Monday, April 29, 2013

Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman

About the Book:

From the author of Wildflower Hill, this breathtaking novel travels more than a century between two love stories set in the Australian seaside town of Lighthouse Bay.

In 1901, a ship sinks off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The only survivor is Isabella Winterbourne, who clutches a priceless gift meant for the Australian Parliament. This gift could be her ticket to a new life, free from the bonds of her husband and his overbearing family. But whom can she trust in Lighthouse Bay?

Fast-forward to 2011: after losing her lover, Libby Slater leaves her life in Paris to return to her hometown of Lighthouse Bay, hoping to gain some perspective and grieve her recent loss. Libby also attempts to reconcile with her sister, Juliet, to whom she hasn’t spoken in twenty years. Libby did something so unforgivable, Juliet is unsure if she can ever trust her sister again.

In these two adventurous love stories, both Isabella and Libby must learn that letting go of the past is the only way to move into the future. The answers they seek lie in Lighthouse Bay.
(from Goodreads)

My thoughts:

Wildflower Hill was one of my top favorite reads in 2011, so Kimberley Freeman's new release was a highly anticipated read for me this year. I'm happy to say she did not disappoint -- another 5 star read!

Two stories......two women one hundred years apart.......both have had their lives affected in different ways by the rich and powerful Winterbourne  family.

Set on the beautiful Australian coast, Lighthouse Bay is a story of survival from heartbreak, with mystery, secrets, and adventure. Loved every minute of this time slip novel!

5/5 stars

*This book is from my personal library.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Winner of Susanna Kearsley Books!!

Thank you to everyone who entered to win a fabulous package of 4 Susanna Kearsley books from Sourcebooks. Today, I am happy to announce the winner........

                                                           Congratulations, Ruth!

You will be receiving an e-mail from me soon for details. Again, thanks to all who visited and enjoyed the excerpt from The Firebird.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley & Giveaway!

It's no secret here on this blog that Susanna Kearsley is one of my very favorite authors! Her writing is so rich and her characters are always memorable....her stories touch my heart. She combines history, romance, suspense, and time travel to perfection. My collection of Susanna Kearsley books are "keepers" and I look forward to reading them over and over again. 

Today I am honored to be a part of Sourcebooks celebration of the upcoming release of The Firebird. I have an excerpt from The Firebird as well as a fantastic package of  Susanna Kearsley books for a GIVEAWAY!  (THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED -- THANK YOU.)

