Blog Archives

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?

Buy Now From Amazon.com

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

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Kumite for Love Book Trailer

Thrust back to feudal Japan, martial arts expert Aiyana Amari’s most challenging battle is the choice to either return home or leave the love of her life behind.

To save her family’s dojo and keep her father’s legacy alive, Aiyana Amari travels to Japan to compete in the Meiji martial arts tournament. But on the eve of the competition, Aiyana is thrust back to 1853 into the life of a geisha.

Captain Derek Blackburn, a sailor for the Dutch, returns to Japan to avenge his brother’s murder and secretly plans to assassinate the one ultimately responsible–Shogun Ieyoshi.

Like the two stars celebrated in the Tanabata Festival, Aiyana and Derek meet on the seventh day of the seventh month. Their wills clash. Aiyana is desperate to get home, but Derek needs her for his scheme of revenge. After falling in love a decision tougher than a sparring match must be made. Will Aiyana return home or stay with her one true love in the past?

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Let the Chips Fall

Nikki Mays Author Interview

Nikki Mays Author Interview

Surrender to You follows the passionate relationship of Mellie and Morris as someone goes to dangerous ends to keep them apart. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

I think that my inspiration came from watching too much Criminal Minds. Everytime I watch that show it gives me some many ideas. I feel like it is something that could actually happen since there are so many people with mental illnesses that go untreated.

Mellie and Morris have a fiery relationship and a deep bond. How did you develop their relationship, did any of it happen organically while writing?

I think that a lot of their relationship came organically while I was writing it. I knew that I wanted them to awkward in the beginning but after awhile they took on a life of their own. I don’t like to plan it out in took much detail. I kind of like to let the chips fall where they may.

There is a fantastic mystery at the heart of this romance book. What were some themes you wanted to capture around the stalkers motivations?

I wanted people to realize that this is something that could happen to anyone. Someone can fixate on you for the strangest reason. Half the time it could be a simple look. Mental illness has so many variations and left untreated can be dangerous to the person themselves, as well as those around them. Unfortunately, so many people go undiagnosed for years. I feel like more help should be available and that isn’t always the case.

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

The next book that I’m working on will be centralized around Michelle and Damon, titled Addicted to You. I’m hoping to have it out by the end of October.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

Surrender to You (SAPD SWAT Series Book 1) by [Mays, Nikki]

Mellie: Mellie has been hypnotized by a pair of gorgeous green eyes, attached to a very yummy package for months now. Unfortunately for her, her brain goes on hiatus anytime Morris Jackson is around. Looking like a bobble head whenever he asks her anything isn’t the best way to go about getting a man like him interested. Not like ruggedly handsome men go for quirky, accident prone introverts like her. Plus, even if she did have a snowballs chance in hell with him, him being her brothers SWAT teammate doesn’t bode well for her. A girl can dream though!

Morris: Those blue eyes sucker punched him the minute he looked into them. It felt like the ground had literally gone out from under him. Mellie is everything that he could ever want and everything that he shouldn’t have. Even if he didn’t know that she’s too good for a guy like him, her brother would never be okay with it. He is over protective and proud of it. But at some point you have to say screw the consequences and go after what you know is meant to be yours.

Too bad someone wasn’t happy for them when the found their way to one another. Someone will make sure they don’t stay together by any means necessary. They’ll even kill to get what they want.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

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.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Destiny Revisited Book Trailer

When Gabriella is handed the death box at her boyfriend’s funeral, she has no idea how her life is going to change. Her life becomes more than a stage; it becomes the looking glass through which the past and future can be seen.

Destiny Revisited begins in a Boston chapel in 2001, where Gabby flashbacks to the beginning of her journey–to Savannah, Georgia during the early sixties. Her memories take her to the university where she escapes a tragic love affair and finds herself living an extravagant, but ultimately mundane lifestyle in Kentucky. That is, until multimillionaire Sterling Powers, introduces a naïve Gabby to his special world of sexual intrigue.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Pretty Dolls and Hand Grenades

Pretty Dolls and Hand Grenades by [Reinard, Cara]

Cara Reinard’s novel is an engaging story that gives readers a literary take on the popular genre of shows called the ‘The Real Housewives Of (enter your city of choice here)’ It tells the story of Cece and her family – her cheating rat of a husband and their children Camdyn and Josie. Very much modeled on the idea of the ‘American dream’, it lets the reader in on what goes on behind the closed doors of a family suffering from mental illness, infidelity, and financial issues.

Written from the first-person perspective of Cece, we see the female point of view in a neighborhood characterized by gossiping housewives who shame their friends at times they should be supportive. The women in the book are judgmental but are bound by the unspoken constraints of their society – lead by their successful husbands. This shows very clearly that the grass is not always greener on the more affluent side of town.

For Cece who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, believed to be inherited from her mother, this environment is toxic and leads to her becoming unwell because she cannot conform to the rigid expectations set by those around her. At a time when she should be surrounded by friends and family, she has nobody to turn to. It highlights important issues in the affluent community as to why the women are not there for each other and the pressure of maintaining a perfect home life and family. This is something we all know to be impossible, yet people still strive for it anyway. It also raises the question as to why Cece cannot speak to anyone about her mental health. In the book, she does not once have a therapeutic conversation about it, and her condition is only seen as a bother to her family. Her friends seem unaware of her mental health problem and just think that she has migraines.

A theme that runs throughout the book is the importance of parental influence on their children. Cece grew up witnessing her mother’s erratic and unusual actions and her children now have similar behaviour. They also see her love for expensive material possessions and become spoiled – so much so that she even indulges their unhealthy habits which lead to danger and illness. They won’t even get the bus, which Cece and her husband admit with a tone of regret. Her children are spoiled but her and her husband are no better.

