Fixed Baroque's Interview with T.K. Thorne, author of Angels at the Gate & Giveaway!

Today on the blog I am hosting T.K. Thorne's Blog Tour for Angels at the Gate, and am proud to share with you an interview T.K. did on March 4th with Mandy from Fixed Baroque about her latest release. I also have a chance for you to enter the giveaway for a hardcover copy of Angels at the Gate!

Fixed Baroque Interview with T.K. Thorne

Fixed Baroque: Angels at the Gate is your second novel where you've reworked a story from the Bible to have the protagonist be a feminist hero. Tell us more about how these stories and characters captured your attention.

T.K. Thorne: Noah’s wife and Lot’s wife were both unnamed women in the Bible and given only one line. The idea of telling their stories intrigued me. But, I have to admit that initially I rejected writing about Sodom & Gomorrah. Two things bothered me: 1) The story seemed so dark, and 2) I was perplexed about how I could use angels without delving into the supernatural. But curiosity wove its web, especially after I discovered a fascinating book written by two scientists that explored the possible connections between Stonehenge cultures, the Middle East, and angels. (Really.) Then I learned that the Hebrew for the word “angel” is actually “messenger,” and that angels appearing in Genesis were portrayed as physical men. (The popular envisioning of angels with wings and haloes came from paintings in the Middle Ages.) The more I delved into this, the tighter the web drew, until I finally gave up and started writing.

FB: Given the often very few story details in the Bible, did you find it challenging to pull these characters off the page and make them larger than life? Were you concerned with staying true to the character or were you excited to breathe life into a character we historically haven't known much about?

TKT: We know so little about Adira’s character from the Bible. Literally, the only information is given in one line—“But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26). In Jewish tradition, however, there are several stories, called midrashim, expanding on the Biblical text, and I drew from some of that, but mostly from my own imagination. In fact, you could say that this is my own midrash. There is much conflicting information about Lot’s character in the Bible, and I made conscious choices about how to portray him. The research was fascinating and had its own allure, but once I started writing, the characters came alive, had their own say and made their own decisions—one of the exciting, rewarding, and just plain fun aspects of writing fiction.

FB: At the beginning of the novel, Adira begins as a girl in disguise as a boy and later sheds her male persona to embrace her femininity. What were some of the challenges you faced in writing a character that lives oscillating between two genders?

TKT: Actually, it was a lot of fun. I even read a book about a woman who went undercover for a year as a man, but Adira’s situation was different. She was raised with that duality, so she didn’t have problem with it until she wanted to claim her birthright as woman. Then she began to realize what she was giving up. As a writer, the challenge for me was having that desire and conflict arise naturally within the context of the difficulties such a drastic change would bring about.

Before I began writing, I knew Adira would have a problem with obedience. After all, she turned to look back at her burning city after being expressly told not to. Obedience was a much-valued quality in ancient times, especially in women. Even until very recently, women in our own culture were extorted to “love and obey” as part of marriage vows.

In the guise of a boy, Adira was able to more fully explore her capabilities. She learned the art of observation and negotiations at her father’s side. Her exposure to other cultures allowed her to learn different languages and expand her capacity to understand her world and eventually, herself. At the same time, she struggled with coming to terms with who she was, which in many ways is still our challenge as women, even in a modern society. We do not want our capacities to be defined by our gender, but at the same time we seek to embrace our unique strengths as women.

FB: One of the things that I love so much about your work is that you have a historical fiction novel that's set in the times of the Bible and has a Bible story as its underlying influence, yet religion is not thrust to the forefront of the novel. Tell us a little about what it was like navigating the attribution of natural causes (like fire erupting from the earth) to things that religious people have been attributing to a higher power for millennia.

TKT: Part of the intrigue about writing these stories was the challenge of uncovering the historical and scientific origins for the tales. Humans have been attributing the divine to natural events throughout prehistory and into our current day. Stories told in one culture are modified and retold to reflect another culture’s values and beliefs. Living in the highly religious milieu of the South, there was some trepidation on my part about writing from such a different perspective. There are also serious marketing challenges, as the book does not fit into what is considered the typical “religious” category.

As both a historian and a historical novelist, I have come to believe that both types of writing are about finding truths in our past, in terms of what actually happened, what might have happened, and the truths within the human heart. And the only way for me to tap fully into my own capacity as a writer is to write from my own truth.

FB: We know from ancient historical documents that the days of the Old Testament did not have Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, as we know them today. Tell us more about the polytheistic religion you depict in Angels at the Gate. What was your research process like? Was polytheistic religion depicted in the novel, at one time, a real religion?

TKT: Angels at the Gate takes place in the time of Abraham, the “father” of all three major religions of the West and Middle East. Prior to that, the religions of the area were primarily Egyptian, Canaanite and Mesopotamian. There are ancient texts that, combined with the findings of archeology, enlighten us about the religions of the time.

