Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
***All photos accompanying posts are either owned by the author of said post or are in the public domain -- NOT the property of History Undressed. If you'd like to obtain permission to use a picture from a post, please contact the author of the post.***

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Perfiditas Review and Giveaway!

Leave a comment with your email address to be entered for a chance to win a signed paperback copy! Open internationally!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Publication Date: October 17, 2013
SilverWood Books
Paperback; 288p
ISBN-10: 1781321248
eBook; ASIN: B00FXY4GEE

Captain Carina Mitela of the Praetorian Guard Special Forces is in trouble – one colleague has tried to kill her and another has set a trap to incriminate her in a conspiracy to topple the government of Roma Nova.

Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman dissidents and ruled by women, Roma Nova barely survived a devastating coup d’état thirty years ago. Carina swears to prevent a repeat and not merely for love of country.

Seeking help from a not quite legal old friend could wreck her marriage to the enigmatic Conrad. Once proscribed and operating illegally, she risks being terminated by both security services and conspirators. As she struggles to overcome the desperate odds and save her beloved Roma Nova and her own life, she faces the ultimate betrayal…


Praise for Perfiditas


“Alison Morton has built a fascinating, exotic world! Carina’s a bright, sassy detective with a winning dry sense of humour. I warmed to her quickly and wanted to find out how she dealt with the problems thrown in her path. The plot is pretty snappy too and gets off to a quick start which made it easy to keep turning the pages. There are a fair number of alternative historical fictions where Rome never disappeared, but for my money this is one of the better ones.” – Simon Scarrow, author of the Eagle (Macro and Cato) series

“I can’t resist an alternative history and Alison Morton writes one of the best. Powerful storytelling, vivid characters and a page-turning plot makes Alison Morton’s PERFIDITAS a must read.”– Jean Fullerton, author of the historical East London novels

“Pure enjoyment! A clever, complex plot set in the beguilingly convincing fictional country of Roma Nova. Scenes and characters are sometimes so vividly described that I felt I was watching a movie. This compelling tale rendered me inseparable from my copy right up to the last turn of the page.”– Sue Cook, writer and broadcaster



MY REVIEW

An intriguing view of an alternate world, where the Roman empire didn't exactly fall and women rule politics, Morton has created a mysterious thriller in Perfiditas. I love alternate histories, and the author has done a wonderful job of creating a new, rich and powerful country, Roma Nova. Perfiditas takes us into a world that seems much like our own, but it is drastically different. Since I read Roman historicals, I liked the subtle undertones of history and smiled at the authors blending of it with a modern technological world.

(Check out the pics the author has on her site if you want to "see" Roma Nova.)

The heroine, Captain Carina Mitela, is tough as nails--hard core training, a superb detective, and all around superwoman--but we also see her softer side, the love of her husband, children, family. She was a character I easily connected with. I love strong heroines with unique personalities, and Carina definitely fits the profile.

What starts out as a simple plea for help from the woman who helps to train Carina, turns into something more mysterious and life-threatening. What seems at first to have nothing to do with herself, actually turns out to be quite a conspiracy and with Carina and her family stuck right dead center. A coup to overthrow the government ends up driving a wedge between Carina and everything she holds dear, and the only way to save the country/family she holds dear is to risk it all.

Fast-paced, well-written and full of angst, Perfiditas was a very entertaining read!

I would recommend reading the first book, Inceptio, because the majority of the world-building and character development takes place within it (though it is delved deeper in Perfiditas). We still see it all vividly in Perfiditas, but as with any series where a new world is created, and a history altered, it helps to start from the very beginning.

Buy the Books

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French, German and Economics, a masters’ in history and lives in France with her husband.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has visited sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. But it was the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) that started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by women…

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, was shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award and awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion® in September 2013. The next in series, PERFIDITAS, published October 2013, has also just been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion®. Alison is working on the third book SUCCESSIO which will be out in June 2014.

Connect with Alison Morton



Book Spotlight! THE RUNAWAY HIGHLANDER by R.L. Syme

For years and years, the Highland Renegades characters have been romping around in my head. The whole story started off with a scene. A Highlander on a rainy road, forced off his path by a carriage carrying a brooding father and his daughter, freshly returned from having spent most of her formative years in France. Of course, this scene hasn’t been in a book yet (although it might), but the characters have deepened and become real to me.

This is my favorite thing about series books. The characters, rather than one 250-page book, now last for many books. We get to know them, we see them grow and change, fall in love, get hurt, be happy… just like the real people in our lives. I love the continuity series family. They become like real family to me.