The book follows Cece as she tries to get her own back on her husband who has shacked up with his young assistant. At times it’s uncomfortable reading and really unsettles the reader as you question just who’s fault this all is. There are moments of danger, humor, and emotional turmoil which keep the reader engaged and invested in the book all the way through.

Pages: 265 | ASIN: B01B0XMC24

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Arlington Heights Book Trailer

Arlington Heights follows the course of a gifted and beautiful black woman who overcomes the stigmata of a youth of mistakes to become one of the more powerful forces in New York’s fashion and business scene. Arlington Cavanaugh has past her prime as a model and has committed her life to the building of the highly regarded fashion magazine, HEIGHTS. Through the novel she takes a journey that speaks not only to the incredible climb up the ladder of success, but also details all of the consequences of decisions made along the way by a woman so focused on escape from her past that she nearly loses her soul.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Masks

Masks by [Restokian, Nataly]

Masks by Nataly Restokian is salacious from the very beginning. We’re brought into the story where two relative strangers are having a one-night stand, one married woman with a lover on the side! It may appear to be an adult erotica novel at first, but keep reading, this is only one of the many layers to the plot that got me hooked and kept me flipping pages.

The protagonist is a fiery but spirited female named Anna that is surrounded by the glitz and glamour of the television industry. She is beautiful and successful, with her own show that sets her up to be an icon to woman in her country. The background setting gives the story a more visceral feel as one goes through the story. Anna is confident, daring, unstoppable and vivacious, but she is also hurting, bitter and cynical. She puts on her masks, as props to keep up appearances, lest others take advantage of her. The story evolves quickly and picks up speed from the risque beginning. Anna’s pursuit of happiness takes the reader on an emotional ride through the dark side of fame and fortune.

The story takes place in different cities throughout the middle-east which give you the same globe trotting feeling that Anna must have felt. I’ve never visited any of these places so this all seemed magically exotic to me. The settings are genuine and natural and lend to the emotional turmoil of the story.

There is a fresh feel in the author’s approach as she has been a keen observer of the societal nuances of the region, and is able to express it in terms that I felt were original and thought provoking. People from the west are inundated with reports everyday in the media and news channels about the region’s political and economic turmoil and forgets completely about the people, as individuals, living their lives. Hoping for a better future, like Anna. That’s what I like most about this story, that it’s a human story that I could relate to, because sometimes we too wear masks. I admire this story because it casts the region and culture in a different light, one that is not a hot spot for terror but instead brings forth the spirit of resilience. The spirit that makes people persevere in the face of difficulties and yet still have a passion for life. People that are scarred by their past, but not a prisoner of it. I feel that Anna embodies this spirit. I was intrigued by the exotic setting, Anna’s complex character, and the twists and turns that the story took as she risked it all in her quest for love and acceptance. I highly recommend this book.

Pages: 221 | ASIN: B07BB6RMDS

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Nights Arose

Nights Arose by [Roche, Andrea]

Set in Jamaica in the 17th century, this is the story of Arose Du Mouchelle, a young woman who is the heir to a sugar plantation. When she receives an heirloom from an old gypsy, her life suddenly changes. The Gem of the Red Spirit has powers that others wish to possess, including the Voodoo Priestess, Morel. Chased down by Morel’s henchman, Arose must now protect the world from the dark creatures that Morel is threatening to unleash from the Astral Plane. Will Arose succeed by using her wits and courage along with the help of the dashing Captain St. James?

Nights Arose by Andrea Roche is part historical romance, part fantasy, and packed to the brim with fascinating and unlikely characters and concepts. We are thrown full throttle into a world unlike our own, full of astral planes, pirates and dragons. It makes for a fast- paced, exciting read, and I loved escaping to this fantastical universe for a few hours.

Because the story moves at a quick tempo, I felt immediately drawn into the narrative. Unfortunately, this pace also caused me to get lost occasionally, and I would have preferred a slightly slower introduction to Arose’s predicament. Despite this, Roche keeps the reader constantly intrigued and melds the genres of fantasy and romance together seamlessly, keeping both threads running through the narrative.

Although the book has fantasy aspects, the dialogue is actually naturalistic and punchy. All of the characters have unique voices which add richness and emotion; the dialogue expertly moves the plot along and never feels redundant. The style of the prose is quite flowery, but I actually enjoy this style of writing and it suits the lavishness of the story. Roche writes place particularly well and the setting of the story is one of my favourite aspects of the book. Tropical Jamaica is vividly conjured. Although I have never visited, I could almost feel the warm breeze and see the sights and sounds of this exotic place with its sugar cane fields and blue water.

We all know there aren’t enough strong female characters in fiction, so I fell head over heels for Arose! She is rebellious and brave and pushes boundaries, which makes her seem like a thoroughly modern woman. I loved the fact that she didn’t need a man to be a fully formed character and that the romance fell second to the action. The other characters in the book, such as the evil voodoo priestess, are really imaginative creations and the rest of the motley crew are excellently drawn. The relationships between the characters, especially Arose’s interactions with Captain St. James, feel truthful and authentic.

If you are a fan of fantasy then you will certainly enjoy this book. It is an epic tale that transports you to a magical world and enables you to suspend your disbelief. It left me breathless for the next installment in Arose’s adventures.

Pages: 220 | ASIN: B01N1G9MPC

Buy Now From Amazon.com

%d bloggers like this: