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Heart of the Rose, by Michael Sauls, is the second book in his Chronicles of the Rose series. This exciting book picks up on the adventure of Thorne and Lorena. Thorne goes from a simple mercenary ship captain to a pirate hunter with a larger destiny of breaking curses. Lorena is an elf with a haunted box and a shady past who works for a mage. But as Thorne and Lorena’s relationship deepens, readers are left wondering if Thorne will be able to break Lorena’s connection to the haunted box.

The author provides enough background details and information about the characters so that even if readers have not read book one, they can pick up this book and easily follow along. This character-driven story provides distinct personalities and unique characteristics, so all the characters are easy to tell apart. In addition, the author expertly intertwines the voices of each character so that readers can hear their voices and point of view without being muddled and confusing.

I enjoyed the fantasy aspect of the story, filled with elves, dragons, and wizards, allowing my imagination to run wild. There are also some unexpected characters in the story that are a pleasant surprise and show the author’s distinct writing style. Sauls’s attention to detail shows through his world-building skills that will transport readers into the story, and they will feel they are right there with Lorena and Thorne.

Throughout the novel, the author provides readers with the necessary information, such as descriptions of the settings and the differences between the elves. While this is essential information, I feel it would have been presented better if the author had incorporated that information into the story rather than telling it to readers. However, when the author showed rather than told information in the story, his talent shined.

Heart of the Rose is a well-conceived novel with plenty of action and adventure for readers to follow. This fantasy novel will engage readers with new strong and interesting characters and an imaginative world to explore.

Pages: 314 | ASIN : B09P21D8XR

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Muddied Waters: Coda

Theo Clarkson continues the story of murder, mayhem and piracy in his sequel Muddied Waters: Coda. Years later, when all is said and done the once renowned captain of the Liberty, Jackson Teague, is now old and grey. After he landed within the domain of Spain in Panama, the country kindly pardoned him. Spain’s pardon has left him alive thus far, but he no longer lives. The only thing keeping what little spirit he has left alive is his stolen treasure he has squirreled away for safety.

Alger has reunited with his father, and in their last years together, have made peace. Now, Alger runs his father’s shipping company in vain. Mutual hate between him and the other merchants is palpable, and a predictable outcome approaches as Alger starts settling his affairs and sails off to the New World.

Chelsea Redding is a well-off prostitute, gaining as much power as a woman from nothing can get in the 1790s. She and her lover, Jonathan, argue regularly about marriage. Mistral Jonathan does not make enough money to support a family, if he’s being honest with himself, Chelsea supports him. And Chelsea cannot give up her work if she wants to eat well and have a roof over her head.

Kingston’s shark-infested waters are home to a band of pirates looking to make a living from others’ wealth. Rafael is a convincing weasel who lures Chelsea and Jonathan away from their tragic life and into a boiling pot of trouble.

I found Clarkson’s sequel to be even more enticing than his last. I’m really happy to see that the author has toned down the pirate accents, the dialogue is far clearer and more understandable now. The transformation that Chelsea goes through in becoming a pirate is fascinating, her accent grows thicker, and her speech becomes more pirate-like, as well as a more confident and robust woman. It was like she became comfortable in her own skin after the transition.

While I enjoyed this thrilling book immensely, there were times when the story gets confusing. For example, at one point Teague is describing the cross’ centerpiece and then we jump to someone sobbing uncontrollably, and then Teague is holding the opal. Also, there was a point where Clarkson is leading up to the crescendo of the story and starts switching between character storylines as they become entwined. I feel that with so much action going on readers could get confused.

The author’s writing takes a slow burn approach to each chapter, leading the reader into the situations slowly before hitting them with all the action and excitement. Readers will find this style an emotional roller-coaster that keeps them engaged and on edge till the end.

Muddied Waters: Coda is a riveting action and adventure novel that will captivate readers who love historical fiction and pirate adventures.

Pages: 178 : ASIN : B09PLLG1SK

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Muddied Waters 

The golden age of piracy is coming to an end as the world grows smaller and a generation dangles at the end of a noose. A once enterprising reverie for the young at heart and the criminally insane, now a dirty hand-me-down dream. All that’s left of the pirate legacy is greed found at the bottom of a bottle or the end of a barrel. Man’s true nature is shown through Theo Clarkson as he spins a tale of humanity’s darkest desires in Muddied Waters. One of the last of the pirate ships on the ocean, Sweet Liberty, comes across a Portuguese cargo ship carrying a king-size ransom. They take what they please and hold the king’s cousin, Belo, hostage. To the man’s humiliation, the pirates bargain with his life and sell him off to the nearest settlement for a pittance. Unbeknownst to the pirates, Belo’s do-or-die moto drags them into a manhunt that leads to nothing but misery and death.