What is your favorite part of a series?

If you like series, you can check out my Highland Renegades series. I have a new book out, The Runaway Highlander

Anne de Cheyne has a choice. She can play the dutiful daughter and allow her mother to sell her to a greasy English sheriff, or she can take control of her own life and find her own match. After a frightening run-in with her promised husband reveals a dark secret, she makes a desperate choice. Flight.

Aedan Donne needs easy money and no-questions-asked. When Milene de Cheyne offers him enough to pay all debts, requests complete silence, and pays half up front, just for a simple recovery, he can't believe his luck… until he meets his mark. Anne’s beauty and passion ignite something Aedan can’t ignore, even as she leaves him in the dust. Suddenly, he finds himself wanting to capture the runaway Highland lady for himself.



Monday, April 21, 2014

Sneak Peek of MY LADY VIPER!

The countdown is on, ladies and gentlemen! Nine days until the release of my debut historical fiction novel, MY LADY VIPER, the first in my Tales From the Tudor Court series!

Today, I'm offering you a sneak peek into the book!

May, 1536. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.

When Anne Boleyn falls to the executioner's ax on a cold spring morning, yet another Anne vows she will survive in the snake-pit court of Henry VIII. But at what cost?


Lady Anne Seymour knows her family hangs by a thread. If her sister-in-law Jane Seymour cannot give the King a son, she will be executed or set aside, and her family with her. Anne throws herself into the deadly and intoxicating intrigue of the Tudor court, determined at any price to see the new queen's marriage a success and the Seymour family elevated to supreme power. But Anne's machinations will earn her a reputation as a viper, and she must decide if her family's rise is worth the loss of her own soul . . .


EXCERPT!