THE FIREBIRD By Susanna Kearsley

Slains was not her home, and yet she knew its corners well, from trailing after her Aunt Kirsty while she did her work. The earl had always treated her with kindness, and she’d always found a comfort in this corner of the library, her hiding place, tucked safely out of sight behind the tallest, broadest armchair that sat angled to the fireplace. There was no fire now, it being summer, yet the corner kept its warmth and sheltering appeal, and Anna curled herself within it, arms wrapped tightly round her knees.
      She heard the voices rise and fall downstairs, her mother’s voice among them. No. She caught the thought and changed it. Not her mother. Donald’s mother, but not hers. Not anymore.
      Her breath snagged painfully within her chest, and then she held it altogether as she heard firm steps approach along the corridor. A handle turned, the door began to open, and she pressed her face with eyes tight-closed against the leather chair back, crouched as quiet as a beetle in her corner.
       The door swung shut. She couldn’t see the person who’d come in, but she could tell it was a man because his boots made a distinctly heavy sound against the floorboards. He walked straight toward her chair and she shrank smaller still, and when the chair back moved she squeezed her eyes more tightly shut as though that might somehow prevent her being seen, but no discovery came, and no recriminations, and she realized he was merely sitting down.
      The armchair shifted as he settled in it. Anna braved a peek beneath the chair and saw his booted feet stretched out toward the unlit hearth. And then she heard a scraping as he pulled the little table closer to him, singing lightly to himself. It was a pleasant tune, although she didn’t understand the words as they were in some foreign language, like the strange words of the fishermen from France who sometimes called upon her father in the night.
         No, not her father, she corrected herself. She was not a Logan. She was—
        “Curse this blasted palsy,” said the man all of a sudden, as the sound of something falling interrupted Anna’s thoughts.
         Peering underneath the chair again, she saw that several painted wooden pieces from the chessboard on the table had been tumbled to the floor to lie there scattered in disorder, and the black-haired king had fallen to his side upon the carpet and was gazing at her mournfully with darkly painted eyes.
        “I apologize, my lads,” the man said gently to the chessmen as he bent to pick them up, “my hands do shake these days, and show my age.” He leaned and moved his foot a fraction and his boot heel caught the black-haired king by what seemed sheerest accident and kicked it farther underneath the chair, much closer now to Anna’s hiding place.
      The man continued picking up the other scattered pieces, and she heard the clicks as each was set again upon the board. “Where is your king, lads? For of all of you, he is the one I should not like to lose. Where is he?” Shifting in his chair again, the man seemed to be searching. “Gone,” he said at last, “and lost. Ah well, that is unfortunate.”
       From underneath the chair, the painted wooden king looked up at Anna and she looked at him uncertainly.
       The man went on, “’Tis likely that the Earl of Erroll will not let me use his hospitality again, if I do so misplace his treasures.” And he gave a sigh so sorrowful that Anna could not help but feel an answering regret in her own heart, and reaching out she closed her hand around the errant king and crept out of her corner to return him to the playing-board in silence.
         She could see the stranger now. He was a man much older than her father or her Uncle Rory, older even than the earl who kept this castle, and his hair had grayed to match the whiteness of the close-trimmed beard that edged his lean and kindly looking face. His smile cut crinkles round his eyes.
         “I thank ye, lass. ’Tis a great kindness ye have done me.”
         When she gazed at him, not answering, he gave a nod toward the armchair facing him and asked her, “Will ye sit and keep me company awhile, or will your mother be expecting ye?”
        She felt the swell of tears begin to burn again and pushed them back and said, “I have no mother.” Bravely sitting in the chair, she watched him set the painted pieces in their places on the board.
        He asked her, “Do ye play the chess?”
        She shook her head.
        “It is the grandest game,” he said, “for those who have the patience and the wit to learn it.”
        Anna saw him set a small piece on a square and frowned as something deep within her memory turned and tugged. “What’s that?”
       “The pawn? Well, he’s the smallest soldier, yet the game would be for naught without his efforts.”
       In behind the lines of pawns the taller rows of varied chessmen stood—the kings and queens and horses’ heads and castle towers, but it was the little pawns who most caught Anna’s fancy, and she heard a woman’s voice repeating in her memory, “That one is my favorite, too,” and felt a sense of sadness that she did not understand, although it mingled with her own and made her ask, “What does he do?”
       The man was watching her. He smiled again and said, “Well now, I’ll show ye.”
        She had always had an easy time of learning things, and this game had a structure to it that she found appealing, and a challenge that was made more real by how the stranger chose to introduce the players and their parts, as though they were real men upon a battlefield.
       “But fit wye can the…” she began, to be corrected by the man.
       “Say ‘why.’”
       “Fit wye should I say ‘why’?” she asked.
       “Because it is more ladylike.”
        She frowned. “Why can the pawn not kill a man who’s standing right in front of him?”
       “His shield gets in the way,” the man explained. “He has to lunge his sword arm to the front and side, like this.” He demonstrated, and his skillful motion had a strength that deepened Anna’s frown until he asked her, “What?”
        She answered with the full directness of her seven years, replying, “You were telling tales, afore. You do not have the palsy.”
      “Have I not?” The crinkles formed around his eyes again. “Well, neither are ye motherless.”


Giveaway!! (Open to the U.S. and Canada)

Sourcebooks is offering a prize package of the following four books -- shipping to the U.S. and Canada only. These four happen to be my absolute favorite Susanna Kearsley books! I know many of  my followers already love these books and have them in their personal library. That's okay -- take a chance to win and share them with your friends! Simply leave a comment with contact information and one lucky winner will be randomly chosen and announced on April 23, 2013. Good Luck!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Winner! - Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage

Today is the day to announce the winner of one copy of Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage.......

And the winner is...........Carol L.! Congratulations!

Carol L., you will be receiving an email from me soon! Thanks so much to all the lovely people who visited and left comments for a chance to win.

