Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

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Opening Lines with Anna Legat: The Queen’s Avenger

It’s #openinglines time, and today I’m delighted to be welcoming Anna Legat to my blog to talk about her brand new novel, The Queen’s Avenger.

Over to you Anna…

A few years ago, I read a biography of Mary Stewart, Mary Queen of Scots: A Study in Failure. The book was a scathing assessment of the tragic monarch. The author, a modern-day historian, critically analysed Mary’s reign and concluded her a failure. But there was something missing. It was Mary herself. She had been lost in the paperwork. I set out on a mission to find her.

I read many other biographies. Some were much more forgiving, even favourable; others not so. The accounts of key events from Mary’s short life, and their interpretations, varied widely. After all, Mary Queen of Scots is one of history’s most hotly debated figures. Her contemporaries were unkind, if not openly hostile, towards her. Much evidence of her alleged wrongdoings was fabricated by her enemies. Posthumously, she was firstly vilified as an adulteress and regicide, then romanticised as a tragic heroine who ruled solely with her heart. She was neither.

Having travelled across Scotland in her footsteps, I immersed myself in her word and tried to explore it through her eyes. An image formed in my mind of Mary as a queen as well as woman. The outcome is The Queen’s Avenger, Mary’s story told from the perspective of her devoted guardian and confessor, Father Ninian Winzet, who having failed to protect her, embarks on a mission to avenge her.

Blurb

1592.
The Reformation has engulfed the Holy Roman Empire. The power of Catholic church is not what it was.
   At St James’s Monastery in Ratisbon, its Scottish Abbot, Ninian Winzet, dies.
   Brother Gunther, a young Bavarian monk, discovers a hidden vault in Winzet’s scriptorium containing Winzet’s deathbed confessions.
   The revelations are shocking. If made public, they could not only ruin the late Abbot’s reputation but also harm the monastery and the whole Benedictine Order.
   Winzet, a Scot by birth, tells a tragic story of Mary Stewart, a catholic queen in protestant Scotland, hounded to death by opponents both within and outside her kingdom.
   Having sworn to protect her and failing to deliver on his pledge, Winzet dedicates his life to exposing her enemies. But they are influential and practised at concealing their crimes. They are also unscrupulous and will stop at nothing.
   When Mary’s husband, King Henry, is assassinated, she is framed for his murder, imprisoned and forced to abdicate. She flees to England – only to be imprisoned by her cousin, the Queen Elizabeth.
   Winzet’s dogged investigation leads him to the real killers and their paymasters. But what recourse is there for justice?
   Thwarted in his efforts, the Abbot embarks on a mission of bloody revenge to exact his own version of justice on the men who destroyed his queen.
   Gunther is resolved to keep Winzet’s confessions secret, but he discovers that is not the only person who knows of their existence.

On his deathbed, he writes his confessions. A young Bavarian monk discovers them.

FIRST 500 WORDS…

29th September 1592, Ratisbon, Bavaria

Brother Gunther’s attention was straying. He forced his gaze up to the apsis to seek inspiration for his night prayer, but none came. The scene of the Crucifixion at the high altar – the Lord’s earthly form prostrate on the Cross, his spirit departed –­­­ served only to remind Gunther of the passing of Abbot Ninian. His thoughts drifted further to the scrolls hidden behind the wall panel in his scriptorium. Gunther was eager to get back to them.

He had uncovered them accidentally after Mass this morning. He had been assigned the task of cleaning the late Abbot’s chambers by Father Archibald who was to succeed Ninian. The office was yet to be conferred upon him by His Holiness in Rome, but that was a mere formality. Father Archibald was desirous to take residence in the elevated tower apartment as soon as possible.

Never before had Gunther been granted access to the Abbot’s lodgings. He had found his bedchamber basic in comforts, befitting the Benedictine vow of poverty and abstention: a simple bed, an enamel washbasin, a prie-dieu with a cushion to kneel upon in prayer and a wood carving of Holy Mary, her robes painted pale blue, trimmed with gold. A scourge whip with nails set in leather straps lay beside a lantern and a Holy Book on a small sideboard. A Cross of rosewood hung dominant above the door.

Abbot Ninian had been an avid advocate of ascetism. In his teachings, he would often warn the brothers against material and carnal temptations. It appeared he had lived by what he had preached.

The late Abbot’s scriptorium however painted a very different picture of his character. Gunther would have no words to describe the pandemonium he had walked into as he stepped over the threshold of the airless chamber, small as it already were, and made even smaller by the accumulation of clutter. The desk, central to the room, was grunting under the weight of heavy volumes, parchments, quills broken and spent, papers crumpled by a frustrated hand, discarded and forgotten, inkwells with the tar of dry ink hardened inside, a knife for sharpening quills, a double candlestick caked in yellow beeswax, two oil lamps, one chipped, with a missing handle, the other new, its belly glistening. The walls were draped with pine shelves heaving under the weight they carried, darkened with age, cramped with books written principally in Latin, but also a few in German, French and Italian, as well as copious pamphlets and ledgers, some bound in leather, some in wood. The smell in the scriptorium was that of mould and decay, and something sour that Brother Gunther associated with death.

