Tag Archives: historical fiction

Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg Review 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman finds her world turned upside down when a handsome stranger enters her life from another time, and together they discover fate’s plans for them when a rogue threat targets her for a power she never knew she had in author Sasha Alsberg’s “Breaking Time”.

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The Synopsis

Romance, Celtic mythology, and adventure swirl together in this time travel fantasy by #1 New York Times bestselling author, booktuber, and popular Outlander social media influencer Sasha Alsberg.

Fate brought them together. Time will tear them apart.

When a mysterious Scotsman suddenly appears in the middle of the road, Klara thinks the biggest problem is whether she hit him with her car. But, as impossible as it sounds, Callum has stepped out of another time, and his arrival marks the beginning of a deadly adventure.

Klara soon learns she is the last Pillar of Time—an anchor point in the timeline of the world. After being unable to protect the previous Pillar, Callum believes he’s fated to protect her. But now a dark force is hunting the Pillars—and Klara and Callum are the only two standing in the way. They’ll have to learn to trust each other and work together…but they’ll need to protect their hearts from one another if they’re going to survive

The Review

This was such a powerful and entertaining new read! The author did such an incredible job of world-building in this narrative. Each scene felt vibrant and alive on the page, thanks to the author’s incredible handle on imagery in her writing and the atmosphere she builds as the narrative progresses. The striking balance the author struck between the rich mythology of the world she created and the intimate and emotional character growth was superb. As a huge fan of mythology in general, I was immediately drawn into this narrative, but what was really fun was being introduced to new mythological figures and stories, and the intricacies of Celtic mythology definitely drew me into the story so much that I’ll be researching the mythos myself, really adding to the author’s ability to draw readers in. 

Yet it was the rich character development that really drew me in further and further into the story. The multiple POVs were great to have, as they added depth to both Callum’s and Klara’s stories. Their backstories and the eras from which they hail and the instant chemistry and discoveries they make about themselves along the way were truly inviting to behold on the page. Even the antagonist, who emerges from the shadows and strikes into the heart of these two protagonists, was chilling and haunting to behold and did a great job of becoming the hero’s foil in the narrative. 

The Verdict

Captivating, engaging, and brilliantly written, author Sasha Alsberg’s “Breaking Time” is a must-read YA Historical Fantasy meets Time Travel story and one of my top picks for best reads of 2022. The author does a great job of traversing the influences of other series such as Outlander and The Mortal Instruments, and yet feels so original and authentic on its own at the same time, bringing magic back into the Historical Fantasy meets Highland genre. With a twist ending that left this reader eager to read more, you guys won’t want to miss out on this spectacular story. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Sasha Alsberg is the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Zenith, the first book in The Androma Saga. When Sasha is not writing or obsessing over Scotland, she is galavanting across social media with her two dogs, Fraser & Fiona. Sasha lives in London, England.

Social Links:

Author website: https://www.sashaalsberg.com/ 

Twitter: @sashaalsberg

Instagram: @sashaalsberg

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sasha.alsberg 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15100575.Sasha_Alsberg 

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Time-Sasha-Alsberg/dp/1335284893 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/breaking-

time-sasha-alsberg/1140332910 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335284891 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Breaking-Time/Sasha-Alsberg/9781335284891 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/ch/audiobook/breaking-time/id1591477301 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sasha_Alsberg_Breaking_Time?id=5TlHEAAAQBAJ 

Please enjoy this excerpt from Author Sasha Alsberg’s “Breaking Time”

Excerpted from BREAKING TIME by Sasha Alsberg, © 2022 by Sasha Alsberg, used with permission from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins.

Callum

1568

“Thomas!” Callum yelled as he left the pub. The wall of crisp night air dizzied him, causing him to stumble over cobblestones that seemed to shift beneath his feet. Drunken laughter muff led as the door slammed shut behind him. 

“Where the hell are ye?” he shouted. His voice echoed through the deserted streets. 

No answer came. 

Lanterns flickered along the main road, setting the heavy fog aglow. In a wee town like Rosemere, the slightest whispers could be heard a mile away. They carried farther than that, Callum knew; the windows around him were shuttered, but candles burned low just inside. How many prying eyes watched from behind the slats? How many would speak of his friend, the disgraced fighter, in hushed voices at tomorrow’s market, over bread bought with the coin they’d won betting on him mere weeks earlier?

Callum clenched his fists. The whole pub had shouted and jeered while Thomas got pummeled that night. Sounds still rang in Callum’s ears: the thud of fist and flesh, the sickening crunch of bone. It was the third time this month that Thomas had lost—only the third time, in two years of fighting.

Brice would be angry.

Master, keeper, devil, father. Brice MacDonald was all of these things to Callum and Thomas. Whatever Brice’s wrath tonight, Callum could not let Thomas face it alone. Not when Thomas had looked after Callum for so long, raised him up from a nipper as well as a real older brother would.

But he would not abandon Thomas like his mother had abandoned him.

The thought sobered Callum. He called again, lowering his voice to a taunt.

“Thomas! You owe me three shillings!” Thomas could usually be drawn out with a jab.

Callum paused, straining his ears for a response but was met with unease instead. An owl watched from its perch atop the baker’s roof, golden eyes unblinking against the dark night sky. The shining orbs fixed on him.

He tore his gaze from the bird and walked on, moving away from the firelight and into shadow.

Even more worrisome than Brice was the fact that Thomas had given Callum his most treasured item earlier that night: his notebook, small sheaths of vellum bound in leather. When he first began carrying it around, Thomas claimed to have stolen it from the apothecary when he went in for a poultice. 

He had kept it on him, always, and had never let Callum lay eyes on what was inside. Yet he had pressed it into Callum’s hand, just before the match tonight. He said something to Callum when he did, but his words were inaudible within the roar of the pub. Then after, he disappeared from the pub without even a goodbye.

Now Callum was wandering the streets, alone.

