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

Tag: trilogy

Opening Lines with Carol McGrath: The Silken Rose

Today I’m delighted to welcome Carol McGrath to my blog, as she goes on tour with her brand new historical novel, The Silken Rose.

Why not sit and relax for five minutes, while you enjoy a little background to this, the first of The She Wolf Trilogy – as well as the first 500 words.

Over to you Carol…

The Silken Rose is the first novel in The She Wolf Trilogy, three standalone novels about three medieval queens set during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Ailenor of Provence, Eleanor of Castile and Isabella of France were considered she wolves by later writers but they were reviled by many barons during their reigns because of the influence the exercised over their husbands. Ailenor was guilty of nepotism, Eleanor grabbed lands and built up a property empire and, as for Isabella, say no more, she simply deposed her husband and set up her son Edward III as king in his stead. Their thrilling and intriguing stories are intersected with those of three ordinary women, ordinary in rank but independent and from the merchant class. The first appears in The Silken Rose. She is an embroiderer and Rosalind’s story intersects with that of Queen Ailenor.  Enjoy the short blub and extract. The book is published on 2nd April as an e book and as a paperback on 23rd July. The audio is currently available too.

It is 1236

Ailenor of Provence, cultured and intelligent, is thirteen when she marries Henry III. She is aware of the importance of providing heirs to secure the throne. She will protect England’s throne from those who would snatch it away. She is ruthless in her dealings with Henry’s barons.

Beautiful Ailenor’s shrewd and clever Savoyard uncles can support her, until her power is threatened when Henry’s half-siblings also arrive at court.

Henry and Ailenor become embroiled in an unpopular, expensive war to protect the last English territories in France, sparking conflict with warrior knight, Simon de Montfort, the King’s seneschal. It is the final straw.

Caught in a web of treachery and deceit, ‘she-wolf’ Ailenor’s courage is tested to the limit. Can she control her destiny and protect her family?

First 500 words…

Canterbury, January 1236

The road from Dover to Canterbury was mired with mud so progress was slow. Ailenor, Princess of Provence, had never seen such weather. She tugged back the oiled canvas and peered from her long, box-like carriage into the January landscape. A collection of gaunt faces stared back; figures huddled in heavy cloaks, watching the golden lions of Savoy and Provence pass through Canterbury’s gate into the cramped lanes of the city.

Domina Willelma’s rhythmic snores competed with the splashing of hooves moving laboriously through the gateway, the roll of wheels belonging to sumpter carts, the cracking of whips and the protesting snorts of an escort of three hundred horsemen. All the way from Dover, thirteen year-old Ailenor had listened to rain rattling on the curved roof of the carriage. With a hiss, it dripped through a minute crack onto the box of hot charcoal that warmed her feet.

She let the curtain drop and withdrew into her furs. It’s so different to my golden Provençal fields on which sun shines winter and summer.

A tear slid down her cheek. She instinctively drew her mantle closer. This was not what she imagined after Richard of Cornwall, King Henry’s brother, had visited their castle of Les Baux last year and she had listened to his thrilling tales of romance. England was not the magical land she visualised when she wrote her best poem ever, set in Cornwall, verse Prince Richard admired. Nor was it the green country filled with wild flowers she dreamed of when Henry, King of England, sent for her to become his bride.

She shivered in her damp gown. She had not wanted woollen gowns and underskirts. Rather, she desired velvets, silks and satins, and the finest linen for under-garments. But after two days’ travel over the Narrow Sea and on waterlogged roads she understood the need for warmth. She was now to dwell in a land where winter never ended and summer was but a distant prayer.

The carriage jolted to a halt. Uncle William, the Bishop, thrust his head through the heavy hanging.

‘We are approaching the palace. Prepare to descend.’ He almost fell off his horse as he pushed his neck further into the carriage to waggle a long finger at Ailenor’s senior lady. ‘Waken that woman at once. Order her to tidy your dress.’ With a grunt, he withdrew before Ailenor could reply.

‘Domina Willelma, wake up.’ Ailenor gently shook her lady’s shoulder. ‘Uncle William says ‑’

‘By our sainted Lady, my child, forgive me. Why have you permitted me to sleep?’ Lady Willelma sat straight up, her dark eyes wide awake.

