Friday, October 17, 2014

Goddess Born Blog Tour: Review

Publication Date: May 29, 2014
Carina Press
eBook; ISBN: 9781426898365

Genre: Historical/Fantasy/Paranormal/New Adult/Romance

2013 RWA Golden Heart© Finalist
2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist

Synopsis


The power to heal is her divine gift, the fear of discovery, her mortal curse.

Selah Kilbrid is caught between two worlds. A direct descendant of the Celtic goddess Brigid, she is bound by Tuatha Dé law to help those in need. Yet as a human, she must keep her unique abilities hidden or risk being charged for a witch. In 1730 Pennsylvania, the Quaker community of Hopewell has become a haven for religious freedom—and fanaticism—and there are those who would see her hanged if the truth were revealed.

For eighteen years, Selah safely navigates the narrow gap between duty and self-preservation, until the day a prominent minister uncovers her secret. Obsessed with her power, Nathan Crowley disregards her betrothal to a distant cousin from Ireland and demands marriage in exchange for his silence. Selah stalls for time, but when news reaches the Colonies of her cousin’s death, time has run out.

Rather than submit to Nathan, Selah coerces a stranger to pose as her husband. It’s a good plan—her only plan—even though Henry Alan harbors his own dark secrets. But when she returns to Hopewell a married woman, the real fight has just begun. As unseen forces move against her, Selah doesn’t know which poses the greater danger—a malignant shadow closing in from outside or the internal fire that threatens to consume her heart.

Book Two in the Goddess Born series will be published in November 2014 and Book Three in June 2015.

So What Did I Think About The Story?


Goddess Born is a remarkable amalgamation of historical fiction, fantasy, mystery and romance quite unlike anything I have read before. For much of the story, Selah reminded me of an Austenesque character - plucky, determined and sardonic while also being kind and joyful - and if the story stayed within these lines it would have been enjoyable enough watching Selah try to solve her problem with the odious Nathan Crowley by marrying the handsome stranger Henry Alan, only to find herself, against her wishes, falling head over heels for him. Add on to this her heritage as the descendant of the goddess Brigid and her preternatural gifts of healing and we are in a whole new ballgame! I really enjoyed seeing how the author carefully dealt with this otherworldly element with such a tender hand that it never came across as hokey or beyond belief. It seemed quite plausible that Selah and her ancestors could have this gift and just as plausible that there would be those who would suspect something evil from it and plot against her for their own selfish reasons.

The element I did not see coming at first but which was just as enjoyable was the mystery of who was working within Selah's home as well as without to help Nathan Crowley expose Selah as a witch and potentially kill her. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my initial suspicions were incorrect (at least partly) and I was shocked at the web that the more dastardly characters had woven around Selah and her home and just how far reaching their madness went. There are so many characters keeping secrets throughout the story - Selah, Nathan, Henry, others that I won't name in case I give something away - but it was this darker hidden fear and anger directed towards Selah and the vicious actions against her that really drew me into the story.

While I can't say that I am a huge fan of romance in books, I have to say that watching the back and forth between Selah and Henry as they fought their frustrations and feelings towards each other and then the inevitable love that sprouted,  the I'll-give-up-everything-for-you kind of love, was very satisfying and makes me eager to see just how far they really will go for each other when the pitfalls that stand in their way aren't so easily traversed. The book ends on a delicious cliffhanger so I am very excited to see how they handle what lies ahead.

Goddess Born is a hard novel to classify but is easy to recommend because it is such a gratifying experience to read it. There really is a little something for everyone to enjoy. For someone like me who reads for pure enjoyment and escapism into history and a life unlike my own I couldn't ask for much more from this story. I am biting at the bit to read the next installment in this series!

So What Did I Think Of The Cover?


It is absolutely stunning! It perfectly captures that warmth and light that bursts from Selah when she heals others and, for me, exemplifies that unbidden goddess power that exudes from her very human body.    

My Rating: 4.0/5.0


Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of Goddess Born in exchange for an honest review! Be sure to continue below for more information about the author and book tour.