London, Court of Henry VIII
May 19, 1536

Dead.
The queen would soon be dead. Her head cropped short of her neck for a crowd on Tower Green to watch.
Poor, poor Anne.
The king’s pardon we’d heard whispers of had not yet come. But surely he must! There was no coffin prepared. Not even a discarded box. Rumors that the king’s secretary Cromwell had convinced King Henry VIII against a pardon ran rampant. A lack of coffin had to be evidence that Cromwell had not succeeded.
Even as Anne Boleyn emerged from the Tower, dressed in a gray gown, her red, quilted petticoat showing with each step she took, the genteel fabric swishing back and forth, I looked about frantically for the king’s man to say this was all a show, that she would be spared. Her skin was pale, her lips red. Her black as night eyes calmly scanned the crowd, searching for something—perhaps the king himself. My heart went out to her. That she could put on such a façade at the time of her execution only proved she was indeed a queen and of noble birth. Four of her ladies-in-waiting walked with her to the four-foot-tall scaffold. She passed out alms to the poor along the way, her movements slow and deliberate. Her last queenly duty. A shiver stole over my body.
Those who’d shunned her in life now greedily accepted her coin. How backward people were. Even I felt remorse for the events that would take place. For even though not a friend of mine, she did not deserve this.
Queen Anne, now dubbed Lady Anne—her marriage to the king annulled just hours ago—took the rickety steps slowly, regally, perhaps more like a queen now than I had ever seen her before, though she still did not touch the grace of the late Queen Katharine of Aragon—Henry VIII’s first wife—whose poise and decorum were unmatched at court. Lady Anne’s ladies appeared sullen, but in truth, not one shed a tear. Even my eyes stung, but these ladies were not her friends. They were ladies Henry had supplied her with in the Tower—women who would not sympathize with Anne.
“Good Christian people, I am come hither to die.” Her voice rang out over the hushed crowd. I swallowed hard, not certain that had I been in the same place I could have summoned the strength and found my voice.
I glanced briefly beside me at my husband, Edward. He stared intently before him and I wondered if he was seeing right through the spectacle, or if he watched every move, every person, as keenly as I did.
The crowd leaned in, some with hands covering their mouths, tears in their eyes. Others with brows furrowed, lips thinned in a grimace.
“Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, for by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak of that whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never, and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord.” She looked up toward the heavens, her long slim fingers folded gracefully in front of her. “And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. Oh, Lord, have mercy on me! To God I commend my soul.”
Anne reached up and removed her headdress, replacing it with a white cap one of her ladies handed to her, the same one who helped to tuck in her long raven hair. She was still beautiful, hauntingly so. The four ladies hurried to surround her, removing her white ermine cloak, her necklace.
The executioner stepped forward, begging her pardon for doing his duty to king and realm. She nodded solemnly, told him she willingly gave him her pardon. Still, her eyes searched, and I found myself searching, too. I’d had a hand in this, but... Guilt and panic twisted my stomach. I had never wanted her to die, just to be set aside as was good Queen Katharine. That is what everyone said would happen. He would not truly kill Anne Boleyn. It was all to frighten her, and the rest of us, into obedience, wasn’t it?
And yet, no messenger with a pardon.
No one shouting for this debacle to end. Sweat trickled down my spine and yet I was cold all over.
The executioner bade her to kneel and say her prayers. She knelt on wobbly knees, her frame slender and stiff, eyes glazing over, perhaps a moment of fear when she realized her execution was truly eminent. She righted herself, both knees locked together upon the straw that had been laid to catch her blood when the deathblow should be struck. I stifled the urge to run forward, to shout for them to stop. To beg my husband to search for the messenger who was surely on his way with the king’s pardon. Another wave of panic seized me. I took deep, gulping breaths and tried to maintain my own noble bearing.
Anne Boleyn straightened her skirts, smoothing them down the front and covering her feet behind her. She turned toward her ladies, asked them to pray for her, then faced the crowd.
“To Jesus Christ I commend my soul. Lord Jesu, receive my soul,” she repeated over and over, her lips moving, twitching, her fingers clasped tightly in front of her.
A moment of panic seemed to take control of her. She looked about herself aimlessly, fingered her cap, muttered to the executioner that perhaps she should take off the cap. The man tried to console her that he would strike when she was ready. He went to put the blindfold on her, but she stayed his hand, shaking her head.
I failed to quell the sob that escaped my throat. I could picture myself kneeling there. One moment full of confidence and poise, and the next my mind slipping and utter fear taking over. Within those few seconds of her fumbling, I prayed heartily His Majesty would come to pardon her. The executioner motioned to one of her ladies, who gently tied a linen cloth to her eyes, her piercing gaze having unsettled both the executioner and the crowd, myself included.
Oh, dear God! Have mercy!
With her voice shaken but strong, Anne told the man she was ready. She began to pray again, “My God, have pity on my soul. Into thy hands, oh Jesu, have pity on me.”
The executioner silently pulled a four-foot, shining, steel blade from within the straw. He held it alight, the sun beaming off its length, drawing my eyes to the macabre sight.
“Bring me the sword,” he ordered loudly as he tiptoed behind her from the other direction. The man was tricking her about where he stood!
Anne turned her head, not aware he was no longer there. He lifted the sword high behind her, two-fisted, his hands trembling slightly, and then swung in an arcing motion down, severing her head from her neck in one swipe. I squeezed my eyes shut, my hands coming to my own slender neck.
It was done and could not be undone. This horrible deed was real. Not a dream. Not a lesson in anything except the cruelty of this world and the men in it. The cruelty of our king. And I wanted to scream. I wanted to scream, but could not, for I was sister-by-marriage to the next queen—Jane Seymour.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

MY LADY VIPER (Tales From the Tudor Court) Release Party!

Join the fun on May 1st! My online release party for MY LADY VIPER!!!


Click here to join!!!

May, 1536.  The Queen is dead.  Long live the Queen.

When Anne Boleyn falls to the executioner's axe on a cold spring morning, yet another Anne vows she will survive in the snakepit court of Henry VIII.  But at what cost?


Lady Anne Seymour knows her family hangs by a thread.  If her sister-in-law Jane Seymour cannot give the King a son, she will be executed or set aside, and her family with her.  Anne throws herself into the deadly and intoxicating intrigue of the Tudor court, determined at any price to see the new queen's marriage a success and the Seymour family elevated to supreme power.  But Anne's machinations will earn her a reputation as a viper, and she must decide if her family's rise is worth the loss of her own soul...

Praise for MY LADY VIPER

“Author E. Knight proves that though there are a plethora of Tudor novels out there a writer can still create a fresh and unique view of one of history's most treacherous courts, that of England's King Henry VIII. Schemes and scandalous trysts abound in 'My Lady Viper', making for a very captivating read. Racy and deliciously sensual, once started I was hard pressed to put the book down. I eagerly await the next installment in E. Knight's stand-out Tales of the Tudor Courts series!” ~ Amy Bruno, Passages to the Past

“E. Knight breathes new life and new scandal into the Tudors. This is an engrossing historical fiction tale that readers will love!” ~ Meg Wessel, A Bookish Affair

“A brilliant illustration of a capricious monarch and the nest of serpents that surrounded him, My Lady Viper is an absolute must. Intricately detailed, cleverly constructed and utterly irresistible.” ~ Erin, Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Writing Contest Open for Entries!