He had cleared the desk and scrubbed it, spots of hard-set wax peeling off the surface like old skin from a snake. He had refilled the inkwells and sealed them with stoppers. He had gone about washing the wood-panelled walls and wiping layers of dust from the skirting boards when his eyes became drawn to an ill-fitting…

Mary Queen of Scots

Buy The Queen’s Avenger  https://mybook.to/TheQueensAvenger

Bio

Although she writes in a wide range of genres, Anna Legat is best known for her DI Gillian Marsh detective series and The Shires, her cosy murder mysteries. Anna is also the author of the historical thriller, Buried in the Past. She lives near Bath.

Join Anna Legat on Twitter @LegatWriter, FB @AnnaLegatAuthor and Instagram at @LegatAuthor

***

Many thanks, Anna.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines: The Poster by James Marshall

After a bit of a break, I’m pleased to be bringing back my #openinglines blog feature.

It’s always a pleasure to share the work of fellow authors, but this time it is particularly good to be able to share with you the first 500 words of a novel written by one of my former students. 

I knew James had what it took to become a fabulous writer the moment I read the first short story he created for me a mini-fiction class a few years ago.

Over to you James… 

Blurb

Seemingly abandoned by their parents, siblings Lena and Alek are caught up at different ends of a war – while Lena designs propaganda posters in Plymouth, Alek is forced into the army. Both dream of escape, of another life … but as the war continues and they find each other, they start to question who they can really trust.

When survival is everything, is everyone an enemy?

“It’s brilliant. I was completely engrossed. This isn’t the type of novel I would typically read but I was riveted.” Leslie Wells.

Introduction

“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” John Stuart Mill.

In order to set the background of the story, I read a lot of books about East Germany. I wanted to tell a story about what could happen to young people if they didn’t pay attention to the world around them.  What would a group of young women do to get food on the table and shoes on her feet?

As fast as I could write the dystopian aspect of this novel, real events were catching up with the fiction. I wrote about conscripts being used in a political war in the second piece I ever sent to Jenny.

In the week of publication of The Poster, the head of the British armed forces stated that conscription would have to be introduced in a war with Russia.  I am hoping no further similarities occur.

Opening 500 words of The Poster

Alek Wasilewski hurdled the yellow gorse bush and sprinted towards the cover of a low stone wall. The enemy was dug in on the edge of a copse seventy-five metres ahead. Alek pushed his heavy helmet back up over his sweaty forehead, his chest heaving as he tried to regain his breath. His section commander, Swales, was signalling to the rest of the boys to catch up.

‘Get a fucking move on,’ Swales said.

Alek wiped his palms on his combat trousers. His neck ached from the rifle sling and helmet strap, his calves were burning from his too-tight combat boots, and he needed to pee.

Swales made several hand signals to accompany his instructions to the section. ‘We’ll have to go around to the left following the stone wall.’ He pointed at Murdo and Trowbridge. ‘You two stay here and lay down covering fire. The rest of you, follow me.’

Alek gripped his empty rifle and bent as low as he could to follow Swales, keeping his head below the wall. His knees groaned after thirty metres and screamed after sixty. He sighed when Swales held up his fist to signal a stop.

‘Hold it here.’ Swales dropped to his stomach.

Alek copied Swales and wriggled forward, thankful that his legs could rest.

‘Check ammo; fix bayonets,’ Swales said. ‘Ski and I will take the left trench. Evans and Williams, the middle trench, and you two –’ Swales pointed at the last members of the section – take the right-hand trench.’

Alek pretended to check his ammo and fix his bayonet. They had neither ammo nor bayonets but had to go through the motions.

‘Ready?’ Swales said.

Alek nodded.

‘Go!’ Swales jumped over the wall.

Alek vaulted the wall and then ran forward. ‘Bang, Bang!’ he shouted, firing invisible rounds from the hip.

Swales dropped to one knee, yelling, ‘Bang, bang!

Alek ran past him and knelt, aiming at the two men in the left trench who were also shouting ‘bang’ as Swales ran a zig-zag pattern to the edge of the trench. Alek leapt up to sprint and jumped into the trench.

‘Bang, bang!’ He pointed his rifle at the enemy soldier still standing.

The soldier did a theatrical spin and dive, clutching his chest and wriggling his legs before letting out one last groan. He grinned at Alek.

‘Stop! End-Ex,’ Corporal Sanderson, their training instructor, shouted from above them. He waved his clipboard in the air and beckoned the support soldiers up to the position. ‘Well done, Swales,’ he said. ‘Good effort from your team.’ He pointed to Murdo and Trowbridge as they walked towards the copse. ‘I can see why you put those slackers in the fire support team.’

Swales turned and winked at Alek.

Alek slumped to the bottom of the cool trench and blinked as salty sweat ran into his eyes. He took a swig of the lukewarm water from his canteen, wishing it was ice-cold lemonade. He had forgotten its taste but could see…

  • You can follow his writing journey on Substack here
  • You can buy, The Poster,’ here

 

Bio

James is a 54-year-old father of two, husband of one. He lives and works in Devon,UK, running a sports club for local children and young adults in Willand.

He started fiction writing under the tutelage of Jenny Kane at her Imagine writing group in Cullompton.

He won the ‘Pen to Print’ 2022 short story competition, and ‘The Poster,’ has been shortlisted for their 2023 ‘Book Challenge Award.’

Apart from writing, James is a Masters weightlifter, a keen barbecuer, and an avid reader.

***

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

 

Tiny Taster: Outlaw Justice

Continuing the story of potter’s daughter, Mathilda of Twyford, Outlaw Justice, opens in winter 1331.

All appears to be calm, but it is soon clear that a storm is coming – in the shape of Sir Richard de Willoughby.

Outlaw Justice

Blurb

England, 1331: Corrupt official, Sir Richard de Willoughby, has been appointed Justice of the Peace, with powers to hunt – and kill – those who oppose him. First on his list? The notorious Coterel brothers and their associates – the Folvilles…

The Folvilles must decide whether to flee into outlawry or take the law into their own hands – but is killing de Willoughby really the answer?

Robert de Folville is keen to dispose of the justice, but Robert’s ingenious wife, Mathilda, has a plan… one that could potentially rid them of Willoughby and yet see them escape the hangman’s noose. But these are tumultuous times and Mathilda must first put herself at great personal risk. Could the tale of a missing noblewoman, overheard by chance, be the key to solving a problem of life or death?

A gripping tale of real-life Robin Hoods, Outlaw Justice is the latest in the critically acclaimed ‘The Folville Chronicles’ series by Jennifer Ash.

Ever since she first came to the attention of the Folville family – as a kidnap victim – Mathilda of Twyford – has been learning that justice for the people of England comes at a high price. The harshest lesson of all, being that, it is often those who purport to uphold the law, that break it the most.

Here’s a tiny taster from Outlaw Justice…

Prologue

30th November 1331

‘Lady Isabel is safe, my Lord?’

‘I’ve seen her escorted to her mother in Lincolnshire by trusted friends. Her ravings these past few months have become intolerable. It’s not good for the children. I increasingly fear for her sanity.’

Keeping his countenance neutral, Bennett removed his master’s cloak. ‘May I be of assistance, my Lord? A drink after your journey perhaps?’

‘You may be of assistance by saying nothing of this to anyone. If King Edward were to hear of my wife’s shameful state, he might deem me unworthy of the office he so recently bestowed upon me.’

Bennett dipped his head respectfully and withdrew into the kitchen. He’d worked for Sir Richard de Willoughby long enough to know when to keep his mouth shut.

Damping down the kitchen fire for the night, absorbed in thought, the steward headed towards Lady Willoughby’s chamber. He’d seen no signs of mental instability. He’d heard no ravings. He had, however, heard a row between her and her husband earlier that day. The one and only time in her whole miserable marriage she’d stood up to her lord.

Pushing his mistress’s door open, Bennett surveyed the scene. Lady Isabel’s travelling cloak hung over the back of a chair by the window. Her hairbrush sat on her side table, and her riding boots waited patiently by the door.

A furrow formed on the steward’s forehead as he closed the chamber door, locking it securely behind him…

If you’d like to find out what happens next, Outlaw Justice it is available as both an ebook and paperback. It can be read as a standalone novel, or as part of #TheFolvilleChronicles

The Outlaw’s Ransom – mybook.to/theoutlawsransom

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

Happy reading everyone,

Jennifer x

Tiny Taster: Edward’s Outlaw

It’s time for another ‘Tiny Taster’.

This week it’s the turn of the third novel in #TheFolvilleChronicles – Edward’s Outlaw.

In the first two novels of the series, The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw, Mathilda of Twyford, found herself thrust into situations where she had to get to the bottom of a crime simply to stay alive. However, in book three, Edward’s Outlaw, Mathilda’s reputation for solving mysteries sees her being asked to solve a murder by the sheriff…and she is in no position to say no…

Blurb

January 1330: England is awash with corruption. King Edward III has finally claimed the crown from his scheming mother, Queen Isabella, and is determined to clean up his kingdom.

Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault, and her special advisor ‑ a man who knows the noble felons of England very well ‑ King Edward sends word to Roger Wennesley of Leicestershire, with orders to arrest the notorious Folville brothers… including the newly married Robert de Folville.

Robert takes his wife, Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle for her own safety, but no sooner has he left than a maid is found murdered. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was the maid really the target ‑ or is Mathilda’s life in danger?

Asked to investigate by the county sheriff in exchange for him slowing the hunt for her husband, Mathilda soon uncovers far more than murder… including a web of deception which trails from London, to Derbyshire, and beyond…

The third thrilling instalment in Jennifer Ash’s The Folville Chronicles series.

***

Mathilda has only been married to Robert de Folville for three days, and already trouble has coming knocking at door of their home; Ashby Folville manor, Leicestershire. A warrant for the brother’s arrest sends Mathilda alone into Rockingham Castle for her own safety. Under the protection of its constable, Robert de Vere, she shelters within the castle while her husband and his brothers are on the run.

Mathilda doesn’t have time to worry about Robert for long, for within only a few days a young girl is dead and the sheriff thrusts the role of detective upon her…

Extract

Blood hammered in Mathilda’s ears. She had tracked down killers in the past, but never by appointment. The first time had been unintentional, a task she’d stumbled upon to save her father’s honour and her freedom. The second had come with an even higher price tag. The cost of failure would have been her life.

Now, these previous successes had earned her a third attempt, and Mathilda doubted she was up to the task. In Ashby Folville she had Sarah and Adam to back her up, not to mention Robert and his brothers. Here, she was alone but for Daniel, who’d already had a myriad of household duties heaped upon him.

Would her desire to find justice for Agnes, and her equally strong curiosity to uncover what was going on in the castle, be enough to solve the crime. Or crimes?

Whatever her misgivings, Mathilda’s starting point was clear. The sheriff and his associates had not yet left the castle. She wanted to talk to each of them privately. The constable had promised her the freedom of the castle while he’d had little choice but to agree, but would he continue to extend that offer once Wennesley and his comrades had gone to recommence the search for her husband.

Not sure if she was heartened or worried by Sheriff Ingram’s claim that she was unstoppable in her pursuit of felons, Mathilda wiped away the perspiration from her palms.

As she walked towards de Vere’s rooms, Mathilda forced herself to focus. Even if the arresting party remained with the constable, that didn’t mean they would be willing to answer her questions. After all, they hadn’t been there when Agnes had died, yet Mathilda couldn’t shift the uneasy feeling that it was all connected somehow. She had no logical reason for that suspicion beyond the coincidence of Isabella’s abrupt reappearance and the night-time movements of a tall, short-haired man who could have been either of the younger men on the warrant party… or someone else entirely….

***

Edwards’ Outlaw can be read as a standalone book, or as part of The Folville Chronicles.

If you’d like to read Edward’s Outlaw, – or any of The Folville Chronicles, they are available in eBook format and paperback from all good retailers, including…

The Outlaw’s Ransom – mybook.to/theoutlawsransom

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

Happy reading,

Jennifer xx

Tiny Taster: Outlaw Justice

Continuing the story of potter’s daughter, Mathilda of Twyford, Outlaw Justice, opens in winter 1331.

All appears to be calm, but it is soon clear that a storm is coming – in the shape of Sir Richard de Willoughby.

Outlaw Justice

Blurb

England, 1331: Corrupt official, Sir Richard de Willoughby, has been appointed Justice of the Peace, with powers to hunt – and kill – those who oppose him. First on his list? The notorious Coterel brothers and their associates – the Folvilles…

The Folvilles must decide whether to flee into outlawry or take the law into their own hands – but is killing de Willoughby really the answer?

Robert de Folville is keen to dispose of the justice, but Robert’s ingenious wife, Mathilda, has a plan… one that could potentially rid them of Willoughby and yet see them escape the hangman’s noose. But these are tumultuous times and Mathilda must first put herself at great personal risk. Could the tale of a missing noblewoman, overheard by chance, be the key to solving a problem of life or death?

A gripping tale of real-life Robin Hoods, Outlaw Justice is the latest in the critically acclaimed ‘The Folville Chronicles’ series by Jennifer Ash.

Ever since she first came to the attention of the Folville family – as a kidnap victim – Mathilda of Twyford – has been learning that justice for the people of England comes at a high price. The harshest lesson of all, being that, it is often those who purport to uphold the law, that break it the most.

Here’s a tiny taster from Outlaw Justice…

Prologue

30th November 1331

‘Lady Isabel is safe, my Lord?’

‘I’ve seen her escorted to her mother in Lincolnshire by trusted friends. Her ravings these past few months have become intolerable. It’s not good for the children. I increasingly fear for her sanity.’

