Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Varangian by Bruce Macbain





The Varangian by Bruce MacBain

Publication Date: November 29, 2016

Blank Slate Press

eBook & Print; 341 Pages




Series: Odd Tangle-Hair Saga, Book Three

Genre: Historical Fiction




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The third volume of Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga finds our hero in Golden Miklagard (Constantinople), posing as an ambassador from the Grand Prince of Rus. But his real mission is to assassinate his former master, Harald the Ruthless, who has now risen high in the Emperor’s Varangian Guard. Odd is dazzled by the brilliance of the Byzantine capital and its beating heart--the Great Palace, with the astonishing Throne of Solomon that levitates above the heads of kneeling courtiers.

Here, Odd will meet Constantine Psellus, an ambitious young bureaucrat who mentors him in the ways of the court. He will be drawn into an intrigue that involves the Empress Zoe, who spends her days brewing vats of perfume, and John the Guardian of Orphans, the powerful and sinister eunuch who schemes to advance his family. And Odd will fall in love with Selene, an alchemist’s daughter, who supports herself by gambling in the waterfront taverns.

Finally, after a hard-fought campaign against the Saracens in Sicily and the overthrow of an Emperor, Odd reaches the pinnacle of power and believes he has vanquished his enemy Harald once and for all.

Then disaster overwhelms him.


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Praise for The Varangian
"Thoroughly effective at explaining the intriguing and highly complex circumstances of the time period, Macbain’s (The Ice Queen, 2015, etc.) book shines in a way that only historical fiction can. Who needs King Jon Snow in Game of Thrones when one can get a glimpse of the historically real and undeniably sinister John the Guardian of Orphans? Even the most terrifying dragon pales in comparison to the sheer horror of a society so comfortable with castration. As the story ventures outside of Constantinople, the reader is treated to a plot that can only be described as epic … a highly entertaining Viking adventure." - Kirkus Reviews

"This is the third and final of Macbain’s Odd Tangle-Hair novels. All three have been spellbinding in their storytelling, though this one may be the best. Odd’s journey takes us around the Mediterranean and eastern European world, and all the way north back to Iceland. The characters are wonderful, the story intriguing, the combat real but never superfluous, and Odd makes for the perfect protagonist. Highly recommended." - Historical Novel Society

"Written by a historian with deep understanding of the cultures, peoples, and languages of this world, The Varangian speaks with an authoritative and compelling voice that can equally present naval battles decided by Greek Fire and court intrigue culminating in advancement to lucrative rank or in mutilation and blinding. This is a masterfully written and suspenseful tale that weaves fictional characters into the dramatic story of eleventh-century Byzantium and ambitious women and men, some home grown and some drawn from afar, who aimed to profit from an empire of legendary wealth and splendor." - Emily Albu, Professor of Medieval and Byzantine Studies, UC, Davis

"The Varangian is the third and final volume of Bruce Macbain’s Odd Tangle-Hair’s Saga, and like the first two entries, it is as compelling and wild a ride as historical fiction offers. Macbain brilliantly weaves in his vast knowledge of 11th century Viking and Byzantine life with a great storyteller’s ability to drive the plot forward, a plot filled with intrigue, violence, betrayal, and lust." - Barton Kunstler, author of The Hothouse Effect

“Detailed and vivid writing.” -Albert Noyer, author of the Getorius and Arcadia Mysteries

