Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A Perfect Christmas Read - One Christmas Knight - Out Today!

ONE CHRISTMAS KNIGHT, an anthology of medieval novellas, is now out at Amazon. There are seven wonderful historical romances here, by various authors, all set around Yule and Christmas.

Here's a blurb for each of  the stories, plus the blurb and an excerpt from mine.


Sir Rhys de Valyer, on his way to Scotland to join his liege, Julian Challon, becomes lost in a blinding snowstorm. But this is only the start of his troubles. In a brutal ambush, he and his men are attacked and left for dead. Rhys only escapes the horrible fate due to his trusted steed, who manages to drag him away from the battle. Fearing death’s approach, he never expects a beautiful snow angel to come to his rescue.
After being cast out by her family for being the bastard child of a Selkie, Annys Bràigheach has made her life in the sanctuary of Rowenwood Forest, far away from the world. In spite of her acceptance of the solitary life, her heart still yearns for more. To her surprise, after making a Yuletide wish, she discovers a handsome knight, clinging desperately to his horse, half-frozen with two arrows piercing his body. Her healing skills may save him, but can she reach his heart?
Magic can happen at Yuletide if only you can believe….


When Meryk the Outlaw finds a badly beaten woman beside the road, he almost rides on. With a price on his head and a winter storm raging, even a short delay could cost him everything. But when he discovers she’s ready to give birth, he takes the risk and vows to protect her.
Ada of Bew doesn’t want the outlaw’s help—much less his protection—but she has no choice. Unable to run any farther and ready to give birth, she must place her faith in this stranger…or die at the hands of the men who want to kill her unborn son.
In the struggle against the cold and would-be kings, Meryk and Ada discover love is the most unexpected gift of all, but will they survive long enough to claim it?


Sir Hugh Tarrant returns home from war with a limp from an enemy's sword and a hole in his heart from the death of his beloved. Lady Margaret Dillon is filled with anger at the man she believes deserted her sister. On a stormy Christmas Eve night filled with danger, fate throws them together and makes unexpected allies of them. Will passion ignite as a result...or will they survive to find out?


Annalisa has lost everything to her uncle. Taking sanctuary in a convent for safety, she yearns to go back and reclaim her rightful place. When she discovers a seriously wounded man, she realizes that he might be the one who can help her.
Jack wakes up in a convent, wounded and fearing for his own sanity. The last thing he remembers is a firefight in the Middle East, and the pain of being shot. Waking up centuries in the past is not what he expects—but Jack has his own code of honor, and when Annalisa asks for his help, there’s no way he can turn her down.
With the help of Mother Albrade, a nun who has powerful visions and knowledge of the future, Jack and Annalisa begin a journey of discovery and bravery that just might change both their lives—or end them.


Cursed by a bitter enchantress in ancient times to wander the earth as an immortal, Jurian Locke is bound by both love and magic to answer his beloved's need in times of danger.
Into each new life, his soulmate is born, unaware she is tied to him by magic, unknowing that a threat to her life will send forth a summons to a man she doesn't know.
Drawn together in dangerous times—his eternal love is her single chance at life. His curse, the only time he can be with the woman who possesses his heart.
Her call reaches him, this time, in 1328 at a Yuletide tournament for King Edward III.


To save her family’s fortunes, Lady Alisoun must wed an elderly earl the day after Christmas. But in the chapel on Christmas Eve, her heart collides with that of an elegant, mysterious stranger. Is he…one of King John’s spies?
Raised in a monastery, Lord Kitt has no experience with love, but finds his heart lost to a lovely lady. Yet he cannot succumb, for the day after Christmas, he must marry a woman he has never met.


Ambitious and arrogant, the young knight Sir Baldwin returns to his family’s lands and estate at Brigthorpe to face disaster. The pestilence has struck, destroying his parents and all his family save for a young half-brother, Martin, whom Baldwin does not wish to acknowledge because Martin is the bastard child of a serf. Baldwin needs to learn kindness and how to be a lord–and quickly.
Into this hopeless situation comes Sofia, a young woman who can see glimpses of spirits, of the restless dead. These revenants are very restless around Sir Baldwin.
Somehow, Baldwin and Sofia must work together, to make a true Christmas for the survivors of Brigthorpe and the Christmas ghosts. Can they do so in time—or will the gulf of class and custom make any love between them impossible?