Keeping his countenance neutral, Bennett removed his master’s cloak. ‘May I be of assistance, my Lord? A drink after your journey perhaps?’

‘You may be of assistance by saying nothing of this to anyone. If King Edward were to hear of my wife’s shameful state, he might deem me unworthy of the office he so recently bestowed upon me.’

Bennett dipped his head respectfully and withdrew into the kitchen. He’d worked for Sir Richard de Willoughby long enough to know when to keep his mouth shut.

Damping down the kitchen fire for the night, absorbed in thought, the steward headed towards Lady Willoughby’s chamber. He’d seen no signs of mental instability. He’d heard no ravings. He had, however, heard a row between her and her husband earlier that day. The one and only time in her whole miserable marriage she’d stood up to her lord.

Pushing his mistress’s door open, Bennett surveyed the scene. Lady Isabel’s travelling cloak hung over the back of a chair by the window. Her hairbrush sat on her side table, and her riding boots waited patiently by the door.

A furrow formed on the steward’s forehead as he closed the chamber door, locking it securely behind him…

If you’d like to find out what happens next, Outlaw Justice it is available as both an ebook and paperback. It can be read as a standalone novel, or as part of #TheFolvilleChronicles

The Outlaw’s Ransom – mybook.to/theoutlawsransom

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

Happy reading everyone,

Jennifer x

Mathilda goes to Rockingham: Edward’s Outlaw

In the first two novels of the series, The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw, Mathilda of Twyford, found herself thrust into situations where she had to get to the bottom of a crime simply to stay alive. However, in book three, Edward’s Outlaw, Mathilda’s reputation for solving mysteries sees her being asked to solve a murder by the sheriff…and she is in no position to say no…

Blurb

January 1330: England is awash with corruption. King Edward III has finally claimed the crown from his scheming mother, Queen Isabella, and is determined to clean up his kingdom.

Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault, and her special advisor ‑ a man who knows the noble felons of England very well ‑ King Edward sends word to Roger Wennesley of Leicestershire, with orders to arrest the notorious Folville brothers… including the newly married Robert de Folville.

Robert takes his wife, Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle for her own safety, but no sooner has he left than a maid is found murdered. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was the maid really the target ‑ or is Mathilda’s life in danger?

Asked to investigate by the county sheriff in exchange for him slowing the hunt for her husband, Mathilda soon uncovers far more than murder… including a web of deception which trails from London, to Derbyshire, and beyond…

The third thrilling instalment in Jennifer Ash’s The Folville Chronicles series.

***

Mathilda has only been married to Robert de Folville for three days, and already trouble has coming knocking at door of their home; Ashby Folville manor, Leicestershire. A warrant for the brother’s arrest sends Mathilda alone into Rockingham Castle for her own safety. Under the protection of its constable, Robert de Vere, she shelters within the castle while her husband and his brothers are on the run.

Mathilda doesn’t have time to worry about Robert for long, for within only a few days a young girl is dead and the sheriff thrusts the role of detective upon her.

Why would anyone here believe her, even if she did find the killer? The word of a woman, even one who has married into one of the most notorious households in England, is not worth much without substantial evidence. And what if she gets it wrong and accuses the wrong person? Mathilda’s terrified that she might send the wrong person to the gallows.

The pressure on Mathilda to succeed becomes even greater when she begins to wonder if Agnes, the murdered maid, was the intended victim after all. The more Mathilda thinks about it, the more she sees how easy it would have been for the killer to mistake the dead girl for her…Was Mathilda the intended target after all?

Extract

Blood hammered in Mathilda’s ears. She had tracked down killers in the past, but never by appointment. The first time had been unintentional, a task she’d stumbled upon to save her father’s honour and her freedom. The second had come with an even higher price tag. The cost of failure would have been her life.

Now, these previous successes had earned her a third attempt, and Mathilda doubted she was up to the task. In Ashby Folville she had Sarah and Adam to back her up, not to mention Robert and his brothers. Here, she was alone but for Daniel, who’d already had a myriad of household duties heaped upon him.

Would her desire to find justice for Agnes, and her equally strong curiosity to uncover what was going on in the castle, be enough to solve the crime. Or crimes?

Whatever her misgivings, Mathilda’s starting point was clear. The sheriff and his associates had not yet left the castle. She wanted to talk to each of them privately. The constable had promised her the freedom of the castle while he’d had little choice but to agree, but would he continue to extend that offer once Wennesley and his comrades had gone to recommence the search for her husband.

Not sure if she was heartened or worried by Sheriff Ingram’s claim that she was unstoppable in her pursuit of felons, Mathilda wiped away the perspiration from her palms.

