Sunday, February 7, 2016

New Review: Barbara Devlin’s ENTER THE BRETHREN – Fanciful Regency with an Earl who is a ship’s captain

An early Regency set in 1810 mostly in London, with a prologue set in 1307, this is the first in a series of stories about a secret order of mariner knights who serve the Crown.

The story begins as Trevor Marshall, Earl of Lockwood, breaks into the cabin of Dalton Randolph, whose ship is anchored off Jamaica. Trevor is intent on revenge as Dalton once stole Trevor’s mistress. At first I assumed Trevor was planning to steal his old mistress back, but no. I realized later that that the woman Trevor intends on stealing is Dalton’s new mistress. However, Trevor doesn’t realize the woman he abducts is not Dalton’s mistress but highborn Caroline Elliott, an innocent who stowed away on Randolph’s ship in an effort to escape her London Season.

Caroline is not like any other Regency debutante you will have encountered. When Trevor names her a courtesan and a paramour, she does not correct him but readily agrees to be his mistress on the condition she can call the shots. Trevor agrees to that unlikely arrangement and they sail away on his ship to London where she shares his bed and her recipes with his cook. Oh yes, she also mends sails and is good at fencing (good enough to take on pirates).

Caroline thinks she is plain yet Trevor tells her she’s a great beauty. How she missed her looks was a bit puzzling. Yes, the man she thought she loved married another but still. Caroline is also naïve. She thinks if she has sex with Trevor she will be “ruined”. Surly she would have known the rules of London society: she was ruined the minute she stowed away on Dalton’s ship. Then sleeping in the same bed with Trevor for weeks with all his crew aware makes her twice ruined—even without any sex. Clueless might be a good description of this heroine. Oh yes, and she is clumsy, often tripping over her own feet.

Trevor is a handsome rake who had no thought of marriage until Caroline came along. Even then, it took the prodding of her brother, the duke, to get him to do the right thing after Trevor took her innocence. The author did that part rather well, I thought.

The abduction scene at the beginning was enticing and there are a few more as the pirates return. The dialog is often witty banter (there are some good one-liners as Caroline and Trevor get to know each other). But there are some improbable moments, too, where one must suspend belief entirely. Apparently he never noticed her highborn speech, either that or his doxies and courtesans (and Dalton’s) were an educated lot. And the ship must be large (to have stern windows) and steady as there wasn’t much movement, even in the storm.

I did think it odd that the dukes and earls called themselves by their first names and they invited Caroline to do the same. Peers in the Regency used their titles, not their first names except with close family like a wife or sister but not with a buddy. There were some other deviations from the Regency era, but if you like witty, somewhat fanciful Regencies, this may be the one for you.

The Brethren of the Coast series thus far:

Enter the Brethren
My Lady, the Spy
The Most Unlikely Lady
One-Knight Stand
Captain of Her Heart
The Lucky One

Friday, February 5, 2016

Privateers in the American Revolutionary War! by Regan Walker

There is something about the idea of privateers that stirs my blood. It has all the excitement and danger of piracy on the high seas, but with a significant difference: the privateers, armed merchant ships, operated with government sanction, “Letters of Marque” that allowed the private vessel to act under color of law.

Privateers were a large part of the total military force at sea during the 17th and 18th centuries. During the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), privateers acting for their respective governments—American, British and French, among others—seized thousands of ships, sometimes the same ship more than once! 

American privateer General Montgomery battling the English ship Millern

Pictured above is the American privateer brig, the General Montgomery, engaged in action with the British merchant vessel, the Millern, which it captured off Ireland in July 1777. The prize was sent to America but later re-captured by the British.

At the time the Colonies declared their independence, the Continental Navy had only 31 ships (that number later increased to 64). But the sea fighting ability of the young country vastly increased as Congress issued Letters of Marque to nearly 1,700 American privateers.

The first privateer in the war might have been the American brig Reprisal, which on November 29, 1776, sailed into the port of Lorient in Brittany with Benjamin Franklin on board and two British prize ships in tow. The British protested, of course, and the owners of the seized vessels sought compensation. Lord Stormont, the British ambassador in Paris called Benjamin Franklin “a dangerous Engine” and voiced his suspicions the American statesman was on some “secret Commission from Congress.” He was.