It was unlike Thomas to behave so strangely, to lose so badly. The Thomas he knew—boyish and rowdy, tough as leather but never mean—had fallen away with the autumn leaves these past months. Instead of spending evenings at The Black Hart Inn, weaving stories he’d learned as a child of selkies and sailors for red-cheeked barmaids until the sun rose, Thomas began to disappear for days, weeks at a time—stretches too long for Callum to explain to Brice. He took a beating or two for it, too. When Thomas returned, he was sullen, sometimes violent, and consumed by a strangeness Callum had no words to describe. His eyes stared but did not see, as distant as stars burning in his skull. If he spoke at all, he told tales of the demons that terrified them as children: like the Sluagh, spirits of the dead who wandered in flocks, flying around the sky like soaring reapers and stealing souls, flesh hanging off them like blackened rags. Or the bean-nighe, banshees, messengers from the Otherworld and omens of death, who lingered in lonely streams, washing the clothes of doomed men. Normally Callum heard of such dark creatures within the stories of heroes, but Thomas’s stories didn’t end in life…but death. He fixated on that fact, as if it were coming for him.

I saw her, he’d said of the bean-nighe. I refuse to die. 

It worried Callum, but just as his worry morphed into confrontation, Thomas would come back to himself. This was enough to comfort Callum as he watched Thomas return to tales of ancient heroes and kings. Maybe he accepted his relief too soon since the nights of those stories were fewer these days, and more often Thomas’s speech would turn dark again. He would speak of strange visions, of men who leaped from one world to the next.

They’re coming, Cal, you’ll see. It’s as simple as stepping through a veil.

Who’s coming, Thomas? What veil? Callum asked, and Thomas would laugh.

It was no tale that Callum knew. He’d warned Thomas not to tell it. He didn’t like the wary looks it earned him. It was one thing to be a bard who told these stories for a living, but it was another thing to speak like a madman of evil spirits and fairies as if they were tangible things away from the lyrics of a song or the pages of a book.

Callum reached the end of the main road—the turn for Kelpie’s Close. If you wanted trouble, you found it in Kelpie’s. The narrow backstreet edged Rosemere like a blade pressed against the town’s throat.

A chill clung to his skin. Here, there were no lanterns to light the way, his only guide sparse slivers of moonlight. The wind picked up suddenly, lifting his hair and reaching under his woolen cloak. He tried to shake off visions of the Sluagh hovering above him, raking their cold fingers down his neck.

“It’s as dark as the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat,” he mumbled.

Callum reached for the dirk tucked under his arm and found the carved handle concealed under layers of wool, feeling a sting of guilt. It was Thomas’s knife. Callum had slipped it away from him before the match, worried about what his friend might do in the crowded pub if he got enough drink in him. He tapped it, drawing enough strength to plunge into the darkness.

“Scunner!” he cursed, meaning it. “Where are you?”

A cry pierced the quiet.

Callum’s heart pounded as he followed the sound farther down the alley. He pulled the dirk from under his arm, certain now that he’d need to use it.

“Thomas?”

Unease, cold and metallic, crept up his spine. The alley appeared empty—strange, for this time of night—but the silence was thick, alive with a feeling Callum couldn’t name. He pushed on, deeper into the gloom. “Thomas?”

Another strangled cry, ahead.

Callum broke into a run.

A single lantern flickered a short distance away, casting a wan glow over a lone figure slumped against the wall. A sweep of red hair, bright even in the dim alley.

“Thomas, ye bastard, do ye ken what—”

The insult lodged in his throat. Thomas lay on the ground, his legs splayed at sickening angles. Blood seeped through his shirt, blooming like ink on paper. Callum rushed to his friend and knelt beside him. He dropped the dirk and pressed his hands against the deep slice that marred his friend’s torso. A knife wound.

“Dinnae fash, Thomas, dinnae fash,” Callum repeated, voice tight and panicked. He glanced up, searching for friend or foe, and found no one. “We’ll be back to the pub before Anderson kens we havna paid our tab.” 

Thomas stared up at him with glassy blue eyes. With each shuddering breath, more blood spilled through Callum’s fingers. He ripped the cloth stock from his neck and pressed the fabric onto the wound. It did little to stem the flow of blood. Within a few heartbeats, the cloth was soaked through, red and dripping.

If he pressed any harder, would it be doing more harm than good? Should he call for help, though it might draw the attacker? Callum hadn’t a clue. He wished suddenly, ferociously, that he’d had a proper mother, one whose wisdom he could call upon to calmly guide his hands. However, Thomas was the only family he had.

His only family was dying.

Thomas opened his mouth, but instead of words, a wet cough came out, splattering red across his pale face.

“Dinnae move, Thomas,” Callum shushed him. His uncertainty gave way to desperation, burst from his throat. “Help! Help us!”

His words dissolved into the night air, leaving behind only a tightness at the center of his chest. If he hadn’t taken Thomas’s dirk, he would have been able to defend himself, he wouldn’t be dying in Callum’s arms—

Thomas gasped, but it seemed as if no air reached his lungs.

Lowering his head, Callum gripped Thomas’s hands, though his own were shaking. “I will find the man who did this, I swear—”

Then the world flipped sideways. A blow had hit Callum like a runaway carriage, throwing him against the alley wall opposite Thomas.

Pain exploded along his ribs. Grasping the mossy wall for purchase, he struggled to his feet and wiped blood from his eyes, scouring the darkness for his attacker—and found no one.

“Show your face,” he growled.

A cruel whisper cut through the quiet. “Are you certain?”

The man emerged from the shadows as if he had been one with them. He wore a dark black cloak, in stark contrast to his unkempt, pale hair. Deep set in his face, a pair of amber eyes seemed to emit their own light. Callum’s gaze was drawn to a glinting shape in the man’s hand.

A dagger, dripping with blood.

Thomas’s blood.

Callum’s heart pounded like a war drum in his ears.

The man sighed. “Move along. Unless you’d like to meet the same fate as your compani—”

Callum lunged forward, cutting off the man’s speech with a guttural cry, striking with the speed of a viper.

The man ducked. He whirled around as Callum charged again. He overreached with the arc of his knife, and Callum used the moment to surge upward with a punch. His fist took the assailant in the chin—

And the force knocked Callum back.

He stared. A blow like that would have laid out the toughest fighter, yet the man stood and smiled, rubbing his chin with a gloved hand.

“I’m going to have fun with you,” the stranger whispered. “I like a man with a bit of fight in him. It’s more fun to play with your prey, don’t you think?”

Callum didn’t see the blow coming, only felt the pain searing across his temple as he was thrown to the ground again. 

He lifted his head, vision blurring. He blinked it clear, took in his friend’s ashen face. The sight flooded Callum with rage.