Chapter 1: Golden Miklagard

The size of it! The Romans call it Constantinople, Byzantium, New Rome, or simply The city. We Norse call it Miklagard, ‘Big Town.’ How puny the words seem. As the late afternoon sun broke through the clouds, there lay spread out before me across the sparkling water a sight dazzling to the eyes: a series of rising terraces clothed in alabaster, acres of it--walls, columns, arches, steps, piled one atop the other and everywhere crowned with golden domes, touched to sudden life by the fire from above.
It was all true, those boasts of Leonidas, the Greek sea captain I had spent four years chained to; and I had thought he was a liar or just crazy. But no words could have prepared me for this,  just as no words of mine are big enough for it now. The sight of it came like rain to my barren spirit.  Curiosity and wonder--feelings I had forgotten I possessed--stirred in me again like seeds in the damp earth.  To walk those avenues, to enter those cool marble towers and hear the whisper of silk along their secret corridors…
After weeks of rowing down the Dnieper and across the sea with our cargo of furs, honey, wax, caviar, and hides, the Rus fleet of a hundred river boats flanked by Greek warships, sailed past the twin guard towers and into the Golden Horn—a long, winding inlet, a kind of fjord, that divides the city proper from the hinterland. Our destination was the Harbor of Saint Mamas on the northern shore of the Horn. For only here, according to treaty, were we Rus allowed to camp. I say ‘we’ because I was one of them now: gospodin Churillo Igorevich of Novgorod; dressed in a fur hat with a red tassel, a long blue coat, wide striped trousers tucked into soft red leather boots, and a pigeon-blood ruby in my ear. From my belt hung a fat purse of gold and in my hand I held a letter from Yaroslav the Wise naming me his boyar and ambassador to the court of his dear ‘brother’ Michael, Emperor of the Romans. I was empowered to negotiate a marriage for his daughter Yelisaveta—a marvel of beauty, prudence, and affability—with some lucky Greek princeling.  Needless to say, all this had been concocted by Ingigerd without `Wise' Yaroslav being any the wiser.  She counted on rumor of my business reaching Harald’s ears, wherever he might be, and bringing him out in the open.  Then all I had to do was kill him.
All along the quay our boats-- dugouts hollowed from a single giant tree trunk—were tying up and unlading in front of a crowd of curious onlookers. The Greeks never tired of watching us—we fearsome, shaggy savages of the North, who three times in their history had attacked them from the sea and nearly captured their city. For this reason, though our trade goods were welcome, we were closely guarded, confined to one region of the city, and disarmed before being allowed ashore.
“Eh? Eh? Odd Tang—excuse me, Churillo…” Stavko winked hugely, laughed with a spray of saliva, and shook his head so that the lead balls swung at the ends of his greasy braids. The slave trader was to be my guide, my minder, my go-between with Ingigerd. “Eh? Does Stavko exaggerate? You are impressed?”
I wouldn’t tell him so. The man gave me the shivers. He clapped me on the shoulder, then quickly pulled back his hand, seeing me wince. “Sorry, gospodin. How is wound?”
We had sailed into a Pecheneg ambush on the river a week ago and I’d taken an arrow in my right shoulder. It was still plenty sore and I couldn’t raise my arm above my head.
“Well, gospodin, I go see to the gifts. Such treasures we are bringing to Emperor! Then we—”
“I say, who’s in charge here?” The words were in heavily accented Slavonic. “I’m looking for your, ah, voivoivode.” He stumbled over the word for commander.  I looked around the crowd to see who had spoken and saw a slender young man—nineteen or twenty, I guessed—pushing his way through the crowd with a couple of soldiers in tow. His skin was olive, his eyes black under heavy brows that met in the middle; his head was round as a nut and covered with short brown bristles that extended downward over his cheeks, chin, and throat. His ears were large. He had a twitchy expression that reminded me of a squirrel. He was clearly some sort of official: his collar, belt, and cape indicated that much, even to a stranger like me.
Vyshata Ostromirovich, who was our commodore, turned round and looked down on the little fellow. “Who by the Devil’s mother are you? They send me someone new?”
“Constantine Psellus, sir, Office of Barbarians …”
“Whoever.” Vyshata turned away to scream abuse at a couple of sailors who had dropped a cask of mead.”
The young man scowled, bounced on the balls of his feet, looked around for someone else to address. Behind his back one soldier grinned at the other.  I stepped forward and introduced myself in Greek.
“What? A barbarian speaks our language?” He blinked in surprise.
“I do, sir.” (Calling him kyrios in Greek, as Leonidas had taught me to do.) “Of a rough sort, anyway. I am Prince Yaroslav’s ambassador, come to offer the hand of his daughter to a suitable noble youth.”
“What’s that? We had no idea, no one told us you were coming.”
“I think it was a sudden decision.”
He scowled again—to cover his nervousness, I supposed. A junior official suddenly confronted with a situation above his pay grade. “Well, the Logothete must be informed at once and you will accompany me to the hostel, the ambassadors’ lodgings.”
“Gladly,” I smiled and we gripped forearms.  For such a small fellow his grip was surprisingly strong. And that is how I met Psellus, who would change my life.
“Have you a man servant?” he asked.
I indicated Piotr, who was standing nearby, with his hair, as usual, in his eyes.
“Then come along both of you.” Psellus plunged into the crowd without looking back. It was a characteristic of his that I came to know well: he bustled everywhere as though he were perpetually late for an appointment. A young man in a hurry, I thought to myself.  He led us to a small boat, very prettily painted, that was tied up some distance down the quay. The rowers raised their oars in salute when they saw us approaching.
“We’re crossing the Horn,” Psellus called over his shoulder. The hostel is near the Great Palace.”
Well, this is progress, thought I to myself. And how long will it be before I cross swords with Harald?
Just then a chill wind ruffled the surface of the water and a shiver ran through me. Of excitement—or fear?