*PERMISSION TO FORWARD, GRANTED*

Enter Celtic Hearts Romance Writers Chapter contest The Golden Claddagh!

We have four categories for unpublished authors and published authors with unpublished  manuscripts.

* Historical
* Fantasy-Futuristic-Paranormal
* Contemporary
* Young Adult/New Adult

Our contest due date is May 10th. Finalists will be notified by June 15th and winners notified by August 1st–Winners will be announced at the CHRW Annual General Meeting at RWA National Convention in San Antonio, TX in July 2014.

Eligibility

The competition is open to RWA members ONLY.

Manuscripts must be unpublished and un-contracted in any form, including self-publishing. The manuscript rights must belong to the author and be available to contract, should a final judge wish to offer publication.

The GC entry must be a full-length novel (more than 40K). Novellas or Short stories will not be accepted.

Manuscripts must be completed by the time results are returned. Entrant must retain all rights to the entry and not have granted any of them to a publisher or any other party by the contest entry deadline.

If your manuscript is accepted for publication during the time of our contest (dates will be specified) you must notify the contest coordinator; your submission(s) will be withdrawn from consideration and your entry fee(s) returned.

Please Note:

  • Previously entered manuscripts may be entered again, but no previous winningmanuscript shall be re-entered, even if revised.
  • You may submit multiple entries so long as you pay an entry fee and submit a completed entry form for each submission.
  • You may not enter the same manuscript in more than one category. *Entry fee per entry: $10.00 CHRW members and $15.00 non-member CHRWA members.
CHRW reserves the right to discard all electronic entries and return fees if a minimum number of three (3) entries are not received in any category. Entrants will be contacted before the entries are returned and given the option to place their entry in another category if it is eligible. We may also refuse an entry that does not follow the rules stated here in the guidelines.

All Payments are Electronic through PayPal. The easy link is here:

If you wish to go directly to PayPal, please use Paypal address: treasurer@celtichearts.org

Entry fee: $10.00 CHRW members and $15.00 non-member CHRWA members.

All entries will be read and scored for the first round by two trained judges and one published author, and the lowest score dropped. The three entries with the highest total scores in each category will move to the final round. An editor/agent will judge the final round and select a winner from the finalists in each category.

Categories:

Future, Fantasy & Paranormal: Romance novel where the mains focus is on the romantic relationship, but the future, fantasy or paranormal elements are integral to the story (includes time-travel).

Contemporary: Includes, single title, long and short romantic fiction with a contemporary setting set after 1945. Main focus is the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine.

Historical: Romance novel set primarily before 1945 — any location. Please specify your time period and setting in your entry.

Young Adult/New Adult:  Romance novels in which young adult or new adult themes constitute an integral part of the plot. *Romance subplot not required*

Entries

Entry Composition: No Synopsis required! Your entry must have the following:

1.     An email “cover page” which includes the author’s real name, address, telephone number(s), e-mail address, submission title, category, manuscript word count and PayPal confirmation # should be submitted in text of the e-mail. Do not include the cover page in the same attachment as your manuscript.

2.     The beginning of your manuscript, including prologue, cannot exceed thirty (30) pages. Standard manuscript format must be followed:
  • 1 inch margins
  • Double spaced in a standard font and size 12-point.
  • The TITLE of the manuscript, the category, and any subcategory should be placed on the top left hand side of the entry. The PAGE NUMBER should be on the top right side of the entry.
  • We will not accept entries that have colored, or designer fonts. DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR NAME ON THE MANUSCRIPT.
3. Manuscript must be in a .doc or .rtf file format.
NOTE: Your entry must not exceed thirty (30) pages total.

SUBMIT ENTRIES TO:
Contemporary Category - contempcat@celtichearts.org
FFP Category - ffpcat@celtichearts.org
Historical Category - historicalcat@celtichearts.org
Young Adult/New Adult Category - yacat@celtichearts.org

Final Round Judges

FF&P

Angela James – Carina Press
Kerry Buckley – Carina Press
TBA

Historical

Laurie McLean – Forward Literary, Inc
Beth Miller – Writers House
Leis Pederson – Berkley Publishing

Contemporary

Julie Mianecki – Penguin Books
Alissa Davis – Carina Press
Elizabeth Bistrow – Penguin Books

Young Adult/New Adult

Nicole Fischer – Avon Press
TBA

Awards

The FIRST PLACE winners in each category will receive a $50 dollar cash prize and a commemorative pin.