Israel was originally the land of Canaan and many scholars are now leaning toward the theory that the Israelites had their origin as Canaanites. My research took me to the earliest documents written on clay tablets or even stone, scholars’ interpretations, and the latest archeological findings. I spoke to a geologist and a chemist about the possibilities of what might have been happening beneath the surface of the Dead Sea, read books on various theories, and used my imagination to put together what seemed the best scenario for my story.

As I studied early religion, one observation ran throughout—that the need to have some control over their fate has driven people throughout time to try to influence their deities through sacrifice, incense, rites, praise, or pleading. The religious practices of the Canaanites were based on a belief in gods and goddesses that controlled the fertility of the land in a place where the timing of rain meant life or death. Understanding that gave me a different perspective of the life in Sodom & Gomorrah.

FB: What was your research process like? With the story being based in the ancient world, what were you hoping to find?

TKT: Several exciting things happened while my husband and I were in the Middle East researching this book, although I’m not sure “ exciting” would be the word he would always choose.

One was the opportunity to take a daylong trip into the Negev with a desert ranger. There was an area that I needed for my story, a certain configuration of a dry wash (called a wadi) south of the Dead Sea. We laid out a map the night before our planned trip, and the ranger made a small circle on it and said, “This is the only place where what you have described exists.” The next day he took us there, sharing his insights about the land, the soil, which direction the wadis would flood, etc.

Another time, we stumbled onto a small animal exhibit in the Negev desert and an enthusiastic young man who was from a Bedouin tribe. He was an expert in the desert plants and the creatures that flew, crawled, or crept in it. I got some wonderful details that I would never have known even to ask about. That was an unexpected gold mine. Another exciting moment was finding a Bronze Age bridle bit in a museum after a frustrating search for evidence that horses were domesticated in my time period. We took a dip in the Dead Sea and spent some time in a Bedouin tent. I remember looking closely at the black camel hairs visible in the material of the tent and thinking this was what my character would have seen. It hasn’t changed for thousands of years! I was halfway through my book, so I knew the kind of things I was looking for. I even talked our guide into taking us to into the volatile West Bank to the location where the Bible said Abraham had pitched his tents. An Israeli soldier decided we looked suspicious and pointed his M-16 rifle at us. It only lasted a moment, but it was a moment I’ll never forget. It was an experience I will never forget and it definitely enriched this book.

FB: Without giving it away, some aspects of the tale of Lot's wife are portrayed literally and others are portrayed figuratively. Tell us a little about your thought process in deciding which parts of the story to apply in what way.

TKT: Where I thought the literal aspects of the Biblical story could have reasonably happened (i.e., without supernatural influence), I used that as a framework. Much of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, was written after the first expulsion of the Hebrew elite from Jerusalem in the sixth century BCE, primarily for picking the wrong side in a struggle between Egypt and Babylonia. Believing God was angry with them for failing to make a break with Canaanite religious practices, the Hebrew scholars railed against the Canaanite ways and their people’s proclivity to practice them. With both Noah's Wife and Angels at the Gate, I wanted to present the stories as how they might have happened before the biblical authors told or retold them in a way that supported their agendas.

My intention in writing these novels has been to bring these unnamed women to life as real and complex human beings in a way that rang true to me. They traveled the same path we all tread—a journey of the spirit, one where we grow in our capacity for imagination, understanding, and love, discovering the divine in our world, in ourselves, and in our fellow travelers.

About Angels at the Gate


02_Angels at the Gate_Cover 

Publication Date: March 5, 2015 | Cappuccino Books | eBook, Hardcover | Pages: 368

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Based on historical, biblical, and archaeological research, visits to the Middle East, and a large measure of creativity, ANGELS AT THE GATE is the story of Adira, destined to become Lot’s wife. A daughter of Abram's tribe, Adira is an impetuous young girl whose mother died in childbirth. Secretly raised as a boy in her father’s caravan and schooled in languages and the art of negotiation, Adira rejects the looming changes of womanhood that threaten her nomadic life and independence.

But with the arrival of two mysterious strangers – Northmen rumored to be holy or possibly even “Angels” – Adira’s world unravels. Raiders invade the caravan, and she loses everything she values most – her father, her freedom, and even the “Angels.”

Caught between her oath to her father to return to her tribe and the “proper life for a woman” and tormented by an impossible love, she abandons all she has known in a dangerous quest to seek revenge and find her kidnapped “Angel.” With only her beloved dog, Nami, at her side, Adira must use the skills she learned in the caravan to survive the perils of the desert, Sodom, and her own heart.

ANGELS AT THE GATE is a story of adventure and the power of love, exploring themes about choice – the importance of asking the right questions and walking the fine edge between duty and personal freedom.

Based on a simple mention in the Bible, T.K. Thorne has developed a complex and full-bodied character in the wife of Lot, a woman both ancient and modern, who will touch readers’ hearts, and live in their memories for years to come. As Dianne Mooney, founder of Southern Living At Home says, “For all those whose curiosity is piqued by how it might have been in the time of Sodom and Gomorrah, this is a must read!”

