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Decanted

Decanted is the story of bored millennial wine enthusiast and super palate Samantha Goodyear. When Samantha gets the opportunity of a lifetime to visit and work on one of the finest vineyards in France, she drops everything to go. Samantha returns to the United States and begins to build her own wine empire from a special gift left to her family by an older relative from World War II. But disaster strikes and the possibility of love once again enters the picture. Will she take the opportunity and will her business survive?

This emotionally charged book that radiates the aura of leisure and gives the reader a beautiful picture of sunny California, historic France and miles of vineyards. Author Linda Sheehan gives readers a light romance that is humorous at times and not too bogged down with heavy drama, although there is plenty of it it’s always refreshing. The flashbacks to the past and Aunt Vivian’s story are wonderful too and provide extra insight into the culture and art of winemaking that shapes Samantha’s life. The one thing that makes this novel stand out from other contemporary romance novels is the wine culture that is used as a fascinating backdrop to some stimulating scenes and alluring characters. The characters are all distinct and have their varying degrees of interest and class in the world of winemaking. There are the snobs, the hard workers, the casual enjoyers, and all are represented effortless yet realistic way. Samantha in particular is a compelling protagonist. She is a relatable millennial who is stuck in the rat race and trying to make a living, figure out life, and manage issues between her parents. But the truly amazing and likable things about Samantha is how she pursues her passions with abandon, all the while staying true to her herself. It is so refreshing and unique to read a protagonist so ready to think, act, and pursue her true self and her desires.

Decanted is a wonderfully realistic and intelligent new adult romance novel revealing a well-researched wine culture that’s effortlessly entertaining. I enjoyed the rich and detailed explanations of the natural views and taste or smells of the food and drink in the book. This book is a paradise for the gastronomically inclined. I highly recommend this as a light and refreshing read to any who dreams of the French campagne, soleil, et bon vin.

Pages: 265 | ISBN: 978-1-68433-703-3

Black Rose Writing

Swordpoint

Swordpoint by [Crane, David]

Swordpoint is an engaging story full of trials and tribulations for the protagonist, Eugene Francois Vidocq. Anyone interested in historical fiction focused on 18th century France would get a lot of satisfaction from reading this novel.

The main character is the son of a bread maker who grew up a troublemaker in a small town in France. After falling in love, sailing halfway around the world to find his fortune, and returning with little more than experience gained, Vidocq must forge a new way forward. Unfortunately for him, his past deeds seem to follow him everywhere he goes, and now he must go to great lengths to re-create a future worthy of his dreams. Achieving those dreams turns out to be quite a challenge as he is put up against many adversaries. Vidocq’s adventures take him in and out of many riveting circumstances but he is smart, skilled, and dedicated to his cause.

The story takes place among many important points of France’s history, and each part of that history is very carefully crafted. The characters and setting are believable and full of depth making it easy to sink into Vidocq’s world. The meticulous descriptive power of the author helps bring the story to life. Being a well-researched historical fiction novel details such as the guillotines spread throughout France to administer revolutionary justice, the social classes, changing political landscape, and much more, are created genuinely enough to give the reader a perfect atmospheric feeling.

18th century France provides the perfect setting for excitement. There is ample opportunity for Vidocq to engage in exciting confrontations everywhere he goes. Whether it is chasing criminals, trying to escape the jaws of death, slipping in and out of favor with the powers that be, or showcasing his ability as a capable fighter, Vidocq will certainly keep you entertained.

Swordpoint takes on a life of its own. This historical fiction novel deserves high praise for its writing quality, character development, and top rate storytelling. The story is very well written and does a fantastic job at captivating your imagination.

Pages: 335 | ASIN: B00B6FCLGO

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That Was Never My Style

James McPike Author Interview

James McPike Author Interview

The Emerald Cave follows investigator Vince Ramsey who is tasked with tracking down a dangerous arms dealer. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

After writing the previous two novels in this series I always try to up the ante in my books. With this one I wanted the main hero Vince Ramsey to tackle his biggest mission yet. It took me almost two years to develop the plot and once I did, it took me about three months to write the book. I never thought I’d write a trilogy, but it all came together and happened. It’s one of the greatest accomplishments in my life that I can look back on. I knew this would be the end for one of my favorite heroes and I wanted him to go out with a bang.

Vince is an intriguing character that I enjoyed following along with. What were some driving ideals behind his character?

