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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Alison Stuart Requests the Pleasure of Your Company at her New Home!

Thank you to everyone who has been following me on this blog site. I request the pleasure of your company at my new home!

However I have divided my blog into two.

For regular posts, including my Friday guests - please bookmark this site...

and for blog posts for giveaways, contests, blog hops and tours - please bookmark this site...

Thank you to everyone and I do hope you will come and visit me in my new digs... 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Book Blast - The Indispensible Wife - Phillipa Lodge (#Giveaway)

I'm a huge supporter of fellow historical romance writers and it is my pleasure today to introduce 'new to me' author, Phillipa Lodge who is 'on tour' with her latest release THE INDISPENSIBLE WIFE.

Philippa will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter. You can click HERE to enter or go to the links at the end of this post. 


Aurore was delighted when a marriage was arranged with the boy she loved, her older brother's friend Dominique, Comte de Bures. But in a few years the first rush of joy has worn off, and their promising life seems ruined by loss, betrayal, and misunderstanding.

One terrifying morning mercenaries overrun their château and usurpers take Aurore hostage. Miles away at Versailles, where he is required to dance attendance on Louis XIV, Dominique is nearly killed by a crossbow bolt.

Escaping, Aurore travels with a troupe of itinerant musicians, hiding in the open while discovering hidden resources within herself.

Dom sets out to find his wife. He needs his old life back. He needs revenge. But his lands, his title, and his honor mean nothing unless he can win back the love of his indispensable wife.

BUY LINKS:  AMAZON, Nook and Wild Rose Publishing


From atop the battlements, Dom signaled to the men. A musket ball whistled past his head at the same moment he heard the report of a musket. He ducked, still exposed to the courtyard but making less of a target of himself. He yanked the monk’s robes off over his head and fit an arrow to his longbow, then let the arrow fly at the large man who had ducked behind a low wall to reload his musket. The angle was bad and the arrow glanced off the wall, but it scraped across the man’s chain mail and went through the exposed sleeve of his tunic.

Dom cursed his sore bow arm, wondering briefly if it would ever regain full strength. The man pulled back further behind the slight cover the wall gave him, his arm pumping as he jammed a new musket ball into the barrel of his gun. Dom shot another arrow, just a hair higher, and sank it into the man’s right arm. The musket flew to the side as the man spun and fell.

Dom and Henri scanned the courtyard for other traitors as horsemen thundered through the gate, shouting and brandishing sabers. Jean-Louis had arrived, followed by Le Fèvre and some others of Dom’s personal guards. Cédric and his group would be on foot right behind them. The baron led a division which would guard the gates from the outside in case any mercenaries were in the village and came to their leaders’ aid.

Pâques was with him. The man had insisted on coming, seeking vengeance for the loss of his left arm. It was probably only because of Pâques that Dom had not tried even harder to leave Aurore behind. Pâques still could not fight well, though as he was less of a target than Aurore, and he had extensive training before his injury; he would not be a liability.

Dom shook thoughts of Aurore, tiny and vulnerable, from his mind, swung his bow to his back, and left Henri and Paul-Bénédicte on the battlements as he rattled down the stairs, eager to be among the first into the château itself, eager to flush out the enemy leaders. He noted that a crowd of villagers armed with shovels, axes, and pitchforks was streaming through the gates behind Cédric’s troops and the man he had shot with an arrow was no longer in the corner. He brandished his sword and pushed past the few men who were fighting back, barely glancing at Jean-Louis as he dismounted to follow. Cédric’s friend de Ligny bashed a man in a nightshirt with the pommel of his sword and stuck close to Dom’s left side, helping shove through the confused crowd. Cries of “It’s the comte!” rose up around him.


Philippa Lodge has been an avid reader since she asked her mother to point out where it said "Ma" in Little House in the Big Woods. She read everything she could get her hands on until grad school in French Studies, at which time she lost her reading mojo. Only through the twin discoveries of Harry Potter and romance has she gotten her groove back and gone back to the stuff she loved about seventeenth century France: kings, swords, opulence, and love. She lives in the suburbs of Sacramento, CA with her husband, three children, two cats, and a head full of courtesans (Oo la la!). She does the newsletter for her local chapter of the Romance Writers of America.

Connect with Phillipa on her website, Twitter (@plaatsch) and Facebook 



Philippa will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Quirky Look at the History of Nursery Rhymes - CASTLES, CUSTOMS AND KINGS (Vol 2) Bloghop

I am honoured and thrilled to be included as a contributor to CASTLES, CUSTOMS AND KINGS Volume 2, produced by the wonderful people at English Historical Fiction Authors

Edited by Debra Brown and Sue Millard

An anthology of essays from the second year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book transports the reader across the centuries from prehistoric to twentieth century Britain. Nearly fifty different authors share the stories, incidents, and insights discovered while doing research for their own historical novels.

