nervous gesture, but it didn’t match the gleam of excitement in his eyes. “Show your cards, Zeke.”
Edward grabbed her arm. “Tell me, now, Lillian. Quickly, before they end this.”
Tears welled in her eyes at the lies she was about to utter, but her future depended on this money. “There is nothing to tell, Edward. You have allowed your imagination to get the better of you.” His gray eyes searched her face, begging for the truth, and in that moment she knew she had wronged him as much as he had wronged her.
Author's Bio:

Born in Papua New Guinea, I, like many other ex-pat's, were sent to boarding school in Australia. After thirteen years in Sydney, I gravitated to the lush warmth of Far North Queensland. Now that my two boys are safely married and raising their own families, I have the time to indulge my love of books and writing. I have always had a voyeuristic fascination with people, how they think and why they act in certain ways. This led to studies in Psychology and years of workplace and family law mediation. All of which convinced me it is impossible to know what another is thinking and the most bizarre fiction could never emulate real life.
What wonderful fodder for a writer! When the iconic John Lennon wrote "All you need is love", he knew that every living being seeks out love in some form. My novels are about love - romantic, passionate, parental, selfless and self-serving. I will spend the rest of my writing life exploring and writing about the many levels of love. Maybe the day will come when I truly understand it.
Where to find Joanna:Website
Joanna has been kind enough to offer a giveaway of SHADOW BENEATH THE SEA either through Amazon or as a PDF. To win a copy of this fabulous historical romance simply leave a congratulatory message along with a valid email address. It's that simple.
Thanks for stopping by and good luck!

Who's won a copy of Shadow Beneath the Sea!
Joanna will be in contact shortly to give you your prize.
Thanks again to everyone who stopped by.
Please note: Giveaway is not open to HH members.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

HH REVIEW - The Widows Redeemer by Philippa Jane Keyworth

Title: The Widows Redeemer
Author: Philippa Jane Keyworth

Publisher: Madison Street Publishing (1 Dec 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0983671931
ISBN-13: 978-0983671930

This book has all the elements of a classic romance, however failed to really grab my undivided attention. The beginning was somewhat slow and predictable, eventually leading to where the story really begins - after the death of Letty Burton's husband.

Though generally well written, the constant 'head-hopping' was most distracting, as this took away much of the impact of what a character was thinking or feeling.

The attention to detail was of high standard, though felt at times a bit overdone and unnecessary as it detracted from the story and tended to slow down the pace. The constant use of letters to convey story subplots was also a distraction, and there where many instances where I felt what should have been a romance story between a hero and a heroine took a backseat to everything else going on around in Letty's life.

There were sections of good dialogue and many of the secondary characters were quite amusing in their own right. I feel the book could have benefited from less omniscient narration and passive voice in order to really get me under the skin of the characters. As it stands, I believe The Widows Redeemer is a wonderful history lesson of the period with romantic elements.