 

About The Author


Kari Edgren did not dream of becoming a writer. Instead, she dreamed of everything else and was
often made to stay inside during kindergarten recess to practice her letters. Despite doting parents and a decent school system, Ms. Edgren managed to make it through elementary school having completed only one book cover to cover – The Box Car Children, which she read approximately forty-seven times. Things improved during high school, but not until she read Gabrielle Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude in college, did she truly understand the power of a book.

Ms. Edgren aspires to be a Vulcan, a world-acclaimed opera singer, and two inches taller. She resides in the Pacific NW where she spends a great deal of time torturing her husband and children with strange food and random historical facts. Ms. Edgren hasn’t stopped dreaming, but has finally mastered her letters enough to put the stories on paper.

For more information please visit Kari Edgren’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Sign Up for Kari Edgren’s Newsletter.

 

Buy The Book


Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Carina Press


Goddess Born Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, September 22

Review at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, September 23

Review at By the Book Reviews
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, September 24

Review at The Readers Hollow
Interview at Manga Maniac Café

Thursday, September 25
Review at Book Babe

Friday, September 26
Review at Curling Up With a Good Book

Sunday, September 28
Spotlight & Excerpt at Casual Readers

Monday, September 29
Review at Unabridged Chick
Review at The Mad Reviewer

Tuesday, September 30
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, October 1
Review & Excerpt at Book Lovers Paradise

Thursday, October 2
Review at Books, Etc.
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Friday, October 3
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, October 6
Review at Bookish
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, October 7
Spotlight & Giveaway at The Flashlight Reader

Wednesday, October 8
Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, October 9
Review at The True Book Addict

Friday, October 10
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, October 13
Review at Book Nerd
Interview at The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 14
Review at I’d So Rather Be Reading

Wednesday, October 15
Review at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, October 16
Review at A Book Geek
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Friday, October 17
Review at Historical Tapestry

 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why I Love the Quakers in Colonial Pennsylvania: Guest Post by Kari Edgren, Author of Goddess Born

My general fondness for the province of Pennsylvania began in college while I earned a political science degree with an emphasis in early American political thought. During this time I read works from Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin, and studied such important events as the First and Second Continental Congresses, the Walking Purchase and the numerous epidemics brought on by poor living conditions, climate, and the constant influx of immigrants.

Yet despite the many attempts of both the British and the microorganism to bring “Penn’s City” to it’s knees, Philadelphia remained the most important city in the Colonies during the eighteenth century, even gaining the nickname of the “American Athens” by the latter part of the century. Add some buckled shoes, knee breeches, and a tricorned hat to that independent spirit, and who wouldn’t be smitten? 

Twenty years later, my interest in Colonial Pennsylvania persevered—“Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto the inhabitants thereof”—except this time I saw it as the perfect setting for a historical novel that happened to call for indentured servants, wheat farms, an Irish immigrant family, and an epidemic. It also helped that a woman had been accused of witchcraft in the colony in 1728, which isn’t surprising considering the high number of Germans and Scotch-Irish in the population. 

And then there were the Quakers, those quirky, peace-loving people immortalized for modern day on the oatmeal box. From the first rough outline, I knew they would play a critical role in the story due to their overwhelming presence in the colony. But when it came to basic character sketches, I had surprisingly little knowledge about this group of dissenters other than what appeared in the Eighteenth century novels, History of Tom Jones, a Foundling and Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress. I started to dig, and the deeper I got the more I realized how far their peculiar teachings had set this colony apart from the other twelve.

The Society of Friends, or Quakers, came into being near the end of The Protestant Reformation in the Seventeenth century. Their founder George Fox espoused to the extreme the core Reformation ideal of removing all intermediaries between God and the individual. Needless to say, this often put his teachings at odds with established religious leaders and monarchies that derived their power from God. Between 1660 and 1685 around 15,000 Quakers—one in three—were imprisoned in England for such crimes as blasphemy, public speaking, refusal to swear an oath and disturbing the peace.