Whoever said to never fight with anger fueling your fists was a fool. Thomas’s best fights had been powered by emotion. Callum wasn’t fighting for money now. Or for Brice. He was fighting for Thomas. Because Thomas was—

“Stay down, little man,” the attacker’s voice hissed.

Callum dragged himself to his feet. His body, corded with muscle from a lifetime of training, screamed for him to stop. Instead he stood, swaying.

“I dinnae believe I’m going to Heaven,” Callum said, raising his fists once more, drawing strength from the familiar ache that radiated through his arms. “But I cannae wait to bring you to Hell with me.”

Lunging forward again, Callum poured everything he had into a single strike. He swung, landing the punch more out of luck than skill, half blinded by blood and dirt.

The man merely flinched, then caught Callum easily by the throat. A grin curled over his face.

How could that be possible?

“My, my, you are a feisty one,” he hissed.

The man lashed out, and pain flared along Callum’s torso. He released Callum and stepped back, red-tinged silver shining in his fist.

Callum touched his side, and his fingers came away wet with blood. He watched as crimson spread across his shirt. He tried to take a step, only to crumple to the ground beside Thomas, whose head rested limp against his chest.

Callum had never feared death, but now as he looked into its eyes, terror seized him. 

“Many thanks for the entertainment,” the man said.

To Callum’s horror, he bent low, holding a vial to the spreading pool of Thomas’s blood. He was gathering it.

“If you’ll excuse me, there’s one last Pillar I must find.”

Pillar?

The unearthly amber eyes melted into darkness as his opponent backed away and turned, disappearing into the shadows once more. Softly hissed words echoed in the alley. Àiteachan dìomhair, fosgailte dhomh, Àiteachan dìomhair, fosgailte dhomh…

The words the man spoke were Gaelic, but Callum’s fading mind couldn’t make out their meaning. A dark, mist-like substance rose from the ground and curled around the man’s feet, nearly indistinguishable from the dim of night. Like a sudden fog had rolled in.

Callum sputtered a curse, lacking the strength to spit. He tried to lift himself, but with each breath, pain flared in his side like a web of fire.

“I’m sorry, Thomas,” he croaked. Tears fell freely down his face, mingling with blood and sweat. He pressed his forehead against his friend’s. Grief washed over him at the still-warm press of his skin.

Thomas was gone, and Callum would soon follow.

A shiver raked his body. His eyes drifted shut.

Take me already, he pleaded to the darkness.

And the darkness answered.

No, not the darkness—Thomas’s voice, a memory now, though it was solid as stone.

“Get up, scunner.”

The warmth of the words turned electric, spreading through Callum’s body like wildfire. His eyes shot open and he gasped, breathing in a shock of cold air still sharp with the smell of blood. His fingers found the dirk he’d dropped earlier.

Grief and agony and pain and rage lifted Callum onto his feet, thrumming in him as he charged after Thomas’s murderer, knife raised and eager for flesh. He grabbed blindly, finally grasping a handful of fabric—the man’s cloak. Turning, the man’s eyes widened, making two white rings of surprise in the dark. Callum’s hand grabbed the man’s neck and aimed his dirk at the pale slash of his throat.

Suddenly, they froze. Callum could not move. His hand remained around the man’s neck, the tip of the dirk pressed against his vein. Light flowed around them. It’s not time for sunrise, he thought. Dimly, he noticed markings along the man’s collarbone. Knots carved into his skin.

The man cried out—not in pain, but in anger—but then, the cry was stifled by a rush of silence, so thick Callum thought he might drown in it. His stomach turned violently as the ground seemed to drop out from under him, forcing him to squeeze his eyes shut. He was falling, flying, falling.

I must be dead in the alley. The man must have killed me. This must be death.

A bright glow burned against his lids. He closed his eyes tighter and welcomed whatever might follow, only hoping he’d find Thomas there. A wall of light had formed above, descending as if the sun were pulling him through the sky. His body rose into its searing embrace.

He waited for the long drop to the ground, but it never came.

Callum kept soaring.

Not just through the street.

Not to death’s embrace. 

But somewhere else.

Leaping to another world, like the man in Thomas’s story, Callum thought.

So he leaped. 

Until Next Sunday by Audry Fryer Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two Italian immigrants in 20th century America fight to reunite and find comfort in their letters to one another in the interim in author Audry Fryer’s “Until Next Sunday”.

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The Synopsis

Until Next Sunday is a sweet Historical Romance inspired by a true story. It is based on actual Italian love letters which were discovered a century after they were written (some of which are contained in this book.)

Rosina leaves Italy to build a better life, but the reality in America is nothing like the dream.

She is far from the Italian countryside and the beautiful olive groves where she grew up. Here the work is endless, and the winters are cold and desolate. She never expects to find love in such a place.

Then she met him.

Gianni, the shoemaker’s apprentice, is gentle, handsome, and everything she never knew she needed in her life.

But when Rosina falls ill and is quarantined, their future is at stake. All she can do is cling to the beautiful letters Gianni writes. Each week she tries to survive the long, lonely days until next Sunday for his brief visit.

Will fate bring Rosina and Gianni together once more? Or are they destined to remain star-crossed forever?

It is a portrait of the times, and a true immigrant experience. Feel the force with which these two lives find love, against all odds.

The Review

This was such a powerful love story. The world-building and setting the author is able to bring to life through incredible writing that evokes a great sense of imagery made the story feel so vibrant and captivating to read. The powerful themes of love and the “American Dream” during a time when many people from Italy were immigrating to the United States were both captivating and brought a sense of community to the narrative as well.

It was the cast of characters that really sold this narrative. The emotional connection between Gianni and Rosina was so impactful, and the way this fictional narrative was fit around the love letters of real-world individuals made the connection readers had to this story that much more powerful. The way this aspect of the narrative was able to be more prominent in the novel was great to see, as the history portion of the historical fiction romance read was brilliant for a history buff like me, but with romance being such a focal point in this novel, as well as family, it was great to see the history lift up and add a spotlight to the romance more so than anything else.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, captivating, and entertaining, author Audry Fryer’s “Until Next Sunday” is a must-read and mesmerizing historical fiction romance novel! The emotional depths of the romance between these two main characters were amazing to read, and the natural way the history of the era played to the themes of love and the story many immigrants had during this point of history was inspiring to read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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I’m excited to announce the WOW! Women on Writing book blog tour with author and Audry Fryer and her book Until Next Sunday. 

This book is written with so much heart – you can’t help but fall in love with the characters from this historical romance! 

Here’s a bit about the book:

 After bravely leaving the life she knew to come to America, 
illness threatens Rosina’s happily ever after. 
When separated, will letters keep their love alive? 


Rosina leaves Italy to build a better life, but the reality in America is nothing like the dream. She is far from the Italian countryside and the beautiful olive groves where she grew up. Here the work is endless, and the winters are cold and desolate. She never expects to find love in such a place. 

Then she met him. Gianni, the shoemaker’s apprentice, is gentle, handsome, and everything she never knew she needed in her life. 

But when Rosina falls ill and is quarantined, their future is at stake. All she can do is cling to the beautiful letters Gianni writes. Each week she tries to survive the long, lonely days until next Sunday for his brief visit. 

Will fate bring Rosina and Gianni together once more? Or are they destined to remain star-crossed forever? 

Until Next Sunday is a sweet Historical Romance inspired by a true story. It is based on actual Italian love letters which were discovered a century after they were written (some of which are contained in this book.) It is a portrait of the times, and a true immigrant experience. Feel the force with which these two lives find love, against all odds.

Purchase your own copy on: Smashwords, Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo!

About the Author





Audry Fryer is an author and professional freelance writer from Pennsylvania. Formerly a teacher, Audry wrote her first novel while her toddler son and twin babies napped. As her children have grown into teenagers, she has expanded her writing career. Audry lives with her family and two pugs in a quiet corner of Southeastern PA. To learn more about Audry, please visit her website at www.audryfryer.com

Social Media Links:

#untilnextsunday




– Blog Tour Calendar

May 9th @ The Muffin
Join us as we celebrate the launch of Until Next Sunday by Audry Fryer. We interview the author about her book and also give away a copy to one lucky reader.

May 10th @ Create Write Now 
Today’s guest post at Create Write Now comes from Audry Fryer as she pens an article titled: “The Importance of a Talented Editor”. Hear from Audry on this important topic and find out more about her latest work: Until Next Sunday.

May 11th @ Pages & Paws 
Kristine from Pages and Paws reviews Until Next Sunday by Audry Fryer. This historical romance is delighting readers – find out what Kristine thinks!

May 13th @ Rebecca J. Whitman
Audry Fryer pens today’s travel inspired guest post on Rebecca J. Whitman’s blog. Find out more about Fryer’s book Until Next Sunday and the region of Italy featured in the book.

May 16th @ What is that Book About
Today’s book spotlight at What is that Book About is none other than Audry Fryer’s latest Until Next Sunday. Readers will want to add this gem to their TBR pile right away!

May 16th @ Rebecca J. Whitman
Don’t miss today’s podcast with Rebecca J. Whitman as she features Audry Fryer and Audry’s latest book Until Next Sunday.

May 17th @ Beverley A. Baird
Beverley A. Baird welcomes Audry Fryer to her blog today. Stop by and learn more about Fryer’s latest book Until Next Sunday and find out the inside story about “How 100 Love Letters Became a Novel”

May 18th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Behavioral Psychotherapist, Linda Appleman Shapiro, reviews and shares her thoughts after reading Until Next Sunday by Audry Fryer. Don’t miss Shapiro’s insight on this beautiful historical romance.

May 19th @ A Storybook World
A StoryBook World welcomes Audry Fryer and Until Next Sunday to the spotlight today! Stop by and find out more about the historical romance everyone is talking about!

May 20th @ Rebecca J. Whitman
Rebecca J. Whitman reviews Audry Fryer’s Until Next Sunday and shares her thoughts with readers on her blog; don’t miss a chance to learn more about this historical romance that is delighting readers young and old!

May 20th @ Word Magic
Readers at Fiona Ingram’s blog will hear from Audry Fryer today as she writes about the difference between historical romance and historical fiction. Is there a difference? Find out today and learn more about Fryer’s latest work Until Next Sunday.

May 24th @ Mindy McGinnis
Readers at Mindy McGinnis’ blog will hear from Audry Fryer today as she writes about how to create a book club kit for your readers. Sop by and learn more about Fryer’s latest work Until Next Sunday.

May 24th @ Author Anthony Avina
Readers at Anthony Avina’s blog will hear from Audry Fryer today as she writes about Roses and what they symbolize in books. Stop by today and learn more about Fryer’s latest work Until Next Sunday.

May 25th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Fellow author Madeline Sharples has Audry Fryer and Until Next Sunday in the spotlight at her blog today! Stop by and see what all the fuss is about!

May 30th @ Bring on Lemons with High School Student, Carmen Otto
Teenager Carmen Otto offers her 5 star review of Audry Fryer’s Until Next Sunday. Otto can’t wait for her school library to add this gem to their collection! Read more from Carmen about this historical romance today!

May 31st @ Reading is My Remedy
Chelsie Stanford of Reading is My Remedy offers her review of Audry Fryer’s Until Next Sunday – find out what Chelsie has to say about this historical romance and it’s talented author!

June 1st @ Lisa’s Reading
Lisa from Lisa’s Reading has Audry Fryer’s Until Next Sunday in the spotlight today! Stop by and see the historical romance everyone is talking about!

June 2nd @ KnottyNeedle Creative
Judy from the Knotty Needle offers her review of Audry Fryer’s Until Next Sunday for readers of her blog. This is a delightful historical romance and readers will want to hear what Judy has to say!

June 2nd @ Beverley A. Baird
Beverley A. Baird reviews Until Next Sunday by Audry Fryer. This historical romance is getting lots of attention – find out what Beverley thinks!

June 3rd @ Author Anthony Avina
Author Anthony Avina reviews fellow author Audry Fryer’s latest historical romance, Until Next Sunday. Find out from one author to another what Anthony thinks of this book!

June 4th @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion
Linda of Boots Shoes & Fashion interviews Audry Fryer about her latest historical fiction, Until Next Sunday; don’t miss this insightful interview!
https://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

June 5th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Madeline Sharples welcomes a guest author to her blog – today, readers will hear from Audry Fryer about Until Next Sunday as well as learning what Audry has to say about Top Strong Female Characters in Literature.

June 9th @ The Frugalista Mom
The Fruglista Mom, Rozelyn, shares her review of Until Next Sunday by Audry Fryer! This is a book and review you won’t want to miss!

