War in the Wilderness (The Centurion’s Son Chronicles Book 2) by Adam Lofthouse

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Germania, winter, AD 168.

Balomar, King of the Marcomanni and leader of the united army of the tribes, broods and drinks his way through the long winter as his alliance falls apart. He won great fame when he destroyed the Fourteenth legion and brought his army to Italian soil. Rome will not let his victory go unanswered; new legions have been formed, and their spear tips point north.

Elsewhere Albinus braves the harsh weather and tribal hordes as he searches desperately for Licina, his lost fiancé. Once more he must play dice with Fortuna as he launches himself into the iron storm.

For Rome, and his father’s shade…

REVIEW

A sequel well worth the wait. The tale takes up where Centurion’s Son left off, so in no time the reader is propelled into an action packed drama pitting Albinus and his 14th Legion comrades against the elements and foe alike. As in the first book, we get a glimpse of life in a frontier/wilderness Roman legion; the camaraderie between Albinus and his mates, their absolute dedication to the Eagle despite the rigors, dangers, and discomforts.  The characters are full of the life of the period, their flaws, their doubts, their abilities are all on display; a feast for the readers. The tale, as the title indicates, is a war story replete with not only gladius laden battles, and skirmishes, but it is also one with elements of mystery and espionage. In what is a very striking and unexpected turn of events, Albinus finds himself once again in search of Licinia, but I will say naught of that. You, my fellow readers, will have to discover why for yourselves.  😊  4 stars

The Blood of Princes (The Craft of Kings #2) by Derek Birks

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A savage tale of love, treason and betrayal.
A bloody struggle for power at the heart of the royal court.

In April 1483, the sudden death of King Edward IV brings his 12 year old son to the throne.
Restless young lord and ex-mercenary John Elder is newly-appointed to the service of Edward, Prince of Wales, and charged with the boy’s safety. His first task, escorting the new king to London for his coronation, seems a simple one but the accession of a boy king raises concerns among the leading noblemen of the land.
As old jealousies and feuds are rekindled, the new king’s uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, seizes control and plunges the kingdom into crisis. But is Gloucester young Edward’s enemy, or saviour?
While John, outlawed and trapped, must wait to see how events unfold, other members of the battle-scarred Elder family are drawn, one by one, into his conspiracy. Soon they are mired so deep in the murky underbelly of London society, that there seems no hope of escape from the tangle of intrigue and murder.
In the end, all lives will hang upon the outcome of a daring incursion into the Tower of London itself.

REVIEW

I’m of the opinion that if you Google the phrase “adrenaline rush”, you should be directed to a page describing Derek Birks’ fictional 15th century family, The Elders. Throughout the tales in both the Rebels and Brothers series, and in the Craft of Kings, the reader is treated to intense emotional upheaval, traumatizing losses, hopeless situations; and yet the Elders persevere in the face of all the changes and challenges. I may have stated in my review of one of the prior books, that Eleanor Elder is at the top of a long list of my favorite fictional characters…after reading The Blood of Princes, I now have to add Lady Margaret Elder (Meg).

It’s tough enough being proclaimed an ‘outlaw’. Now, John Elder faces impossible tasks,.. keeping his family intact, rescuing Tower imprisoned Princes of the Realm, and by the way, staying alive. Book 2 is a certified roller-coaster ride through the transition from Edward IV to his son; but wait, there’re more contestants to the throne, more loyalties tested, more oaths sworn or forsaken, and a whole lot more danger to life and limb. The author has once again delivered the entire package, so dear reader, fasten your seat belts. The adrenaline is about to start coursing through your veins.  5 stars

 

The Reaper’s Kiss (The Ripper Legacies Book 3) by Robert Southworth

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London 1891
Sir Simeon Harkness has joined his son in the pursuit of the infamous killer. With his resources, it is not long before the scent of new lines of investigation are detected. The Ripper can feel the oppressive breath of his pursuers upon his skin. He must hide his tracks and remove those that once called him master. The hunt is on but the Ripper will not go quietly to the gallows.