Something had to give, and on March 4, 1681, a prominent Quaker, William Penn, accepted a land grant of approximately 600,000 square miles from King Charles II in lieu of a large debt owed by the crown to his father, Admiral Penn. He used the land to establish a haven for religious freedom known as the “Holy Experiment.” Fed up with being tossed in jail and otherwise persecuted, Quakers came to Pennsylvania in droves.  

Along with their plain dress and speech, they brought with them certain principles that would become ingrained in the American ethos, primarily, equality, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.

Quakers embraced true equality centuries ahead of their time. And I don’t just mean for white male property owners. Everyone was included—men and women, European, Native Indian and African, rich and poor. A person’s gender, race, or financial status was irrelevant as all people were the same under God. Though the practice sometimes fell short of the principle, they did an overall decent job in putting their words to action. Women could speak and vote in public meetings, and like male members, could travel unaccompanied to preach and be recognized with the gift of ministry. Before relations soured with the Walking Purchase, Native Indians and whites sat on juries together. And The Society of Friends was the first organization ever to officially ban slavery.

Stemming from their understanding of equality, Quakers refused to be respecters of persons. They did not acknowledge titles, regardless of how many generations a dukedom could be traced back. They also did not bow or curtsey or show deference of any kind. By virtue of being human, the king had the same intrinsic worth as the laundress and was treated accordingly, with respect for the person rather than a list of noble titles. This, along with their refusal to swear oaths often led to the misconception that they were one step away from treason.

In truth, Quakers considered government essential to civil society. William Penn in particular supported Quaker involvement in political office. When the government was established in Pennsylvania, he swore that, “You shall be governed by laws of your own making, and live a free and, if you will, a sober and industrious people. I shall not usurp the right of any, or oppress his person.” People were needed to create laws and maintain order. What they weren’t needed to do was oppress or elevate themselves above others, nor at any time insert themselves between the individual and God.

My gushing aside, Quakers would never have been voted most fun for a night out—that bawdy, rambunctious bunch stayed home in England. And as they were pacifists, I would have picked the Puritans or Anglicans for my team in any of the armed conflicts that occurred during the time. All the same, as an avid admirer of early American thought, I am thankful for the strength of character that allowed William Penn to write, “This prison shall be my grave before I budge a jot, for I owe my conscience to no mortal man.”

 
Thank you so much, Kari, for this fascinating post! I had no idea the Quakers were so far ahead of their times when it came to equality and freedom.
 
 
Be sure to come back tomorrow for my review of Goddess Born. And continue below for more information about the author, her novel and the other stop on the blog tour.
 
 
 
 
Publication Date: May 29, 2014
Carina Press
eBook; ISBN: 9781426898365
 
Genre: Historical/Fantasy/Paranormal/New Adult/Romance
 
 
The power to heal is her divine gift, the fear of discovery, her mortal curse.

Selah Kilbrid is caught between two worlds. A direct descendant of the Celtic goddess Brigid, she is bound by Tuatha Dé law to help those in need. Yet as a human, she must keep her unique abilities hidden or risk being charged for a witch. In 1730 Pennsylvania, the Quaker community of Hopewell has become a haven for religious freedom—and fanaticism—and there are those who would see her hanged if the truth were revealed.

For eighteen years, Selah safely navigates the narrow gap between duty and self-preservation, until the day a prominent minister uncovers her secret. Obsessed with her power, Nathan Crowley disregards her betrothal to a distant cousin from Ireland and demands marriage in exchange for his silence. Selah stalls for time, but when news reaches the Colonies of her cousin’s death, time has run out.

Rather than submit to Nathan, Selah coerces a stranger to pose as her husband. It’s a good plan—her only plan—even though Henry Alan harbors his own dark secrets. But when she returns to Hopewell a married woman, the real fight has just begun. As unseen forces move against her, Selah doesn’t know which poses the greater danger—a malignant shadow closing in from outside or the internal fire that threatens to consume her heart.

Book Two in the Goddess Born series will be published in November 2014 and Book Three in June 2015.