June 10th @ World of My Imagination
WOW! Blog Tour Manager Nicole Pyles shares her review of Until Next Sunday by Audry Fryer. Nicole’s review wraps up the book blog tour for this historical romance – find out what Nicole has to say about this beautiful story!

The Highlander’s Stolen Bride (Highland Alliance Book 3) by Madeline Martin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two people born to hate one another find themselves drawn together through harrowing odds in author Madeline Martin’s “The Highlander’s Stolen Bride”, the third book in the Highland Alliance series.

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The Synopsis

A dramatic enemies-to-lovers romance from New York Times bestselling author Madeline Martin!

Kidnapping Elspeth MacMillan on her way to an arranged marriage is the only way for new laird Calum Campbell to avoid more bloodshed and bargain peace for his people. Calum expects her fury but doesn’t expect the feisty lass to break through his defenses into his heart. With war waging between their families, will they ever be able to yield to love?

The Review

As a history buff and romantic, I absolutely loved this book. The examination of Scotland’s ancient history and the emphasis on clans and how the rivalries and conflicts arose between these houses was very Shakespearean in nature, and the author captured that perfectly in this novel. The author’s unique writing style allowed a great sense of imagery that brought the lush and vibrant lands of Scotland and the harsh landscape of the lands the Campbell clan found themselves banned to live in the reader’s minds. 

The character development was superb in this book. The heated passion between the two protagonists was felt throughout the entire book, first in the hatred Elspeth felt for Calum and the mistrust that permeated their meeting, and then in the love and passion, they felt as they spent more and more time together. The exploration of how family rivalries and assumptions based on a person’s family can bring more harm than good to any situation was perfectly laid out in this novel, and the balance of action and romance was incredible. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, entertaining, and captivating, author Madeline Martin’s “The Highlander’s Stolen Bride” is a must-read novel of 2022 and the perfect compact romance for fans of adult romance novels. The fast pace and intensity of the narrative will leave readers breathless, and the historical setting will leave readers invested in the growing series the author has created. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Madeline Martin is a New York Times and International Bestselling author of historical fiction and historical romance. She lives in sunny Florida with her two daughters (known collectively as the minions), one incredibly spoiled cat and a man so wonderful he’s been dubbed Mr. Awesome. She is a die-hard history lover who will happily lose herself in research any day. When she’s not writing, researching or ‘moming’, you can find her spending time with her family at Disney or sneaking a couple spoonfuls of Nutella while laughing over cat videos. She also loves to travel, attributing her fascination with history to having spent most of her childhood as an Army brat in Germany.

Interview with Scott Kauffman 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

My fiction career began with an in-class book report written in Mrs. Baer’s eighth-grade English class when, due to a conflict of priorities, I failed to read the book, necessitating an exercise of the imagination. Not only was I not found out, but I snagged a B, better than the C that I received on my last report when I actually read the book. Thus began my life-long apprenticeship as a teller of tales and, some would snidely suggest, as a lawyer as well, but they would be cynics, a race Oscar Wilde warned us knew the price of everything and the value of nothing.

I am the author of the legal-suspense novel, In Deepest Consequences (Medallion Press), loosely drawn on two murder cases from earlier in my career, and the coming-of-age novel Revenants, The Odyssey Home (Moonshine Cove Publishing). I am a recipient of the Mighty River Short Story Contest and the Hackney Literary Award. My short fiction has appeared in Big Muddy, Adelaide Magazine, and Lascaux Review. I will admit to being an attorney in Irvine, California, where my practice focuses upon white-collar crime and tax litigation with my clients providing me endless story fodder. I graduated summa cum laude from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, (where Walter Tevis, author of Queen’s Gambit, was my first fiction professor) and in the upper ten percent of my class from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, where I was a member of the Environmental Law Review and received the American Jurisprudence Award in Conflict of Laws. I can be found at www.scottkauffman.net.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

As I said above, my first novel In Deepest Consequences was loosely based upon two murder cases from earlier in my career. Revenants, The Odyssey Home, was drawn from the death of my late-wife’s uncle in Viet Nam, who is the only member of an MIA recovery team known to have died in combat. My inspiration for Saving Thomas was seeded in a general revulsion arising during some or another election campaign at those politicians who may have served but then try to get elected by trafficking in the dead who never came home. So I started to ask myself a series of what if questions. Such as what if someone had served and suffered but was honor bound never to reveal he had served and suffered and because of it suffered all the more? Which lead to more what if questions. The end result of all these what ifs the book you read and reviewed.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Saving Thomas explores the age-old themes harking back to the Old Testament and Homer of betrayal, redemption, and ultimate forgiveness. All of us have been betrayed in our lives by those we love. All of us in turn have betrayed those we love. But if we are to come to terms with our betrayals, both those suffered and inflicted, we must move beyond a shattered trust to commence anew. Hope will reveal itself when we reaffirm those bonds of commitment, and it is in our finding a way forward where forgiveness will be found. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I don’t consider myself a genre writer. When a story with legs comes to me, I write it not caring where Barnes & Noble will shelve it. Having said that, I think it was Nietzsche who said melodrama is right versus wrong whereas tragedy is right versus right with no good outcome. I am drawn to tragedies.

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

My villain, Erec Renard. This guy has to have at least a dozen stories to keep a writer employed.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Twitter and Instagram.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Learn from other writers. Revise, revise, revise, then revise some more. Master the rules of Greek rhetoric passed on down to the Romans, lost in the Dark Ages, resurrected during the Renaissance, and rediscovered in England just about the time Shakespeare was penning his plays and King James’s scribes were translating the Bible into English and give their works so much power, mimicking the power of Bach and Handel through repetition and point/counter point. Power you can hear in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream. Perhaps most importantly, remember that being published is someone else’s call. It’s impossible to know what to write to please those someones and may not be where your writing comes from. But someone’s first book changed you. Know there are others waiting for yours.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Are any new books/projects on the horizon?

Next up, Finding Forest: A death-row attorney walks the murderous streets of East Oakland by night searching for the family of the executed client he betrayed twenty-four years before.