Friday, April 5, 2013

In Which We Have A Cover! - Written in My Own Heart's Blood

Diana Gabaldon has revealed the cover today for her next installment of the Outlander series, Written in My Own Heart's Blood. Go to EW,com (Entertainment Weekly) for an article with Diana Gabaldon where she discusses the symbolism on the cover.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spotlight on: The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig

The wait is almost over.......April 9th is the release date for Lauren Willig's highly anticipated newest novel, The Ashford Affair! Those of us who are fans of her Pink Carnation series are excited to experience a completely new cast of characters and settings as Lauren weaves a story of mystery, romance, and family secrets........

From the NYT bestselling Pink Carnation author comes a new novel that is by turns epic and intimate, transporting and page-turning – spanning from WWI England to present day New York….

About the Book:
As a lawyer in a large Manhattan firm, just shy of making partner, Clementine Evans has finally achieved almost everything she’s been working towards – but now she’s not sure it’s enough. Her long hours have led to a broken engagement and, suddenly single at thirty-four, she feels her messy life crumbling around her. But when the family gathers for her grandmother Addie’s ninety-ninth birthday, a relative lets slip hints about a long-buried family secret, leading Clemmie on a journey into the past that could change everything…

Growing up at Ashford Park in the heyday of Edwardian society, Addie has never quite belonged. When her parents passed away, she was taken into the grand English house by her aristocratic aunt and uncle, and raised side-by-side with her beautiful and outgoing cousin, Bea. Though they are as different as night and day, Addie and Bea are closer than sisters, through relationships and challenges, and a war that changes the face of Europe irrevocably. But what happens when something finally comes along that can’t be shared? When the love of sisterhood is tested by a bond that’s even stronger?

From the inner circles of British society to the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the red-dirt hills of Kenya, the never-told secrets of a woman and a family unfurl…


Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association's annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in English History at Harvard before leaving academia to acquire a JD at Harvard Law while authoring her "Pink Carnation" series of Napoleonic-set novels. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

For more information about Lauren Willig and her novels, visit
her at

Are you excited about The Ashford Affair? Spread the word!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Guest Post & International Giveaway! Anna Belfarge, Author of Like Chaff in the Wind

Today I would like to extend a warm  welcome to Anna Belfrage at my book blog! She is the author of the recently released historical fiction novel, Like Chaff in the Wind and  is currently touring with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.  After reading her guest post here at Books, Belles and Beaux, please enter for a chance to win a copy of Like Chaff in the Wind. (International giveaway!)


Let me start by addressing a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to Joanne for being part of my blog tour and giving me the opportunity to post on her excellent and varied blog. This is the last of my guest posts on this tour, and should you be interested in reading my previous contributions why not visit Bippity Boppity Book , Oh, for the Hook of a Book! , Flashlight Commentary and Historical Fiction Connection .

This post is mainly going to be about food. (I think. My posts tend to live a life of their own at times. ) I am a food person. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a whole lot of other things person as well (mainly books & tea ) but food is definitely a top priority for me, which is probably why I find it so interesting to discover what people ate back then – you know, before the advent of basic joys such as ice cream and Feta cheese.

Still life by Willem Claeszoon Heda, depicting a feast most seventeenth people could but dream about.

As a child growing up in Latin America, I always found it strange when my parents sighed and spoke of food they were missing.
"Herring," my father would say. My mother would sigh and nod. Inevitably, this would lead to a long list of all the foodstuffs they missed, now that they were so far from home.

It's strange, how much of "home" is defined by food, isn’t it? Milk abroad never tastes like it does at home, neither does the bread or the cheese or the… The point I’m trying to make is that should you be yanked out of context, away from home, you'd definitely miss food! Ask Alex(andra) Graham, my rather reluctant (if by now reconciled) time traveller; she has a list as long as her arm of all the edible stuff she longs for.
And there you are, happy landing on a chocolate bar ... sang Shirley Temple, her face dimpling into a glittering smile. Except that if you're transported back to the seventeenth century (like Alex) you can forget about chocolate. Ha, says the well informed reader, chocolate originates from Mexico and had therefore already been "discovered" by the Europeans. Dear reader; I'd like to see you drink a mug or two of this chocolate drink without having your mouth shrivel into a desiccated raisin. Chocolate in the seventeenth century was very rare - even in Spain. And where it was used, it was prepared as a drink so bitter it would make modern day chocolate freaks weep. In general, anything with sugar in it was rare; sugar was a luxury commodity, so whatever comfort food the people of the seventeenth century resorted to in periods of angst it was probably far healthier than what we binge on today.
For the coffee and tea addicts among us, I have bad news. Coffee was a futuristic dream outside the larger cities and tea had only recently begun to make its way to Europe, this thanks to the Portuguese. Not until the Restoration would tea become a common beverage in England. 