Clarkson recreates an amazing atmosphere from the 1800s, bringing us back to a time where life was brutal and short. We can feel the reality of what peasants faced. The choices they made to gain an ounce of a better life. And the choices the higher-ups, the rich and the royal, made in order to suppress their subjects. Looking at the scene with Captain Teague and Milligan having a drink in the captain’s quarters Teague talks about the differences between him and Milligan. Both got the short end of the stick, but whereas Teague made his first kill when he was living on the streets as a child; Milligan fought in the Navy for his country. Teague sees his first kill as self-defense and Milligan’s as murder. Neither men’s’ actions were noble or moral, but it was what they had to do to survive.

The novel opens with the executioner telling readers about each individual being hanged that day. A foreshadowing of the characters eventual downfall. This creates a well-fashioned, artistic eye-opener for the readers. The story is written in third person allowing readers to get multiple perspectives and an overall feel for situations. Readers then know everything that happens in the book while characters can be blind-sided. This makes for great dramatic ‘reveal-all’ scenes, which Clarkson does beautifully. But not only is he able to blind-side the characters, but also his readers every-now-and-then too, creating reveals that shock his audience. I found the accents of the characters in the story to be interesting and creative.

Muddied Waters is exceptionally well-written and engaging. A pirates tale that builds slowly, giving readers a chance to take in all the characters and setting before racing off with suspense and turmoil leading up to the climax. Readers will be able to step back in time to the 1800’s and experience the not always glamourous pirate life. A great take over the typical happy pirate adventures.

Pages: 293 | ASIN: B07572SWFR

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Create An Enjoyable Story

C.W. James
C.W. James Author Interview

The Treasure of Peril Island follows a penniless young man who sets out on a perilous journey to recover a treasure that was hidden by an enigmatic man. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

“The Treasure of Peril Island” is a derivative work based on a 1903 public domain penny dreadful, “Peril Island” by Sidney Drew. The original book had many issues – it was very dated, had no clear protagonist (for example, the characters of Drayton and Dane were prominent in the early chapters, then faded completely into the background as the plot progressed), included a bumper crop of secondary characters who were mostly “ethnic” and written in dialects, and subplots that went nowhere. However, the basic story piqued my interest, and I used Drew’s basic plot as my playground. I jettisoned about two-thirds of the original, although I kept some chapters and scenes intact – well, mostly intact. I focused on and rewrote the characters (and ages) of Drayton and Dane, making them the protagonists, with Drayton as the POV character. I also added the romantic subplot and the paranormal elements, among other things.

Jack Drayton is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

Jack changed quite a bit during rewrites. My developmental editor pointed out that his friend, Hector, was the stronger character and was taking over. As I worked through that, the relationship between the two changed, and Jack’s character began to assert itself. I just followed behind him, transcribing what he did and said.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I may be the only author on earth that doesn’t think he has any relevant comments or observations to make on the human condition. My aim is simple: create an enjoyable story with good characters. If any themes develop, fine, but that’s not a goal. I believe the reader’s background, experiences, biases, and beliefs influence how they interact with text, so any themes you put in the written word while change based on that anyway.

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

I am currently working on another Young Adult historical fiction set in a 1941 Hollywood movie studio. I’m hoping it will be available in the first half of 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Website

The winds of change are about to fill the sails of Jack Drayton…
A penniless young man living on a barge on the Thames in 1903 London, Jack Drayton is unsure of where his life is heading. He’s trying to decide what to do with himself next when he meets a peculiar stranger. Needing a ride to shore one evening, Jack hitches a ride from this stranger, who speaks, dresses, and behaves as though he’s stepped out of another era. After Jack helps the man escape a fracas in town, he tells Jack that he is in fact Black Juan Gaskara, an infamous pirate, and claims that he’s on the run for his life.
Now, that would be all fine and good, except for the fact that the real Black Juan Gaskara would have to be over 112 years old; or more logically, dead.
Despite his disbelief however, Jack is intrigued by the man. Especially when he learns of the treasure that Gaskara has apparently hidden on Peril Island, a place only known to Black Juan.
Before Juan is murdered by descendants of the crew he double-crossed over the loot, he leaves Jack with a cryptogram and map that will reveal where the treasure is hidden. Now it’s up to Jack to recover the treasure before Black Juan’s enemies – who wish to use it to set up a global crime empire – get their hands on it first. With his best friend Hector at his side, Jack must venture on the dangerous ocean journey of a lifetime, following the cryptic clues to uncover the treasure before Gaskara’s foes put an end to his search…and his life!
Author C.W. James creates a fast-paced and thrilling historical novel that will capture the imagination of young adult audiences and hold them fast until the very last page. Perfect for casual readers and bibliophiles alike, The Treasure of Peril Island is the kind of book that will ignite one’s love of reading, or continue to kindle the existing flame. A classic story of adventure, mystery, pirate curses and hidden treasure, this is the optimal book to add to any teen library!
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