Follower Appreciation Giveaway #2: Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman

Welcome to the 2nd Follower Appreciation Giveaway at Passages to the Past!  

Not only is this is my way of showing all of you how grateful I am to have such amazingly smart, funny and awesome followers, but I also wanted to commemorate PTTP's 3rd Blogiversary, which I totally forgot about on June 5th (silly me).  The past three years have been so much fun and I have you all to thank for that!

For this giveaway I am offering up a brand-spanking-new copy of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman.  Foreman's non-fiction work on Georgina Cavendish, an 18th century trend-setter, fashionista and contemporary of Marie Antoinette, was the basis for the movie The Duchess, staring Kiera Knightly.  



The winner of Britain's prestigious Whitbread Prize and a bestseller there for months, this wonderfully readable biography offers a rich, rollicking picture of late-eighteenth-century British aristocracy and the intimate story of a woman who for a time was its undisputed leader.

Lady Georgiana Spencer was the great-great-great-great-aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales, and was nearly as famous in her day. In 1774, at the age of seventeen, Georgiana achieved immediate celebrity by marrying one of England's richest and most influential aristocrats, the Duke of Devonshire. Launched into a world of wealth and power, she quickly became the queen of fashionable society, adored by the Prince of Wales, a dear friend of Marie-Antoinette, and leader of the most important salon of her time. Not content with the role of society hostess, she used her connections to enter politics, eventually becoming more influential than most of the men who held office.

Her good works and social exploits made her loved by the multitudes, but Georgiana's public success, like Diana's, concealed a personal life that was fraught with suffering. The Duke of Devonshire was unimpressed by his wife's legendary charms, preferring instead those of her closest friend, a woman with whom Georgiana herself was rumored to be on intimate terms. For over twenty years, the three lived together in a jealous and uneasy ménage à trois, during which time both women bore the Duke's children—as well as those of other men.

Foreman's descriptions of Georgiana's uncontrollable gambling, all- night drinking, drug taking, and love affairs with the leading politicians of the day give us fascinating insight into the lives of the British aristocracy in the era of the madness of King George III, the American and French revolutions, and the defeat of Napoleon.

A gifted young historian whom critics are already likening to Antonia Fraser, Amanda Foreman draws on a wealth of fresh research and writes colorfully and penetratingly about the fascinating Georgiana, whose struggle against her own weaknesses, whose great beauty and flamboyance, and whose determination to play a part in the affairs of the world make her a vibrant, astonishingly contemporary figure. 


- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway).
- Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY!
- For +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries. 
- For +3 additional entries join the Passages to the Past FB Page.
- For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on July 15th (MY BIRTHDAY!).



2012 Release: The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc by Nancy Goldstone

I am super excited about this release as I really enjoyed Nancy Goldstone's non-fiction work The Four Queens.  What do you think, will you be reading?!

by Nancy Goldstone

Release Date:  March 29, 2012


Politically astute, ambitious, and beautiful, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, was one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages. Caught in the complex dynastic battle of the Hundred Years War, Yolande championed the dauphin’s cause against the forces of England and Burgundy, drawing on her savvy, her statecraft, and her intimate network of spies. But the enemy seemed invincible. Just as French hopes dimmed, an astonishingly courageous young woman named Joan of Arc arrived from the farthest recesses of the kingdom, claiming she carried a divine message—a message that would change the course of history and ultimately lead to the coronation of Charles VII and the triumph of France.

Now, on the six hundredth anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc, this fascinating book explores the relationship between these two remarkable women, and deepens our understanding of this dramatic period in history. How did an illiterate peasant girl gain access to the future king of France, earn his trust, and ultimately lead his forces into battle? Was it only the hand of God that moved Joan of Arc—or was it also Yolande of Aragon?


Author Interview with Karleen Koen + 2 Copy Giveaway of Before Versailles: A Novel of Louis XIV

I've been a huge fan of author Karleen Koen's ever since reading Through A Glass Darkly and Now Face to Face and now she is back with a new novel titled Before Versailles: A Novel of Louis XIV that is out in stores today!  I recently had the pleasure of reading Before Versailles and it was unputdownable!