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About the Author

Scott is an attorney in Irvine, California, where his practice focuses upon white-collar crime with his clients providing him endless story fodder. His short story “Cat Dance” was short-listed for the 2018 Adelaide Literary Award. He is the author of the coming-of-age novel Revenants, The Odyssey Home (Moonshine Cove Publishing) and the legal-suspense novel, In Deepest Consequences (Medallion Press) and is the recipient of the Mighty River Short Story Contest and the Hackney Literary Award. His short fiction has appeared in Big Muddy, Adelaide Magazine, and Lascaux Review.

Website:www.scottkauffman.net 

Publisher: https://www.thewildrosepress.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kauffman_scott 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/scottkauffmanauthor/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Scott-Kauffman-Author-402186853680261/ 

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3234487.Scott_Kauffman 

Book Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59610226-saving-thomas?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=81e5CNjnYi&rank=1 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Saving-Thomas-Scott-Kauffman/dp/1509238638/ref=sr_1_2?adid=082VK13VJJCZTQYGWWCZ&campaign=211041&creative=374001&keywords=Saving+Thomas&qid=1646075976&s=books&sr=1-2 

The Oberlynn Origins: Prequel to The Oberlynn Generations Series by J. Traveler Pelton Review

The foundations for a family legacy that will withstand the test of time take center stage in author J. Traveler Pelton’s “The Oberllyn Origins: Prequel to the Oberllyn Generations Series”. 

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The Synopsis

In the beginning, the kidnapped ancestors of the Oberllyn’s had to rescue themselves from slavery in a strange land. How does someone travel from the freedom of tribal lands to Scotland and back again generations later with their integrity unblemished? Who were the true barbarians, the colonists or the native peoples? Travel back with us to the time when trees were tall, the settled country was being invaded by refugees from a failed civilization, and two young people made the best of a terrible situation. They founded a dynasty. However, their first task was survival.

The Review

This was a truly compelling historical fiction/drama. The author really drew the reader in, capturing the raw and visceral nature of early life in the Americas and how the Native American people were treated so cruelly by the settlers. Yet the action and history moved quite quickly, allowing brief yet impactful glimpses at the multitude of events throughout the 18th and 19th centuries through the eyes of this vastly growing family. 

The way the author was able to connect the larger story of the Oberllyn Family from the original trilogies to this prequel was so engaging. The descriptive nature and wide cast of characters the author employed into the narrative was magnificent to behold, and really made the settings come to life in a very real way. The attention to detail the author utilized to the language and actions of the people back in those eras was so precise and made the characters feel alive on the pages.

The Verdict

Memorable, engaging, and awe-inspiring, author J. Traveler Pelton’s “The Oberllyn Origins: Prequel to the Oberllyn Generations Series” is a must-read novel. The history, the culture, and the examination of several generations of what would become a prominent family in the author’s other series made this such an entertaining read. The story was heartfelt and emotional, and the characters were so vibrant on the page that readers won’t be able to put down this book until the very end. If you haven’t yet, download or purchase your copy of this amazing story today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

J. Traveler Pelton was born in West Virginia in the last century. She is active in her home church and was the Nation’s Mother for her tribe for several years. She is still wife to Dan after 47 years (He is so long-suffering!), mother of six adults, a grandmother of nine, a Clinically Licensed Independent Social worker in private practice, a retired adjunct professor of social work at her local university, and an avid reader. She lives on a mini-farm with her husband, seven alpaca, a flock of spoiled chickens, five Siamese cats, four Pomeranians, a talkative Amazon parrot named Gizmo, and her aviary of canaries. Traveler enjoys the intersection of fantasy, possibility, creativity, and speculation. Join her on the other side of the imagination tree. She’ll be sitting there waiting for your visit.

travelerpelton.com

The Order by John-Patrick Bayle Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The discovery of a mysterious manuscript puts a novice monk into the perilous journey none would have seen coming in author John-Patrick Bayle’s “The Order”.

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The Synopsis

1513, France -An ancient origin. A secret society. A long anticipated birth has come to pass. The news spreads in a hushed wave throughout the world. It has begun.Armies move while nations sleep, and one of human history’s greatest movements teeters on the edge of collapse. The Order is a gripping tale of deception, secrecy, cruelty, and a man whose faith stands firm in the face of it all. 

The Review

The pacing and tone of the narrative were so well balanced. The way author was able to capture the atmosphere and behavior of the monks early into the story while infusing mystery and intrigue to keep the stakes of the mission alive. The tension that the author infused into the narrative was felt heavily in the story, as the brotherhood that the author established early on took some twists that made the protagonist force himself to view the world a bit more warily, while also struggling with his views and trusting nature.

The two biggest things that stood out to me in this narrative were the wealth of character development and the brilliant infusion of history into the story. The way in which the protagonist relates to these characters and must traverse this shadowy world and organization within such a turbulent point in the 16th century was so captivating to read. The emotions that this character underwent on this transformative journey only added more depth to the action and battles that the narrative took later on in the story. 

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The Verdict

Memorable, entertaining, and hauntingly intriguing historical fiction, author John-Patrick Bayle’s “The Order” is a must-read novel! The fantastic blend of mystery and history is always such a plus for me as a reader and the engaging way the author delved into the man underneath the monk’s hood and the hood’s representation as a whole during this chaotic time period while also uncovering the mysteries of the narrative made for a story that could not be put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Airy Nothing by Clarissa Pattern Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two boys must traverse a magical London in search of friendship and acceptance in author Clarissa Pattern’s “Airy Nothing”.

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The Synopsis

When you’ve always been told you’re wrong, finding a place that accepts you can be the most magical thing in the world.

John has always seen things others could not see. He runs away to fabled London to find his fortune, but all he finds are grimy streets, rife with hangings and disease. BlackJack is a fast-talking pickpocket ready to show John a new life in the big city. When John first sees Shakespeare’s wondrous Globe theatre, he becomes convinced that this is where he truly belongs. But can BlackJack resist the urge to make some easy coin off of his new, naïve friend? And can John step up to the stage before the beast of the city swallows them both? AIRY NOTHING is a magical period tale of two boys finding friendship, love, and acceptance in seething Elizabethan London.

The Review

This was a remarkable read. The author did a great job of striking the perfect balance between the realism of the character growth and settings with the fantasy element of the magical realism the genre calls for. The way the author explores the world that exists just a shift away from our own world and how the protagonist deals with this world as he makes his way through the streets of London was so unique to see, and the magical nature of the narrative added to the heightened tone and emotions the author was delving into.