Buy the eBook


Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Carina Press


About the Author



Kari Edgren did not dream of becoming a writer. Instead, she dreamed of everything else and was often made to stay inside during kindergarten recess to practice her letters. Despite doting parents and
a decent school system, Ms. Edgren managed to make it through elementary school having completed only one book cover to cover – The Box Car Children, which she read approximately forty-seven times. Things improved during high school, but not until she read Gabrielle Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude in college, did she truly understand the power of a book.

Ms. Edgren aspires to be a Vulcan, a world-acclaimed opera singer, and two inches taller. She resides in the Pacific NW where she spends a great deal of time torturing her husband and children with strange food and random historical facts. Ms. Edgren hasn’t stopped dreaming, but has finally mastered her letters enough to put the stories on paper.

For more information please visit Kari Edgren’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Sign Up for Kari Edgren’s Newsletter.

Goddess Born Blog Tour Schedule



Monday, September 22

Review at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, September 23

Review at By the Book Reviews
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, September 24

Review at The Readers Hollow
Interview at Manga Maniac Café

Thursday, September 25

Review at Book Babe

Friday, September 26

Review at Curling Up With a Good Book

Sunday, September 28

Spotlight & Excerpt at Casual Readers

Monday, September 29

Review at Unabridged Chick
Review at The Mad Reviewer

Tuesday, September 30

Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, October 1

Review & Excerpt at Book Lovers Paradise

Thursday, October 2

Review at Books, Etc.
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Friday, October 3

Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, October 6

Review at Bookish
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, October 7

Spotlight & Giveaway at The Flashlight Reader

Wednesday, October 8

Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, October 9

Review at The True Book Addict

Friday, October 10

Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, October 13

Review at Book Nerd
Interview at The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 14

Review at I’d So Rather Be Reading

Wednesday, October 15

Review at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, October 16
Review at A Book Geek
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Friday, October 17
Review at Historical Tapestry




Spotlight on The Secrets of Casanova by Greg Michael

Publication Date: October 21, 2013
Booktrope Editions
Formats: eBook Paperback; 334p

Genre: Historical Fiction

READ AN EXCERPT


2014 Nancy Pearl Award Winner for Fiction

Loosely based on the life of Jacques Casanova, The Secrets of Casanova is a rich, lush novel of love, sex, family, ambition, intrigue, and adventure. Set in Paris of 1755, Casanova’s luck is fading and his past is shoving up against his present with potentially disastrous consequences. What price must he pay to uncover a treasure of inestimable value? What hearts must he break along the way? Casanova’s will and destiny collide again and again in this riveting historical fiction that brings to light a man of great passion and not a few secrets.

 

 

 

Praise for The Secrets of Casanova


“A Shakespearean actor with a flair for the dramatic and a superb ear for dialogue, Michaels’s debut novel puts a brilliantly original spin on an historical figure whose very name is a cliché. This Casanova must wrestle not only with falling hopelessly and passionately in love, but embarking on a mysterious quest that is as much a spiritual awakening as a swashbuckling adventure. The Secrets of Casanova is so erotic and so sensitively written, I found it difficult to believe its author was a man.” -Robin Maxwell, national best-selling author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn

 

Buy the Book


Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes

 

About the Author



After receiving his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, a chance experience thrust Greg into a career as a professional actor and fight director. To date he’s acted in over fifty theater productions, more than forty television shows, and choreographed dozens of swordfights for stage and screen. In THE SECRETS OF CASANOVA, Greg again proves his skill at telling a theatrical story. He lives with his wife, two sons, and Andy the hamster.

For more information please visit Greg Michaels’s website.   Like The Secrets of Casanova Facebook Page. Follow Greg Michaels on Twitter.