As she walked towards de Vere’s rooms, Mathilda forced herself to focus. Even if the arresting party remained with the constable, that didn’t mean they would be willing to answer her questions. After all, they hadn’t been there when Agnes had died, yet Mathilda couldn’t shift the uneasy feeling that it was all connected somehow. She had no logical reason for that suspicion beyond the coincidence of Isabella’s abrupt reappearance and the night-time movements of a tall, short-haired man who could have been either of the younger men on the warrant party… or someone else entirely….

***

Edwards’ Outlaw can be read as a standalone book, or as part of The Folville Chronicles.

If you’d like to read Edward’s Outlaw, – or any of The Folville Chronicles, they are available in eBook format and paperback from all good reatilers, including…

The Outlaw’s Ransom – mybook.to/theoutlawsransom

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

Happy reading,

Jennifer xx

FREE WEEKEND: The Winter Outlaw

From Friday 3rd Feb until midnight on Sunday 5th Feb,

The Winter Outlaw,

Book Two of The Folville Chronicles,

is FREE on #Amazon#Kindle

Blurb

1329: It is the dead of winter. The notorious Folville brothers are on edge. There are rumours of an unknown outlaw terrorising the Leicestershire countryside—a man who has designs on the Folville family’s criminal connections.

Determined to stop this usurper in his tracks, Robert Folville unearths a man hiding in one of Ashby-Folville’s sheep shelters. A steward from far-off West Markham in Nottinghamshire, the cold, hungry Adam Calvin claims he knows nothing of any threat to the Folville family. He has troubles of his own, for he is being pursued by vengeful sheriff, Edmund de Cressy, for a crime he did not commit.

Mathilda of Twyford, newly betrothed to Robert de Folville, believes Adam’s story, but with rumours about a vendetta against the family growing, the Folville brothers are suspicious of every stranger.

After an attack on the household’s trusted housekeeper, it falls to Mathilda to work out who can be trusted and who can’t… With the Folvilles’ past about to trip them up, it’s going to take a level head and extreme bravery if Mathilda and Robert are ever going to make it to their Winter Solstice wedding.

The Winter Outlaw can be read as a standalone novel or as the sequel to The Outlaw’s Ransom.

Available for FREE from Amazon UK | Amazon US until Sunday night!

Here’s a few of the lovely things my readers have aid about The Winter Outlaw,

“Drew me right in and I couldn’t put it down. I was surprised how much bigger this book was compared to the previous one, big bonus. A captivating story that kept me on my toes until the very end.” Amazon

“So good. I await the third book.” Amazon 

‘Great read, looking forward to reading the sequel :-)’ Amazon

“Best work of historical fiction I’ve ever read” Goodreads

Happy bargain grabbing!!!

Jenny (a.k.a. Jennifer!)

The Outlaw’s Ransom: Medieval Crime

The Outlaw’s Ransom is the first in an exciting historical crime series, set in fourteenth century England.

Book One of The Folville Chronicles – Blurb

When potter’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life. Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for using crime to rule their lands—and for using any means necessary to deliver their distinctive brand of ‘justice’.

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so, she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the betrothed of Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will send her to Bakewell in Derbyshire, and the home of Nicholas Coterel, one of the most infamous men in England.

With her life in the hands of more than one dangerous brigand, Mathilda must win the trust of the Folville’s housekeeper, Sarah, and Robert Folville himself if she has any chance of survival.

Never have the teachings gleaned from the tales of Robyn Hode been so useful…

Available as an ebook or paperback from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Extract:

Mathilda thought she was used to the dark, but the night-time gloom of the small room she shared with her brothers at home was nothing like this. The sheer density of this darkness enveloped her, physically gliding over her clammy skin. It made her breathless, as if it was trying to squeeze the life from her.

As moisture oozed between her naked toes, she presumed that the suspiciously soft surface she crouched on was moss, which had grown to form a damp cushion on the stone floor. It was a theory backed up by the smell of mould and general filthiness which hung in the air.

Trying not to think about how long she was going to be left in this windowless cell, Mathilda stretched her arms out to either side, and bravely felt for the extent of the walls, hoping she wasn’t about to touch something other than cold stone. The child’s voice that lingered at the back of her mind, even though she was a woman of nineteen, was telling her – screaming at her – that there might be bodies in here, secured in rusted irons, abandoned and rotting. She battled the voice down. Thinking like that would do her no good at all. Her father had always congratulated his only daughter on her level-headedness, and now it was being so thoroughly put to the test, she was determined not to let him down.

Stretching her fingers into the blackness, Mathilda placed the tips of her fingers against the wall behind her. It was wet. Trickles of water had found a way in from somewhere, giving the walls the same slimy covering as the floor.