For sale here at Amazon here 

And at my author Amazon page here

For sale at Amazon UK here

Excerpt from Sir Baldwin and the Christmas Ghosts.

One Christmas Knight

Sir Baldwin and the Christmas Ghosts

Lindsay Townsend

December, North of England, 1369

“I can help you with your ghosts, sir.”
For an instant, no longer than a single beat of his heart, Sir Baldwin of Brigthorpe was too startled to answer. That a stranger had entered the manor and he had not heard any approach was disconcerting, that the said stranger could sense the spirits that accosted him every night was disturbing. Not that he let such unworthy, serf-like feelings show on his face. He was a knight—courage and power were his.
“Sir? Do you wish for my help?”
He would have ignored his own peasants if any had dared to keep questioning him, especially one certain grizzling boy, but courtesy to strangers had been ground into him. Reluctantly, he fashioned some reply. “I do not think anyone can aid me. There are too many ghosts.”
I should not have admitted that. Mother of Almighty God, I must be wearier than I thought.
Scowling, Sir Baldwin swept the last of the rotted floor strewing into the fire-pit in the great hall and watched the stinking mess smoke and slowly burn. His back and shoulders ached worse than after a sword practise but he forced himself to straighten and relax. He had not been physically attacked yet and doubted he would be. There are few left alive to try. The ghosts were another matter. There are so many...

Reminded of his losses afresh, the grief sharp as broken glass within him, Baldwin looked at the dais. A swift glance reassured him that the brat was still asleep on the platform, snuggled down in his own long winter cloak. Last year I would never have given a cotter bastard any of my clothes, even though we are akin. Frowning anew, he flicked the broom from hand to hand and raised his head. “How did you come here?”

Lindsay Townsend

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Cover Reveal for THE DREAM CATCHER by Marie Laval

I am delighted to share the cover for my third historical romance, THE DREAM CATCHER, which will be released by Áccent Press on 26th November, and which is Part 1 of a trilogy.

The story is set in the winter of 1847 near Cape Wrath, in the far North of Scotland, and opens with a terrible storm at sea. I am delighted to see that the cover artist captured both the dark atmosphere of the setting and the lovely, sunny personality of the heroine.

THE DREAM CATCHER is available for pre-order on http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B017D73N0Q?keywords=the%20dream%20catcher%20marie%20laval&qid=1447004794&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1


Can her love heal his haunted heart?

Cape Wrath, Scotland, November 1847.

Bruce McGunn is a man as brutal and unforgiving as his land in the far North of Scotland. Discharged from the army where he was known as the claymore devil, haunted by the spectres of his fallen comrades and convinced he is going mad, he is running out of time to save his estate from the machinations of Cameron McRae, heir to the McGunn's ancestral enemies. When the clipper carrying McRae’s new bride is caught in a violent storm and docks at Wrath harbour, Bruce decides to revert to the old ways and hold the clipper and the woman to ransom. However, far from the spoilt heiress he expected, Rose is genuine, funny and vulnerable - a ray of sunshine in the long, harsh winter that has become his life.

But Rose is determined to escape Wrath and its proud master - the man she calls McGlum.

THE DREAM CATCHER is the first of the DANCING FOR THE DEVIL trilogy and is followed by BLUE BONNETS and SWORD DANCE.


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Scottish history

In 1544 Henry Tudor wanted the infant Scots Queen in England, married to his six-year-old son, Edward. Since the Scots won't part with her willingly, he sends out word that there will be a reward for any man who brings her south. Young Englishmen Matho Spirston and his good friend Harry Wharton accept the challenge but Matho falls foul of the king's niece, bold beauty Meg Douglas. She has her own problems and Matho needs his wits and courage to survive in this brutal world of political intrigue. Watching them all and constantly balancing one man against another is Marie de Guise, the widowed Dowager Queen who fears for the safety of her only surviving child, Mary, Queen of Scots.