About the Author
03_Bruce MacBainBruce Macbain holds degrees in Classics and Ancient History and was formerly an Assistant Professor of Classics at Boston University. He decided to stop writing scholarly articles (which almost no one read) and turn his expertise to fiction—a much more congenial medium. His previous novels include two mysteries set in ancient Rome (Roman Games, The Bull Slayer) and the first two novels in the Odd Tangle-Hair series (Odin’s Child, The Ice Queen).

For more information, please visit Bruce MacBain's website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.


Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, March 20
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 21
Review at Rainy Day Reviews

Friday, March 24
Interview at Dianne Ascroft's Blog

Sunday, March 26
Excerpt at T's Stuff

Wednesday, March 29
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Friday, March 31
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, April 4
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, April 7
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Tuesday, April 11
Review at A Book Geek

Thursday, April 13
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, April 18
Excerpt at Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, April 19
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books and Coffee Pots

Thursday, April 27
Review at Broken Teepee


Giveaway
To win a copy of The Varangian by Bruce Macbain, please enter via the Gleam form below. Three copies are up for grabs!

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US & Canada only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Varangian


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Virtual Book Tour for 27 Revelations by Harlow Hayes


Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Date Published: 04.11.2017

Mara Goodwin is a professional keeper of secrets, or that is what she intends to be. As a counseling psychology student at Northwestern, Mara’s ambition is unrivaled. She has the grades, the compassion, and the dedication, everything she needs to gain entry into the clinical psychology program.

However, after a traumatic experience leaves Mara in a state of mental distress, she finds herself keeping more secrets than she intended, most of them her own. Finding herself in trouble with the law, her dreams of being a therapist are jeopardized and as a consequence, Mara is ultimately forced into group therapy. While in therapy, Mara holds on to her secrets with a death grip, but when life comes full circle, her past is revealed and with it the potential to destroy her future career, her friendships, and ultimately herself.

Mara is a fighter, even if she doesn’t know it yet, but with each attempt to salvage what she can of her broken life, she is met with a consistent punch to the gut. After being pushed to the edge by meddling roommates, a persistent ex-boyfriend, and a potential new boyfriend, Mara comes to the precipice of her destruction. Yet with her destruction also comes her rebirth, and revelations of love, pain, and growth.

Excerpt 2
“Have a seat, Mara,” she said. She directed me to an empty chair across from her desk.
The chair next to it was occupied by a firm-looking man with a serious demeanor. Dr. Bradley moved with grace across the room to her desk. She was a small woman, and when standing, I towered over her a good six inches. She had to be in her late forties, but she looked younger. She had a gentle appearance to her face, and her blonde hair cascaded softly onto her shoulders. She dressed like I used to. In heels, nice fitted skirts, and blouses varying in color from pastels to rich reds and blues. She was nothing like the other professors, who seemed to be permanently glued to their khaki pants.
I took my seat, and the man in the chair leaned back and assessed me as if he was taking inventory. I want to punch his gut for looking so hard. He wore some gray dress pants, tennis shoes, and a powder-blue polo with a badge dangling from his neck that had a number and read Probation Officer. In his lap was a manila envelope that read MARA J. GOODWIN.
“Shall we get started, then?” Dr. Bradley spoke as she adjusted herself in her seat. “Mara, this is Officer Chad Lowe.”
I reached out to shake his hand and the roughness of it made me cringe inside. They were calloused, and pieces of dry skin were flaking away.
Dr. Bradley started to speak again so I glided back into my chair, subtly rubbing the hand he had shook on my skirts to remove any skin remnants.
“He is the probation officer that the courts have assigned you. We were meeting before you arrived to discuss whether or not you will be graduating with us and continuing your education here after the events that transpired in April.”
I tilted my head down in shame like a five-year-old being told to go to the corner.
Dr. Bradley continued. “Because I am familiar with you and the circumstances regarding the medical and legal troubles that you have had this semester, I have taken it upon myself to work with you and Officer Lowe to determine whether or not you, me, and the courts can work towards a solution that allows you to finish the counseling psychology program with us and move forward as you had planned.”
I was overcome with joy. The most I had had in a very long time. They were going let me finish my degree, even after what I had done. I was certain that the decision was made out of pity and not mercy, but I didn’t care. My body became giddy with excitement.
“However, Mara, I do believe the first question that needs to be answered is whether or not you want to finish this program.”
I leaned forward in my chair. “Yes,” I said without hesitation. “I’ve worked for this my entire life. I’m not a quitter. I want to finish, I do.”
“All right,” Dr. Bradley said as she sat up in her chair with delight. “That settles that, but there are a few things that we need to discuss before we proceed. First, Mara, you need to understand that you are the exception and not the rule. We do not condone violence in any form, and most students would have been removed immediately. Physical assault on a classmate, or anyone, for that matter, is not and never will be tolerated in this program or academic institution. However, the circumstances regarding your attack on Erin and Jason played an important role in our decision and the decision of the courts.”
I nodded my head in agreement.
“In order for you finish this program and secure your future position in the clinical psychology program you will need to agree to a few terms and conditions.”
“Absolutely. Anything,” I said.
“Officer Lowe will explain in more detail next week when you meet at his office because we are short on time today, but you will need to abide by the rules of your probation as it is set by the courts. Also, you will need to make up the clinical hours that you missed this past semester this summer and fall in order to graduate on time to be eligible to start classes second semester. Officer Lowe, is there anything else you would like to add?”
I looked over at him, sitting in the chair, fingering the pen in his hand.
“Ms. Goodwin, as Dr. Bradley has stated, I am your assigned probation officer. She has spoken highly of you and has informed me that you are tenacious, gritty, and dedicated to your studies. I trust that you will do what is necessary for you to remain a student here.” He opened the manila folder. “According to her and other character witnesses, you are a model student and your records show that you have had no previous encounters with the law, no priors and such.” He closed the envelope. “So I am hoping that you will continue being a model student and citizen. Make the right choices and things will be easy.”
“You will be required to meet with me once every two weeks to discuss your academic progress,” Dr. Bradley said.
“And according to the judge,” said Officer Lowe, “you will also be required to complete three hundred hours of community service, but the judge was lenient and arranged for your clinical hours to count towards this. You’re a lucky girl, Ms. Goodwin, very lucky.” And as the word lucky left his mouth, my smile turned to a frown. Lucky is not what I would describe the unfortunate event that got me in this mess in the first place. Dr. Bradley knew what he said struck a nerve.
“Lucky, huh?” I said as I stared at him. I could feel the hardness in my face.
“Thank you so much, Officer Lowe,” Dr. Bradley said hastily as she reached out to shake his hand. “I know Mara will be on top of things.”
“Yeah, thanks,” I said, still hearing the tension in my voice as he stood to leave.
“Thank the judge,” Lowe said. “I’ll see you in my office next week.” He walked toward the door and grabbed the door knob but paused before he opened it. “And Ms. Goodwin, there is one more thing.”
I turned in the chair so I could see him.
“You must also attend a weekly support group.”
The sweats were back. This time with a vengeance.
“Yes, Mara, I almost forgot,” Dr. Bradley said. “Dr. Moore has started a therapy group for some of the clients she’s been working with, she believes that having you there would be a nice addition.”
Group therapy? I was going to kill Dr. Moore.
“I will be in contact with Dr. Moore to make sure that you are meeting the conditions of your probation. Good luck.” He walked out and shut the door behind him.
I was glad he was gone. I needed to speak to Dr. Bradley alone.
“Dr. Bradley, I like Dr. Moore and I am glad you recommended her to me, but I don’t think I can—”
“Mara, she wouldn’t want you there if you couldn’t handle it. It’s all a part of getting you better, and now it’s part of the deal so…” She threw her hands up in defeat.
I couldn’t fight it. I couldn’t say anything. That was the deal. Not doing it wasn’t worth putting my education on the line. Finishing this master’s and ultimately my Ph.D. had been my dream for the past seven years. Besides, I had accumulated too much student loan debt, so I needed that Ph.D. salary coming out. I stood up and made my way to the door and Dr. Bradley followed.
“Thanks again,” I said, dazed as the storm cloud seized my mind again.
She patted me on my back. “You need to heal.”
I knew she was just trying to help, but I didn’t want to hear that soppy crap. I had to go to group and share with strangers. Just more mess inserted in my life against my will. My own knowledge and seeing Dr. Moore once a week was fine. I didn’t need a third intervention. I could take care of myself. Just me in my own little corner, minding my mind, minding my own business. I didn’t need anybody.

About the Author:

Harlow Hayes was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has always had a passion for writing and storytelling in its many forms, and when she’s not immersed in her writing, she enjoys reading both fiction and non-fiction, watching movies, and listening to music. She currently lives in Chattanooga, TN. 27 Revelations is her first novel.

Contact Information
Website: https://harlowhayesbooks.com/
Facebook: Harlow Hayes @harlowhayesbooks
Twitter: Harlow Hayes @harlow_hayes
Blog: https://harlowhayesbooks.com/blog/
Goodreads: Harlow Hayes


Purchase Link
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/27-Revelations-Harlow-Hayes-ebook/dp/B01MR6S09F/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485975946&sr=1-1&keywords=27+revelations


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Dorian by Carlos Dash blitz


Dorian
Carlos Dash
Publication date: April 3rd 2017
Genres: New Adult, Romance

It was supposed to be a meaningless one-night stand. As a billionaire, I have plenty of those.

But she was different.

How was I supposed to know that I would fall in love with her?

And how was I supposed to know whose daughter she was?

Note: This is a New Adult Romance novel written entirely from the point of view of the male protagonist.


Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Every once in a while, you’ll see two people who are meant to fall in love. Everything flows perfectly for them.

Imaginary birds are flying around their heads and singing love songs to them. Other couples are walking by and becoming jealous at how in love the two people are. It’s all constantly wonderful and gooey.

Then there are people who aren’t supposed to end up together but do so anyway. They fight fate and destiny, if those two things actually exist. They fall in love with each other even though that isn’t part of life’s plan.

I’m not sure which category Emily and I belong to.

Sometimes I think it’s the former. Sometimes I think it’s the latter. It all depends on what mood I’m in.

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the fact that we have love on our side.

As for whether that love was preordained or something that we brought about through sheer force of will, I’ll let you decide that for yourself.

My name is Dorian Alexander, and this is a story about a girl who would change my life forever.



Author Bio:

I'm a guy who likes to cut right to the chase, so here we go: I'm a male author of New Adult Romance whose stories are told entirely from the POV of the male protagonist. If you enjoy happy endings and steamy tales about people falling in love quickly, my books are for you.

Here are some links to help you keep track of what I'm up to:

https://twitter.com/CarlosDash1

https://carlosdashbooks.wordpress.com

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34534778-dorian?from_search=true

If you like my work and want to be the first to know when my next book comes out, you can subscribe to my mailing list here: http://eepurl.com/b4wOKD

Website / Twitter


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Mended Hearts (Torn Hearts, #2) by M.E. Gordon Release Blitz




release day blitz


Book Title: Mended Hearts (Torn Hearts, #2) 
Author: M.E. Gordon 
Genre: Contemporary/NewAdult 
Release Date: March 25, 2017 
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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book blurb

Elizabeth~

My heart had just been splintered by the man I thought I was in love with. Betrayed by one mislead by the other. My twisted, triangle of a nightmare was over, it should be a walk in the park now… right?

That's what I thought when the clock struck twelve. I was in the arms of the man I knew I should be with and I was ready for a new year, a new me, and a new love. But this wasn't the fairy tale I thought it was going to be. I'd stepped into a completely new field and it wasn't full of daisies. It was a field of landmines, full of secrets, lies, and more heart break. Is any of this worth saving? Was he worth saving? I loved him, but did he really ever love me, or just the thought of me? Would we just self-destruct and crumble, would he let me in to see the good along with the bad, or would I fall back into old habits.

