Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Juliet & Romeo by @david_hewson #Literary #Romance #Historical #NewRelease @DomePress #JulietAndRomeo

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Juliet & Romeo by David Hewson
Synopsis:

Two young people meet: Romeo, desperate for love before being sent away to study, and Juliet facing a forced marriage to a nobleman she doesn’t know. Fate and circumstance bring them together in a desperate attempt to thwart their parents with a secret marriage. But in a single fateful week, their intricate scheming falls terribly apart. Shakespeare’s most well-known and well-loved play has been turned in to a gripping romantic thriller with a modern twist. Rich with the sights and sounds of medieval Italy, peopled with a vibrant cast of characters who spring from the page, this is Shakespeare as you’ve never read it before.

Extract:

Part One: To Borrow Cupid’s Wings

The Marangona bell in the Torre dei Lamberti had just sounded the hour. Nine of a busy Monday morning in what was once Verona’s imperial Roman forum, now its marketplace, the Piazza Erbe. The square thronged with shoppers bargaining at stalls selling meat and fish, cheese and fruit and vegetables, cheap wine and cheaper beer. In the shadows of the colonnades two youths lurked, Samson and Gregory, both servants of the Capulets. The first a skinny seventeenyear-old kitchen boy, the second a priest’s bastard from Padua, a tall and hefty stable hand shuffling on his big feet as he caught the glint of metal in Samson’s grubby hand. They wore the clothes of their class – rough wool jerkins, baggy britches, sandals held together by thread and nails. This poverty extended to the weaponry they took with them on to the streets. The sons of fine families were in the habit of carrying daggers and rapiers forged in Florence and Milan. The lower orders snatched at anything they could lay their hands on, sharp or blunt. They fought with fists and boots and punches to the balls. Died that way, too. A crude swagger stick sat on a piece of rope round Gregory’s fat stomach, a mallet handle with a spiked iron ball on the end. The blade Samson owned was nothing more than a paring knife stolen from the

kitchen, the edge honed carefully until it gleamed. He held it now, low by his side so that only his companion might see. ‘There’s that fat Montague pig Abraham with his mate. Time to put that stick of yours to some use, Gregory. Go over and wallop him. He wants it.’ Across the piazza, just visible beyond the stalls, two figures moved through the market. Much the same age as the two Capulets. Much the same size: one short and lean, one tubby and daydreaming. Samson and Gregory wore a scarlet feather in their caps. The Montagues a blue one. Not that any of these were flesh and blood of the Montague or Capulet lines. Just servants, sharing the same borrowed hatred and never asking why. Gregory kicked a fish head and stuck his fists deep into the pockets of his britches. ‘I don’t know. We’re getting hard looks from those blokes on the stalls. They don’t like trouble when they’re trying to sell stuff.’ ‘I reckon it was them Montague lads who had that kitchen girl of ours last week.’ Lucia. An orphan who worked the ovens. She’d gone out for a walk by the river. Came back in tears and rags, telling tales the soldiers of Escalus, the city’s current military master, didn’t want to hear. ‘That hare-brained lass should have been in the kitchen stirring the pots, not hanging round down them dark alleys in Sottoriva. Could have been anyone had his way with her. Besides the watchmen reckoned she was up for it. Plenty been there with that daft cow. You for one.’ ‘Scared are you?’ ‘Just thinking it through.’ The Montague pair had spotted them but they hadn’t moved their way. ‘I don’t see you in a rush either.’

Fights were fine so long as the numbers were on your side. And you had the right comrades. Samson liked to whine. It was his principal pastime. Action always came last. ‘It’s only fair. They had one of ours. A bit of gravy on their chops and then we leg it.’ Gregory pulled a stick of dried sausage out of his pocket, bit off a chunk and waited. ‘Master sent us out to buy grub for his ball tonight. He won’t be happy if we come back empty-handed.’ ‘We whack them round the head a bit. Then go hunting round the back of their palazzo. First girl that comes out of the kitchen’s mine. Unless she’s hideous – then you can have her.’ Samson had a sly and cruel face and it was turned on Gregory. ‘With a bit of luck we might get a virgin if the Montagues have got any left. You all right with that?’ ‘I’m all right with the girls. Escalus ain’t so bothered about them. It’s the walloping bit–’ ‘They got to know who’s boss. You with me or not?’ Gregory patted his pocket. He had a stable knife with him as well as the swagger stick. Short, a bit blunt. But he was strong enough to hold a struggling stallion when he had to. The thing would do. ‘I hate the buggers, too, you know. But like I say. Escalus has got that one wicked eye on lads like us. Same way his bosses in Venice have got their eyes on him. The Marshal hates riots. They get him in trouble too. I don’t fancy jail or worse just for giving one of them scummy Montagues a few bruises and a sore head.’ ‘Then let’s get clever. Make them start the scrap. I’ll look at them funny. Get ’em going. That way we’re just… defending ourselves. Which is every man’s right, and Escalus is bound to uphold us in that.’ Samson grinned, displaying a remarkable absence of teeth. ‘As