Character growth was very prominent in this narrative, and actually made the story what it was. The exploration of sexuality and identity in this narrative was so profound through John’s story, exploring the world’s perspective of a person and standing this against the feelings, emotions, and internal knowledge that a person has about their own selves. The complex relationship not only between John and the magical world of the fae around him but between him and Jack was so moving and kept the reader invested in this story.

The Verdict

Captivating, entertaining, and hauntingly beautiful, author Clarissa Pattern’s “Airy Nothing” is a must-read magical realism novel. The breathtaking scenery and atmosphere the author created mirrored the fantasy and emotional character growth that brought real people to live in a world that feels so much like our own world and really created a gripping story that readers wouldn’t be able to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Clarissa Pattern studied English language and literature at the University of Oxford and has lived in the Oxfordshire area ever since. She has been writing ever since she could hold crayons and scribble across the wallpaper. Aside from writing, she spends as much time with her kids as they’ll put up with, ignores almost all the housework, and has an ever-increasing list of books she’s frantic to read. Her stories have been published in various anthologies over the years, and in August 2021, she released her first novel, a magical, historical YA called Airy Nothing.

Saving Thomas by Scott Kauffman Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A reporter still reeling from his wife’s death finds himself confronted by the past when someone he met in his childhood resurfaces as a war hero from WWII, and he must uncover the mysteries behind the man’s service and his identity in an effort to recover a lost friendship and save his job in the process in author Scott Kauffman’s “Saving Thomas”.

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The Synopsis

After his wife’s death, reporter Jeremy Michaels concentrates on writing news stories that try to bring justice to the underdogs of the world, until an announcement by Buckingham Palace shatters his glass cocoon. The village hermit from the hometown Jeremy fled is to be knighted for still-classified services during World War II, a man Jeremy knows well from a certain childhood adventure.

The editor of the newspaper Jeremy writes for sends him back home to find out why, but he is scooped by the hometown paper’s revelation that the man worked inside the French Resistance. Yet the knighthood is refused, and Jeremy’s chance to save his job—and an old friendship—lies in discovering the truth.

The Review

The balance and engagement the author made with the reader throughout this novel were incredible. The attention to realism when it came to the memories and events of the war and the psychological and emotional impact it left on characters was so eloquently crafted, as was the cruelty and vicious nature of war in general. The imagery played a heavy hand in these scenes, as did the contrast between that dark past and the struggles of the more modern age.

The characters were the true heart of this narrative. The emotional struggles within protagonist Jeremy were so painful yet honest to approach, as his struggles with his wife’s loss mixed with his need to find the truth and the conflict over his childhood events. Thomas’s vision and POV really honed in on the war narrative, and the toll it takes on a person when confronted with that haunting past. Yet it was how these characters found one another, came together, and both the strengths each had and the pitfalls they found as time went on that made this narrative so engrossing. 

The Verdict

Haunting, brilliantly written, and entertaining in its delivery, author Scott Kauffman’s “Saving Thomas” is a must-read novel of 2022 for fans of historical mysteries. The layered path readers had to take to uncover the mystery was well-paced and did a great job of balancing the history with the mystery itself. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

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About the Author

Scott claims his fiction career began with a in-class book report written in Mrs. Baer’s eighth-grade English class when, due to a conflict of priorities, he failed to read the book. An exercise of imagination was required. Scott snagged a B, better than the C he received on his last report when he actually read the book. Thus began his life-long apprenticeship as a teller of tales and, some would snidely suggest, as a lawyer as well, but they would be cynics, a race Oscar Wilde warned us knew the price of everything and the value of nothing. Scott is the author of the legal-suspense novel, In Deepest Consequences, and a recipient of the 2011 Mighty River Short Story Contest and the 2010 Hackney Literary Award. His short fiction has been appeared in Big Muddy, Adelaide Magazine, and Lascaux Review. He is now at work on two novel manuscripts and a collection of short stories. He is an attorney in Irvine, California, where his practice focuses upon white-collar crime and tax litigation with his clients providing him endless story fodder. He graduated summa cum laude from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and in the upper ten percent of his class from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, where he was a member of the Environmental Law Review and received the American Jurisprudence Award in Conflict of Laws.

The Last Grand Duchess by Bryn Turnbull Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The eldest daughter of the last Tsar of Russia seeks out escapes from the Victorian lifestyle her mother keeps her in by venturing into St Petersburg with her Aunt and later must contend with the outbreak of war and the threat of rebellion hanging over her family’s head in author Bryn Turnbull’s “The Last Grand Duchess”.

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The Synopsis

This sweeping new novel from the internationally bestselling author of The Woman Before Wallis takes readers behind palace walls to see the end of Imperial Russia through the eyes of Olga Romanov, the first daughter of the last Tsar.

Grand Duchess Olga Romanov comes of age amid a shifting tide for the great dynasties of Europe. But even as unrest simmers in the capital, Olga is content to live within the confines of the sheltered life her parents have built for and her three sisters: hiding from the world on account of their mother’s ill health, their brother Alexei’s secret affliction, and rising controversy over Father Grigori Rasputin, the priest on whom the Tsarina has come to rely. Olga’s only escape from the seclusion of Alexander Palace comes from her aunt, who takes pity on her and her sister Tatiana, inviting them to grand tea parties amid the shadow court of Saint Petersburg. Finally, she glimpses a world beyond her mother’s Victorian sensibilities—a world of opulent ballrooms, scandalous flirtation, and whispered conversation.


But as war approaches, the palaces of Russia are transformed. Olga and her sisters trade their gowns for nursing habits, assisting in surgeries and tending to the wounded bodies and minds of Russia’s military officers. As troubling rumors about her parents trickle in from the Front, Olga dares to hope that a budding romance might survive whatever the future may hold. But when tensions run high and supplies run low, the controversy over Rasputin grows into fiery protest, and calls for revolution threaten to end 300 years of Romanov rule.

The Review

As a major fan of history and learning about different time periods and cultures, I absolutely loved getting to learn more about the last of the Romanov Family. Olga was the perfect protagonist to feature in this story, as she would have been the most in the know about her parent’s dealings and lives. Reading about the influence that Gregori Rasputin had on the family born out of their fears and desperation to save their only son was both captivating and heartbreaking, but in truth getting a written perspective from Olga that showed this prominent and iconic family in history from a more personal angle was what really captivated me as a reader, showing their flaws and yet showing the strength of their bond as a family in the face of every adversity they faced.