A fast-paced dramatic story set in Stirling, Scotland in the year 1543.

Meg Douglas braced her palms on the cold stone windowsill high in the north-west tower and stared out to sea. A mile away, Bass Rock heaved its white, guano-smeared sides out of the indigo water and the usual coronet of seabirds circled its cliffs. Her gaze moved to hills of Fife on the far side of the Forth estuary, where waves hitting the shore threw up a faint haze and hid the beaches from sight.

With a hiss of exasperation, Meg banged the shutter closed and turned back into the small chamber. Father’s summons to this ancient Douglas stronghold had been unwelcome and badly timed. He must know Henry of England had married for the sixth time in July, and a budding court jostled round his new queen. By the time Meg rode south again, the plum positions would have gone and she would face the simpering smiles of the favoured ladies-in-waiting. She would have only King Henry’s erratic generosity to rely upon for the coming year.

Father would not care. Thanks to King Henry’s gold, Father was happily ensconced twenty-five miles from Edinburgh, and as busy as a bee in clover encouraging the populace of Scotland to accept the marriage of their infant Queen to England’s young Prince Edward. He could do it and welcome. She would be polite, even charming, do his bidding and get back to London as soon as possible. Scotland held nothing for her.

‘Margaret? Are ye ready? Daughter?’ Father’s bellow echoed up the spiral stairs from three floors below.

On the long, uncomfortable ride north she had received the unwelcome news that her father had re-married. At fifty-three, for God’s sake, he had wed a girl of eighteen. No doubt the new Countess of Angus would be waiting beyond the curve of the stair.

UK Kindle link: http://amzn.to/1wQTs7F
Jen Black’s Blog - http://tinyurl.com/kxpedhy

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Summer Magic for Halloween - New Excerpt for 'A Summer Bewitchment' by Lindsay Townsend

For Halloween, here is a new excerpt from my medieval historical romance, "A Summer Bewitchment". The heroine, Elfrida, is a witch. She is about to try a magic ritual to discover the whereabouts of 7 kidnapped maidens and the mysterious stranger who took them. Her husband, Sir Magnus, is also in the woods to protect her...


                                                                                  Chapter 3

Outside in the warm, still evening they walked arm in arm, both carrying panniers, and Elfrida shared what she knew of the stranger with Magnus. He in turn told her what he had learned of Rowena from the priest. It was, she thought, strangely companionable, but she wished they were speaking of less dark, mysterious matters.
“Valerian is a magic plant,” she explained, skirting carefully around a flowering elder bush. “It has many uses. One is as a lure. To seduce.”
“And the hare’s foot?” Magnus nodded to the elder bush as he stalked by, a grudging acknowledgement. “The rosemary I know from you is a guardian against evil spirits, so is that good?”
“Because he protects himself from demons and the like does not mean he is not evil himself.”
“Well spoken! The stranger’s mention of a Holy Mother?”
“The hare protects him from all danger. It is a creature of magic. The mother he reveres may be the Virgin, but he worships her in older ways.”
Magnus raised his black brows in silent inquiry.
“The wreath he leaves in thanks and sacrifice, of valerian and elder blossom, marigold, wild thyme and daisy, is made of flowers pleasing to the older gods. I have seen such posies left at ancient standing stones and statues, at rock carvings of the horned god.”
Her striding companion crossed himself. “Rowena is very pretty, so Father Jerome tells me.”
Elfrida nodded, unsurprised. “And docile, too?”
“Indeed. The priest claims they had no notion she might be in any way unhappy at being mewed up in a nunnery.” He scowled, his fingers tightening on his pannier.
“I have heard she is a kind, easy child, but I do not like it, either,” Elfrida admitted. “Would you be more sanguine if she was ill-favored?”
“Not a bit!” He glowered at her. “Do not think to test me, elfling, not this evening, at least. Even without your plan to go star-clad, I like these matters less and less. Do you know what family the Lady Astrid and Rowena are part of? The Gifford clan! Mighty and proud and wealthy.”
“So why do they ask us for help? Why wait five days to ask?”
“Indeed! The ride from Warren Bruer is less than a day, but with haste they could have raced here in hours.”
“So why not come sooner and then we can begin a search? Laggardly, then,” Elfrida observed. “Contradictory.”
“Snail slow, and I agree, contrary. And for the rest”—Magnus puffed out his cheeks—“to them I am a middling landowner and you, I am sorry to say, are utterly beneath notice, in their eyes. They should have far stronger allies than us to draw on.”
“Unless they fear those allies.”
“Do they seem frightened to you?”
Elfrida pointed to a vigorous thicket of hazel coppice and considered as they closed on the straight and slender hazel poles. “The lady is irked, certainly, but I sense no dread from her, only displeasure.”
“At the interruption onto her well-ordered life.”
Trailing a hand across the bright green leaves of the nearest hazel, Elfrida felt a raw sadness, a sense of unrequited loss. “Rowena seems an agreeable child, yet for all that unmissed. Were any of these girls missed?”
“Perhaps the Giffords do not want her found. Perhaps none of the families—” Magnus stopped and cursed, spitting to the right against ill-luck. “That is foul!”
Placing a palm over his heart, Elfrida found it beating hard with rage, the indignation that was absent from both Lady Astrid and Father Jerome. “The moon is rising. I must make ready.”
He swept her against him in a rib-crushing embrace. “Prepare well. I shall keep watch.”
“I know.” Wishing to offer words of hope and resolution, Elfrida found herself saying, “We should talk to the maids of your latest guests, the maids and their servants and grooms.”
Magnus’s grin blazed in his tanned face. “Maybe they have brought a laundress with them after all.” He released her and stepped back with a bow, turning to face the way they had come.
Keeping watch, as he promised.
Satisfied, keeping a steady grip on her pannier, she wove through the close-growing hazels into the very heart of the stand.