 Viscountess Castlereagh


Monday, September 23, 2013


Welcome back to my dream holiday to Scotland and the next part of our exciting journey.
After leaving the formidable Threave Castle, my husband and I returned east. These are some of the inland sights we saw along the way.
                 Highland Cattle                    
Black-Faced Sheep
We left the luscious green rolling hills and pastures and continued along the Solway Coast Road.
A rather murky looking Solway Firth
And arrived at our next destination. Though not a castle, we couldn't pass by as this destination has both a romantic history and a romantic name.
Sweetheart Abbey North Transept & Great Arches of the Nave
The Story Of Sweetheart
On the 10th of April 1273, Lady Devorgilla, a lady of the blood royal of Scotland, signed a charter establishing a new Cistercian abbey on a site close to where the River Nith flows into the Solway Firth and is overshadowed by a great granite mountain, Criffel.
Her beloved husband, John Balliol, had died four years earlier and the abbey was intended as a lasting memorial to him.
Great East Window & Cemetery
On her husband's death in 1269, the grieving widow had his heart embalmed and placed in a casket of ivory, bound with enamelled silver.
On Lady Devorgilla's death in 1289, in her eighty-first year, the casket was buried with her in the sanctuary of the monastery church she had founded.
The Cloister - grassy foreground. The Choir - far right
The Choir is on the right and is the holiest part of the church. A modern stone marks the approximate place where Lady Devorgilla was buried with her husband's heart.
It was a fitting tribute to her undying love that the monks there chose the beautiful name of Sweetheart, or Dulce Cor, for the abbey.
The Cistercian Order
The Cistercians or the 'white monks' as they were more generally known by the colour of their undyed woollen habit, established their first monastery in 1098 at Citeaux in France and arrived in Scotland at Melrose, in Tweeddale, in 1136.
 Looking east down Nave into Presbytery and Central Bell Tower
Outside the church, the Cistercians were famed for their farming skills. They specialised in agriculture and in horse and cattle breeding. They also held great interest in the wool trade. They controlled certain fisheries and were involved in the manufacture of salt from sea-water.
West Front of the Abbey Church
Sweetheart was the last of the 12 Cistercian monasteries set up in Scotland.
War With England
Lady Devorgilla and John Balliol had a son, also John. In 1292, he became the King Of Scots, but his was to be a short, tragic reign. The English king stripped him of his regalia in 1296, heralding the bloody and prolonged war that bedevilled the country for the next fifty years.
Archibald The Grim
The war with England had impoverished Sweetheart and reduced its buildings to a state of disrepair. In 1352, David II, Robert the Bruce's son and successor, returned from a lengthy captivity in England and began the task of returning the country to prosperity.
A new patron had to be found for the abbey and King David turned to his close friend, Archibald Douglas, who was more popularly known as 'Black Archibald' or 'the Grim' and had earned his by-name fighting against the English.
West Range - Above this arch is a shield bearing the Douglas Arms
The Final Years
The last abbot of Sweetheart was Gilbert Broun, who stolidly refused to embrace the reformed religion. His determination to keep the Catholic faith alive saw him arrested and exiled to France several times between 1587 and 1608 where he eventually died in 1612.
Destruction of the Buildings
In 1731 a new church was built against the south wall of the nave. This was demolished in 1877, by which date all but the magnificent church had been removed to provide stone for the villagers and farming folk. The church had been saved in 1779 by local subscribers 'desirous of preserving the remainder of that building as an ornament to that part of the country'.
In 1928 their successors entrusted the beautiful ruin of Sweetheart into State care.
Thanks for dropping by. I hope you've enjoyed this part of our Scottish adventure as much as I've loved reliving it. I hope you return to see where we stop next ~
Information care of Historic Scotland

Monday, September 16, 2013

TAINTED ~ A Dangerous Love Rome Will Never Allow...

Four years ago a tough Roman centurion marched into my mind and heart and took over my muse (not that I heard her complaining too hard...) He was searching for his Druid princess and that story became my first published full length book, Forbidden.

Today I'm delighted that the fourth book set in my mystical Roman/Druid world, Tainted, has been released. In the first three books the heroines were natives of Cymru, fighting against the Roman invaders (and losing their hearts to them too!) In Tainted I mixed things up a bit, and the heroine, Antonia, is a Roman with patrician blood in her veins. And she falls for a man determined to eliminate all trace of the Eagle from his beloved land.

To celebrate the release of Tainted I'm participating in a fabulous Cover Reveal Blog Tour. Enter the contest below to be in with the chance of winning the Grand Prize :-)


A dangerous love that Rome will never allow…

Driven by the knowledge he failed to protect his king and embittered at losing the woman he loves, Celtic warrior Gawain despises the lust he feels for the beautiful Roman patrician, Antonia. She is everything he’s never wanted in a woman, yet she ignites his passion like no other. Despite the danger of discovery he embarks on an illicit liaison with her, determined to uncover the reason for the infinite sorrow that haunts her eyes.

Newly arrived in Britannia from Rome, Antonia is inexplicably drawn to the cold, tough Celt whose touch stirs a desire she long thought died at the hands of her brutal former husband. With Gawain she learns the pleasure of sex and his unexpected tenderness thaws her frozen heart. But she hides a deadly secret that could be her undoing, and knows her growing feelings for him can lead nowhere. Yet when a shadow from her past threatens her future Antonia is torn between the Empire of her birth and betraying Gawain, the man she’s grown to love.

Inside Scoop: This medieval romance dabbles a wee bit in the paranormal.

A Romantica® historical erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

Ellora’s Cave Publishing     Amazon     Amazon UK     ARe     Kobo


Christina loves writing dark tales of tough, sexy warriors who are brought to their knees by their heroines. A mystical touch of fantasy or paranormal usually weaves its way through her stories, although strangely enough this wasn’t her intention when she first starting writing her Roman/Druid romances. But when ancient gods and goddesses get involved, it’s best just to go with the flow :-)

She is published by Ellora’s Cave and Berkley Heat and has dipped her toe in the indie pub waters. She is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia, Romance Writers of America, the DarkSide Down Under Group Blog and Historical Hearts Group Blog.