The imagery and tone of the narrative were breathtaking, showcasing both the regal and powerful image that the royal family held and the parties that the wealthy in St. Petersburg held as well as the cold and harsh realities of war and the rage that the people held for the royal family and the elites during this time of revolution and power changes. The even pacing allowed the reader to fully understand this infamous yet not as understood point of history, and the emotional moments between Olga and her family, as well as her intimate moments with characters like Mitya, really held audiences and enthralled them with how personal the narrative felt.

The Verdict

Engaging, heartfelt, and historically driven, author Bryn Turnbull’s “The Last Grand Duchess” is a must-read novel of 2022 for all fans of historical fiction. The personal and emotional journey Olga goes on with her family and the attention to detail will have historical fiction fans on the edge of their seats with anticipation, and readers will not be able to put this book down until the final heartbreaking page. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Bryn Turnbull is the bestselling author of The Woman Before Wallis. Equipped with a master’s of letters in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews, a master’s of professional communication from Ryerson University and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from McGill University, Bryn focuses on finding stories of women lost within the cracks of the historical record. She lives in Toronto.

Buy Links: 

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Social Links:

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Instagram: @brynturnbullwrites

Twitter: @brynturnbull

Facebook: @brynturnbullwrites  

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Here is an Excerpt from Bryn Turnbull’s “The Last Grand Duchess”

1

March 1917 

Tsarskoe Selo

Shots rang out across the twilit grounds of Alexander Park. Sit-ting on the window ledge in her father’s study, Olga turned her head toward the sound. She’d heard gunfire in the days and weeks since the riots had broken out in Petrograd, though they’d never sounded so close, so final. Incongruously, she thought not of advancing troops, but of her brother Alexei and his cap-gun, firing at imagined enemies in the grounds where, at this very moment, true monsters stalked between the trees.

Across the room, shrouded in the darkness that had cloaked the palace since the electricity lines were cut days before, Olga’s mother pulled a shawl across her shoulders. Candlelight sent dark flames up the cavernous bookshelves that lined the walls, illuminating her weary face.

“Abdicated?” she whispered.

Panic gripped her by the throat, and Olga turned to face the window once more. In the deepening gloom, she fancied she could see the orange glow of bonfires. “I don’t understand. In favor of Alexei?” She glanced at Mamma: Alexei’s chronic poor health had always made him seem older than his age, but at twelve, he was still very much a child, and far too young to take on the heavy burden of ruling.

Standing in front of the tsarina, Major General Resin, the commander who’d taken charge of the garrison of troops that protected Olga’s family, cleared his throat. “No, Your Majesty. It’s more complicated than that. We’re still receiving information from the front, but it seems His Imperial Highness was most insistent on the matter. He offered the crown to his brother, Grand Duke Mikhail, but the grand duke refused it. The Duma has formed a provisional government to determine what will happen next, but as I said, we will learn more once His Majesty returns.”

Olga turned her attention back to Mamma, shutting out the continued rattle of gunfire—no closer to the palace walls, but no further away, either. Having spent the last several weeks nursing her siblings through a fierce bout of German measles, Olga had not had the time nor the energy to keep abreast of political developments, but she’d heard enough to know that unrest had been boiling in the capital. Protests in the coal plants; riots in bread lines. Rolling blackouts, hitting tenements and palaces alike; rallies and calls for change, growing ever louder as the war against the Central Powers continued to leech provisions from households and businesses.

But abdication?

From within the white folds of the Red Cross veil she’d worn since the start of the war, Mamma’s face fell, her pale eyes darting around the room. “I don’t understand,” she said. “I simply don’t understand.”

She reached out a thin hand, waving her fingers insistently; recognizing the movement, Olga stepped forward and took it, searching for a logical route through her own confusion. She could hear a buzzing in her head: an insistent roar, the sound of surf crashing against the hull of a ship. With Papa’s abdication, the situation had become everything she’d feared, the sickening finality in the word itself enough to keep it from passing her lips: revolution.

She squeezed Mamma’s hand, watching as Resin’s fingers tightened on the flat brim of his cap. “Where is Papa?”

“He’s coming here, Grand Duchess,” replied Resin, “but in the opinion of the Provisional Government, the palace is not the safest place—not for His Imperial Majesty, and not for you, either. I’m afraid they can no longer guarantee your welfare.”

Mamma looked up sharply. “We have three hundred loyal Cossacks at the gate—the finest soldiers this country has ever produced,” she said, sounding for a moment like her old, fierce self. “They’re loyal to my husband. I fail to see the danger.”

Resin shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “With all due respect, Your Majesty, Minister Rodzianko disagrees. The barracks in Tsarskoe Selo have begun to riot; they’re singing the ‘Marseillaise’ as we speak.”

Mamma paled. Olga recalled visiting the garrison less than a year earlier, trotting on horseback past 40,000 troops all sworn to protect the tsar and his family. How could 40,000 minds be so easily turned?

“And what of my children?” Mamma persisted. “Tatiana can hardly walk. Maria and Anastasia are delirious, and the tsarevich is in a very delicate state—”

“With all due respect, Your Majesty.” Resin met Mamma’s gaze directly. “When the house is in flames, one carries out the children.”

The room fell silent. Despite her attempt at composure, Olga began to shake, a thin, uncontrollable trembling, which, given the darkness of the study, she hoped Resin couldn’t see.

Mamma gripped Olga’s fingers in a silent plea to keep calm. Though her poor health would make it appear otherwise, Mam-ma’s Victorian upbringing had given her a stiff upper lip which Olga and her sisters lacked. She’d been instrumental in running the government since Papa went to command the front, overseeing the distribution of relief aid to soldiers’ families, orchestrating shipments of food and provisions, reining in the government ministers whose political agendas risked the country’s success at the front. Despite what people said about her—despite her Ger-man roots—Mamma had led Russia through the worst of the war years, relying on her faith in God and in Papa to make the decisions others would not.

How had things gone so wrong?

Mamma stood. “We will stay,” she said finally, lifting her chin. “I won’t leave the palace without my husband.”


Excerpted from The Last Grand Duchess by Bryn Turnbull, Copyright © 2022 by Bryn Turnbull. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.