The French response in allowing the American captain to sell his prizes in France was a tacit recognition of the young country’s independence. Franklin must have been delighted for he was there to solicit French aid.

Responding to the sale of the two prize ships, the Public Advertiser, a London newspaper said,

Is not this acknowledging the American Privateer’s Commission? And is not
that an Acknowledgement of the Independency of America?

Indeed it was, and it would not be the last such acknowledgement. The privateers were crucial to gaining recognition of the legitimacy of America’s war against Britain.

In my novel, To Tame the Wind, the hero, Captain Simon Powell, a British privateer, captures the daughter of a French pirate turned privateer to hold for ransom to regain his seized ship and his crew. Ben Franklin is a character and the one who issued the French captain his Letter of Marque.

In fact, during the war, Franklin issued Letters of Marque to three ships: the Black Prince, the Black Princess, and the Fear Not. During a 15-month period in 1779-1780, these three ships captured 114 prizes. One of the reasons Ben Franklin sought these prizes was to use the captured British crews to ransom American seamen languishing in British prisons.

American privateers captured over 10,000 British seamen, keeping them out of the British Navy. In 1777, George Washington's armies totaled about 11,000 men. At the same time there were 11,000 privateers at sea intercepting British shipping in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and even between Ireland and England. Together, the Continental Navy and privateers captured 16,000 British prisoners, a substantial contribution in comparison with the 15,000 prisoners taken by the entire Continental Army before the surrender at Yorktown.

If you want to be swept away into this era and experience life on a privateer with a handsome British captain, then you just might enjoy To Tame the Wind!

From the 5-star review by Pirates and Privateers:

“Daring sea battles, roguish lurkers, ill-treated prisoners of war and deceitful dandies add dashes of spice to this historical romance, making it one readers will savor long after they turn the last page." 

Buy on Amazon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

New Review: Karen Robards’ DESIRE IN THE SUN – A Handsome Sea Captain, a Forbidden Love and a Tropical Isle—Formula for a Lasting Love!

I'm a huge fan of Robards and so I had to read this one with a handsome sea captain hero. 

Set in 1792, this tells of Delilah Remy from the British island of Barbados who visits her great aunt in Virginia with the hopes of finding a suitor she actually wants (having previously turned down two dozen proposals and not being very thrilled with her father’s choice). One night she encounters Joss San Pietro, the first man she’s ever been attracted to. He’s tall, dark and terribly handsome and much more mature than the fops who she’s been exposed to and better that the oh-so-dull man her father would see her marry on Barbados where they have a plantation. But the night they meet, Lilah and Joss learn a terrible secret about him that means they can never be together: Joss is not entirely white.

Robards deals well with a sensitive issue at a time when England had no slaves but America did. Joss is an educated businessman, a merchant sea captain with his own ships, but the one drop of African blood in his veins rules him out as a suitor and throws him into slavery. On the ship voyage south to Barbados, where Joss accompanies Lilah as a slave, they will be shipwrecked on a tropical island for months where none of the rules apply.

Robards tells a great tale with wonderful characters and a deep romance that defies the rules of the day. It kept me turning pages.

Buy on Amazon.

Monday, February 1, 2016

New Review: Virginia Henley’s THE PIRATE AND THE PAGAN: Enthralling, Complex Story of Love and Deception—a Pirate Romance to treasure—a Keeper!

February is Pirate/Privateer month on my blog. And I'm starting with a keeper! The Pirate and the Pagan is a wonderfully complex tale of deception and love set in 17th century in the Restoration period when Charles II ruled England.

Lady Summer St. Catherine is an innocent, but not very lady-like. She was raised on the Cornish coast with her younger brother, Spencer (nicknamed Spider). Their mother is dead and their father is a wastrel, who spends all their money and all his time in London. The two are left quite alone and cannot afford food, much less a servant. When Summer and Spider stumble into a smuggling opportunity, they take advantage of it in order to survive.