* * * *

His wife’s magic was often secret. Magnus respected it, since only a fool would set out to deliberately anger a witch. Remembering their early, fierce quarrels, he strove to let her be, to work at whatever she must be doing behind that curtain of crisscrossed leaves and branches.
But it was so hard! To let his woman step between the worlds as she did—it was brutal. What spirits and demons might she have to face? All he could do was guard her body and he would do that well, indeed, but to wait, only wait…
I feel useless.
She is the warrior of magic.
So? Forbid her. Now Lady Astrid was whispering in his aching head. Get her with child.

* * * *

Using two leafy hazel twigs as divining rods, Elfrida knelt in the small, bluebell-filled knoll in the middle of the hazels. She was naked, her hair loosened, her feet bare. A slither of a breeze touched her belly like a hot tongue. Distracted, thinking of Magnus waiting just beyond the leafy curtain, imagining his tongue against her skin, she wished the breeze away.
“Help me.” Praying to the Virgin, to the mother, she held the rods over Rowena’s headdress. Her eyes blurred as she stared at the simple hand-stitched daisies on the yellow cloth, willing herself to search.
“Let these rods divine the treasure I seek,” she said aloud, rising to her feet and circling the pinned cloth, moving sun-wise and then widdershins. The twigs dipped and trembled in her numbing fingers but did not cross.
“Show me!” she whispered, thinking of a dainty, pretty dark-haired girl. “I offer blood as payment.”
She had a knife made of flint, an ancient blade, given to her by her mother. Tucking the twigs into her mass of hair, she slashed the sharp stone across her palm, clenching her fist to make the cut bleed fast.
“I offer sweet as payment.” Magnus had brought a flask of mead for them to share and she had begged him for it. Dripping the liquor close to the yellow cloth, she felt a prickling between her shoulders.
No mortal comes, but the wood elves are close.
“I offer a wheat girl as payment.” She tucked the corn dolly, one she had made from her own lands while she was yet a maiden, between the lush grass stems. The tiny golden figure looked to be sleeping in a green bed.
Green and gold, the colors of spring and summer, blended before her eyes, swirling and dancing in a wild spiral. She danced, too, following the spiral, beating the dry grasses with her heels, tossing her hair, lifting her arms.

"A Summer Bewitchment" is available in print and ebook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookstrand and many other sellers. It is the second novel in the "Knight and His Witch" series, the first novel being "The Snow Bride".