From medieval law and literature to Tudor queens and courtiers, from Stuart royals and rebels to Regency soldiers and social calls, experience the panorama of Britain’s yesteryear. Explore the history behind the fiction, and discover the true tales surrounding Britain’s castles, customs, and kings.

(Currently available in print only from AMAZON )
To celebrate the release, I am joining in the fun of a blog hop with my fellow authors where we looks at a particularly quirky custom or tradition.

My contribution is a peek into the often violent 17th century (or not!) origins of some of our best known nursery rhymes

At the most basic level, nursery rhymes are used as a way of familiarising a child with the patterns of their native tongue. Every culture uses variations of these simple rhymes. I can remember rocking my own fractious babies to sleep with “Rock a bye baby” and
thinking at the time that the words must have originated from a frustrated mother, not unlike myself, harbouring dark thoughts about her infant… have you ever thought about how violent the words actually are? “When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall and down will come baby, cradle and all…”. So the rhyme served two purposes, calming the baby and satisfying the mother’s urge to commit infanticide at the same time!

Back to the seventeenth century. The origins of many nursery rhymes are lost in history and those for which we do think we know the origin, may turn out to be specious... As you will see.


Ring-a-ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
We all fall down.

The common belief is that this rhyme originated with the Plague of 1665 (or the Black death of the 1300s). 

The words were believed to have described the symptoms of the plague - a rash (the ring of roses) and sneezes and of course death (we all fall down). 

This interpretation of the rhyme is a comparitively modern one and folklore scholars (now there’s a profession) have dismissed this origin arguing that 
1) It did not appear in written form until the mid nineteenth century 
2) the description is not accurate for the bubonic plague (although it is for the pneumonic plague) and 
3) the plague theory did not appear until the 1950s. Hmm… just because it
wasn’t written down until the mid nineteenth century doesn’t mean it didn’t
exist in oral tradition for years, if not centuries.

A FROG HE WOULD A WOOING (or courting) GO:

A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go
Whether his mother? let him or no
He rode right to Miss Mousie's den
Said he "Miss Mousie are you within?"
He said "My dear I've come to see"
If you Miss Mousie will marry me"?

I was always under the belief that this rhyme/song referred to Charles II and his love of beautiful women, but scholars believe its origin is earlier. 

It first appeared in written form in 1611 and it could refer to the reputed marriage of Francis of Anjou to Elizabeth I but versions of it are known from even earlier in the Tudor dynasty.
Certainly it is a political satire but which Queen and which Frog are now lost in time.


Georgie Porgie, Puddin' and Pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry,
When the boys came out to play
Georgie Porgie ran away

George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham
This rhyme is believed to have originated with George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham and boon companion to Charles I. 

The beautiful George was known to “bat for both teams” (to use a cricketing metaphor) and was reputedly the lover of both James I and Ann of Austria (the Queen of France). Political furore about his influence over Charles I led to his eventual assasination  and you can read more about the lovely George HERE)

However there is no real evidence for this story and it could just as easily refer to Charles II (Rowley Powley Pudding and Pie) or George II, both notorious womanisers. 


I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why - I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell

This little rhyme is said to have been written by the English poet Thomas Brown around 1680 and refers to one of the dons at Oxford, Doctor John Fell of Christ Church, who expelled the young Brown for mischief.

To conclude… one of the best known and most beloved Nursery Rhymes:


Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the King’s horses and all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

Like all the rhymes, its origins are reputedly many and varied. “Humpty Dumpty” was a term used in the middle ages
to describe someone of large girth and folklore scholars (them again!) have posited the theory it refers to Richard III (who we now know was NOT a man of large girth!).

By far the most likely origin comes from the English Civil War. In 1648 the town of Colchester was held for the royalists and besieged. The story goes that the King’s men had a large (and
presumably rotund) gun which they placed strategically on the wall of the town. However the wall was not built to withstand the weight of the gun and it collapsed, taking the great gun, nicknamed Humpty Dumpty, with it. Despite the efforts of “all the King’s men and all the King’s horses” the great gun was too heavy to be raised again.

I shall conveniently ignore the earliest written forms of this rhyme which make no mention of “King’s” men or horses or the fact it could refer to a kind of ale mixed with brandy, or an exceptionally clumsy person.

Mons Meg at Edinburgh Castle
But reference to a giant siege gun of the English Civil War segues nicely into my contribution to CUSTOMS, CASTLES AND KINGS - the sad tale of Brilliana Harley and her spirited defence of Brampton Bryan Castle in Herefordshire.