Today I am thrilled to bring you an interview with Karleen Koen and with thanks to Random House I have 2 copies of Before Versailles to give away.  It was a treat and a pleasure to have the opportunity to interview one of my idols and I hope you enjoy it.

Now, on to the interview....

I see that you dedicated Before Versailles to X and Louise de Vailliere. Is it safe to assume that X is for the Man in the Iron Mask and what made you decide to dedicate this novel to Louise de Valliere?

X isn't for the man in the iron mask, but I love the idea, so now, thanks to you, the man in the iron mask is part of X. I think Louise de la Valliere was so important to Louis XIV's growth as a king. She was the "wing beneath his wings." And she is underrated by history because she was kind, tender hearted, secretly ashamed to be a married man's lover and so not grasping the mistress en titre's power. The nobles were like wolves, waiting for her to fall from the mountaintop, nipping at her, ready to devour. They despised her not being willing to step into the spotlight. They couldn't understand gentleness. Louis XIV was shy, too. The sweetness in their love affair touched me as I did research.

Louis XIV took the unusual approach of governing France as an absolute monarch, unlike his father who relied heavily on his councilors to run the country. Why do you think Louis decided on this course and how did it affect his reign?

He was guided in his formative years by an able politician, Cardinal Mazarin, who asked that a young Louis sit in on council meetings. And Louis was the child of both civil war and war with Spain. I think he grasped early on human nature and of the corruption of power. I think Mazarin saw his potential and did whatever possible for it to bloom in its time. The combination of Louis's stamina, intelligence and determination was formidable. And don't forget, he was helped by the extraordinary Colbert. Colbert must not be underrated in the creation of an absolute monarchy.

Did you travel to research Before Versailles? If so, what place was the most inspiring that you visited and why?

I've been to Versailles before, but since this novel isn't set there, I went, instead, to the palace of Fontainebleau because that's where Before Versailles takes place, where the actual historical events took place. The king spent the summer at Fontainebleau in 1661.

You've stated that the idea for Before Versailles was in your head for quite some time before you actually wrote it, what was it that made you decide to finally put idea to paper?

When I gave up on writing a Louis XIV (actually a story about the women) and let Alice and Richard have Dark Angels, I took a piece of history, Madame and the treaty of 1670, and used it for the plot in Dark Angels. When Dark Angels was finished, I realized that the reason I couldn't write the Louis XIV/women in his life story was that it was too large. I had to break it in pieces. I had broken a piece off for Dark Angels, which is, oddly enough, the sequel to Before Versailles, only it was written first!

Once I understood pieces, I had my story.

This may be too soon to ask, but what is the next project you are working on? Will it be a sequel to Before Versailles?

Well, as I said above, I have really already written the sequel. But there is more to the story. I think I'm working on another Alice and Richard story set in the 1670s. I don't know how much Louis XIV will be in it, but some because it's set in France. At least, right now, it is.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Read Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer. It's the best, most practical writing technique book out there. Remember a draft is exploration. Embolden your imagination. Take chances.

What book would you like to re-read for the first time again?

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Who are your writing influences?

Louisa May Alcott, Mary Stewart, Winston Graham, Daphne du Maurier, Georgette Heyer.

Can you tell us something about yourself that may surprise people?

I'd love to be a florist. 

Thanks to Karleen for spending time with us on Passages to the Past!

For more information please visit Karleen Koen's WEBSITE.



Louis XIV is one of the best-known monarchs ever to grace the French throne. But what was he like as a young man—the man before Versailles?

After the death of his prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, twenty-two-year-old Louis steps into governing France. He’s still a young man, but one who, as king, willfully takes everything he can get—including his brother’s wife. As the love affair between Louis and Princess Henriette burns, it sets the kingdom on the road toward unmistakable scandal and conflict with the Vatican. Every woman wants him. He must face what he is willing to sacrifice for love.

But there are other problems lurking outside the chateau of Fontainebleau: a boy in an iron mask has been seen in the woods, and the king’s finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet, has proven to be more powerful than Louis ever thought—a man who could make a great ally or become a dangerous foe . . .