Soon after, their father dies and Summer goes to London to stay with their aunt (a wonderful character). There, Summer learns her father has mortgaged away their beloved home, Roseland. Her aunt, who is teaching her to be a lady, convinces her the way out of her troubles is to marry a wealthy man. Summer takes on the role of a lady and sets her cap for the neighboring Cornish lord, Ruark Helford, a friend of the king. She manages to win Ruark’s affections and both fall in love. Ruark has no idea his new bride is a smuggler and when she confesses, his violent temper destroys their relationship. But Ruark’s younger brother, Rory, a pirate, will come to Summer’s rescue providing her all the love she can no longer have from Ruark. 

Original cover
Henley weaves an intriguing story of love and deception in an interesting time in the history of England. And she does it so well. She includes many rich historical details of the court of Charles II, including some infamous characters and lots of steamy love scenes. Summer is a clever, courageous heroine who must deal with Ruark’s over-the-top temper—and does. I loved this book.

Henley is a master of historic romance. Few romance writers today bring such rich (and accurate) historical detail to their novels. This is a well-told pirate tale and I highly recommend it. 

Buy on Amazon    

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Every now and then I love a good Viking Romance. Not fantasy, not paranormal, just straight up historical romance from the time of the raiding Northmen. The Viking Age was that part of the medieval period from the end of the 8th century to the middle of the 11th century. An age of valiant and sometimes ruthless warriors and raiders.

There’s nothing like a Viking raid and a strapping tall warrior to get your blood boiling, right? Well, of course, it must be well done and we want a strong heroine to give the guy some grief. And a little history thrown in doesn’t hurt either. If you like ‘em, here’s a list of those I’ve rated 4 and 5 stars!

·       Blind Allegiance and Blind Mercy by Violetta Rand
·       Dawnfire by Lynn Erickson
·       Dream of Me, Believe in Me and Come Back to Me, trilogy by Josie Litton
·       Edin’s Embrace by Nadine Crenshaw
·       Fires of Winter, Hearts Aflame and Surrender My Love, trilogy by Johanna Lindsey
·       Forbidden Passion by Theresa Scott
·       Golden Surrender, The Viking’s Woman and Lord of the Wolves, trilogy by Heather Graham
·       Season of the Sun, Lord of Hawkfell Island and Lord of Raven’s Peak by Catherine Coulter
·       Maidensong by Mia Marlowe (aka Diana Groe)
·       Norse Jewel by Gina Conkle
·       Northward the Heart by Maureen Kurr
·       Odin’s Shadow, A Flame Put Out and Oath Breaker, 3-part story by Erin Riley
·       Raeliksen, Mac Liam and The Temperate Warrior by Renee Vincent
·       Sea Jewel by Penelope Neri
·       Storm Maiden by Mary Gillgannon
·       Tara’s Song by Barbara Ferry Johnson
·       The Bewitched Viking by Sandra Hill
·       The Enchantment (first published as My Warrior’s Heart) by Betina Krahn
·       The Pagan’s Prize by Miriam Minger
·       The Valiant Heart and The Defiant Heart by Kathleen Kirkwood (aka Anita Gordon)
·       The Viking’s Defiant Bride by Joanna Fulford
·       The Viking’s Sacrifice by Julia Knight
·       Twin Passions by Miriam Minger
·       Viking Captive by Emma Merritt
·       Viking Gold by Nadine Crenshaw
·       Viking Passion by Flora Speer
·       Viking Rose by Ashland Price
·       Viking Sword: The Stranded One by Mairi Norris

Friday, January 29, 2016

We have a Winner!

We have a winner!

Janice Hougland has won Mairi Norris' Viking Sword, The Stranded One.

Thanks to Mairi for her fascinating post and thanks to all who commented.

And, congratulations, Janice!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

My Guest Today... Mairi Norris, Viking Romance Author

My guest today is author of Viking romance, Màiri Norris. 

Màiri is a USN vet who lives in Virginia with her USCG retiree husband and three cats (though her heart belongs to the Highlands of Scotland). When she's not busy writing, Màiri loves to travel and make dollhouse miniatures. She also adores reading, and discovered, at age six, a whole new universe to explore through books – and made up her own stories, too. It was always a ‘back-of-the-mind’ dream to put those stories on paper. Now she’s living her dream. 