‘Because, dear Willelma, you have hardly slept since we left Vienne and that was three weeks ago.’

‘I’m neglecting my duty to your mother.’ Willelma opened the tassels of a velvet bag. My mother, Ailenor thought. If only she were here. She would make jests and have me laugh at it all. How can I face this awful land alone?


Buy Link 

Make sure you don’t miss a single stop on this amazing blog tour!


Following her first degree in English and History, Carol McGrath completed an MA in Creative Writing at The Seamus Heaney Centre, Belfast, followed by an MPhil from University of London.  Her fifth historical novel, The Silken Rose, first in The Rose Trilogy, published by the Headline Group, is set during the High Middle Ages. It features Ailenor of Provence and will be published on April 2nd 2020. Carol was the co-ordinator of the Historical Novels’ Society Conference, Oxford in September 2016.  Visit her website:

Carol’s links are all on her website:


You can join in with Carol’s ‘virtual’ book launch tomorrow, on Twitter, from 3pm!

Many thanks fro visiting today Carol.

Good luck with your new novel and the rest of your blog tour.

Jenny x






Interview with Julia Roberts: Liberty Sands

It’s interview time today, and I’m delighted to welcome Julia Roberts to my blog. This is an excellent interview- I advise you to pop your feet up for five minutes to join us for a chat and a cuppa. What an amazing life!

Over to you Julia…

coffee and cake

What inspired you to write your book?

I have to be honest and say that it was a holiday to the beautiful island of Mauritius. I had been receiving treatment for almost a year for a type of leukaemia and the medication, whilst working effectively to bring the condition under control, made me very tired. What was needed was a relaxing ten days in paradise but on the first morning of the holiday I sat on the beach under the shade of a straw parasol, the sound of the waves crashing on the distant reef and the seed of an idea for a novel started to grow. Over the course of the holiday I lived and breathed the story and the characters, as did my poor long-suffering other half, and by the time we were waiting at the airport for the journey home I had the plot for not just one book, but the entire Liberty Sands trilogy. Book one, Life’s a Beach and Then… begins in Mauritius and the final book, It’s Never Too late To Say… concludes there, so it comes full circle.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

A lot of people have said that two of the characters in Life’s a Beach and Then… reminded them of me. Rosemary is a sixty year old ex-dancer who has CML, but there the similarity ends, and Holly is like me in looks but twenty years ago. I think Holly’s son Harry was definitely modelled on my own son and our relationship, whilst the character of Amy has a lot of my daughter in her. I guess the answer to that question has to be a resounding yes – it’s a good job I know a lot of people.


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

All of my books to date have included far flung destinations as my main female character, Holly, is an undercover travel blogger. Fortunately I have travelled to all the places I have written about, either on holiday or for work, apart from Cuba which I had to rely on my daughter’s experience of. One of my characters in the first book had Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia, which I have firsthand experience of but in the final part of the trilogy I had to rely on the internet for my research into alcohol induced dementia.

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

At the moment all my writing has been in third person close. I like getting inside the heads of the various different characters. I hope as my writing skills improve I will feel confident enough to experiment and write in first person but obviously it will depend on the plot.

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

I like to have a general outline of the story rather than just sitting down to write but I have found with all three of my novels that some of the best passages of the book have just come to me during a writing session, almost as though they are being given to me. Sorry if that sounds weird.

What is your writing regime?

I have a full time job working as a presenter on QVC which means I don’t have as much time to write as I would like. My shift pattern is that I work eight days out of nine, which is tough, but I then get a five day break – these are my writing days, my creative days, although I don’t mind doing a bit of editing before or after my QVC commitments.

What excites you the most about your book?

Sharing it with my readers and getting their feedback. There is nothing better than when someone is so engaged in the story that they will come up to you and start talking about your characters as though they are real people. I remember one of our QVC guests, Gill, coming up to me and saying, ‘Don’t you let anything happen to my Rosemary.’ I had to avoid her for about a week after that.


If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

Tom Hanks – he’d have some great anecdotes from all the movie stars he’s worked with and he might be quite useful at surviving based on his role in Castaway.

Bear Grylls – because he really does know how to survive in extreme conditions.

And the other Julia Roberts – just because I would like to meet her.