Continuing to trace the outline of the rough stone wall, Mathilda kept her feet exactly where they were. In seconds her fingertips came to a corner, and by twisting at the waist, she quickly managed to plot her prison from one side of the heavy wooden door to the other. The dungeon could be no more than five feet square, although it must be about six feet tall. Her own five-foot frame had stumbled down a step when she’d been pushed into the cell, and her head was at least a foot clear of the ceiling. The bleak eerie silence was eating away at Mathilda’s determination to be brave, and the cold brought her suppressed fear to the fore. Suddenly the shivering she had stoically ignored overtook her, and there was nothing she could do but let it invade her…

Here are just a few of the lovely reviews for Mathilda’s first story…

“Bought it last night and finished at 2am in the morning! I had already read “Romancing Robin Hood” and liked Mathilda, so I was curious what this book would be like. Many aspects of the story were already in the other book but this is a beautiful standalone and I didn’t mind rereading parts of the story. I’m glad this is a series by the looks of it and hope the next one will be out soon. I particularly like that the women are confident but still believable characters within the medieval background. No “Kardashians in costumes” but convincing dialogues and scene descriptions. Well done!” Amazon

“I first read this story when it appeared in a lesser form as a ‘story within a story’. (Romancing Robin Hood)
I have really enjoyed reading the expanded version – complete with historical references.
Mathilda is kidnapped by local highborn landowners/outlaws as a way of ensuring her family repay a loan. Too clever for her own good she soon realises that they wish to use her to pass messages to another family – who would ever think to question a young lady, but is very quickly embroiled in the murder of a local business man….A very cleverly written medieval who dunnit.” Goodreads

“An enjoyable read with credible characters and a pacey plot. Good scene setting, I felt like I was back in medieval times. Looking forward to the next book in the series.” Amazon

***

Happy reading,

Jennifer

Focus on: The Outlaw’s Ransom

Let’s focus on: The Outlaw’s Ransom.

The first in an exciting historical crime series, set in fourteenth century England.

Book One of The Folville Chronicles

When potter’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life. Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for using crime to rule their lands—and for using any means necessary to deliver their distinctive brand of ‘justice’.

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so, she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the betrothed of Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will send her to Bakewell in Derbyshire, and the home of Nicholas Coterel, one of the most infamous men in England.

With her life in the hands of more than one dangerous brigand, Mathilda must win the trust of the Folville’s housekeeper, Sarah, and Robert Folville himself if she has any chance of survival.

Never have the teachings gleaned from the tales of Robyn Hode been so useful…

Available as an ebook or paperback from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Here are just a few of the lovely reviews for Mathilda’s first story…

“Bought it last night and finished at 2am in the morning! I had already read “Romancing Robin Hood” and liked Mathilda, so I was curious what this book would be like. Many aspects of the story were already in the other book but this is a beautiful standalone and I didn’t mind rereading parts of the story. I’m glad this is a series by the looks of it and hope the next one will be out soon. I particularly like that the women are confident but still believable characters within the medieval background. No “Kardashians in costumes” but convincing dialogues and scene descriptions. Well done!” Amazon

“I first read this story when it appeared in a lesser form as a ‘story within a story’. (Romancing Robin Hood)
I have really enjoyed reading the expanded version – complete with historical references.
Mathilda is kidnapped by local highborn landowners/outlaws as a way of ensuring her family repay a loan. Too clever for her own good she soon realises that they wish to use her to pass messages to another family – who would ever think to question a young lady, but is very quickly embroiled in the murder of a local business man….A very cleverly written medieval who dunnit.” Goodreads

“An enjoyable read with credible characters and a pacey plot. Good scene setting, I felt like I was back in medieval times. Looking forward to the next book in the series.” Amazon

“What a lovely way to spend Easter Sunday, curled up under my blanket and being whisked back in time. Mathilda is a woman who isn’t afraid to say what she thinks and reveals a truth about a mystery, knowing it may cost her dearly. I truly felt as though I was at the market with her and also felt the soreness from being on a horse. A really good tale with a happy ending. Historic books are ones I love to read and I was so glad I picked this up!” Amazon 

“I raced through The Outlaws Ransom in just a couple of sittings, it was so satisfyingly fast-paced that I found with each chapter it was a case of ‘just one more’. Mathilda is a fabulous protagonist and seemed to me to be a fitting heroine for the times. The historical accuracy and details peppered throughout the book helped the story come alive in a most enjoyable way. The Folville family is fascinating, both dastardly and multi-layered, the interaction between the brothers engaging and very human. I am greatly looking forward to the next instalment in this series.” Amazon

“An enjoyable read with credible characters and a pacey plot. Good scene setting, I felt like I was back in medieval times. Looking forward to the next book in the series.” Amazon

Interview with Lynne Shelby: Rome for the Summer

I’m delighted to welcome Lynne Shelby to my blog for a chat about her brand new novel, Rome for the Summer.