Coffee, tea and chocolate side by side, represented as exotic and new-fangled drinks. (Philippe Sylvestre Dufour)
But hey; most of us can live without chocolate, or coffee or tea. Absolutely (however depressing the thought) but how about a life without potatoes? Pasta? Pizza? Tomatoes? Oranges and bananas? Avocados - can anyone live without avocados? Once again, the well informed reader might protest; the Spaniards came upon both the tomato and the potato in South America back in the fifteenth century. Yes, they did, but for some strange reason these plants were often considered poisonous (to be fair, some members of the solanum family are poisonous) and not until the late eighteenth century was the potato to become a staple crop in Northern Europe.  
So what did they eat then, these people that were deprived of so much of what we enjoy and like today? Was it all porridge and pea soup? The quick answer to that is ... YES. For the majority of the population, porridge was the cornerstone of their diet. And what was left over at one meal was reused in the next - or the day after. Yummy, yummy; cold, solidified porridge is just the thing to set your saliva flowing, right? This rather dull diet was complemented by bread, beer, the odd piece of smoked and salted meat or fish, eggs while the hens were laying, vegetables such as onions and carrots, turnips, cabbage and kale -  and even more beer. But mostly it was porridge. Very much porridge.
Alex has days when she daydreams about chocolate cake, about crisp French fries and juicy hamburgers. She closes her eyes and is whisked back into a reality containing salads and baguettes, antipasto from Italy and steaming Thai curries. She opens her eyes, and it’s back to porridge and rye bread, to an existence where cooking is a long, tedious process with not a tomato in sight. Does she mind? Of course she does, but given the choice between going back to her time or staying with Matthew, she would choose her man any time.
“Dead easy,” she says when I ask her. “I can live without tomatoes and bagels. I’d die without him.” Her eyes drift over to where her husband is busy with his horse. She laughs. “God; did I just say that? Makes me sound like quite the clinging little wife, doesn’t it?”
“Yupp.” I grin at her and she sticks her tongue out. Out in the yard Matthew laughs, and Alex whips round to look at him. Her entire body softens, the slightest of smiles tugging at her mouth.
“I guess I am,” she says in a voice so low I have to strain my ears to catch it. “He’s all I need, all I want, however hackneyed that might sound.” For some seconds she is sunk in contemplation, studying her man. His tall frame dips and turns as he unsaddles the horse, the low winter sun throwing elongated shadows that dance round man and beast. She calls his name and he turns, breaking out in a smile. Their eyes meet. He straightens up, places his hand over his heart and mouths her name. Blood rushes like wildfire up her neck, her cheeks. She throws me a look. “I’ve never thanked you, have I?”
“Not as such.” Mostly Alex has harangued me about my temerity in having her torn from her comfy modern day life to the far more primitive and dangerous existence in the seventeenth century. I clasp her hand – well, try to; the woman doesn’t exist except in my head.
“But you know, right? That not a day goes by without me giving thanks for him.” She leans against the doorpost, eyes stuck on her husband.
I just nod. “Now, back to this food thing…”
Alex laughs, a loud bubbly sound that has Matthew raising his head in our direction. “Not comfortable with the mushy stuff?” she teases.
“Not unless it’s mushy peas,” I mumble. “This post is supposed to be about food, okay?”