Before I even started the monumental task of writing a book, I just tried to create a character in my mind who fit the concept and ideals of a hero for today. I wanted someone who knew the Bible, but was also like a preacher with a badge and not afraid to dish out punishment when necessary to save the day. In the end I wanted someone who everyone could root for.

There is a perfect balance of mystery, intrigue and action throughout this book. Was this a conscious effort while writing or did it develop organically?

Every book I write is by instinct. I’m not like some authors where they plot and plan and script each scene beforehand on paper. That was never my style. I trusted that when I wrote the scene those things would come to me, and so far after ten years it’s worked. I’d rather run with my ideas and see where they take me, instead of script or pre-plan each scene. But I also stew on my ideas before I even decide to start a new book. I know what the readers expect and I don’t want to let them down. I do tons of research before even starting a new book project. If the idea isn’t worthwhile I’m not going to waste my time on it.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Glad you asked. I write every book like it’s my last, so I didn’t know if I would write again. For whatever reason, the idea struck me and I’m writing what I think will be my best book yet – Treasure Fever. It’s about the legendary search for El Dorado and I anticipate on having it done by January. We all know how long it takes for a book to be traditionally published but I hope this one will be out sometime in 2019.

Author Links: Facebook | GoodReads

The Emerald Cave (Ramsey Series Book 3) by [McPike, James]Follow Israel’s top investigator, Vince Ramsey, in this thrilling conclusion to the award-winning trilogy! Ramsey is called in to track down a shadowy arms dealer whose last known whereabouts were in a reclusive village in France. It soon becomes clear that the arms dealer was after a fabled treasure–something so powerful that it could be used as the ultimate weapon. Ramsey enlists the help of April Fulton, an expert in rare antiquities, to aid him in his whirlwind quest. She quickly traces clues to a controversial physics lab in Switzerland, led by a mysterious figure. Hunting down another lead, Ramsey travels halfway around the globe to a decommissioned military base in the most remote place on earth–Antarctica. There he must battle the dangerous elements and a ruthless team of mercenaries in a race to find the treasure in time.

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Rises from Humble Beginnings

Carole Penfield Author Interview

Carole Penfield Author Interview

Midwife of Normandy follows young Clare as she struggles to save her family and career from France’s tyrannical king. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

An avid fan of history, I researched 17th century religious persecution of Huguenots by King Louis XIV and was surprised how few historical fiction novels had been set during this turbulent period (as opposed to numerous novels set in other times, like Tudor England.) I also noted that many historical fiction authors focused on women of royal or aristocratic blood as protagonists.

I wanted to do something different, so I created a Huguenot female protagonist, who rises from humble beginnings and dares to defy and outwit male authority, including the King’s soldiers.

After visiting Rouen and the beautiful countryside of Normandy, I felt certain this was the perfect location for my book.

I didn’t think being a midwife could be so interesting and this novel definitely caused me to look more into the profession. Why did you choose this profession for Clare in the story?

Let’s face facts; there weren’t many professional options available to 17th century women. It was widely held that their only proper role was marriage, absolute obedience to husbands, and bearing of children. Midwifery was almost exclusively performed by females, but was looked upon as a lowly trade.

In order to rise above her humble beginnings, Clare decides to offer her services, using a secret ancestral formula for pain-free birth, exclusively to wealthy members of the aristocracy who reward her handsomely, thereby turning midwifery into a lucrative profession.

Clare is a fascinating character that continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in Clare’s character?

Throughout history, women have struggled against many prejudices. What I set out to achieve was to create a strong, ambitious young woman who sought to control her own destiny. In a sense, Clare was an early pioneer for female equality in 17th century France, as she sought a career. However, she knew she was also obligated to marry in order to bear a female child to carry on her ancestral midwifery heritage.

At first, dewy-eyed young Clare is disappointed when her romantic childhood sweetheart leaves the country and she is coerced into marrying his older, dull brother. However, she turns out to be much stronger than her husband, even to the point of secretly using birth control until she decides the time is right for bearing children. And she is the one who must bravely plot their escape from France.

Another minor theme is the conflict a career woman faces between spending time with her children and working outside the home. A feeling of guilt. This balancing act continues through the present day, so it is a universal, contemporary theme.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?