Praise for Angels at the Gate

"ANGELS AT THE GATE is nothing short of a masterwork–superbly and eloquently written, solidly researched and a high-speed page-turner. Readers will be swept up in a story they can't put down." –Elsa D. Ruther, editor,The Nifty Pickle

“A masterpiece of historical research, interweaving history and theology in a re-visioning of an ancient story from a woman’s perspective. Thorne is a dazzlingly gifted writer.” –Sue Walker, Poet Laureate of Alabama, 2003-2012

“Thorne unspools an ancient adventure with crackling undertones of our contemporary lives. Lean, polished action sequences render a young woman’s life with both intensity and nuanced truth.” –Dale Short, public radio commentator and author of A Shinning, Shinning Path

Buy Angels at the Gate

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

About the Author

03_Author TK. ThorneT.K. Thorne’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama. “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” When she retired as a captain, she took on Birmingham’s business improvement district as the executive director. Both careers provide fodder for her writing, which has garnered several awards, including “Book of the Year for Historical Fiction” (ForeWord Reviews) for her debut novel Noah’s Wife. Her first non-fiction book, Last Chance for Justice, was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list. She loves traveling, especially to research her novels, and speaking about her books and life lessons. She writes at her mountaintop home, often with two dogs by her side and a cat on her lap.

She blogs at www.TKs-tales.com and her web site is www.TKThorne.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads. Sign Up for T.K. Thorne’s newsletter.

Angels at the Gate Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 23
Review at Genre Queen
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, March 25
Review at Quirky Book Reviews
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, March 26
Review at Room With Books
Review at Unshelfish

Friday, March 27
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Review at Broken Teepee

Saturday, March 28
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, March 31
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, April 2
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Monday, April 6
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Thursday, April 9
Spotlight at I'd So Rather Be Reading

Monday, April 13
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Wednesday, April 15
Review at Book Nerd

Thursday, April 16
Review at Griperang's Bookmarks

Friday, April 17
Blog Tour Wrap Up at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

To enter to win a Hardcover copy of Angels at the Gate please complete the giveaway form below. Five copies are up for grabs!

* Giveaway is open to US residents only.
* Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on April 17th.
* You must be 18 or older to enter.
* Only one entry per household.
* All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
* Winners will be chosen via GLEAM on April 18th and notified via email. Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
* Please email Amy @ hfvirtualbooktours@gmail.com with any questions.

Angels at the Gate


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C.W. Gortner's Mademoiselle Chanel Book Blast + Giveaway

Today I'm hosting C.W. Gortner's Book Blast for Mademoiselle Chanel, his latest novel on the life of Coco Chanel, that was just released on March 17th from William Morrow.

Gortner is also sponsoring a fabulous giveaway for three Coco Chanel inspired black & white bracelets! See photo and giveaway info below.

Please join me in congratulating C.W. on his latest release - I wish him all the best with it and I can't wait to start my copy! The hardcover is absolutely STUNNING! It's one that I have facing out on my bookshelf, so that I can see the front :)

02_Mademoiselle Chanel Cover 

Pub Date: March 17, 2015 | William Morrow/HarperCollins | Hardover, eBook, Audio Book

Genre: Historical Fiction

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DRAMA, PASSION, TRAGEDY, AND BEAUTY: C.W.’s new novel stunningly imagines the life of Coco Chanel—the iconic fashion designer whose staggering creativity built an empire and made her one of the 20th century’s most influential, and controversial, figures.

Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her sisters are sent to a convent orphanage after their mother’s death. Here, the nuns nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel her into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.

Transforming herself into Coco—a seamstress and sometime torch singer—the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.

Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco’s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. Her little black dress, her signature perfume No. 5; her dramatic friendships, affairs, and rivalries with luminaries of her era increase her wealth and fame. But as the years pass, success cannot save her from heartbreak. And when Paris falls to the Nazis during World War II, Coco finds herself at a dangerous crossroads, forced to make choices that will forever change her.

An enthralling portrayal of an extraordinary woman who created the life she desired, Mademoiselle Chanel is Coco’s intimate story.

Release Graphic

Praise for Mademoiselle Chanel

“In this deliciously satisfying novel, C.W. Gortner tells the epic, rags-to-riches story of how this brilliant, mercurial, self-created woman became a legend.” (Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train)

“In a novel as brilliant and complicated as Coco Chanel herself, C. W. Gortner’s prose is so electric and luminous it could be a film, and not just any film, but one of the grandest biopics of our time. Divine!” (Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingway's Girl)

“A richly imagined, deftly researched novel, in which the ever fascinating Coco Chanel comes to life in all her woe and splendor, her story unfolding as elegantly as a Chanel gown.” (Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls)

“From her heart-wrenching early years through her decades of struggle and glory, Gabrielle Chanel was fascinating—as is C.W. Gortner’s Mademoiselle Chanel. Coco lives again in this rich tale of brilliance, determination, and fierce self-creation.” (Ania Szado, author of Studio Saint-Ex)

“Gortner brings to life a woman who was as alluring and captivating as her signature scent. ” (Historical Novels Review)

“Gortner brings history to life in a fascinating study of one woman’s unstoppable ambition.” (Booklist)

“Well-written and historically accurate . . . An homage to a couture icon whose influence is still powerful today.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Buy Mademoiselle Chanel

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million
iTunes
IndieBound

03_CW GortnerAbout the Author

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin's Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner's website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner's Newsletter for updates.