The SECOND and THIRD PLACE winners in each category will receive free workshops through Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

Questions
For questions please contact the contest chair, Alisa Walker at: contests@celtichearts.org


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New App: Poems by Heart from Penguin Classics


PENGUIN GROUP (USA) INTRODUCES A NEW WAY TO MEMORIZE POEMS IN A FREE GAME APP FROM PENGUIN CLASSICS

NEW YORK, NY – March 15, 2013 – Penguin Group (USA) presents a memorization game that will challenge you with classic poems from master wordsmiths (including Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, and more) with the April 4th release of Poems By Heart from Penguin Classics. The app features 24 poems you’ll come to know by heart while racking up high scores and achievements. With recordings you can share online and email to your friends, Poems By Heart includes two new and exclusive dramatic readings and all-new original art for each poem, with two poems available for free. The app will be available in the App Store for the iPad and iPhone on April 4th.

The works of John Keats, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and fifteen other iconic poets are featured in Poems By Heart’s verses of adventure, romance, and horror, all carefully selected and edited by the experts at Penguin Classics. Using brain-training techniques to make remembering poetry easy, the resulting fast and responsive game doubles as a tool to stay mentally fit in a fun way. “Poems By Heart makes it simple to memorize timeless verses while immersing yourself in a fun interactive game,” says Penguin Classics Editorial Director Elda Rotor. “This app combines beautiful design with an experience that expands your mind’s ability to retain language.” With seven in-app purchase packs of poems available in the app’s poetry store, Poems By Heart lets players share their progress online as they build their skills along five different stages and twenty ranks of success.

Users can confront a haunting, ominous raven, discover the ruins of an ancient, forgotten kingdom, and learn the secrets of true love—all in one app. Poetry experts, literature lovers, and novices just hoping to brush up on their Shakespearean sonnets will all find what they’re looking for in Poems By Heart from Penguin Classics. From the American Romance of Edgar Allen Poe to the nonsensical whimsy of Lewis Carroll, this app from Penguin Classics offers you the tools needed to strengthen your memory while creating and recording memories of your own.



###

About Penguin Group (USA)

Penguin Group (USA) Inc. is the U.S. member of the internationally renowned Penguin Group. Penguin Group (USA) is one of the leading U.S. adult and children's trade book publishers, owning a wide range of imprints and trademarks, including Viking, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, The Penguin Press, Riverhead Books, Dutton, Penguin Books, Berkley Books, Gotham Books, Portfolio, New American Library, Plume, Tarcher, Philomel, Grosset & Dunlap, Puffin, and Frederick Warne, among others. The Penguin Group (www.penguin.com) is part of Pearson plc, the international media company.


About Penguin Classics

For more than sixty years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world, providing readers with a global bookshelf of the best works from around the world, throughout history, and across genres and disciplines. We focus on bringing together the best of the past and the future, using cutting-edge design and production as well as embracing the digital age to create unforgettable editions of treasured literature. Penguin Classics is timeless and trend-setting. Whether you love our familiar black-spine series, our Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions, or our Penguin Enriched eBook Classics, we bring the writer to the reader in every format available.





Monday, April 7, 2014

COVER REVEAL! What the Lady Wants by Renee Rosen


In late 19th century Chicago, visionary retail tycoon Marshall Field made his fortune wooing women customers with his famous
motto:“Give the lady what she wants.”

His legendary charm also won the heart of socialite Delia Spencer, and led to an infamous love affair.

The night of the Great Fire, as seventeen-year-old Delia watched the flames rise and consume what had been the pioneer town of Chicago, she couldn’t imagine how much her life, her city, and her whole world was about to change. Nor would she have guessed that the agent of that change would not simply be the fire, but more so the man she met that night…

Leading the way in rebuilding after the fire, Marshall Field reopens his well-known dry goods store and transforms it into something the world has never seen before: a glamorous palace of a department store.  He and his powerhouse coterie— including Potter Palmer and George Pullman—usher in the age of robber barons, the American royalty of their generation.

But behind the opulence, their private lives are riddled with scandal and heartbreak. Delia and Marshall first turn to each other out of loneliness, but as their love deepens, they will stand together despite disgrace and ostracism, through an age of devastation and opportunity, when an adolescent Chicago was transformed into the Gleaming White City of the Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893.

Praise for Dollface

“Intoxicating....Fans of Boardwalk Empire will love Dollface.”—New York Times Bestselling Author Sara Gruen


“A lively, gutsy romp of a novel that will keep you turning pages.”—Karen Abbott, New York Times Bestselling Author of Sin in the Second City