The second novel in the series, Lucina’s Destiny, is now available on Amazon.com. It follows the exciting adventures of Clare and her family as they settle in England.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads

Midwife of Normandy (Secrets of the Austen Midwives Book 1) by [Penfield, Carole, Lady, A]Clare Dupres, ambitious young Huguenot midwife living in turbulent 17th century France, struggles to save her family and career from the terrors of tyrannical King Louis XIV.

On the brink of womanhood, she records in her journal the grand plan for her perfect life–marriage to the man she loves, renovation of mysterious Maison Dupres as her home, and a rewarding profession. The key to her plan lies in “the magic elixir,” her ancestors’ secret formula for pain-free childbirth, which she offers solely to wealthy aristocratic women.

But King Louis’ increasing pressure on Huguenots to convert to Catholicism shatters Clare’s dreams. Her lover forced to flee France, she is compelled to marry his boring brother. Then she is banned from practicing midwifery. Yearning to continue her profession coupled with fear that her children will be kidnapped by Papists, Clare tries to convince her stubborn husband to move to England, but he is blind to the growing menace. When danger lurks in the form of the King’s dreaded Dragonnade soldiers, she must summon all her strength and determination to save her family.

Can Clare succeed in getting her family safely out of France before it is too late?

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Midwife of Normandy

Midwife of Normandy (Secrets of the Austen Midwives Book 1) by [Penfield, Carole, Lady, A]

Carole Penfield gives readers a realistic and interesting piece of historical fiction in The Midwife of Normandy. The story opens with Clare, who finds herself in the cargo hold of a ship along with her family. It is the late 1600’s and they are sneaking out of France to England, where Protestants are not persecuted, and she can continue her midwifery practice. We have no idea what preceded her current state of affairs until we are transported back to her youth and the very first day she received her journal. We learn about Clare’s upbringing and the strong tradition of midwifery in her family, along with the history of disapproving husbands. It is not long before Clare herself is ready for training and eventually ready to take over the practice. It is also not long before she acquires a disapproving husband of her own.

Penfield creates a beautiful and flowing story with elements of history, romance, and story-telling brought together by a colorful cast of characters. Clare is a strong female lead, dealing with issues that are timeless. I love that her family has such a passion for helping other women and will stop at nothing to do so. The history behind this story is interesting and lead me to further research, which is one thing I really love about pieces of historical fiction. I thought the author could have included more realistic dialogue to the times, but I understand that just wasn’t the direction she went with this piece.

Her characters are fantastic and add richness to the story, as all good characters do. There are characters with a dark side and those who even it out with some comedy and levity. Penfield is a self-proclaimed lover of Jane Austen and weaves elements of that authors works into her story. She challenges other Austen fans to find little hidden tidbits throughout the story that are Austen-inspired.

The juxtaposition of a personal story of feminine struggle for power and equality with the story of a religious group struggling with the same issue is an interesting one. These are themes that have manifested throughout history and continue to be real struggles so I thought this book felt modern despite its historical setting.

Penfield did a beautiful job with this story. I was entertained and interested throughout and even learned new history! I look forward to reading more books in this series!

Pages: 325 | ASIN: B01M7Q93OO

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My Natural Obsession

Intrigue Generis Author Interview

Intrigue Generis Author Interview

The Witch Trials is an interesting historical drama centered around the life and times of a middle-class woman living in France during the 16th century. What served as your inspiration while writing this book?

I imagined how difficult it would be during the middle ages to be a strong, intelligent woman, constantly having to hide their true self for fear of ridicule or rebuke. Then it hit me, I should write a story illustrating that. I also am inspired by world history and how all cultures and countries tie in together and effect one another both knowingly and unknowingly.

I enjoyed the historical accuracy in this book. What kind of research did you undertake to get things right?

Allot. Which is why I usually shy away from writing these type of books. However, I wanted my first published books to showcase my writing skill and I felt the best way to do that was to have an organized field of reference. I love learning about history and seeing how that contributes to todays society. As the medieval time period is my natural obsession, I picked a topic that many people know of, but dont really know the historical background to, within that time period. I used typical college outline format as a baseline and timeline reference and filled in the blanks with my imagination. My next series after Witch Trials, a novel currently in edit, will showcase my imagination more in depth.

Sylvie’s character is an intriguing character who struggled for a dream beyond what many women settled for at the time. What were some themes you wanted to capture in her character?