Meticulously researched and vividly brought to life by the gorgeous prose of Karleen Koen, Before Versailles dares to explore the forces that shaped an iconic king and determined the fate of an empire.


- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway).
- Giveaway is open to US and CANADA entries ONLY!
- For +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries.
- For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on July 10th.



Mailbox Monday

Another Monday, Another Mailbox!! This is a feature where we all share with each other the yummy books that showed up at our doors! WARNING: Mailbox Mondays can lead to extreme envy and GINORMOUS wishlists!!

Mailbox Monday was originally hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and now located here, but is now a traveling meme and for the month of June your new host for MM will be Mari @ Bluestocking's Thoughts on Books!

Hello readers and welcome to another edition of MM!  I hope everyone had a great weekend and that you are reading something amazing.  This past week I received two Georgette Heyer books for review.  It's been some time since I've read a Heyer so when I got the request from Sourcebooks I snatched a few up!  Heyer is one of those authors who make me laugh out out loud and I just adore her writing.

Are you a Heyer fan?  If so, what is your favorite Heyer book?

by Georgette Heyer

Publication Date:  May 1, 2011


Venetia has running her family’s estate in the place of her ill brother. She is dangerously close to spinsterhood and is left at the mercy of two suitors with no interest in her. When a chance encounter introduces Venetia to her neighbor what starts as harmless flirtation could turn into a damaging scandal.

Venetia’s well-meaning uncle saves her and takes her to London where Venetia uncovers a shocking family secret. Knowing this secret may just open the door for her hearts desires to come true. 

by Georgette Heyer

Publication Date:  April 1, 2011


Sylvester, Duke of Salford, is in a high position and feels it is time he finds a bride worth of the role. All of his candidates were nobly born and gently raised, however they bore him. His mother wants him to marry for love, and he scoffs at the notion until he meets Phoebe Marlow and finds himself intrigued by her.

Phoebe has aspirations of becoming a writer and has written a novel that it to be published. After meeting the Duke she finds herself in an awkward position because based on his reputation she has featured him as the villain in her novel.  As they begin to fall in love Phoebe wonders what will happen when the Duke reads her novel. Sure enough, he is horrified.

This is Heyer’s only romance novel to feature a female writer and the Regency world in which young ladies really didn’t have those avenues of expression.

Well, that's my mailbox, what goodies came your way?


I've got giveaway winners!

Hey everyone, my apologies for being so tardy with announcing my giveaway winners, but better late than never, right?  So without further adieu, please help me in congratulating the following...

The winner of the Bookshelf Cleaning Giveaway #1 for a copy of The Silver Eagle by Ben Kane is...


The winners of Queen Defiant: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Anne O'Brien are...

Stephanie Thornton & Aik

The winners of The King's Witch by Cecilia Holland are...

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim & Queen Lizz

Emails have been sent to the winners!  Thanks to all who entered and helped spread the word and to the publishers for providing the giveaway copies.


2012 Release: The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

Cover Not Final
by Nancy Bilyeau

Release Date: January 10, 2012
Simon & Schuster


In this debut historical thriller, an aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father’s life and preserve all she holds dear from Cromwell’s ruthless terror.

When novice nun Joanna Stafford learns her rebel cousin is condemned by King Henry VIII to be burned at the stake, she makes the decision to break the sacred rule of enclosure and run away from her Dominican Order in Dartford to stand at her cousin’s side.

Arrested for interfering with king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, Sir Richard Stafford, is sent to the Tower of London. Joanna’s father is brutally tortured by Stephen Gardiner, the Bishop of Winchester who leads the Catholic faction bent on saving England’s monasteries from destruction. In order to save her father, Joanna must submit to Gardiner’s will and become a pawn in the struggle between religious extremes. Gardiner forces Joanna to return to Dartford Priory with a mission: find the long hidden crown worn by Saxon King Athelstan in AD 937 during the historic battle that first united Britain. Gardiner believes the crown itself to possess a mystical power that will halt the Reformation.