Simon~

I love her. That's never going to stop and I don't want it to. I'll make her see…

 

teaser

meet the author

M.E. Gordon, was born and raised in Maryland, where she still resides with her husband. She is a stay at home mom to four children, three boys and one very, spoiled, little girl, all under the age of five. Growing up M.E.G. was an avid journal writer. She wrote her first romance novel at the age of 14, and it was pretty bad, but over the years and through all the kids she honed her craft. When M.E.G. doesn't have her mom hat on, you can find her reading, working on her next story or watching guilty pleasure television.

Risky Business Blitz









Women’s Fiction

$.99 Until March 30th

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Doggedly determined, Risky Williston strives to rescue every homeless dog in Simi Valley and beyond. Her small house and yard bursts at the seams with dogs of all breeds, some her personal pets and some waiting for her to find homes for them.

Disciplined, neat and orderly, Chet Jensen desires Risky, but can he cope with her bizarre and disorganized lifestyle?

Chet stirs old fears Risky has spent a lifetime repressing. She doesn’t want to confront them, to face them again.

Is it possible for two people with such diverse values to have a lasting relationship?




About the Author






Patricia Campbell turned life altering events into an opportunity to change direction, and reinvented herself as an author of women's fiction and romance novels.
It's never too late to realize your dreams.

Contact Links


Purchase Links
 $0.99 Til End of March 


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Friday, March 24, 2017

Tour for Lord and Master by Kait Jagger


Lord and Master Trilogy
Kait Jagger
Publication date: March 20th 2017
Genres: Erotica, Romance, Suspense
You think you know Luna Gregory?
Maybe you see what her boss, the Marchioness of Lionsbridge, sees: the best PA she’s ever had, a 26-year-old fixer who makes problems disappear with four quiet words—‘Leave it with me.’ Or you see a remote, untouchable Ice Princess who the 500-year-old Arborage Estate’s heir presumptive longs to crush under his heel. Possibly, if you’re looking carefully, you see Luna as her friends see her: the quiet one, touched by childhood tragedy, who laughs at their jokes and has their backs no matter what.
But ultimately it takes charismatic, devastatingly attractive Swedish entrepreneur Stefan Lundgren, third in line to inherit the estate, to glimpse the intelligent, fiercely independent woman under Luna’s calm exterior. And what he sees he wants, this woman in ten thousand who is meant for him, body writhing beneath his in the dark of night, her inner self slowly revealing itself to him. Or so he believes.
But Luna has built an entire life predicated on concealment, on maintaining control and hiding dark things in drawers. It will take the entirety of the Lord and Master trilogy, from the manicured gardens of Arborage, to the wilds of Shetland, to the streets of Stockholm, for her to step out of the shadows in the face of a new threat to Arborage.
You think you know Luna? You don’t.
The Lord and Master trilogy:

Lord and Master

Her Master’s Servant

The Marchioness
Grab Lord and Master Book 1 for FREE for a limited time only!




Author Bio:
I live on a farm in Lancashire, England with my husband, four children, one dog and one cat. Like Luna Gregory, the lead character of the Lord and Master trilogy, I make my living as a personal assistant.







Interview with Kait Jagger
Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

Strange as it may sound, my inspiration for writing the Lord and Master Trilogy was a best-selling romance novel I read a few years ago that left me feeling...let down. Let down by the heroine, whose friends, career and personal history were so sparingly portrayed I got little sense of her as a person. Let down by the hero, who was a paint-by-numbers rich, controlling Alpha. Let down even by the sex scenes, which were plentiful to the point that I wondered how the heroine was managing to hold down a job.

So I decided to put my money where my mouth was and see if I could write a romance novel for readers like me, who want story with their sex, a strong heroine who can stand toe to toe with her hero, and a hero who wasn’t a wanker. Thus began my writing adventures!

How did you do research for your book?

The primary setting for the Trilogy is Arborage House, a fictional historic estate in Berkshire. I loosely based Arborage on Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, which was the location for the Keira Knightly movies Pride and Prejudice and The Duchess. In order to breathe life into the details of Arborage’s house and gardens, I visited many, many historic properties across the length and breadth of England, and basically stole my favourite elements from each of them (a 16th century chapel here, a Capability Brown-designed garden there...you get the picture!).

The other bit of ‘research’ I did relates to the sex scenes in the books. Having read one too many romance novels featuring improbably acrobatic sexual encounters, or magic orgasms visited upon the heroine without any kind of, you know, effort on the hero’s part, I made myself a promise early on that I would include no sexual positions or acts that I hadn’t tried and enjoyed myself. My husband, as you might imagine, is extremely supportive of my fledgling writing career ;-)
Do you have another profession besides writing?