1. Knowing that you have something so invaluable to those around you and feeling a spiritual calling to share it, but fearing to release it. (More captured in book 2 of Witch Trials).

2. Discovering a tolerable balance as a women in this time period; knowing when to show strength and when to hold back.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Witch Trials is a short story series. So I am currently working on book 2 now. I expect it to be released in time for Christmas. I am also working on a fantasy novel currently in edit.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebook | Website

The Witch Trials: The Becoming by [Generis, Intrigue]Once upon time, women struggled to gain notoriety capable of any feat besides household responsibility. The struggle was life and death in the resistance of recognizing the inevitable rise of women. Starting life in Italy with a wealthy protestant family. Sylvie idolizes her father Dr. Fiore. Sylvie has her hopes set on being one of the first female doctors known to the area. But when Sylvie is married off to a wealthy craftsman named Leon, in France, she quickly realizes that this dream may be out of her reach and possibly run the risk of death. Is Sylvie’s dreams worth dying for? This book starts our journey in a small town of Eze in Southern France in the late 1600’s and tells a fictional story based from real time events in our history. This is book one of a new short story series.

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Midwife of Normandy

Clare Dupres, ambitious young Huguenot midwife living in turbulent 17th century France, struggles to save her family and career from the terrors of tyrannical King Louis XIV.

On the brink of womanhood, she records in her journal the grand plan for her perfect life–marriage to the man she loves, renovation of mysterious Maison Dupres as her home, and a rewarding profession. The key to her plan lies in “the magic elixir,” her ancestors’ secret formula for pain-free childbirth, which she offers solely to wealthy aristocratic women.

But King Louis’ increasing pressure on Huguenots to convert to Catholicism shatters Clare’s dreams. Her lover forced to flee France, she is compelled to marry his boring brother. Then she is banned from practicing midwifery. Yearning to continue her profession coupled with fear that her children will be kidnapped by Papists, Clare tries to convince her stubborn husband to move to England, but he is blind to the growing menace. When danger lurks in the form of the King’s dreaded Dragonnade soldiers, she must summon all her strength and determination to save her family.

Can Clare succeed in getting her family safely out of France before it is too late?

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The Witch Trials: The Becoming

The Witch Trials: The Becoming by [Generis, Intrigue]

The Witch Trials: The Becoming, by Intrigue Sui Generis, is a short work of historical dramatic fiction. The book is centered around the life and times of Sylvie, a middle-class woman living in southern France during the late 17th century. The story is predominantly about her life, her personal difficulties, and the broader milieu of the time period. Much of the story also concerns her husband Leon and his relationship to the broader Catholic Church, though the nature of this relationship is not well described, or at the least it is unclear how he is so involved with the church despite his main profession. The book also includes content about the broader scope of the time period.

The historical content of this book reads as semi-fictions with the author’s experiences, beliefs, worldview, and sense of morality bleeding into the pages of this book. The 1600’s in France were themselves bloody times, but the author largely washes away that bloody history, due in part to a lack of detail in the story. The story also includes much more active female roles, especially for those of a middle-class status during that time period. While it is heart-warming to think of a female character, seeking to rise above her station in a steeply patriarchal society infused with, what we would consider, harsh and vile religious fundamentalism, much of it is romanticized so that you can follow Sylvie’s story through this dark time without feeling too down about it.

Sylvie’s entire history prior to her marriage to Leon is contained within a single page, which seemed too short for me as I found her to be an intriguing character and I wanted to learn more about her. I enjoyed that this book was a short and concise novella, but at the expense of detail. Sylvie comes from a Protestant upbringing, but I felt it was unclear what kind of Protestant. The brevity of the story helps focus this book into a character driven novella, but leaves you wanting more. Overall, the historical additions of the book are strong and seemingly well-researched (as evidenced by the bibliography at the end of the text), but I would have loved to have this further fleshed out to lengthen the book, and these details would have clarified the setting and character motivations for me.

The Witch Trials: The Becoming is intended for a young adult audience with a decent attempt at historical accuracy. There is sexual content, but it is only slightly more bawdy than a television show from the 1950’s. There are also depictions of human suffering, the outcome of torture, and threats of imminent pain and death, but these are also very sterile. Overall, this book is short and easily provides a few short hours of entertainment.

Pages: 56 | ASIN: B07D68YSQZ

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