Uncovering only dark betrayals and murder at Dartford, Joanna flees with Brother Edmund, a troubled young friar, and with time running out, their hunt for the crown leads them through royal castles, to Stonehenge, and finally to the tomb of the mysterious King Athelstan under Malmesbury Abbey. There Joanna learns the true secret of the crown, a secret tracing all the way back to Golgotha and the Relics of the Passion. Now, as Cromwell’s army of destruction advances, Joanna must finally determine who to trust and how far she is willing to go to protect a way of life that she passionately loves.


Mailbox Monday (on Tuesday)

Another Monday, Another Mailbox! This is a feature where we all share with each other the yummy books that showed up at our doors. WARNING: Mailbox Mondays can lead to extreme envy and GINORMOUS wishlists!

Mailbox Monday, originally hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and now located here, is now a traveling meme and for the month of June the new host for MM will be Mari @ Bluestocking's Thoughts on Books.

Hey everyone!  I'm a little late with my Mailbox Monday post, but I assure you it was for a good cause.  My new book tour company, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, has really taken off and been keeping me quite busy lately, but I have to admit that I am really enjoying myself!  

This past week I received three new books, two of which are for tours that I am working on and the third is the new novel by Elizabeth Chadwick, which I have been dying to read!

by Elizabeth Chadwick

Release Date:  September 1, 2011


Royal wives and royal widows, Queen Adeliza and her stepdaughter, Empress Matilda, are the only two women to be titled "Lady of the English," a title that does not come cheap. Adeliza, widowed queen and peacemaker, is married to a warrior who supports Stephen, grandson of the Conqueror. Matilda, daughter of the last king and a fierce fighter, is determined to win her inheritance against all odds and despite all men, including Stephen. Both are women who, in their different ways, will stand and fight for what they know is right. But for Matilda, pride comes before a fall. And for Adeliza, even the deepest love is no proof against fate.

by Melanie McDonald

Publication Date:  March 11, 2011


Eros and Thanatos converge in the story of a glorious youth, an untimely death, and an imperial love affair that gives rise to the last pagan god of antiquity. In this coming-of-age novel set in the second century AD, Antinous of Bithynia, a Greek youth from Asia Minor, recounts his seven-year affair with Hadrian, fourteenth emperor of Rome. In a partnership more intimate than Hadrian s sanctioned political marriage to Sabina, Antinous captivates the most powerful ruler on earth both in life and after death.

This version of the affair between the emperor and his beloved ephebe vindicates the youth scorned by early Christian church fathers as a shameless and scandalous boy and sordid and loathsome instrument of his master s lust. EROMENOS envisions the personal history of the young man who achieved apotheosis as a pagan god of antiquity, whose cult of worship lasted for hundreds of years far longer than the cult of the emperor Hadrian. 

In EROMENOS, the young man Antinous, whose beautiful image still may be found in works of art in museums around the world, finds a voice of his own at last.

by Sandra Byrd

Release Date:  August 9, 2011


To Die For, is the story of Meg Wyatt, pledged forever as the best friend to Anne Boleyn since their childhoods on neighboring manors in Kent. When Anne’s star begins to ascend, of course she takes her best friend Meg along for the ride. Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling at first, but as Anne’s favor rises and falls, so does Meg’s. And though she’s pledged her loyalty to Anne no matter what the test, Meg just might lose her greatest love—and her own life—because of it.  

Meg's childhood flirtation with a boy on a neighboring estate turns to true love early on. When he is called to follow the Lord and be a priest she turns her back on both the man and his God. Slowly, though, both woo her back through the heady times of the English reformation. In the midst of it, Meg finds her place in history, her own calling to the Lord that she must follow, too, with consequences of her own. Each character in the book is tested to figure out what love really means, and what, in this life, is worth dying for.

Though much of Meg’s story is fictionalized, it is drawn from known facts. The Wyatt family and the Boleyn family were neighbors and friends, and perhaps even distant cousins. Meg’s brother, Thomas Wyatt, wooed Anne Boleyn and ultimately came very close to the axe blade for it. Two Wyatt sisters attended Anne at her death, and at her death, she gave one of them her jeweled prayer book—Meg. 

That's my mailbox...what goodies came your way?

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