Yes! Like my heroine, Luna Gregory, I’m a full-time personal assistant.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

Oh, this is such a hard question! I think it would have to be the start of the Roman Empire, during Emperor Augustus’ reign. We owe so much of our current culture to the Romans, and I am a diehard Latin nerd, so I’d love to hear it spoken aloud.

What is your next project?

I’m currently researching a couple of options, one a contemporary romance based in my own hometown of Manchester, the other a historic romance set around the time of Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert. Watch this space!



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Defining Her by Samantha March Book Tour

About the Book

Nellie Hawthorne is a woman
who has it all. A devoted husband, her own business, a wealthy lifestyle. But
the Nellie she is now is much different from her past. A past filled with
abuse, addiction, and men. Nellie’s carefully constructed new life is suddenly
in jeopardy when a blast from the past emerges in her small town and her
overbearing mother-in-law starts pushing for grandchildren and questions start
being asked. A budding new friendship presents itself at an opportune time, and
a once friendless Nellie finds herself growing closer to Prue Doherty.




Prue Doherty is the quintessential good girl.
Always making the right decisions, always playing it safe. Until she meets a
man that could change all of that. Still reeling from a devastating breakup and
betrayal that had her fleeing from Chicago and settling into suburb life with
her mom close by, Prue finds herself in a damaging funk. But everything changes
when she befriends Nellie Hawthorne.




Nellie is trying to escape her past. Prue wants
that perfect future. While both women strive to change their lives, they
continue to cling to the past. But what defines us? Who we were then . . . or
who we are trying to be now? Lies, manipulation, and deceit are woven
throughout the pages of this edgy women’s fiction novel, with an ending you
won’t see coming.
Excerpt:
From Chapter 2
Prue
Once back home, I had just over an hour to get showered and changed and to the school. My mom, Jean Doherty, was the principal of Eakwood Elementary School, one of the three elementary schools in this small town. School had only been in session for two weeks but I found myself there three days a week helping out. They got unexpectedly short-staffed in several places right before the school bell rang for the first time, so I was filling in. Because I didn’t have anything else going on in my life. Right.
                I was a court reporter and worked hard at my job. But it wasn’t your typical 9-5 desk job. Some days I worked in the courtroom from eight in the morning to two in the afternoon without a break. Some days I worked solely from home, transcribing notes and proofreading the depo. Not very often would you find me in the office of my employer, Swank and Marty, because it simply wasn’t needed and now it was too far to travel. Just three blocks west of Michigan Avenue, when I lived in Chicago I was there much more often, simply because I enjoyed being there and around my co-workers. That changed real quick when I learned one of my office-friends, Brandi, was sleeping with my boyfriend. That put a real damper on the office morale, especially when I learned she moved into the house with him that I cosigned my name to on the mortgage. Yeah. That stung.
                After my relationship imploded, I hightailed it out of Chicago and to Oamark Park, to be closer to my mom. Since my dad died three years prior and I was their sole offspring, I often wanted to be closer to her. It was only about an hour drive from here to Chicago and I came back nearly every weekend to be by her or bring her into Chicago, but it was different being just minutes away from each other now. And being that I was at her school so much, we saw each other on nearly a daily basis. I wasn’t complaining because I loved my mom and our relationship was fantastic. I just didn’t . . . expect life to turn out this way.
                It was all planned out. I had been with Deacon Moore for three years. We were in love. We met through mutual friends at a birthday party one night and had our first date just days later at Portillo’s. He was everything to me. My best friend. My biggest supporter. He gave me shoulder rubs when I was hunched over my steno machine all day and night. He brought me foot-long sandwiches when I was in the courtroom and only given a ten-minute lunch break. He eventually started working in my office, which I loved. He came home with me and charmed my mother. I thought a proposal was coming anytime. We bought a house together. It was my own version of a fairy tale.
                Until it all came crashing down. Turned out the perfect Deacon wasn’t quite as perfect as I thought he was. He had been seeing Brandi on the side for nearly eight months. Eight months. We signed the mortgage papers as he was sleeping with another woman. How . . . how could someone do that to a person? And why? Why make me waste so much time and money and energy when he didn’t even want to be with me? What was the point?
                Though money was never really much of a concern for me—Dad had a good life insurance policy and court reporters made a better-than-decent salary—but Deacon was still slowly draining my finances. I paid for the home inspection, the realtor fees, the upfront taxes. I paid the loan payments on the new car “we” purchased together but only Deacon still drove. Deacon and Brandi had missed three mortgage payments and the bank called me to get that paid because my name was still on the mortgage. All that nonsense has led us to court, which means . . . more money being drained out of my account. I couldn’t believe I made such a mistake. That I was so easily fooled. That I was betrayed by my lover, my best friend. Betrayed by a co-worker and someone who I was at least friendly with, if not real friends. And the fact that it totally upended my life was just the cherry on top.
                I went from thinking a marriage proposal was on the way, moving into a beautiful home, bringing a new puppy into our lives to living in a small cramped apartment with my finances in jeopardy. Suing my ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend to try to gain back some of the money that I spent paying their freaking mortgage. It just wasn’t fair.