Mademoiselle Chanel Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, March 17
Mina's Bookshelf
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, March 18
Forever Ashley
History From a Woman's Perspective

Thursday, March 19
The Lit Bitch
100 Pages a Day

Friday, March 20
A Literary Vacation
Beth's Book Nook Blog
What Is That Book About

Saturday, March 21
Genre Queen

Sunday, March 22
A Bookish Girl

Monday, March 23
Let them Read Books

Tuesday, March 24
Unshelfish
The True Book Addict

Wednesday, March 25
Historical Fiction Connection
The Never-Ending Book

Thursday, March 26
Broken Teepee

Friday, March 27
The Maiden's Court

Saturday, March 28
Caroline Wilson Writes
Svetlana's Reads and Views

Sunday, March 29
Passages to the Past

Monday, March 30
Flashlight Commentary
To Read, Or Not to Read
I'd So Rather Be Reading

Tuesday, March 31
Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, April 1
Booktalk & More

Thursday, April 2
CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, April 3
Book Nerd
Luxury Reading

Giveaway!

Three Chanel-style black and white beaded bracelets will up for grabs during this blast, follow along for chances to win!

Coco-bracelets

– Giveaway starts on March 17th at 12:01am and ends on April 3rd at 11:59pm EST.
– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
- Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to claim prize, or new winner is chosen.

Mademoiselle Chanel Book Blast Giveaway


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Book Blast: Teresa of the New World by Sharman Russell

02_Teresa of the New World Cover 

Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Yucca Publishing/Skyhorse Publishing
Formats: Hardcover, Ebook
ISBN: 978-1631580420

Genre: Historical Fiction/Young Adult/Fantasy

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From the bestselling author of An Obsession with Butterflies comes a magical story of America in the time of the conquistadors.

In 1528, the real-life conquistador Cabeza de Vaca shipwrecked in the New World where he lived for eight years as a slave, trader, and shaman. In this lyrical weaving of history and myth, the adventurer takes his young daughter Teresa from her home in Texas to walk westward into the setting sun, their travels accompanied by miracles--visions and prophecies. But when Teresa reaches the outposts of New Spain, life is not what her father had promised.

As a kitchen servant in the household of a Spanish official, Teresa grows up estranged from the magic she knew as a child, when she could speak to the earth and listen to animals. When a new epidemic of measles devastates the area, the sixteen-year-old sets off on her own journey, befriending a Mayan were-jaguar who cannot control his shape-shifting and a warhorse abandoned by his Spanish owner. Now Teresa moves through a land stalked by Plague: smallpox as well as measles, typhus, and scarlet fever.

Soon it becomes clear that Teresa and her friends are being manipulated and driven by forces they do not understand. To save herself and others, Teresa will find herself listening again to the earth, sinking underground, swimming through limestone and fossil, opening to the power of root and stone. As she searches for her place in the New World, she will travel farther and deeper than she had ever imagined.

Rich in historical detail and scope, Teresa of the New World takes you into the dreamscape of the sixteenth-century American Southwest.

Praise for Teresa of the New World

“Wow! The magical elements were a total thrill-ride, and what a satisfying ending. After finishing it I had that wonderful sensation I get from a great read—the mysterious feeling of having been somewhere, of dreams having risen up and carried me along on a wild journey.” - Sarah Johnson, Editor

Praise for Sharman Russell

Russell has written twelve previous books with numerous starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Booklist. The San Francisco Chronicle has said “Russell’s writing is luminous” and Kirkus Reviews wrote, “A deep reverence for nature shines throughout Russell’s rich, enjoyable text.” The Seattle Times described her An Obsession with Butterflies as a “masterpiece of story-telling” and the San Diego Union Tribune called it “A singular work of art, with its smooth, ethereal prose and series after cascading series of astonishing lore.” The New York Times and Discover Magazine both described her book on hunger as “elegant.”

Buy Teresa of the New World

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Skyhorse Publishing


About the Author

03B_Author Sharman RussellSharman Apt Russell has lived in Southwestern deserts almost all her life and continues to be refreshed and amazed by the magic and beauty of this landscape. She has published over a dozen books translated into a dozen languages, including fiction and nonfiction. She teaches graduate writing classes at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, New Mexico and Antioch University in Los Angeles, California and has thrice served as the PEN West judge for their annual children’s literature award. Her own awards include a Rockefeller Fellowship, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Henry Joseph Jackson Award.