Brilliana and the many stalwart women of the English Civil War, was the inspiration behind my own story HER REBEL HEART



Saturday, September 26, 2015

#FallReading Blog Hop - Meet my Guest Margaret Madigan #bookboost @books_n_pearls

I am very excited to be a part of a Historical Romance Blog Hop this weekend, hosted by the lovely girls at BOOKS 'N PEARLS


I grew up on 'Westerns' so I am delighted to be hosting MARGARET MADIGAN, whose latest book GAMBLING ON THE OUTLAW came out in June this year. 


Beth Caldwell is no man's property. A gambler's widow with a willful, independent streak, she's already courting trouble after rejecting an offer of marriage from a foul-tempered and land-hungry cattle baron. But when Beth discovers a
handsome outlaw hiding in her barn, she lands in a whole new heap of trouble...

Isaac Collins survived the Civil War only to find himself scapegoated for stagecoach robbery and murder. With nothing left to lose, he gambled everything on revenge and barely escaped with his life. Now he's relying on the kindness of a fierce, strong-willed woman...and God help him if there isn't something
both sweet and forbidden simmering between them.

But Beth's rejected suitor is no gentleman. He'll do whatever it takes to get her land. And in Nevada, sometimes everything can ride on one a high-stakes game of chance.

Read an Excerpt from GAMBLING ON THE OUTLAW

I squared my shoulders and entered the room, determined to behave myself properly.
            He was sat up in bed with several pillows piled behind him for support, looking every bit as if he belonged there, enough so that last night came to mind and I was tempted to crawl in and snuggle up next to him. But I gave myself a mental shake. He was quickly turning me into a silly schoolgirl.
I am a strong, independent woman.
I had other women depending on me and I couldn’t let some male drifter, a wanted
man no less, distract me from my responsibilities.
I placed the tray on his lap and backed away as quickly as possible, taking a
seat in the rocker I’d spent so much time in the last few days.
            “It seems your presence is causing quite a stir around here. My friends don’t quite know how to react to you.
            “What about you?”
            “What about me?”
            “You said none of your lady friends knows how to react to me. What about you? Do you know how to react to me?”
The taste of his lips on mine leaped to mind unbidden, along with the feel of his hands on me, and that’s all it took for my double-crossing heart, and my equally rebellious body, to react with lusty desire. I’d assumed I’d never again be lucky enough to find a man who made me feel that way, and yet here he was, already in my bed.
Although I wanted very much to shift from the rocker to the edge of the bed and assist him with his breakfast, perhaps feeding him bits of bread with creamy butter that he’d have to lick from my fingertips, I opted for maintaining at least a modicum of decency and kept my rear end rooted to the chair. I suspected where Mr. Isaac Collins was concerned, me and my good sense were in a heap of
trouble, because my body had clearly declared war against us.
            “Just how would you expect me to react?”
            He’d been watching me, waiting for my answer, those warm brown eyes regarding me from under a fringe of dark lashes, making my belly flutter like a flock of hummingbirds had nested inside.
            “A smart woman would be on her guard. She’d be concerned and maybe even afraid, and she’d send me on my way, happy to see the back of me. And I took you for a smart woman.”

Buy GAMBLING ON THE OUTLAW from Amazon, Barnes and NobleEntangled, Kobo and where all good Ebooks are sold.  


Margaret is an author of romance and science fiction with Entangled Publishing and Evernight Publishing. She is a hard core Oregon Ducks fan. and a donut and pastry addict.
Best of all... she likes cats!
When she's 
 not writing you’ll find her  in a college classroom teaching English, or working as a literary agent for an amazing agency…and of course, wrangling her family.

Connect with Margaret:

Dozens of Prizes. Click the links below to visit the participating blogs and comment for your contest entries.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 11, 2015

Walking Worcester with my Imaginary Friends

The 3rd September marked the 364th anniversary of the Battle of Worcester, the defining event of the Guardians of the Crown series which begins with the battle itself (BY THE SWORD).

Worcester Cathedral
My family has had a long, long association with Worcester, most notably boasting a High Sheriff of Worcester (my great grandfather) and a well respected MP and County Councillor (my grandfather) and my father served under the colours of the now defunct Worcestershire Regiment. 

In May this year I returned (or, in a sense, went home) - on a canal boat (a whole other story!). My last visit to Worcester had been some twenty plus years ago when I was researching a little story I was writing about the Battle of Worcester. That little story became BY THE SWORD... which flowed on to THE KING'S MAN and on to Book 3, EXILES' RETURN (which comes out next February). I wanted to write about a group of friends/comrades and what this seminal battle of the English Civil War meant to them and their families.