to the kitchen girls… well… everyone knows what they’re like. I want first go though. This’ll do it.’ Samson winked, grinned and bit his thumb. The oldest, stupidest gesture any of them knew. Someone said the Romans used to do it when they fancied a brawl. ‘Go on then,’ said Gregory and didn’t move. Samson looked up at him. ‘You first.’ ‘When we get around to the girl, you mean?’ ‘No. The fight. You’re the big one. You lead. I’ll follow.’ Gregory slapped him hard on the shoulder. ‘Ow,’ Samson whined. ‘That hurt.’ ‘Oh sorry, friend. We’re supposed to be buying stuff for the evening ball. There’ll be trouble if that goes wrong. Capulet will do the walloping himself and we both know what he’s like with that whip of his.’ Samson went quiet. He’d had enough of Capulet’s beatings. ‘Tell you what,’ said Gregory. ‘We’ll skip the girl. Next week. When we’ve got more time. And…’ A shape they recognised was moving through the crowds, a tall youth around their own age. But he was an aristocrat; it showed in his clothes, his manner, the haughty way he held his head above the swarms of common folk around him as if he couldn’t stand the stink of them. ‘Well, well,’ Samson murmured, gleeful all of a sudden. ‘If it isn’t our master’s well-loved nephew. Just the chap you’d want at a time like this.’ ‘I suppose,’ Gregory agreed, though the sight of the young man across the Piazza Erbe gave him pause. ‘I heard the noble Tybalt crippled a clerk who’d done nothing more than bump into him in the street a month or so ago.’

‘Dead right he did. I was there and he paid me well to keep quiet. Back last winter he ran a cheeky cart boy right through down by the brothels in Sottoriva.’ Gregory didn’t like those dark and dangerous colonnades by the river. ‘Our Tybalt got caught hanging round the tarts down there?’ ‘The only kind of girl that one beds are the sort you pay for. Expensive business. The old man had to dig deep to keep him out of Escalus’s clutches after he murdered the poor little bugger.’ Tybalt was bloodthirsty, vicious and short tempered, always armed with the latest weapons, forever spoiling for a quarrel and a chance to use them. ‘Nothing stopping our Tybalt,’ Samson added. ‘’Specially when there are Montagues around.’ He clapped his grubby hands. ‘This will be fun.’

DH
Photo: Dingena Mol / Crimezone Magazine
David Hewson
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview The Street Orphans by @Authormary Mary Wood #Saga #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction @panmacmillan ‘A stark portrayal of the Victorian era in Lancashire 5*’

The Street Orphans high res cover
The Street Orphans by Mary Wood
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Born with a club foot in a remote village in the Pennines, Ruth is feared and ridiculed by her superstitious neighbours who see her affliction as a sign of witchcraft. When her father is killed in an accident and her family evicted from their cottage, she hopes to leave her old life behind, to start afresh in the Blackburn cotton mills. But tragedy strikes once again, setting in motion a chain of events that will unravel her family’s lives.

Their fate is in the hands of the Earl of Harrogate, and his betrothed, Lady Katrina. But more sinister is the scheming Marcia, Lady Katrina’s jealous sister. Impossible dreams beset Ruth from the moment she meets the Earl. Dreams that lead her to hope that he will save her from the terrible fate that awaits those accused of witchcraft. Dreams that one day her destiny and the Earl’s will be entwined.

My Review:

I have previously read and loved Brighter Days Ahead by Mary wood. Which I thoroughly enjoyed as a ww2 fiction saga. This novel however, takes on a whole other angle. The Street Orphans is a much darker novel, which fully explores the themes of poverty in Victorian society. The plight of the children, whilst remaining factual accurate, is unbearable at times. It is just so painful and as a parent myself, I dreaded the thought of having to endure such harsh times.

The novel opens in 1850 when the lives of one young family are ripped apart. Ruth Dovecote is the oldest of five siblings, she finds herself the mother figure. After the death of their father in a recent accident, the family are served an eviction notice 24hrs after the funeral. They are cold, penniless and hungry. Their mother decides to make the trek to Lythe Fell in Blackburn, to her cousin’s residence.
Only the journey doesn’t go as planned.