For more information visit Sharman Russell's website. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Teresa of the New World Book Blast Schedule

Monday, March 23
100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, March 25
Passages to the Past

Friday, March 27
So Many Books, So Little Time

Saturday, March 28
Broken Teepee

Monday, March 30
Unshelfish

Tuesday, March 31
Griperang's Bookmarks

Wednesday, April 1
Just One More Chapter

Thursday, April 2
Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Friday, April 3
A Bookish Girl
CelticLady's Reviews

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Blog Tour Kick Off & Giveaway: Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

Today kicks off David Morrell's Blog Tour for Inspector of the Dead and I am thrilled to be kicking it off with a spotlight & giveaway!

02_Inspector of the Dead Cover 

Publication Date: March 24, 2015 | Mulholland Books | Hardcover; 342p | ISBN: 9780316323932

Genre: Historical Mystery

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David Morrell’s MURDER AS A FINE ART was a publishing event. Acclaimed by critics, it made readers feel that they were actually on the fogbound streets of Victorian London. Now the harrowing journey continues in INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his Confessions of an Opium-Eater,confronts London's harrowing streets to thwart the assassination of Queen Victoria.
The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.

Brilliantly merging historical fact with fiction, Inspector of the Dead is based on actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria.

Praise for Inspector of the Dead

“Riveting! I literally thought I was in 1855 London. With this mesmerizing series, David Morrell doesn’t just delve into the world of Victorian England—he delves into the heart of evil, pitting one man’s opium-skewed brilliance against a society where appearances are everything, and the most vicious killers lurk closer than anyone thinks.” —Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Crash & Burn and The Perfect Husband

What the Victorian Experts Say:

“Even better than Murder as a Fine Art. A truly atmospheric and dynamic thriller. I was fascinated by how Morrell seamlessly blended elements from Thomas De Quincey’s life and work. The solution is a complete surprise.” —Grevel Lindop, The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

“The scope is remarkable. Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War, regicide, the railways, opium, the violence and despair of the London rookeries, medical and scientific innovations, arsenic in the food and clothing—all this makes the Victorian world vivid. The way Morrell depicts Thomas De Quincey places him in front of us, living and breathing. But his daughter Emily is in many ways the real star of the book.” —Robert Morrison, The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

“I absolutely raced through it and couldn’t bear to put it down. I particularly liked how the very horrible crimes are contrasted with the developing, fascinating relationship between Thomas De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, who come across as extremely real. It was altogether a pleasure.” —Judith Flanders, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
iBooks
IndieBound
Kobo

03_David Morell ©_Jennifer_EsperanzaAbout the Author

David Morrell is an Edgar, Nero, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a recipient of the prestigious career-achievement Thriller Master away from the International Thriller Writers. His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic espionage novel. The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl. A former literature professor at the University of Iowa, Morrell has a PhD from Pennsylvania State University. His latest novel is INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD, a sequel to his highly acclaimed Victorian mystery/thriller, Murder as a Fine Art, which Publishers Weekly called ”one of the top ten mystery/thrillers of 2013.”

For more information visit David Morrell's website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Inspector of the Dead Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, March 24
Review at Unabridged Chick
Excerpt at Boom Baby Reviews

Wednesday, March 25
Review at Back Porchervations
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Thursday, March 26
Review at JulzReads

Friday, March 27
Review & Excerpt at Jorie Loves a Story
Interview at JulzReads

Monday, March 30
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Spotlight at Tales of a Book Addict

Tuesday, March 31
Interview & Excerpt at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, April 1
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Guest Post at Mina's Bookshelf

Thursday, April 2
Review at Build a Bookshelf
Review & Giveaway at Mina's Bookshelf

Friday, April 3
Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.

Monday, April 6
Review & Giveaway at To Read, or Not to Read
Excerpt & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, April 7
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, April 8
Interview at Back Porchervations
Spotlight & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Thursday, April 9
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day - Stephanie's Book Reviews

Friday, April 10
Review at Layered Pages
Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Drey's Library

Monday, April 13
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, April 14
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, April 15
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, April 16
Review at Editing Pen
Review at Luxury Reading
Review at The Maiden's Court

Friday, April 17
Guest Post & Giveaway at Editing Pen

Monday, April 20
Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, April 21
Review at A Book Geek
Review at Books and Benches

Wednesday, April 22
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, April 23
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, April 24
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Giveaway

To enter to win a print copy of Inspector of the Dead please leave a comment below with your email address.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 4th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Spotlight & Giveaway: Letters to Kezia by Peni Jo Renner

Author Peni Jo Renner is on tour with HF Virtual Book Tours for Letters to Kezia, the second book in The Puritan Chronicles, and I am hosting her today with a spotlight & giveaway!