Our canal boat traverses the Sidbury Lock - The Commandery on the left

We moored our canal boat below the Sidbury Lock within spitting distance of The Commandery and the site of what was once the Sidbury Gate through the walls of the old city (now long since gone). Having an afternoon free, I abandoned my travelling companions and stepped down on to the tow path of the canal (which had not been there in 1651). They were waiting for me - Jonathan Thornton, Giles Longley, Kit Lovell and his brother Daniel, the Guardians of Crown, my companions from the past and they would be my guides for the afternoon.

AS outside The Commandery 
We began with The Commandery (that was its name long before the events of 1651). In its past it had been a merchant's house, a hospital and in 1651 became the Headquarters for Charles II.
(Jonathan) attended the meetings at the Commandery and concluded the house had been wrongly named. He saw precious little evidence of command taking place within its walls...In the endless councils that took place in the hall the young King found himself assailed from all sides by conflicting advice.  (BY THE SWORD)

From The Commandery we set off up the hill to Fort Royal where a royalist battery had been established to defend the approach to Worcester along the Sidbury road. I won't go into the details of the battle itself (I've written about it HERE). Suffice to say that while the royalists held Fort Royal, Cromwell had taken Red Hill and Perry Hill. The king himself led an attack on Red Hill but was driven back to the city. Fort Royal fell, the royalist defenders slaughtered to a man and the guns turned on the city itself.

My American readers may be interested to know that it was on this hill that an oak tree was planted in commemoration of a visit by Thomas Jefferson who is quoted as reminding all Englishmen that it was at Worcester that the concept of Liberty was fought for... you can read his quote on the plaque below...

My companions led me back down the hill toward Sidbury Gate... 
The Parliament guns had been brought to bear on the gate, turning the retreat into

wholesale slaughter. Amidst the screaming of man and beast, the carnage of blood and guts and with shot pounding into the walls and the city, the King managed to get back through the gate. Jonathan followed through the confusion, scrambling over an overturned oxen cart to reach his King. (BY THE SWORD)

No trace of the gate or walls remain today (destroyed for the building of the canal in the 1760s), just one small plaque on a wall marks its existence. We turned into the city and down one of the last remaining authentic city streets - Friar Street (curse those 70s redevelopments!). Still lined with half timbered houses, it is only here one can still get a feeling for 17th century Worcester.
Wilmot pulled at Jonathan’s arm and they both ran up Friar Street, toward the King’s lodging. Jonathan took only one look back to see Giles, fighting like a virago, a small defence against the mass of red-coated soldiers who now flooded into the city from all gates except one: St Martin’s Gate stood close by the King’s lodging and remained as yet unbreached. (BY THE SWORD)

Friar Street
It was here in Friar Street that Jonathan, Giles, Kit and Daniel lodged in a house that may have looked a little like Greyfriars (now a National Trust property). Here they played cards on the night before the battle. 
Another evening at the Commandery had ended in bickering and Jonathan trudged wearily back up Friar Street to his billet ... In the downstairs parlour of the large, half-timbered house, Giles played cards with Kit Lovell, who had recently rejoined them. They were both fiendish card players, with a tendency to cheat, and Jonathan declined their invitation to join them.  (BY THE SWORD)

The parlour of Greyfriars where the Guardians played cards on the night before the battle... maybe...
Further up Friar Street we came to the building now known as The Charles II house (and rather ignomiously - a pie shop) which
had been the King's Lodgings and from which he escaped.
They found the King within his lodgings, watching uncomprehendingly as Buckingham burned papers on a hastily lit fire.
‘We must go, Your Majesty,’ Wilmot said.
The King looked up at his old friend and advisor. ‘Leslie will come,’ he insisted. ‘We will rally again.’
‘No, Your Majesty,’ Buckingham spoke. ‘It’s too late. Leslie has failed us, Hamilton is fallen. We must away while we still have breath in our bodies.’
The noise of the fighting, drawing closer up the street, brought the King to his feet. With the Parliament’s soldiers at the front door of the house, the King and his party left by the back. Taking the nearest horses they fled, at a hard gallop, through St Martin’s Gate, the gate that led the way to the north.  (BY THE SWORD)

Here we parted company,  my imaginary friends returning to the past, and I trudged back through the streets of Worcester to meet my real friends at the Worcester Porcelain museum (in what had been a thriving factory on my last visit).


The second in a tantalising trilogy from award-winning author Alison Stuart, about warriors, the wounds they carry, and the women that help them heal.