                I pulled up to the school and parked in the employee parking lot. Walking in, my thoughts were still on how my life turned so quickly. What did I do to deserve such deceit? I was the good girl, the good person. I had morals and always tried doing the right thing. Karma scared the crap out of me. I was the dependable, reliable one. How was this fair, karma? Huh? It wasn’t. It just simply wasn’t. And that infuriated me. What was the point of always making the right choices if this is what I got in the end?



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About the Author

Samantha March is an
author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all around book lover. She runs the
popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus, which keeps her bookshelf
stocked with the latest reads and up to date on all things beauty, fashion and
fitness. In 2011 she launched her independent publishing company Marching Ink
and has five published novels – Destined to Fail, The Green Ticket, A
Questionable Friendship, Up To I Do and Defining Her, and one holiday novella,
The Christmas Surprise. You can also find her on Youtube sharing beauty reviews
and creating makeup tutorials. When she isn’t reading, writing, or vlogging,
you can find her cheering for the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs. Samantha
lives in Iowa with her husband and Vizsla puppy.

Find Samantha

Snapchat:
Samantha.March
Blog: http://www.chicklitplus.com/



Interview with Samantha March

1.      What is your favorite part of this book and why?

My favorite part is when both Nellie and Prue have their epiphanies at the end. When the realize how their current actions could affect the rest of their lives. It was really powerful to write each of those scenes.

 2.      If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

I would love to spend a day with Nellie. This was a character who really took off on her own. I set out with an entirely different direction with her, and she quickly steered me in a different direction. I would love to know how her and Harrison are, and see her as a mother. Maybe we could do a workout class together!

 3.      If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

Wow, that’s a great question! There are so many fantastic books out there and ones that have motivated me and given me courage, but I don’t know if they would have the same effect if I wrote them, if that makes sense. But my true OG book favorite is Kristy’s Great Idea from Ann M Martin. The Baby-Sitters Club would have been an amazing series to create!

 4.      Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

No one is based off anyone I know, to an extent. I had a friend that loosely inspired Prue, but her character ended up being not very similar to who I know in a real life! I start off with a solid plan of who I think my characters will be, and typically by the time I’ve done they’ve come to life through my fingertips and have changed completely!

5. What made you want to become a writer?

I’ve always been an avid reader and fascinated with the concept of being able to transport people to a different time, place, life. Reading was a big escape for me during an abusive childhood, and brought me comfort in that escapism. I started writing my own books at the age of nine, and just never stopped.

Tour Schedule

March 20 – ChickLit Goddess – Review &
Excerpt
March 20 – Dandelion Inspired –
Review
March 21 – Spunky N Sassy – Excerpt
March 24 – Beauty Books and Cats With
Brooke
 – Review
March 24 – T’s Stuff – Excerpt & Q&A
March 27 – Karan Eleni – Review, Q&A & Excerpt
March 28 – Authors and Readers Book Corner
– Excerpt
March 29  - Jersey Girl Book Reviews –
Review & Excerpt
March 30 – Hey Said Renee- Review
March 31 – Granny Loves to Read – Review
& Excerpt
March 31 – Novel Escapes – Interview
April 3 – Book Lover in Florida – Review &
Excerpt


April 3- Rainy Day Reviews – Review & Excerpt

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