The Secrets of Casanova Blog Tour Schedule



Monday, October 13
Review at Bookish

Tuesday, October 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review at With Her Nose Stick in a Book
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, October 15
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession

Thursday, October 16
Review & Interview at Carpe Librum
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Friday, October 17
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Monday, October 20
Review at A Book Geek
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 21
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, October 22
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review at Good Friends, Good Books and a Sleepy Conscience
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf

Thursday, October 23
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, October 24
Review at Book Nerd
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why I Love American History: Guest Post by Becky Lower, Author of The Duplicitou​s Debutante

I’ll admit it. When I took American History in high school and college, it was not my favorite subject. I hated memorizing dates and spending days immersed in talking about battle strategy. Yuck! Sure, there were events along the way that captured my interest, such as the reason behind the Civil War, the culture and treatment of the American Indian, the western expansion, the wagon trains heading west from St. Joseph and St. Louis every spring. I gobbled up the Little House books when I was a child, and later consumed every Zane Grey western I could find.

Then, I began reading romance novels. I loved the lavish gowns depicted in the Regency era. I began collecting fashion plates from Godey’s Lady’s Book and La Mode Illustree. I know the value of a Frederick Worth gown. I never became a fashionista because my mind continually compared today’s fashions with the lush gowns from the past. And capris, even with killer heels, fall way short of the mark.

When I started my career as an author, I took a few twists and turns before I found my historic voice. I resisted it for a long time, since I didn’t want to write books set in England, nor did I want to write westerns. I thought there must be a way to combine my love of 19th century fashion with the bits of American history that I did find appealing. It took a man’s point of view to get me going in the right direction. He pointed out, in one of our writing sessions, that the Cotillion was not relegated just to English society, and the Cotillion is still a part of American culture today. My research led me to New York City in the mid 1850s. What a lucky set of circumstances it turned out to be.

America in the middle of the 1800s was beginning to have tensions between the North and the South, which would finally culminate in the Civil War in 1861. But there was so much going on in the rest of the country as well. Things that were never covered in an American History class. Little nuggets of history, insignificant events by themselves, but which made for a colorful, lush landscape in which to drop my characters. The expansion of the railroads across the country, the Pony Express, the wagon trains, which were still carrying, brave families westward. These are the events that get me excited. Add to that, the plight of women in society at the time. The rights of women were being addressed even in the 1800s. Amelia Bloomer, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Blackwell and Clara Barton were only a few of these strong ladies who defied convention. These women forged the way for all of us who followed.

If American History had been taught through the eyes of the people who were living the events, rather than by dealing with the memorization of dates and names, it would have made for a much livelier experience for me. My Cotillion Ball Series features the Fitzpatrick family’s nine children. Each gets his or her own book, and the years roll on from 1855 through the Civil War. It was never my intention to write a Civil War saga, but I can’t ignore it, either. So, the last two books in my series will have reference to the war, but only in an incidental role. The story of how the soldiers who died in battle were brought home to be buried is a fascinating tale, little known and largely ignored. Those are the kinds of events I love to uncover.

My appreciation of American history has grown over the course of this series. Once I write “The End” on the ninth book, I will be immensely sad.

Or, I’ll start writing the next series. The Gilded Age intrigues me, too.


The Duplicitous Debutante by Becky Lower
 
 
 
 
 
Publication Date: September 1, 2014
Crimson Romance
Format: eBook
 
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Cotillion Ball Series
 
 
In 1859, ladies of New York society were expected to do three things well: find a husband, organize a smooth-running household, and have children.
 
Rosemary Fitzpatrick’s agenda is very different. As the author of the popular Harry Hawk dime novels, she must hide her true identity from her new publisher, who assumes the person behind the F. P. Elliott pen name is male. She must pose as his secretary in order to ensure the continuation of her series. And in the midst of all this subterfuge, her mother is insisting that she become a debutante this year.
 
Henry Cooper is not the typical Boston Brahmin. Nor is he a typical publisher. He’s entranced by Mr. Elliott’s secretary the moment they meet, and wonders how his traditional-thinking father will react when he brings a working class woman into the family. Because his intentions are to marry her, regardless.
 
Rosemary’s deception begins to unravel at the Cotillion ball, when Henry recognizes her. The secretarial mask must come off, now that he knows she is a member of New York society. But she can’t yet confess who she truly is until she knows if Henry will accept her as F. P. Elliott.
The more time they spend together, the closer they become. But when Rosemary reveals her true identity to him, will Henry be able to forgive her or has her deceit cost her the man she loves?
 