REVIEW 

True confession time. I know very little about the real Jack the Ripper, only that it has remained a mystery to this day. Therefore, based on that scant amount of knowledge, I can, without a doubt, or fear of recrimination, state that the version of The Ripper portrayed in Mr. Southworth’s series is real enough for me.😎  The Reaper’s Kiss, the finale of the three, is a page turner filled with wonderfully descriptive scenarios, as the search for the evasive Cronus cult leads to many places, and to many treacheries. Surprises? Oh my, yes, there are many of those. The kind of surprises that makes one put the book down for a moment to regain ones composure. Camaraderie, lost friends, brutal action, plain old nasty villains, long hid emotions; yes my fellow readers, The Reaper’s Kiss is an excellent ending to a well done series. 5 stars

 

 

 

The Alchemist of Lost Souls (Bianca Goddard Mysteries, #4) by Mary Lawrence

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A dangerous element discovered by Bianca Goddard’s father falls into the wrong hands . . . leading to a chain of multiple murders.

Spring 1544 Now that she is with child, Bianca is more determined than ever to distance herself from her unstable father. Desperate to win back the favor of King Henry VIII, disgraced alchemist Albern Goddard plans to reveal a powerful new element he’s discovered–one with deadly potential. But when the substance is stolen, he is panicked and expects his daughter to help.

Soon after, a woman’s body is found behind the Dim Dragon Inn, an eerie green vapor rising from her breathless mouth. To her grave concern, Bianca has reason to suspect her own mother may be involved in the theft and the murder. As her husband John is conscripted into King Henry’s army to subdue Scottish resistance, Bianca must navigate a twisted and treacherous path among alchemists, apothecaries, chandlers, and scoundrels–to find out who among them is willing to kill to possess the element known as lapis mortem, the stone of death . . .

REVIEW

I’ve read a few novels that take place during the reign of Henry VIII, and have watched the Tudor series on Netflix.  The Alchemist of Lost Souls (and the earlier books in the Bianca Goddard series) is a definite departure from the Royal Court and the mercurial antics of Henry. The author paints a vivid picture of life in the least desirable haunts of London and the precarious and often violent existence of the folk who live there. Colorful characters abound in this fascinating mystery, and what is especially nice is their usage of the language of the times, the idioms, the curses, the names etc,etc. I was captured from page one, the ongoing mystery with many twists and turns, surprises, and a peculiar denizen of the Thames, The Rat Man. The main character, Bianca, daughter of an alchemist, finds herself enmeshed in solving a series of crimes that have implications involving friends and family, all the while experiencing her first pregnancy, with her husband away with Henry’s army. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this wonderfully descriptive, and creative tale. The only problem is that this is book four of the series, and now I have to go back and read the first three.  Oh wait, that’s not a problem, that’s three future treats for me to devour. 🙂  5 stars

 

 

Cover Reveal – THE TURNCOAT BY T.J. LONDON

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THE TURNCOAT BY T.J. LONDON

Publication Date: May 23, 2019
eBook & Paperback

Series: The Rebels and Redcoats Saga, Book 3
Genre: Historical Fiction

Spy. Redcoat. Traitor.

After Captain John Carlisle’s dance with death, he’s retreated to the serenity of the Oneida village with his beloved Dellis McKesson, trying to hide from the inevitable truth: war is coming. But when duty calls, and John’s expertise is needed to negotiate a treaty between the Six Nations of the Iroquois and the Crown, he’ll once again be faced with a decision: his King or his conscience.

Many truths that have yet to be revealed, and a deal with the Devil made in desperation, threatens to ruin Dellis and John’s hard-won love. As ghosts of the past resurface, and bitter family rivalry exposes betrayal from those closest to her, Dellis is dragged down a devastating path to the truth of her parents’ murders.

Now, the die is cast as war comes to the Mohawk River Valley in the Summer of 1777. St. Leger and his native allies siege Fort Stanwix. They’re also plotting a secret attack that will force the Rebels and the Oneida to face off against the Crown and their allies, further dividing John’s loyalties, leaving him on the precipice of another decision: Rebel or Redcoat?