9781491755365_COVER.indd 

Publication Date: January 14, 2015 | iUniverse | Formats: eBook, Paperback | Pages: 208

Series: Book Two, The Puritan Chronicles
Genre: Historical Fiction

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It is 1693 in Hereford, Connecticut, when Mary Case, the spinster daughter of a Puritan minister, finds herself hopelessly smitten by the roguish thief, Daniel Eames. Betrothed to a man she does not like or love, she is soon compelled to help Daniel escape from jail. Suddenly, she finds herself on the run, not only accused of being Daniel's accomplice, but also of murder.

The fugitive pair soon finds solace-and a mutual attraction-among the escapee's Algonquin friends until two men from Daniel's dark past hunt them down. After Mary is captured and returned home to await trial, a tragedy takes the life of her younger sister, revealing a dark secret Mary's father has kept for months. But just as Mary learns she is pregnant, she makes a horrifying discovery about Daniel that changes everything and prompts her to develop an unlikely bond with his mother, Rebecca, who soon saves Mary from a shocking fate. It is not until years later that her daughter, Kezia, finally learns the truth about her biological father and family.

Letters to Kezia shares a courageous woman's journey through a Puritan life and beyond as she struggles with adversity and betrayal, and discovers that loyalty can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

Praise for Letters to Kezia

"In the tradition of author Peni Jo Renner’s gripping debut novel, Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames, Letters to Kezia recounts the tale of courageous, compassionate, and relatable Mary, whose connection to Rebecca and her family is unforeseen and profound. The reader is captivated at the very first page, as Letters to Kezia is a story of forbidden love, deep family secrets, intrigue, murder, and atonement. Another beautifully written triumph for this author, whose immense gift for story-telling transports the reader into each scene so deftly, one can almost smell the wood smoke and hear the crackling of the fire in the hearth." - Kelly Z. Conrad, award-winning author of Shaman

"Peni Jo Renner enthralled readers with Puritan Witch, the ordeal of Rebecca Eames, who was condemned to hang from Salem’s gallows as a witch. Now the Eames saga continues as Peni uses her special brand of witchery to bring Mary Case and Daniel Eames to vivid life, and shows us just how much a young woman will risk for love. Letters to Kezia is a poignant, true-life tale from colonial New England’s heartland which will captivate you, and keep you guessing until the end." -JoAnn Butler, author of Rebel Puritan and The Reputed Wife

Buy the Book

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

03_Author Peni Jo RennerAbout the Author

PENI JO RENNER is the author of the IPPY award-winning novel, Puritan Witch: the Redemption of Rebecca Eames. Originally from North Dakota, Peni now lives with her husband in Maryland where she is currently researching for the third book in the Puritan Chronicles series.

For more information please visit the Puritan Witch Website and Facebook Page. You can also follow Peni Jo Renner on Twitter.

Letters to Kezia Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 9
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, March 10
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Wednesday, March 11
Guest Post at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, March 12
Review at Just One More Chapter
Guest Post at Mythical Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Friday, March 13
Review at Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, March 16
Interview at Becky on Books
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, March 17
Review at Deal Sharing Aunt

Wednesday, March 18
Review at Quirky Book Reviews

Thursday, March 19
Review at Book Nerd
Interview at Dianne Ascroft Blog

Friday, March 20
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, March 23
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, March 27
Review at Book Babe

Giveaway

To enter to win a paperback of Letters to Kezia please leave a comment below with your email address.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 3rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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'Victorian Mourning Clothing and Jewelry', Guest Post by Sandra Byrd + Lace Bookmark Giveaway

Today on the blog I am hosting a spectacular guest post from Sandra Byrd and a chance for one of you to win a lovely Victorian Lace Bookmark! Enjoy the post and good luck to all who enter the giveaway!

Death Becomes Her: Victorian Mourning Clothing and Jewelry

The Victorians cared very much about how outward appearances reflected inward sentiments and morality. One way they expressed themselves was through mourning clothes and jewelry. Queen Victoria famously wore black from the time of Prince Albert's death in 1861 till her own death some 40 years later. Mourning regulations were handy social signals to others. Deaths were announced via mourning stationary and sealed with black wax. Sally Mitchell, in Daily Life in Victorian England reminds us that, "Mourning clothes made other people aware of a loss and prevented intrusive personal remarks." 

Queen Victoria's Daughters in Mourning

The Business of Mourning

According to Kristine Hughes (The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England), early in the nineteenth century ladies' magazines "regularly featured fashion plates depicting proper funeral attire, along with articles detailing proper etiquette for the occasion."


She goes on to tell us that linen drapers shops offered mourning departments. Why? It was big, big business. Who didn't know someone who had died? Women were limited to the colors black and then grey, but might creatively use different fabrics, textures, and styling to indicate status, wealth, and personal taste.

Hughes claims that, "one of the first categories of clothing to be mass-produced was mourning clothes." Believably so!

What to Wear

Victorian Mourning Gowns
Contrary to the queen's lengthy example, a widow was expected to mourn her husband for only two years - most people didn't live as long as Victoria, and there was little time to waste. Mitchell reminds us that the widow, "could moderate her funereal clothing a bit after a while to 'half-mourning,' which consisted of pinstripe black." Later this also included grays, especially for the younger generation.