On the journey the carriage of the Earl of Harrogate hits Ruth’s mother causing an instant death. Despite witnessing the death of their beloved mother, the children rally to save the passengers. The Earl is far from grateful and mocks Ruth’s club foot, with nothing but utter contempt for her. . .

‘And us within spitting distance of Pendle Hill, where they hanged a whole bunch of your kind a couple of centuries ago’ – Earl of Harrogate

The legend that surrounds Pendle Hill and specifically the witches of Pendle Hill, is well known. At least it is to me. I grew up in Lancashire and Pendle Hill could be clearly seen from the front doorstep of my grandmother’s house on Summer Street in Nelson. I can remember my granny Winnie filling my head with tales of her past in Lancashire. My Gran worked in the mills and my grandad worked down the pits. They had both known harsh childhoods, full of poverty and yet gave nothing but love their entire lives. My Grandfather himself was an Orphan at 17yrs of age. His father committed suicide after ww1, my grandad found his body at just 10yrs old. So, I suppose the themes of orphans/poverty hit me quite hard emotionally. I remember my gran telling me that at 17yrs old my grandad couldn’t afford shoes for his feet and that he had also endured sleeping rough. This is a man that would give you the shirt of his back, his last fiver or giant hug whenever you needed it. Lancashire might have a history of poverty and endurance under difficult times. But it also has an incredible history of love, friendship and warmth amongst its people.

Anyhow, back to the story before I am crying!
Ruth saves the Earl despite his vile attitude towards her. when he then makes violent threats towards her younger sister Elsie 4yrs old.
Ruth sees red and this leaves the Earl dead!
What will become of the children now?

Across Lancashire we are introduced to Katrina, daughter to a wealthy mill owner. She is betrothed to Lord Bertram Rollinson, the Earl of Harrogate. At just 21yrs old, she finds this a rather daunting prospect.
She is unable to marry for love and this she finds disheartening. . .

‘Lord Rollinson is trading a title for me, and daddy’s acceptance into society circles, just to get his hands on our money. How could you wish this to happen to me?’ – Katrina

However, Katrina is in for a surprise because Bertram is no longer among the living. Which will lead to his brother Frederick to take his place as Earl. Which brings a whole new dimension to Katerina’s marital woes.

‘Marriage in your society is no more than a business contract’ – Arkwright

The new Earl of Harrogate, Frederick is deeply concerned for the welfare of the children involved in the crash. He knows their actions allowed his mother Lady Eleonore to survive it. He hunts them down in a desperate attempt to help them. But these are street smart kids, who’s only experience of ‘toffs’ is one of exploitation and abuse. Ruth avoids the earl at every turn, which leads her to Ma Perkins and a whole new nightmare!

The novel covers a wide-range of themes as we follow not only the working-class characters but the society elite. Whilst the poor may fall prey to violence, rape and extreme poverty. The wealthy experience their own set of struggles. They live in s society built on reputations, where their status can be crushed in the blink of an eye. The women also experience being married off, as though they are pawns in a game of chess, being moved off to advance the males in the family. The author has done an outstanding job of covering the various people within the society and maintaining historical accuracy.
A stark portrayal of the Victorian era in Lancashire 5*

Mary Wood
Mary wood
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My ReviewBrighter Days Ahead

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Promo – Decide To Hope by @JuneAConverse #ContemporaryRomance @rararesources Hope is always a choice away

EBOOK COVER
Decide To Hope by June A. Converse
Synopsis:

An unimaginable trauma. A future that seems impossible. When your world shatters, how do you put it back together?

For 950 days, Kathleen Conners has struggled with that choice. Behind a scarf and sunglasses, she hides from the world, from herself, from The Event, from any future with anyone.

After receiving a box of letters from his deceased mother, Matt Nelson is shoved from his predictable, controlled life to a secluded beach in North Carolina. While trying to understand his mother’s intent, he discovers Kathleen.

Matt must choose whether to follow the path his mother orchestrated or rescue the woman who has captured his heart. When the only person Kathleen blames more than herself reappears, can Matt be the strength Kathleen needs to create a new life, or will he be forced to walk away if she decides the climb is too great?

June Converse Author Photo
June A. Converse
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Author bio:
June happily resides in Sandy Springs, Georgia, with her husband, Dave, and their dog, Sodapop. They have two wonderful adult children and two grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic exerciser and an accomplished cook. She and her husband enjoy hiking with Sodapop, traveling, scuba diving, trying new restaurants, concerts, and whatever other adventures they can find. Reading and a constant desire to learn keeps her busy too.

A trauma survivor who struggles with mental illness, June is continuously reaching for hope like the characters in her books. She openly discusses her personal struggles on her blog, JuneConverse.com

Decide to Hope is her first novel and relies a great deal on her own experience with trauma, choices, recovery and hope. If you’d like to discuss trauma, coping and recovery, contact her at JuneConverse.com or DecideToHope.com

REGALEMEDIA CO_

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Author Q&A with @RebeccaLFleet – The House Swap #Psychological #Thriller #NewRelease #TheHouseSwap #AuthorTalks @TransworldBooks Be careful who you let in. . .

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The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet
Review to follow
Synopsis:

‘No one lives this way unless they want to hide something.’

When Caroline and Francis receive an offer to house swap, they jump at the chance for a week away from home. After the difficulties of the past few years, they’ve worked hard to rebuild their marriage for their son’s sake; now they want to reconnect as a couple.

On arrival, they find a house that is stark and sinister in its emptiness – it’s hard to imagine what kind of person lives here. Then, gradually, Caroline begins to uncover some signs of life – signs of her life. The flowers in the bathroom or the music in the CD player might seem innocent to her husband but to her they are anything but. It seems the person they have swapped with is someone she used to know; someone she’s desperate to leave in her past.

But that person is now in her home – and they want to make sure she’ll never forget . . .

Q&A:

Q) For the readers can you tell us a bit about yourself and your new novel, The House Swap?

A) Hello! I’m 38, live in London, and in my day job I work as a brand strategy consultant. I’ve always written, but The House Swap is my first foray into psychological thriller/suspense. It tells the story of a married couple struggling to get their relationship back on track after a difficult few years. To this end, they decide to enter into a house swap and have a break away from home, but when they reach the new house it isn’t long before the wife, Caroline, begins to feel that their surroundings are loaded, carrying memories of a traumatic period of her life that she has worked hard to forget. She starts to wonder if it can be a coincidence – and if not, who she has just let into her own home.

Q) The novel has the unique theme of being centred around a house swap, what was the inspiration behind this idea?

A) I had noticed the growing popularity of house swaps through sites such as Airbnb and not been remotely tempted to try it myself, as I always found it a rather worrying concept – our homes are such personal and private spaces, and allowing a stranger into them without being there ourselves requires a high degree of trust. I started thinking about what could go wrong, and how it would feel if you became aware that you had opened up your own home to someone who might not be a complete stranger after all, and who had their own dark motivations for being there.

Q) The novel focuses on a couple trying to get their marriage back on track. Does this add extra depth to their characters and backgrounds?

A) I hope so! I always saw the book as a relationship drama as much as a thriller. These days, psychological thriller is a pretty broad term. For me, the tension in the book springs largely from the dynamics between the key characters, their relationships to one another and the ways in which they might undermine each other and threaten the fabric of their lives through their own behaviour. The couple in the book, Caroline and Francis, aren’t intended to be wholly likeable; the whole point for me was to show them as real and very flawed people who are trying to do the best they can in difficult circumstances – sometimes misguidedly.

Q) The novel also has a theme of past relationships and those we’d rather leave in the past. With social media and sites such as friends reunited, this has become much more difficult. Did this inspire the novel in any way?

A) I think that our attitudes to past relationship in general are very different in today’s society. The temptation to “keep tabs” on people in a virtual sense even when they have disappeared from our day-to-day lives is a strong one, and it’s almost become socially acceptable, even if we don’t like to admit it. So although this might not have inspired the plot of the novel consciously, I do think that I was aware that these days, trying to leave a relationship in the past as Caroline is doing in the book requires a lot of discipline and dedication. It’s so easy to slip back into wanting to know what that person is up to, and it’s a short step from that to still caring about them.

Q) With the psychological/thriller genre being massively competitive, does this encourage authors to think outside the box and develop new ideas and themes?

A) It’s fair to say that there is quite a bit of repetition when it comes to psychological thriller plots, which I think is pretty inevitable – there are only so many themes and ideas to go round! But yes, I do think it has become more important to try and push the boundaries of those and put a new spin on them. The funny thing is that often new trends emerge which perhaps you find yourself part of without having known or planned it; recently in the Evening Standard, The House Swap was included as an example of the new “criblit” trend (psychological suspense/thrillers with houses at their heart). At the time of writing the book, I don’t think this was a “thing”, but I suppose that sometimes there is just something in the water…

Q) House Swap is a debut novel, what was your feeling upon seeing the finished cover and promotional materials?