Friday, 9 October 2015

Guest blog: Mary Reed and Eric Mayer - 'Murder in Megara'

John, former Lord Chamberlain to Emperor Justinian, has been exiled from Constantinople to a rustic estate John has long-owned in Greece, not far from where he grew up. But exile proves no escape from mystery and mayhem. The residents of nearby Megara make it plain John and his family are unwelcome intruders. His overseer proves corrupt. What of the other staff—and his neighbors?

Before long, John finds himself accused of blasphemy and murder. Now a powerless outsider, he’s on his own, investigating and annoyingly hampered by the ruthless and antagonistic City Defender who serves Megara as both law enforcer and judge. Plus there’s that corrupt estate overseer, a shady pig farmer, a servant’s unwelcome suitor, a wealthy merchant who spends part of his time as a cave-dwelling hermit, and the criminals and cutthroats populating such a seedy port as Megara.

Complicating matters further are two childhood friends whose lives have taken very different paths, plus the stepfather John hated. John realizes that in Megara, the solution to murder does not lie in the dark alleys where previous investigations have taken him, but in a far more dangerous place—his own past. Can he find his way out of the labyrinth of lies and danger into which he has been thrust before disaster strikes and exile turns into execution?


“It was because of the demons, sir! Released swarms of demons, they did, what with all their digging round that pagan temple! Should have been destroyed a long time ago, if you ask me.”
          The City Defender glared at the captured arsonist, a man named James. “Demons, is it? Explain yourself."
          “Sir, I am a law-abiding seller of fish. Well-known for the excellence of my wares, landed fresh each day. Don’t sell anything over a day old. Work hard, pay my taxes, attend church faithfully, and—”
          “Yes, yes, a pillar of the community. But what has this to do with your criminal behavior last night?”
          John, newly returned from Lechaion, was present as injured party as the City Defender conducted an arraignment interview. The arsonist was a rough-looking man, his upper arm and shoulder wrapped in bandages. The door of the whitewashed room stood open to allowing the mixed odors of the city to enter on the rectangle of strong sunlight lying across a mosaic floor depicting a pastoral scene.
          But not enough sunlight to dispel the darkness of Megaran justice unfolding before him, John thought.
          “And then there was those unspeakable rites they was doing in that ruin,” the seller of fish continued. “Orgies, sir. Blood. Torture. Bound to free demons. And as we all know, they can take over a man, hook their sharpened claws into our souls, cause us to do terrible things we would not dream of, could not dream
of, as sober and responsible citizens.”
          The man appeared ready to burst into tears at the thought of what acts he might be capable of doing while in his possessed state.
          “And so those others with you, companions you say you cannot identify, were all possessed by demons, leading to the crimes committed last night?”
          The accused man nodded violently. “And my wife is worried about what I might do next. What if I get up at night and murder everyone in their beds? What if I start selling fish I know to be unfit to eat? What if I suddenly attack Halmus, who has done so much for Megara?”
          The City Defender raised his hand for silence. “So your defense boils down to the fact you and your fellow conspirators were possessed by demons forcing you to set fire to this man’s property and assault his servant?”
          The fish seller nodded.
          “I see,” the City Defender went on. “I have heard this defense before and there is much in what you say. Given your sterling character, I find it to be acceptable. I am accepting it on condition you consult your church on appropriate ways to free yourself of the demon possessing you. In addition I order you to make a large donation to the church. No compensation is due to the owner of the property under the circumstances. If he can collect
it from demons he is free to do so. You may go.”
          The seller of fish bowed, mumbled his gratitude, and scuttled away.
          John hid his consternation.
          “Now,” said the City Defender, “about the charges levied against you."

Monday, 5 October 2015

Guest blog: Suzie Kolber - Choosing a Template for your Family Tree

If you are tracing family history, you need an easy way to record your information. While you may keep a vast file online or on paper for the in-depth details, a quick visual is ideal when you want to know the basics. A family tree template can be kept in plain sight and reviewed quickly to see which person you are currently researching.