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About the Author

T.J. London is a rebel, liberal, lover, fighter, diehard punk, and pharmacist-turned-author who loves history. As an author her goal is to fill in the gaps, writing stories about missing history, those little places that are so interesting yet sadly forgotten. Her favorite time periods to write in are first and foremost the American Revolutionary War, the French Revolution, the French and Indian War, the Russian Revolution and the Victorian Era. Her passions are traveling, writing, reading, barre, and sharing a glass of wine with her friends, while she collects experiences in this drama called life. She is a native of Metropolitan Detroit (but secretly dreams of being a Londoner) and resides there with her husband Fred and her beloved cat and writing partner Mickey.

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A Presidents Story by Brad McKim

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At the dawn of the 19th century, fourteen men will succeed George Washington in leading the young United States. As their personal tales intertwine and overlap with one another on their way to the Presidency, they craft an election system that is, at once, chaotic and orderly. Their ambition forces them to join political parties even as those parties’ agendas are not always clear. Their supporters engage in ever more vicious public and private campaigns. They rely on political favors and a partisan press to win votes and to solicit compromise. And yet, they follow Washington’s example and hand over power after each election to the newest victor, typically with unprecedented grace and humility. These are the practices that survive, even as a Civil War looms that threatens to destroy virtually everything else about the young country.

REVIEW

Way back when I was a lad attending American History classes, at the appropriately named Andrew Jackson Jr. High School in Detroit, MI, I was subjected to the old ‘memorize these dates, names, and places’ method of making history boring. I think it’s just pure amazing that I fell in love with the subject, even after further torment at the hands of a Lewis Cass Technical High School history teacher who read to us every day from his notes. What the author has done with A Presidents Story is just the kind of history that should be taught. To me, the presidencies from Monroe through Buchanan (with the notable exception of Jackson) were taught almost as singular events with none of the interconnections, or the interactions between that group of men. It’s fascinating what the author has done in bringing to life the connections, and how their interactions came to govern this country at what was the most dangerous time in it’s short history. The narrative proceeds at a comfortable pace as the reader follows the threads that make up this rich historical tapestry. The dialogue rings true….the author’s research into the lives of the players adds to the realism of their conversations and their actions.

I highly recommend A Presidents Story…not only is it an entertaining look at our past, but it is also edifying…you just might learn some stuff.  🙂   5 Stars

Praetorian: Lions of Rome by SJA Turney

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Rufinus is dead, crumpled at the base of a cliff in far-off Dacia. Or so the world believes. Back in the west, secretly in the entourage of the fierce Septimius Severus, the young hero moves in the shadows with fellow conspirators in an attempt to finally bring down the would-be tyrant of Rome: Cleander.

Under assumed names and in a variety of roles, the former Praetorian conspires with some of the most important men in Rome, bringing the city to the very brink of disaster in a grand and complex plot to cause the fall of the untouchable chamberlain.

And as governors, prefects, Praetorians and consuls work their secret plots in the seedy underbelly of Rome, Rufinus finds he has an opportunity to settle old scores along the way.

The empire is suffering. Rome is seething. Rufinus is back.

REVIEW

In the most complex Praetorian yet, Mr. Turney has delivered yet another masterpiece bringing together every element in the city of Rome, in a taut thriller to bring down the vile Cleander. There are a lot of moving pieces on the game board as the Septimus Severus led conspiracy plays a long waiting game; everything has to be right for them to succeed. It is this long wait that could have been a negative as far as slowing the pace of the narrative, a lessening in the number of stars awarded. But, my dear readers, just as Rufinus chafes at the wait, you must also. Like Rufinus, I was growing impatient, but like Severus, the author knew best…the last quarter is justification for the wait. In fairness, the drawn out grain part, while causing anxious moments for the conspirators, and the occasional sigh by me, is in retrospect necessary to the narrative. When you’re going after the most powerful “right hand man of The Emperor” since Sejanus, you better be sure all your plans are laid out in meticulous detail.  Besides, dear reader, the last quarter of the book is pure Turney excitement magic.

Book four of this series is also a prime example of the research that the author employs in all of his books. The descriptions, for example, of the streets of Commodus’ Rome makes the reader feel like he’s walking down familiar byways. In addition to that level of detail, you have a more complete Rufinus. He is now an elite warrior/spy exuding confidence in all of his tasks – a killer when necessary – a wearer of many masks – yet still possessing a compassionate outlook and a questioning mind. Yes, my peeps and fellow travelers, ready yourself for time well spent as you read Lions of Rome.  5 Stars