 

Praise For The Duplicitous Debutante

 
 
“I cannot tell you enough how much I love Becky Lower’s books. She is by far my favorite historical romance author, and I would recommend anything she writes to everyone I meet. She just has a way with words and has a brilliantly warm and classic, romantic heart.” -HEAs Are Us
 
“If you are a historical romance fan, love multi-layered characters and enjoy a great story, please read this series.” -The Reading Café
 
“Kudos to Ms. Lower for writing a series that is different, the setting and subject matter unique and quite engaging.” -Deborah Cordes, Author
 

 

The Cotillion Ball Series

 
 
Book One: The Reluctant Debutante
Book Two: The Abolitionist’s Secret
Book Three: Banking on Temperance
Book Four: The Tempestuous Debutante
Book Five: Blinded by Grace
Book Six: The Duplicitous Debutante

 
 

About the Author

 
 
Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the
backdrop of a great setting, be it present day middle America or on a covered wagon headed west in the 1850s. Contemporary and historical romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Contemporary and Historic RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at beckylowerauthor@gmail.com.
 

For more information please visit Becky Lower’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest, and sign up for her Newsletter.

 

The Duplicitous Debutante Blog Tour Schedule

 
 
Tuesday, October 7

Interview & Giveaway at Historical Romance Lover
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
 
Wednesday, October 8

Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
 
Thursday, October 9
Review at
The Lit Bitch
 
Friday, October 10

Review & Giveaway at Fic Central
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
 
Monday, October 13
Review at What’s On The Bookshelf
 
Tuesday, October 14
Review at SOS Aloha
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

 Wednesday, October 15

Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
 
Thursday, October 16 Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary




Why I Love Outsider Heroes and Heroines: Guest Post by Piers Alexander, Author of The Bitter Trade


Hester Prynne, standing on a Boston scaffold, waiting to be marked with a scarlet “A”.

Captain Jack Aubrey, sitting year after year in the corridors of the Admiralty, knowing his great achievements will not earn him a promotion.

Becky Sharp, ignoring the rules governing women’s behavior as she bulldozes her way through English society.

And Tom Jones, an illegitimate abandoned baby boy, acquiring love and fortune and title with a smile on his face.

These stories really draw me in. Underdogs and outsiders: their stories promise that we can change our own lives, overcome the odds, prove our critics wrong. They’re like sports movies, except that these heroines and heroes live at a time when the wrong move could mean a hanging.

I’ve just been watching an excellent Swedish TV series called Anno 1790. A surgeon called Daadh, who has revolutionary ideals, becomes a police investigator and is forced to keep choosing between his job, his love for a married gentlewoman, and his principles. Redheaded, republican, secular, he’s an outsider who’s hiding in the midst of the establishment.

 
 
  Redhead Outsider: District Commissioner Daadh and Lady Wahlstedt, Anno 1790
 
 


But I think I like the antihero outsider even more. George Macdonald Fraser’s Flashman is a brilliantly drawn character: a self-confessed coward, adulterer and liar, he commits acts of involuntary bravery all over the British Empire of Palmerston and Queen Victoria. All the way, he brags about his base motivations and how he has got away with it one more time… and we love him for it. In my own novel, The Bitter Trade, the hero Calumny Spinks is cocky, rude, selfish and rash – but he’s helped by wiser, bigger souls who see his potential.

These anti-heroes use their outsider status to gain our trust, and I find it all the more moving when they are in danger or in love or bereaved: they feel real because they’ve shown us their dark sides.

Cal is also half-French, which is important to me. I’m English but grew up in the small country of Luxembourg: an immigrant there, but now that I live in London I realise that I am not really English either. Many outsider heroines and heroes have that mixed kind of identity: like Elizabeth Bennett, educated to mingle with society but fundamentally from a lower stratum. Or Maximus Decimus Meridius, if you like your history violent: Spanish, but so attached to the ideal of Rome that he would die for it.