A) I have actually had a couple of literary novels published under a different name in a past life (!), but the experience was quite different this time. The psychological thriller genre is one that lends itself brilliantly to strong covers and promotion, and Transworld have done a great job on that. I immediately loved the cover concept of the two monochrome doors – I think it stands out nicely on the shelf and sets the right tone. And then there have been the posters, the book trailer… it is more than I had hoped for and very exciting to see it all coming together.

Q) How will you be celebrating your books launch/release?

A) I had my launch party on 3rd May, which was a great occasion! We held it in a bookshop in Notting Hill and it was the perfect chance for family and friends to come together along with people from Transworld and my agent to celebrate the book’s release. It was very much like a wedding in the sense that in retrospect I can’t actually remember much of what I said to people or even who I talked to, but I was left with the sense of having enjoyed it a lot, which is what you want really…

Q) Finally, what is next in store do you have a next novel planned and are we allowed any details?

A) Yes, I am currently working on my next book, which is in the same genre but not directly connected to The House Swap. In brief, it concerns a man who discovers that his wife is in the witness protection programme as a result of a crime involving her sister eighteen years earlier, and the action shifts back and forth between the present day and the time at which the crime took place. I won’t say too much more about it now, but hopefully it will appeal to the same sort of readers who enjoy The House Swap!

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Rebecca Fleet
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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost – #Disability – A Spoke in The Wheel by @KathleenJowitt #ContemporaryFiction #Cycling

front cover asitw 1
A Spoke In The Wheel by Kathleen Jowitt
Synopsis:

The first thing I saw was the wheelchair.

The first thing she saw was the doper.

Ben Goddard is an embarrassment – as a cyclist, as an athlete, as a human being. And he knows it.

Now that he’s been exposed by a positive drugs test, his race wins and his work with disabled children mean nothing. He quits professional cycling in a hurry, sticks a pin in a map, and sets out to build a new life in a town where nobody knows who he is or what he’s done.

But when the first person he meets turns out to be a cycling fan, he finds out that it’s not going to be quite as easy as that.

Besides, Polly’s not just a cycling fan, she’s a former medical student with a chronic illness and strong opinions. Particularly when it comes to Ben Goddard…

Guest Post:

Virginia Woolf opens her 1925 essay On Being Ill with the following observation:

Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed… it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love, battle, and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.

I’d like to take that further and say that, considering how many people are living with a disability or a chronic illness, it becomes strange how little that’s reflected in fiction

We’ve had didactic Victorian fiction, often with a miraculous cure at the end of the book; we’ve had the overwrought sensationalism of Me Before You; but we’ve had very little about ordinary disabled people just getting on with their life. Disabled characters tend to be saints or villains, with not much in between. And that doesn’t reflect the world that I see around me, or the people that I see around me.

I wouldn’t say that I deliberately set out to redress that balance: it just happened that way. A Spoke in the Wheel came out of a conversation I had with my partner as we watched the Vuelta A España: he observed that endurance athletes must be some of the few people to intuitively understand the ‘spoons’ analogy of disability. I started wondering how the circumstances would need to align for two people who had that first-hand experience to have that conversation. The book started there: Ben, a professional cyclist, meets Polly, a disabled fan.

Then I started thinking about the other thing that disabled people and professional cyclists have in common: the assumptions people make about them, the hurtful, damaging assumptions that cyclists are doping to win, and that disabled people are faking it to get benefits. That went into the pot, too. (Since it’s made clear in the first two chapters, I don’t mind telling you now. He’s a cheat. She isn’t.)

I’m not physically disabled myself so I was very keen to ensure that I portrayed Polly’s ME in a sensitive and accurate manner. Joanne Harris’ Twitter thread on Ten Things About Writing Medical Conditions [link here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/979331230318686208.html%5D came just as I’d approved the final proofs of A Spoke in the Wheel, but it demonstrates very well the approach that I tried to take, particularly tweets 6, 7 and 8. Polly is much more than her disability, but her disability affects her life in all sorts of ways. She absolutely has a leading role. And there are no miracle cures, and no saccharine deathbed scenes in this book.

And I can’t tell you how grateful I am to my friends who read the manuscript and said things like, ‘No, if he’s going to pick her prescription up for her then he’ll need a signed letter…’ Or, indeed, ‘Haha, yes, that’s happened to me several times!’ Not to mention the one who took her wheelchair to pieces so that I could photograph one of the wheels for the front cover…

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Kathleen Jowitt
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ASITW blog tour individual 17 May