Regardless of the reason you are doing research into your family, you can benefit from a family tree template. However, the one you select will vary based on the actual project, the reason behind it and how much information you are gathering. Here are some tips to help you choose the right template.
Why Are You Researching?

The first question you want to answer is why you are doing this research into your family history. If it is for a gift for someone or as a class project, you will want to choose a template that is stylish and displays the information in a decorative format. You may even want to choose a family tree template that provides enough room for photos.

For a project that is based on your desire to learn about your family history, you can select a simpler template. Choose one that allows you to record a few basic details such as dates of birth, marriage and death or locations. This eliminates the need to go through your research for every little statistic.
How Many Generations Are You Studying?

The template you choose will depend on how many generations you are including. If you are using the family tree as a gift for someone, you may only need a three- or four-generational template. On the other hand, you may want a ten- or twelve-generational template if you are studying it to learn more about your ancestors.

For those who make genealogy a hobby and want to trace their histories back to the Mayflower or beyond, you will want to break down your information into multiple charts. Instead of having one gigantic chart, you can use multiple six- or eight-generational family trees. This gives you more room to include important data and breaks down the vast amount of information into segments. It is also helpful if you have others helping you on the project.

These templatea are especially helpful if you are tracing your ancestry further back in time. As information becomes more difficult to find, you may have to abandon one part of the lineage and pick up with another ancestor. Keeping these family tree templates is a handy way to remember what information you have and which family members are missing.

A template for your family tree makes research more accessible and the process more enjoyable. It provides an important visual if you are working with kids, and is a great way to record all of the data you discover. Select the right template based on your needs and the goals you have for studying your ancestry.

Suzie Kolber created obituarieshelp.org  to be the complete online resource for “do it yourself” genealogy projects.  The site offers the largest offering of family tree charts online. The site is a not for profit website dedicated to offering free resources for those that are trying to trace their family history. 

Friday, 18 September 2015

Guest blog: Veronica Bale - 'A Noble Deception'

Forced to wed a landless knight in order to protect her home, Moira MacInnes intends an annulment of her marriage to the arrogant Lachlan Ramsay as soon as possible. Falling in love wasn’t part of the plan. 


Scotland 1455 – The Douglas clan is at war with their king. To protect his lands from confiscation, Lord John Douglas, the dying Earl of Kildrummond, must find an heir that doesn’t carry his name. 

A landless knight, Lachlan Ramsay expects no more of life than battles, blood, and the occasional warm bosom. But when Lord John makes him his heir, Lachlan has a chance at something he never dreamt of—a home. There’s just one condition: He must marry the earl’s bastard daughter, the fiery, eccentric Moira MacInnes. 

Lachlan has no desire for a headstrong, sharp-tongued wife. Moira has no need for an arrogant, too-handsome husband. To save Kildrummond they will marry and seek an annulment immediately upon the earl’s death. But deception is never simple, and passion once inflamed is impossible to ignore. Soon they will no longer be deceiving the earl but themselves.

Buy at Amazon.

Visit the author at http://www.veronicabale.com/

A Noble Deception - Excerpt

Bundled against the icy wind, Moira pushed her mare onward through the deteriorating weather. That morning, she had set her mind on making it to Glendalough by mid-afternoon (Highland wind be damned). She wanted to leave well before the evening meal to avoid being guilted into staying.

Except now, she was starting to regret her zeal; her new priority was to simply reach the castle’s walls before dark.

One way or another, she would confront Viscount Strathcairn. After a considerable amount of thought, she’d made up her mind.

She would accept his proposal—sweet heaven above, she couldn’t even think the words without gritting her teeth!

As much as she detested the arrangement, for however brief a time it may be, she had to concede that it was logical. As long as he was willing to uphold his end of the bargain and have the marriage annulled when the time came—and Moira had no choice but to trust that he would—then she would agree.

And why wouldn’t he make good on his promise? A man like Lachlan Ramsay wouldn’t want a plain, simple lass like Moira for a wife under more natural circumstances. Any more than Moira would want a vain, over-confident, self-important brute like him.

Vain he certainly was!

Well, he probably was, at any rate. All men that good looking were.