Some of my favourite outsider heroes are real. In setting The Bitter Trade during the Glorious Revolution of 1688, I researched William of Orange, who became King of England. He lost his father before he was born, and was orphaned before he was ten; laws were passed at his own uncles’ urging to bar him from the Dutch throne; the same uncles – Charles II and James II of England – made a secret alliance with the French against his country whilst buying him expensive gifts for his birthday. Determined, resourceful, he took the English crown without firing a shot. Now that’s an outsider story!

 

The Bitter Trade by Piers Alexander

 
 
 
 
Publication Date: April 7, 2014
Tenderfoot
Formats: eBook, Paperback; 448p
 
Genre: Historical Adventure/Thriller

 
In 1688, torn by rebellions, England lives under the threat of a Dutch invasion. Redheaded Calumny Spinks is the lowliest man in an Essex backwater: half-French and still unapprenticed at seventeen, yet he dreams of wealth and title.
 
When his father’s violent past resurfaces, Calumny’s desperation leads him to flee to London and become a coffee racketeer. He has just three months to pay off a blackmailer and save his father’s life – but his ambition and talent for mimicry pull him into a conspiracy against the King himself. Cal’s journey takes him from the tough life of Huguenot silk weavers to the vicious intrigues at Court. As the illicit trader Benjamin de Corvis and his controlling daughter Emilia pull him into their plots, and his lover Violet Fintry is threatened by impending war, Cal is forced to choose between his conscience and his dream of becoming Mister Calumny Spinks.
 
The Bitter Trade won the PEN Factor at The Literary Consultancy’s Writing In A Digital Age Conference. Jury Chair Rebecca Swift (Author, Poetic Lives: Dickinson) said: “The Pen Factor jury selected The Bitter Trade based on the quality of writing, the engaging plot, and the rich and unusual historical context. Dazzling and playful!”
 

 

Praise For The Bitter Trade

 
 
“A fantastic debut novel” – Robert Elms, BBC Radio London
 
“The ambitious, cheeky Calumny Spinks is a great guide through the sensory overload of 17th century London, in an adventure that combines unexpected insights with just the right amount of rollicking ribaldry. I hope it’s the opener to a series.” – Christopher Fowler, author of the Bryant and May novels
 
“This debut novel is a gripping evocation of late seventeenth century London, rich in persuasive dialect and period detail and with a bold protagonist. An unusual thriller that just keeps you wanting to know more about the many facets of this story. You’ll never view your coffee in quite the same way again.” – Daniel Pembrey, bestselling author of The Candidate
 
“A very exciting and superbly researched novel” – Mel Ulm, The Reading Life

 

Buy the Book

 
 
 

 

About the Author


 
 
 
Piers Alexander is an author and serial entrepreneur. After a successful career as CEO of media and events companies he became a Co-Founder and Chairman of three start-up businesses. In 2013 he was awarded the PEN Factor Prize for The Bitter Trade. He is currently working on the sequel, Scatterwood, set in Jamaica in 1692.
 
For more information visit Piers Alexander’s website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.





The Bitter Trade Blog Tour Schedule

 
Monday, October 13
Review at Back Porchervations
Spotlight at Literary Chanteuse
 
Tuesday, October 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
 
Wednesday, October 15
Interview at Back Porchervations
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
 
Thursday, October 16
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
 
Monday, October 20
 
Tuesday, October 21
 
Wednesday, October 22
 
Thursday, October 23
 
Tuesday, October 28
 
Wednesday, October 29
Spotlight at Unshelfish
 
Thursday, October 30
Review at Broken Teepee
 
Saturday, November 1
 
Monday, November 3
Review at Book by Book
Review & Interview at Dab of Darkness
 
Tuesday, November 4
 
Wednesday, November 5
Review at Turning the Pages
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
 
Thursday, November 6
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
 
Monday, November 10
Review at A Book Geek
 
Tuesday, November 11
Review at Book Nerd
 
Wednesday, November 12
Spotlight at Layered Pages
 
Friday, November 14
Review at Anglers Rest
Review & Giveaway at Booklover Book Reviews