Pop your feet up for five minutes and join us for a cuppa and some book chat.

Welcome Lynne. So, what inspired you to write your book?

The idea for Rome for the Summer first came to me when I was walking through Rome (my husband and I were heading back to our hotel after a day’s sightseeing) when I overheard two girls – one Italian, one American – talking, the American telling the Italian girl that ‘the job will only be for six months.’ I still have the notes I wrote as soon as were reached our hotel: ‘American in Rome. Why? What job? Is she working in Rome for six months? Or going back to the States for six months? Does she have an Italian boyfriend she is leaving or an American boyfriend pining for her return?’ I didn’t start writing the book immediately – I was writing another book at the time – but back in England, I happened to fall into conversation with a woman sitting at the next table in a restaurant who turned out to be an American professor with a very interesting reason for visiting Europe, which gave me the answer to what the American girl was doing in Rome – and she became my English heroine, Kate, who escapes to Rome for the summer. Then, of course, there is Rome itself – wandering around the narrow, cobbled streets, stopping to eat a gelato by a fountain in a flower bedecked, sun-drenched piazza, certainly inspired me to write a novel set in this beautiful city.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

I did more research for Rome for the Summer than any other book I’ve written so far, mainly because, while I wouldn’t describe the book as having a dual timeline, some events that took place in 1816 – which my heroine discovers as she explores Rome – are an important part of the story, and I wanted to be sure that the historical scenes described could have occurred in the Regency era. At the beginning of the book, my heroine is working in an art gallery, and although I enjoy visiting art galleries, I’ve never worked in one, so I read up on the sort of tasks working in a gallery would entail. I also needed to find out more about the art world, such as how paintings are valued and sold at auction. I’ve visited Rome several times, and would have loved to go back on a research trip to make sure I’d remembered the layout, and to choose the best area of the city for my heroine to live in, but with travel restrictions still in place when I was writing the novel, I had to rely on photos, maps, guide books, and Google Earth. My social media newsfeeds are now full of adverts encouraging me to attend an auction of Old Masters or purchase a gorgeous apartment in Rome – sadly I will be doing neither!

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I prefer to write in the first person, from the POV of my heroine, as I find this allows me to get right inside her head – to the extent that it often feels as if she is doing exactly what she wants rather than sticking to my plot! I also hope that telling the story through my heroine’s eyes will create an immediacy which will help readers to empathise with the character and drawn them into her world – even when it is clear that she sometimes gets things wrong or makes the wrong choice at some points in the story.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

In the past, when I’ve first started writing a book, I’ve known the beginning and the end, but have had only the vaguest idea what happens in the middle, so I tended to go with the flow, throwing my characters together and seeing what happened. Then, there came a point, usually about two-thirds of the way through, when I started to see the shape of my story, and that’s when I started planning. With Rome for the Summer, I knew far more about the way I wanted the plot to go before I started writing, and made notes for each chapter as I wrote the first draft – although I still needed to do a lot of editing in subsequent drafts!

What is your writing regime?

I’d love to be able to say that I get up at dawn and write 2,000 words before breakfast, but in reality, on a typical writing day, I go to my writing room (aka the spare bedroom) and sit down at my desk by about 9.30. Before I start writing, I read back over what I wrote the day before to get back into my story, and then I write up to lunchtime – although I have been known to keep writing and forget to have lunch if the words are flowing really well – and sometimes go back to my desk to write for another couple of hours in the afternoon. I used to aim to write 1,000 words a day, but as I’m a relatively slow writer, I’ve found it’s more realistic to aim for 500 words and then be delighted when my word-count is over 800. On the occasional day when I hit 2,000+ words, I’m ecstatic!

What excites you the most about your book?

Although Rome for the Summer is a contemporary romance like my earlier novels, I very much enjoyed writing a book with a historical element, a two-hundred-year-old secret, and with more twists in the plot than my earlier books. I’m also excited that the book is set in Rome, and I hope that readers will enjoy visiting the Eternal City as much as I did when I wrote about it, and that they will like my heroine and hero, Kate and artist Jamie, as much as I do!

Purchase Link for Rome For The Summer: https://t.co/GefWLvcH7X

Bio:

Lynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance. Her debut novel, French Kissing, now re-published in ebook as Meet Me In Paris, won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition, and her fifth novel, Love On Location, was shortlisted for a Romantic Novelists’ Award. Her latest novel, Rome For The Summer, is out on 23 June 2022. She has done a variety of jobs from stable girl to child actor’s chaperone to legal administrator, but now writes full time. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city, writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.

Website: www.lynneshelby.com

Twitter: @LynneShelby5

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LynneShelbyWriter

Instagram: lynneshelbywriter

Many thanks for visiting today, Lynne. Good luck with your lovely new book.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

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