Mitchell continues, "During the first year of mourning, widows were to conduct themselves as veritable social outcasts, forced to refuse all invitations, the only visits permitted being to close relatives or church services, including weddings and christenings." The parent or a child of the deceased was expected to mourn for a shorter period of time: Twelve months in whole, which eventually moved in color from black, to grey before the full color spectrum was allowed along with full engagement in social activities. Siblings mourned for six months.

Funerals

Unless the death was a suicide, funerals usually took place in the morning. Mitchell says, "Among the gentry and prosperous middle classes, the coach was draped in black velvet and the horses wore black plumes," and, "Male friends or hired mourners called mutes walked alongside. Sometimes they carried the heavy black pall that was draped over the coffin. Everyone attending the funeral wore black garments made of wool and crepe. Men wore black gloves; flowing bands of black cloth known as weepers were tied around their hats. Even among the poorest, it was important for immediate relatives to wear black clothing."

No family? Few friends? No problem. Mourners would be hired. In fact, the British newspaper The Daily Express newspaper tells us that mutes, "looked tragic during the service and doubled as waiters for the wake. Dickens despised them and in the funeral in Martin Chuzzlewit he describes: 'Two mutes… looking as mournful as could reasonably be expected of men with such a thriving job in hand.'"

Black Baubles, Hair Rings and Pulled Teeth

Jet Mourning Jewelry
One of the most fascinating, and perhaps creepy, aspect of Victorian mourning was the jewelry it inspired.

Items made of jet grew popular after the Queen wore it upon the death of Prince Albert, a custom she did not abandon clear to her own death in 1901. According to Kristine Hughes (The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England), "Jet jewelry has been associated with mourning for some time, though it was not mass-produced before the early 19th century. Jet is made from the fossilized driftwood of the monkey puzzle tree and is also found in the form of slate." Mitchell adds," Very close relatives might wear a brooch or watch-fob woven from the dead person’s hair."

Yes, hair.
Hair Brooch

Hughes tells us that, "Jewelry made from the hair of the deceased was popular from 1790 to 1840, and this, too, was incorporated into mourning jewelry, being given settings of black or white enamel, jet with gold, and often embellished with the words 'In Memoriam.'"

Sometimes they would take a tooth from a deceased and mount it in a ring or a necklace. They didn't eat much sugar then so contrary to current opinion, their teeth were pretty good. Just, perhaps, not pretty in the finger.

Memento Mori

Memento Mori is Latin for, Remember... you have to die. During the early days of photography, the Victorians would take pictures of the recently deceased in their homes, gardens, or even beds, posed doing something they would have done while alive. Perhaps it was a macabre way to remind the survivors to think of the fleetingness of life, and to number their days. The oddest, most morbid photos included babies who had passed away settled neatly into their prams.

What's Old Is New Again

It's true that there is nothing under the sun, and mourning is big business again. Black still predominates, and while pictures of those passed are not popular, The Daily Express reports that, "Rent A Mourner, an Essex-based company providing sad people for funerals when (as its website delicately puts it) 'here may be a low turnout expected'. Bookings are also on the up because people want something more dramatic than a mousey British send-off. They want sobbing, hair tearing and breast beating, in the way of excitable foreigners."

Perhaps this is an answer to temporary job needs. As Assistant Editor Jennifer Selway puts it, "Yes, a career in professional mourning could be the answer. Short hours, free booze and all the ham sandwiches you can eat."

No hairy brooches required.

About Mist of Midnight

01_Mist of Midnight 

Publication Date: March 10, 2015 | Howard Books | Formats: eBook, Paperback | Pages: 384

Series: Daughters of Hampshire
Genre: Historical/Christian/Romance

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In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her...and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca's name, but her home and incomes.

That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father's investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?

A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.

Praise for Mist of Midnight

"Intriguing secondary characters and lush scenery contribute to the often sinister, even creepy, moments readers will come to anticipate. Infusing her story with mystery, tension, and emotion, Byrd (To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn) strikes a fine balance between the darkness of a Gothic mystery and the sweetness of a captivating love story. Byrd—and Brontë—fans will enjoy this first of the new Daughters of Hampshire series." - Publishers Weekly

“A marvelous mingling of mystery and deeply moving family and romantic love, Mist of Midnight kept me guessing until the very end. A house on a cliff, a Victorian-Gothic atmosphere, a cast of suspicious characters including a dark, brooding hero and a strong heroine: shades (or mists) of Jane Eyre and Rebecca! I look forward to the next novel in this compelling new series.” (Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of Mistress of Mourning)