Christina is an ex-pat Brit who now lives in sunny Western Australia with her family. She is also owned by three gorgeous cats who are convinced the universe revolves around their needs. They are not wrong.

Connect with Christina:

Website    Facebook    Twitter    Goodreads    Blog   


Tour Wide Giveaway Details

One Prize (International):
E-copy of the previous book set in this world, Betrayed
$10 Amazon Gift Card
Swag – Bookmarks, Postcards and Fridge Magnets

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 9, 2013

Aussie Road Trip Day #4

Welcome back to Maryde's Aussie Road Trip.

We're now up to Day 4. It's around mid-day when we pulled into Copeton Water's State Park,  situated on the western slopes of the New England Ranges. Beautiful Australian countryside.
The National Park is a  900hectare recreational and adventure Playground and was a lot more accommodating to all levels of traveler than our previous free-park sites. It had a huge Information Center with cafe, function room, supplies for campers, tourists, school and family groups, sightseers and fishermen alike. And to me it all seemed like it was out in the middle of NOWHERE. Like an Oasis in the middle of a National Park.
We drove all the way around
 to the far point at the top
 of this picture.
Copeton Dam holds 3 times the volume of water of Sydney Harbour. That must be lot of water because there's 500,000 megalitres in Sydney's Harbour.

The Dam is a haven for tourists and fishing and Water Sports enthusiasts.
There's Cod, Yellowbelly, Silver Perch, Catfish, Redfin and Trout in the Gwydir River below the Dam wall.
Not that we saw any of these on our dinner plates. :) 

 I was really surprised at how early the local kangaroos made their appearance. As the afternoon drew closer the local wildlife came out for their dinner. By the time the sunlight had waned, the entire park abounded with kangaroos.
I was coming back from the showers at around 7pm, it was dark and I had my LCD tilly-lamp, and there outside the amenities block was a bunch of Roos, large and small, just feeding & hovering around on the grassed area.

Wished I had taken my camera or my phone. They seemed quite unafraid, although I did not try to pat them as you never know if they are friendly or not. Mind you there were no signs that said *Dont Feed the Wildlife*, but it is usually a given in Australia when you are in the National Parks.

  The chill of night set in and it was time to light the camp fire.

 Copeton Dam is a perfect place to spend more than one day. There's bush walking tracks a plenty. You can be as close as you like to the recreational facilities- pool, tennis courts, cafe, cabins etc, or you can be as isolated and private where there's only you, the trees and the wildlife.

It gets a 9/10 as a top destination from me.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Silhouette Art of James Edward Austen-Leigh (1798-1874) – favourite nephew of Jane Austen.

For those who have not had the pleasure of reading this charming book which tells us a lot about Jane Austen's family. 
I remember having a Silhouette of my profile created at a fair when I was a teenager, but not rendered with such exquisite skill.
Maggi Andersen

Shadow portraits were cut in Europe as early as 600 B.C. By the 1750s, the art of silhouettes had become a frequent pastime in England, especially among aristocrats. Silhouette posing and cutting were soon popular in fashionable drawing rooms.
The fourth daughter of King George III, Princess Elizabeth, was an avid amateur artist who cut and painted silhouettes of the Royal Family. As this passion for silhouettes grew and the price of scissors decreased by the 1820s, amateur silhouette artists came from many more walks of life.
The popular silhouette of Jane Austen known as “L’aimable Jane,” is a hollow-cut silhouette made in that way – by tracing the profile on white paper, cutting out the profile, and placing this hollow image on paper. However, a defter handler of scissors and better artist could cut silhouettes without tracing shadows. James Edward Austen-Leigh was such an artist.
James was the only son of Jane Austen’s eldest brother, James. Edward, as he was called, demonstrated artistic talent when a boy. He cut and painted packs of hounds with hunters, foxes, and hares, first outlined on drawing paper, then painted with proper colours, and finally cut out. Beautifully executed, no two hounds were alike and each had a name. They were made to stand up and were arranged on a piece of green baize, which provided with fences, made a good hunting field. His daughter, Mary Augusta Austen-Leigh, said of them that their mother wanted the delicate creatures reproduced in metal.
While in his curacy of Newton, James hunted several times a week with their neighbor, Mr. William John Chute of The Vyne, Hampshire. Chute was M.P. for Hampshire (1790-1806) and Master of The Vyne Hunt.
After a throat ailment compelled Edward to remain indoors and take a sabbatical from his clerical life and sporting pastimes, he used his knowledge to write: Recollections of The Early Days Of The Vine Hunt And Of Its Founder William John Chute, Esq., Of The Vine Together with Brief Notices of The adjoining Hunts, by A Sexagenarian. It was filled with details of The Vyne and other hunts that only an avid hunter and sportsman would know.
Here are some of Edward’s superb work illustrating Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion

Darcy had never been so bewitched by a woman as he was by her.
But Elizabeth, who had not the least inclination to remain with them, laughingly answered, “No, no; stay where you are. You are charmingly group’d, and appear to uncommon advantage. The picturesque would be spoilt by admitting a fourth.”
Pride and Prejudice, Volume I, Chapter 10.

Marianne Dashwood is beginning to plan again, to the delight of her sister Elinor:
MARIANNE: “When the weather is settled, and I have recovered my strength,” said she, “we will take long walks together every day…. We will often go to the old ruins of the Priory, and try to trace its foundations as far as we are told they once reached.”
Sense and Sensibility, Volume III, Chapter 10.

Elizabeth has the unexpected happiness of an invitation from her aunt and uncle Gardiner to join them on a tour of pleasure.
ELIZABETH BENNET: “My dear, dear aunt,” she rapturously cried, “what delight! What felicity!...What are men to rocks and mountains? Oh! What hours of transport we shall spend!”
Pride and Prejudice, Volume II, Chapter 4.

Anne Elliot is visiting her sister Mary at Uppercross.
MARY MUSGROVE: Charles is out shooting. I have not seen him since seven o’clock. He would go…. He said he should not stay out long; but he has never come back.
Anne could believe…that a woman of real understanding might have given more consequence to his character, and more usefulness, rationality, and elegance to his habit and pursuits. As it was, he did nothing with much zeal, but sport.
Persuasion, Volume I, Chapters 5 & 6

Marianne Dashwood, out for a walk with her sister Margaret, falls and sprains her ankle.
A gentleman carrying a gun, with two pointers playing around him, was passing up the hill, and within a few yards of Marianne, when her accident happened. He put down his gun and ran to her assistance.
Sense and Sensibility, Volume I, Chapter 9.

James Edward Austen-Leigh made these exquisite silhouettes in the mid-1830s for the amusement of his children. Decades later in 1869, when Vicar of Bray, James wrote A Memoir of Jane Austen where he lovingly recollects family gatherings enlivened by Jane’s ready wit.
More than half a century has passed away since I, the youngest of the mourners, attended the funeral of my dear aunt Jane in Winchester Cathedral; and now, in my old age, I am asked whether my memory will serve to rescue from oblivion any events of her life or any traits of her character to satisfy the enquiries of a generation of readers who have been born since she died. Of events her life was singularly barren: few changes and no great crisis ever broke the smooth current of its course. Even her fame may be said to have been posthumous: it did not attain to any vigorous life till she had ceased to exist. Her talents did not introduce her to the notice of other writers, or connect her with the literary world, or in any degree pierce through the obscurity of her domestic retirement. I have therefore scarcely any materials for a detailed life of my aunt; but I have a distinct recollection of her person and character; and perhaps many may take an interest in a delineation, if any such can be drawn, of that prolific mind whence sprung the Dashwoods and Bennets, the Bertrams and Woodhouses, the Thorpes and Musgroves, who have been admitted as familiar guests to the firesides of so many families, and are known there as individually and intimately as if they were living neighbours.  Many may care to know whether the moral rectitude, the correct taste, and the warm affections with which she invested her ideal characters, were really existing in the native source whence those ideas flowed, and were actually exhibited by her in the various relations of life. I can indeed bear witness that there was scarcely a charm in her most delightful characters that was not a true reflection of her own sweet temper and loving heart.”
Afterword by Joan Austen-Leigh, acclaimed playwright and novelist and co-founder of the Jane Austen Society of North America. “So wrote my great grandfather. Little did he suspect that his words would come down to posterity-that in a hundred years’ time not only would Jane Austen’s novel’s still be being read, but also his own living, gracious, evocative Memoir.”
Source: Life in the Country with Quotations by Jane Austen. Silhouettes by her Nephew JAMES EDWARD AUSTEN-LEIGH. Published 2005 by A Room on One’s Own Press
Maggi Andersen writes historical romance novels set in the Regency Period. Her latest work is the first in the Spies of Mayfair Series, A BARON IN HER BED.