My twitter is @JuliaRobertsQVC

My Facebook page is www.JuliaRobertsTV

My current webpage is  BUT we are currently working on a new website which should be up and running before this goes on your blog

My current WIP is a short story which will be available to download free on my new website.


Julia Roberts QVC

Julia Roberts is probably best known as the trusted face of the UK’s most successful shopping channel, QVC, but she had enjoyed a rewarding and varied career in the entertainment industry for many years prior to launching the channel in 1993.

She was born in Nottingham in 1956. At fourteen months old she contracted the deadly disease Polio which left her fighting for her life and subsequently hospitalised for five months. Swimming and dancing lessons, which helped her to walk without the aid of a calliper, have both played an important role in her later life.

Julia started her professional career at the age of 16 as a dancer in a summer show in Guernsey. This was followed by pantomimes in Leeds, Croydon and Watford as well as further summer seasons in the Channel Islands. Deciding to leave the UK and see a bit more of the world, she danced on cruise ships, in a theatre show in Barcelona, and performed as a singer/dancer in a cabaret show in Hong Kong. In 1980 Julia appeared in The Song for Europe as part of a band called The Main Event performing alongside Cheryl Baker, who went on to join Buck’s Fizz the following year while Julia signed a record deal with her band Jools and the Fools before moving into television.

Having featured in various TV commercials, notably the Woolwich Building Society and Head & Shoulders shampoo, and small television acting roles in Citizen Smith and Doctor Who, Julia became a hostess on the first and second UK series of the hit American game show, The Price is Right. This was followed by becoming a member of the ‘Hit Squad’ on comedy series Beadles About before she took a short career break to have her two children.


It was during this break in her career that Julia decided to try her hand at presenting. Her first presenting job was for Vauxhall motors at the 1989 Motor Show at Olympia during which she was approached and offered a job presenting several weekly ‘magazine’ style shows for her local television channel in Croydon. One of these was called Palace Chatback and led to her passion for Crystal Palace Football Club, a team she still supports today. In addition to this show, Julia has produced and presented several features for Sky Sports.

In 1993 Julia successfully auditioned to become a Presenter for a new shopping channel, QVC, and appeared in the opening sequences which launched the channel with co-presenter, Jon Briggs. Little did she know that this was the start of a long, successful career with the channel which now boasts over 25 million viewers in the UK alone, with over 1 million active customers. Throughout this time, she has shared the screen with many famous names, including the likes of the late Joan Rivers, Marie Osmond, Sir David Attenborough, Joan Collins and Lulu, to mention a few.


Julia has now written and released 4 books. Her first book, a memoir entitled One Hundred Lengths of the Pool, was published in 2013 by Preface Publishing for Random House and sold out of 5000 hardback signed copies exclusively on QVC. The title of this book was inspired by her battle against polio in her early years, and the huge part that swimming played in allowing Julia the chance to walk unaided. A percentage of proceeds from her book sales were donated to the End Polio Now campaign as well as the British Polio Fellowship.

Close to completing the finishing touches to her first book, Julia was faced with a new health challenge. She was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer, Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. After such a tough year continuing to work full-time at QVC, signing her book deal, and battling her new illness, Julia needed some R&R so booked a much needed holiday for herself and her partner, Chris, to a place she had always longed to visit, Mauritius.

On the first morning of the holiday Julia had an idea. Using her recent experience of Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia as a basis for one of her main characters she began to write her debut novel Life’s a Beach and Then… she donates a percentage of profits from this book to the charity Bloodwise (formerly Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research).

Julia published Life’s a Beach and Then…, part one of the Liberty Sands trilogy, in May 2015, followed by If He Really Loved Me… in November 2015 and the final part of the trilogy, It’s Never Too Late To Say… in May 2016. All three books have featured in the top 100 Amazon Kindle Romance charts and enjoy an average 4.8 star rating from more than two hundred and fifty customer reviews.

Now living in Berkshire with Chris, her partner of 38 years, Julia divides her time between QVC, writing, Pilates, attending Crystal Palace matches and supporting the two charities that she holds close to her heart; British Polio Fellowship, for whom she is an ambassador, and Bloodwise.


Wow!! What a CV!!!  Many thanks for joining us today Julia.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx





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