In Like Chaff in the Wind, Matthew Graham suffers the iniquities of being sold as a slave, which has anything but a positive impact on his diet. Porridge becomes gruel, meat a rare food group that mostly appears in the guise of salted pork, bread and other baked goods rarely grace the table, and fresh fruit … forget it! In combination with exacting days on a tobacco field, it quickly reduces him to a walking wreck, a shadow of his former self.
Alex, of course, has no choice but to go after him. She needs her man like fishes need water, like we all need air. He is the pillar of her existence, the rock of her life, and without him by her side she fears she will shrivel up and die, wafting away like an ephemeral dust cloud. And during her perilous journey to find her man, let me tell you there are plenty of days when she would have murdered for a Snickers bar – or a Big Mac. Instead, all she got was biscuits with weevils and – yupp, you’ve guessed it – porridge. 


The publisher has one paperback copy of Like Chaff in the Wind for my giveaway -- open internationally! For a chance to win, simply leave a comment with contact information.  (No contact information = no entry). One entry per person, please. Winner will be randomly selected and announced April 8, 2013.
Good Luck!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage

About the Book:

Matthew Graham committed the mistake of his life when he cut off his brother’s nose.  In revenge, Luke Graham has Matthew abducted and transported to the Colony of Virginia, there to be sold as indentured labour – a death sentence more or less.

Matthew arrives in Virginia in May of 1661, and any hope he had of finding someone willing to listen to his tale of unlawful abduction is quickly extinguished. If anything Matthew’s insistence that he is an innocent man leads to him being singled out for the heaviest tasks.

Insufficient food, grueling days and the humid heat combine to wear Matthew down. With a sinking feeling he realises no one has ever survived the seven years of service – not on the plantation Suffolk Rose, not under the tender care of the overseer Dominic Jones.

Fortunately for Matthew, he has a remarkable wife, a God’s gift who has no intention of letting her husband suffer and die, and so Alex Graham sets off on a perilous journey to bring her husband home.

Alex is plagued by nightmares in which her Matthew is reduced to a wheezing wreck by his tormentors. She sits in the prow of the ship and prays for a miracle to carry her swiftly to his side, to let her hold him and heal him before it’s too late. God, however, has other things to do and what should have been a two month crossing becomes a yearlong adventure from one side of the Atlantic to the other.

Will she find him in time? And if she does, will she be capable of paying the price required to buy him free?

(back cover)

My Thoughts:

A Rip in the Veil  and Like Chaff in the Wind are part of The Graham Saga by Anna Belfrage.

It's not usually a good idea to begin reading a series with the second book, but as I began reading Like Chaff in the Wind  which centers on the story of Alex and Matthew , I found the author did a good job of getting the reader up to speed on most back stories which kept the story moving right along.

Alex and Matthew are a unique couple -- a couple who wouldn't  be together except for a very strange phenomenon. Alex is a 21st century woman who disappeared on a Scottish moor during a terrifying thunderstorm....and was transported back to the seventeenth century. Their relationship is an unusual one -- she is a modern day woman (with a father and young son back in the 21st century), and is married to Matthew, a seventeenth century Scotsman.  The two are torn apart as his brother commits a terrible act of revenge against Matthew and transports him to the colonies as an indentured servant. The lengths each will go to, the struggles and sacrifices, and the depth of their commitment to each other, is at the heart of this novel. 

There are many different elements in this novel that are intriguing but all the puzzle pieces don't quite fit yet, so I guess I will be reading A Rip in the Veil to see how everything connects. There is  time travel , history, romance, and a bit of fantasy (her mother is a witch and paints pictures with time portals). Apparently, Alex isn't the only one who can time travel, but I'm not giving that information away! There's a little bit of everything here for those who enjoy adventure, romance, and time travel.

3/5 stars

Title: Like Chaff in the Wind
Author: Anna Belfrage
Publisher: Troubador Publishing, Ltd.
381 pages

About the Author:

I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical -  both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer - or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am - I have achieved my dream.

For more information about the virtual book tour for Like Chaff in the Wind, click here.

Note: I received a copy of the novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Favorite Period Dramas

Mount TBR

Joanne's to-read book montage

On a Highland Shore
A Light on the Veranda
The Queen's Vow: A Novel Of Isabella Of Castile
The Edwardians
Maisie Dobbs
Howards End
Lady's Maid
Instruments Of Darkness
When Maidens Mourn
Where Shadows Dance
What Remains of Heaven
Where Serpents Sleep
Why Mermaids Sing
When Gods Die
Before Ever After
The Sugar Queen
Garden Spells
After the Night

Joanne's favorite books »