She is a proud member of Romance Writers of America, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, Chesapeake Romance Writers, Beau Monde and Clan Donald, USA.

Do comment on Màiri's post and leave an email as one lucky commenter will will her book, Viking Sword.

Viking Warrior Women? By Màiri Noris

From the Valkyrie Brunhild to Hevor the Shield-Maiden, myth, legend and history give homage to ‘female warriors’ of Viking culture. Who were they, then, these militant women who found their way into the sagas, whose names have survived the ages, and were they the norm? Those few about whom we know were called haughty, wise, valiant and vengeful, but were Viking ladies all that dissimilar to women today?

Not really.

The prevailing viewpoint of Norsemen is that of ruthless warriors who lived only by savagery and warfare. It is true the world of that day was a brutal place, but if one takes a close look at the societies of those Northern cultures, one discovers they were no more savage than their counterparts in the rest of the world.

Sigrid the Haughty and Olaf Tryggvason
The attitude of the men toward women, in particular, was noteworthy for its nonviolence. The Vikings cared about their women and treated them exceptionally well. The rights of females in society were, in many ways, equal to that of the men. A Viking lady was actually safer among her people than the modern woman.

To abuse a woman physically was considered so low, so craven, a man who struck a woman lost his “manhood” in the minds of other men (the worst thing that could happen to the Viking male). Adultery was illegal because it was seen as a mistreatment of the wife. A male family member or friend could legally seek the death of any man to sought to force his attentions on a woman. Even verbal abuse was frowned upon and women were allowed to respond in kind without fear of retribution.

This prohibition against striking or hurting a female was so strong even the Sagas mention it, recounting the tale of a man insulted and castigated by a passing group of other men for hitting his wife with snowballs, and this while the couple were merely at play!

Though both girls and boys were given basic training in self-defense, only a handful of women ever became ‘shield-maidens’ and these were considered aberrations by their contemporaries. Viking women did not need to be warriors, because it was a man’s responsibility to protect the women in his life. If he failed, he had better make sure he died trying!

Death of the shieldmaiden Hevor
While this careful treatment of females did not always extend to foreign women, especially slaves, it was not typical for males to mistreat any female. Rapes and beatings did happen, but not to the extent depicted in books and movies today.

Viking women were caregivers and homemakers - rarely involving themselves in battle or trade - and were greatly honored as such. They were esteemed as being as strong, smart, honorable and courageous as any of their menfolk. The very security of their place in society assured their right to live much as they saw fit. Truly, if one had to live in that difficult and dangerous time, it was no bad thing to be born a Viking woman!

How about you? Would you want to be a Viking lady? One lucky commenter will win Viking Sword: A Fall of Yellow Fire (reviewed in a separate post below).

He killed her beloved husband.

Or did he?

When former Saxon rebel Cynric of Wulfsinraed meets Ysabeau Maci, he knows he has found the woman of his dreams. But even as he begins his determined pursuit of the lovely Norman widow, his past abruptly returns to haunt him.

Two years earlier, in a raid by Saxon rebels, Ysabeau’s husband was killed by a warrior with hate-filled emerald eyes. Cynric’s moss-green gaze reminds her of that awful day. As she comes to know him, she cannot resist his gentle smile or the thrill of his touch, but the feelings he arouses are increasingly tinged with fear he may be the green-eyed warrior who destroyed her life.

Their uneasy relationship is further tested when Cynric’s best friend, Brunwulf of Blackbridge, who shares Cynric’s rebel past, flees to him for sanctuary with his betrothed, Heagyth of Jorvick. Hard on their heels is a troop of Norman warriors intent on capturing them to face the judgment of King William.

Ysabeau’s suspicions, Heagyth’s flight from Norman justice and Brunwulf’s involvement in the assassination of a powerful Norman bishop force Cynric’s hidden past into the open. The resulting conflict threatens to rip their world apart before they can build the new lives they covet.

Keep up with Màiri Norris on her Website, Facebook, Pinterest and on Amazon.