“Mist of Midnight is wonderfully atmospheric, with all the right elements for a true Gothic novel, from sounds that go bump in the night to characters who are not at all what they seem. The spiritual underpinning is solid, comforting, even as we're trapped in the author's finely spun web of mystery, romance, and a sense of foreboding that doesn't lift until the final page. Charlotte Brontë? Victoria Holt? Meet Sandra Byrd, the modern mistress of Gothic romance!” (Liz Curtis Higgs, New York Times bestselling author of Mine Is the Night)

“Among the many things I love about reading a Sandra Byrd novel is knowing that her words will transport me to another place and time, that she will win me over with intriguing and complex characters, and that I’ll savor every word. Mist of Midnight is no exception. I loved this book! Sandra Byrd could belong to the writing group of the Bronte sisters if they’d had one. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre along with crumbling mansions, mysterious distant cousins, and one woman’s journey to prove who she really is are just few layers that ripple through the mists. Bravo, Sandra! Another winner.” (Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of A Light in the Wilderness)

“Richly written and multi-layered, Mist of Midnight blends traditional England and exotic India in a historical feat worthy of Victoria Holt. Breathless danger, romance, and intrigue made this series opener by the ultra-talented Sandra Byrd a compelling must-read!” (Laura Frantz, author of Love’s Reckoning)

"Once again, Sandra Byrd delivers a richly layered story that will leave you eagerly awaiting the next book in this brand-new series. Mist of Midnight has it all: intriguing and memorable characters—including a central female protagonist who is both complex and inspiring—a plot chock-full of mystery and suspense, and a Victorian gothic setting, impeccably researched and artfully and evocatively relayed. Prepare to be transported!" (Karen Halvorsen Schreck, author of Sing For Me)

“Mist of Midnight is a beautiful, haunting tale. Sandra Byrd masterfully weaves together both romance and suspense among a cast of mysterious characters. I was immediately swept into the wonder of this story, and I loved unraveling all the secrets and discovering exactly what happened at the old Headbourne House.” (Melanie Dobson, author of Chateau of Secrets and The Courier of Caswell Hall)

“Sandra Byrd’s trademark attention to historical accuracy combines with an eerily building intrigue to envelope readers in a sense of dark foreboding that hinges precariously between hope and desperation. Mist of Midnight is a subtly haunting, beautifully atmospheric, and decadently romantic Victorian tale that will find a comfortable home among the best Gothic romances of days gone by.” (Serena Chase, author of The Ryn and contributor to USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog)

“Not since Jane Eyre have I read a Gothic romance that has captured my heart so completely. From the exotic India to an English estate shrouded in mystery, Byrd’s eye for detail shines through on every page. Romance lovers are sure to devour the tale of Rebecca Ravenshaw and her search for the truth behind the mysteries of Headbourne House and the handsome young captain who lives on the estate.” (Renee Chaw, reviewer at Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot)

“From the first word to the last, Mist of Midnight is a completely absorbing romantic, and mysterious, novel. Ms. Byrd’s writing is splendid, and her characters are so complex and endearing that they leap off the pages. I couldn’t put it down. An absolutely irresistible read!” (Anne Girard, author of Madame Picasso)

Buy Mist of Midnight

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

About the Author

03_Sandra Byrd AuthorAfter earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published in April, 2013.

Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens including the Secret Sisters Series, London Confidential Series and a devotional for tweens.

A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra has published many nonfiction articles and books. She is passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.

Please visit www.sandrabyrd.com to learn more, or to invite Sandra to your bookclub via Skype. You can also connect with Sandra on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Mist of Midnight Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 2
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, March 3
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, March 4
Review at Library of Clean Reads
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, March 5
Review at Reading the Past
Review & Giveaway at A Literary Vacation
Review & Guest Post at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Friday, March 6
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, March 9
Review & Giveaway at Historical Readings & Views

Tuesday, March 10
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, March 11
Review & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, March 12
Review at Book Drunkard
Spotlight at Books and Benches

Saturday, March 14
Review & Giveaway at Forever Ashley

Monday, March 16
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, March 17
Review at Layered Pages

Wednesday, March 18
Review at The Eclectic Reader

Thursday, March 19
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, March 20
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Giveaway

To enter to win a Victorian Lace Bookmark please leave a comment below with your email address.


Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 9th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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2015 Release: The Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi by Alyssa Palombo


Publication Date: December 15, 2015
St. Martin's Griffin
Paperback; 400 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction 



Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d'Amato adores music--except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family's palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.

Adriana's father is intent on seeing her married to a wealthy, prominent member of Venice's patrician class--and a handsome, charming suitor, whom she knows she could love, only complicates matters--but Vivaldi is a priest, making their relationship forbidden in the eyes of the Church and of society. They both know their affair will end upon Adriana's marriage, but she cannot anticipate the events that will force Vivaldi to choose between her and his music. The repercussions of his choice--and of Adriana's own choices--will haunt both of their lives in ways they never imagined.

Spanning more than 30 years of Adriana's life, Alyssa Palombo's The Violinist of Venice is a story of passion, music, ambition, and finding the strength to both fall in love and to carry on when it ends.
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