London 1654: Kit Lovell is one of the King’s men, a disillusioned Royalist who passes his time cheating at cards, living off his wealthy and attractive mistress, and plotting the death of Oliver Cromwell.

Penniless and friendless, Thamsine Granville has lost everything.  Terrified, in pain, and alone, she hurls a piece of brick at the coach of Oliver Cromwell, and earns herself an immediate death sentence. Only the quick thinking of a stranger saves her.

Far from the bored, benevolent rescuer that he seems, Kit plunges Thamsine into his world of espionage and betrayal – a world that has no room for falling in love.

Torn between Thamsine and loyalty to his master and King, Kit’s carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. He must make one last desperate gamble – the cost of which might be his life.

(Australian readers can still buy THE KING’S MAN for just 99c on AMAZON AUSTRALIA and the first book in the series, BY THE SWORD is currently free)

Click HERE (The prize is a kindle Ereader)

(And if you would like a smile, THE KING’S MAN is featured in an ABC Art Nation program called ‘My Secret Art Life’... Australian readers can view it on my website... click HERE)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Release Day for THE KING'S MAN: Meet Kit Lovell...

THE KING'S MAN releases today (8 September) - Book 2 in the Guardians of the Crown series.

It is now February 1654- three long years since the events that took place in Book 1 (BY THE SWORD).

In that story readers first met a friend of Jonathan Thornton’s, KIT LOVELL, in a filthy inn in Perth (Scotland).
(Jonathan) opened the door the tapster indicated. Two men sat at a rickety table playing cards; Giles Longley and another English officer, Kit Lovell. A half-dressed drab, no doubt picked out of the gutters of Perth, leaned on Lovell’s shoulder, apparently engaged in nibbling his ear. Another girl sprawled on Giles’ lap, twirling a lock of his hair in her fingers.
Giles had his back to the door so it was Kit who looked up, his eyes widening.
‘Jesus Christ!’ he swore.
Jonathan forced a wry smile. ‘Not quite.’

On the eve of the Battle of Worcester (3 September 1651), a card game takes place… in which the stakes are the lives of the men who must face battle the next day. They are joined by Kit’s young brother, Daniel…
Lovell cast his brother a glance that was at once both reproving and affectionate.
‘He followed me,’ Lovell replied. ‘His mother will hold me responsible if anything happens to him and, God knows, I fear her wrath more than Cromwell, but what could I do?’
‘This may be my last chance,’ the boy said returning his brother’s look with a furrowed brow.
‘Your last chance for what?’ Giles asked. ‘Getting yourself killed?’
‘My last chance to return the King to the throne where he belongs,’ Daniel said, his eyes shining with an idealism that had long since escaped Jonathan.
Lovell laid his cards down and fixed his brother with a hard look. ‘You don’t see do you?’ he said. ‘You’re the last of us with any hope. Look at us...’ He waved his hand at the men seated around the table. ‘If we lose this battle, what future do we have? But can still make something of your life.’

The next day, battle is joined and the King’s cause is lost even before the fighting begins. In the midst of the battle we encounter Kit Lovell for the last time…
Hearing Kit Lovell’s voice, Jonathan turned and saw his friend standing in the path of a Parliament trooper who bore down on him from behind with his sword upraised. Of Lovell’s brother there was no sign.
Summoning all his energy, Jonathan managed to reach Lovell and push him aside just as the trooper slashed down with his sword. The razor-sharp blade caught Jonathan across the back of his hand, slashing through the heavy leather of his glove.
Lovell regained his feet and clutched at Jonathan’s sleeve.
‘I can’t find Daniel.’
Before Jonathan could respond, the trooper turned, pulling his pistol from his belt. He fired and Kit crumpled to the ground
Seizing a primed pistol from a dead Scot at his feet, Jonathan fired. The trooper’s face exploded in mass of blood and the man toppled, screaming, from his horse.
Jonathan stooped down to see to Lovell, who had taken the pistol ball to the leg and now lay helpless on the trampled grass, grimacing in agony.
Giles grabbed his arm and pulled him away from the fallen man.
‘Thornton, there’s no time. We must find the King and get back to the city,’ Giles yelled above the noise.
‘Go,’ Lovell said between gritted teeth. ‘Save the King.’

So… Kit Lovell, the King's man, fell wounded at the Battle of Worcester. 

How did he survive and what brings him to London in 1654, at the height of Cromwell’s Protectorate?

The inveterate gambler, Kit is playing a dangerous game and the stakes are a life… He did not wager on falling in love...


To celebrate the launch of THE KING'S MAN, I will be running a RAFFLECOPTER CONTEST with the prize of a Kindle E-reader from now until the end of October. 

Enter HERE: