Guest Post by Kate Forsyth, author of The Wild Girl

As part of the virtual tour for The Wild Girl, Passages to the Past is pleased to bring you a
guest post by author Kate Forsyth!  Kate will be on tour through August 23, so be sure to check out the schedule of stops below.

Kate is here to talk about two of my favorite topics - reading inspirations and historical fiction - and I hope you enjoy the post as much as I did!

Reading Inspirations by Kate Forsyth... 

I have always loved books set far, far away and long, long ago. For as long as I can remember, they have been my favourite kind of reading.

When I was a child, I loved books with pictures of girls in fabulous frocks and swashbuckling young men in high boots and a feathered hat. 

My favourite authors included Elizabeth Goudge (The Little White Horse), Geoffrey Trease (Cue for Treason and The Popinjay Stairs), Rosemary Sutcliff (The Witch’s Brat and Brother Dusty-feet), Joan Aiken (Midnight is A Place and The Wolves of Willoughby Place), Edith Nesbit (The Enchanted Castle and The House of Arden), Philippa Pearce (Tom’s Midnight Garden) and Leon Garfield (Devil-in-the-Fog and Black Jack)

And, of course, classic writers like Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

As I grew up, I discovered Georgette Heyer and Jean Plaidy, and devoured them all. My favourites by the former were These Old Shades, The Talisman Ring, The Reluctant Widow, The Grand Sophy, and The Toll-Gate. Of the latter, I particularly loved her books about the Tudor and Stuart eras. 

As a teenager, I read and fell in love with Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, and also caught the historical romance bug, reading my way through books by authors such as Roberta Gellis. 

My reading nowadays is predominated by books set in the past:

I love general historical fiction – favourite authors include Philippa Gregory, C.W. Gortner, Geraldine Brooks, Sarah Dunant, Marina Fiorata, and Sebastian Faulks. 

I always enjoy historical novels which illuminate the life of artists, musicians and writers, and particularly love the work of Susan Vreeland, Tracy Chevalier, Anne Fortier, and Vanora Bennett. 

Historical novels with an emphasis on food and cooking always delight me. Joanne Harris, Anthony Capella, Laura Esquivel, and, most recently, N.M. Kelby all do this superbly well. 

I love a good historical murder mystery, and eagerly snap up books by writers such as C.J. Sansom, Karen Maitland, C.S. Harris, Alan Bradley and Deanna Raybourn. 

Nothing is nice than a steamy historical romance - I normally read them by candlelight in a hot bath with a glass of champagne as a soul restorative. Favourite authors include Anne Gracie, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn and Anna Campbell. 

I love magic mixed with my history, (hopefully with some romance as well!) and favourite historical fantasy authors include Juliet Marillier, Diana Gabaldon, Kim Wilkins, and Lian Hearn. 

If I do read a narrative set in contemporary times, it is nearly always interwoven with a historical narrative thread. Kate Morton, Kimberley Freeman, Kate Mosse, Lauren Willlig, Susanna Kearsley and Kate Lord Brown all do this particularly well. 

I think I love historical fiction so much because it offers me an escape from the mundane reality of everyday life into a world filled with romance, adventure, danger, and mystery. This world is, nonetheless, a place in which people are still recognisably people, with all their longings and fears and hopes and ambitions - and yet strikingly and intriguingly different. I also love historical fiction because it illuminates the past so that I can better understand the present. Also –perhaps most importantly – I feel like I’m learning when I’m reading historical fiction. It helps me connect emotionally with people of the past, and empathise with their struggles. It makes me grateful that I live now (as long as I can still escape to the past through the pages of a good book). 

The Wild GirlPublication Date: July 29, 2013
Allison & Busby
Hardcover; 350p
ISBN-10: 0749013281

The Wild Girl is an historical novel for adults that tells of the love story between Wilhelm Grimm, younger of the famous Grimm Brothers, and the girl who grew up next door, Dortchen Wild, who was the source of a great many of the brothers’ fairy tales. Wilhelm and Dortchen first met in 1805, when she was only twelve, just before their home town of Cassel is taken over by Napoleon’s soldiers.

From 1807, the Grimm brothers began collecting stories from Dortchen and her sisters and friends. Stories she told Wilhelm include The Frog King, Hansel & Gretel, Mother Holle, the Singing Bone, The Six Swans, and Thousand-Furs (better known as Deerskin). The first collection of fairytales was published in 1812, an attempt to keep German folktales alive during the French occupation. War, death, and poverty conspire to keep Wilhelm and Dortchen apart.

They marry at last in 1825, a week before Dortchen’s 32nd birthday, and set up house together with Wilhelm’s older brother Jacob, living together until their deaths.

About the Author

Kate Forsyth 1Kate Forsyth is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 books for adults and children , translated into 13 languages. She was recently named in the Top 25 of Australia's Favourite Novelists. Since The Witches of Eileanan was named a Best First Novel by Locus Magazine, Kate has won or been nominated for many awards, including a CYBIL Award in the US. She’s also the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, for her Gypsy Crown series of children's historical novels. Kate’s latest novel, Bitter Greens, interweaves a retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale with the scandalous life story of the woman who first told the tale, the 17th century French writer Charlotte-Rose de la Force. It has been called ‘the best fairy tale retelling since Angela Carter’ and ‘an imaginative weaving of magic, fairy tale and history’. A direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, Kate is currently studying a doctorate in fairy tales at the University of Technology in Sydney, where she lives by the sea, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books.

Please visit Kate Forsyth's WEBSITE and BLOG for more information. You can also find her on FACEBOOK and follow her on TWITTER

Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Thursday, August 1 
Guest Post at One More Page
Monday, August 5
Review at Tiny Library

Tuesday, August 6
Review at Lit Nerd

Wednesday, August 7
Review at The Worm Hole

Thursday, August 8
Interview at Lit Nerd

Friday, August 9
Guest Post at The Worm Hole

Monday, August 12 

Review at Lovely Treez Reads
Tuesday, August 13 

Review at Kincavel Korner
Wednesday, August 14 

Review at Medieval Bookworm
Thursday, August 15 

Interview at Kincavel Korner
Friday, August 16 

Review at Lit Addicted Brit
Monday, August 19 

Review at Read Write Reviews
Tuesday, August 20 

Interview at Read Write Reviews
Wednesday, August 21 

Review at The Little Reader Library
Friday, August 23 

Reviews at She Reads Novels
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Blog Tour Giveaway: The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields

Today kicks off Jennie Field's virtual tour for her novel, The Age of Desire, and Passages to the Past is pleased to bring you a giveaway to start the festivities!

Jennie will be on tour through August 30, so be sure to check out the schedule of stops below.

The Age of DesirePaperback Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Penguin Publishing
Paperback; 384p
ISBN: 978-0143123286

For fans of The Paris Wife, a sparkling glimpse into the life of Edith Wharton and the scandalous love affair that threatened her closest friendship They say that behind every great man is a great woman. Behind Edith Wharton, there was Anna Bahlmann—her governess turned literary secretary and confidante. At the age of forty-five, despite her growing fame, Edith remains unfulfilled in a lonely, sexless marriage. Against all the rules of Gilded Age society, she falls in love with Morton Fullerton, a dashing young journalist. But their scandalous affair threatens everything in Edith’s life—especially her abiding ties to Anna.

At a moment of regained popularity for Wharton, Jennie Fields brilliantly interweaves Wharton’s real letters and diary entries with her fascinating, untold love story. Told through the points of view of both Edith and Anna, The Age of Desire transports readers to the golden days of Wharton’s turn-of-the century world and—like the recent bestseller The Chaperone—effortlessly re-creates the life of an unforgettable woman.

Praise for The Age of Desire

“Somewhere between the repressiveness of Edith Wharton’s early-20th-century Age of Innocence and our own libertine Shades of Grey era lies the absorbingly sensuous world of Jennie Fields’s The Age of Desire . . . along with the overheated romance and the middle-age passion it so accurately describes, The Age of Desire also offers something simpler and quieter: a tribute to the enduring power of female friendship.” —Boston Globe

“One doesn’t have to be an Edith Wharton fan to luxuriate in the Wharton-esque plotting and prose Fields so elegantly conjures.” —Kirkus

“Delicate and imaginative . . . Fields’s love and respect for all her characters and her care in telling their stories shines through." —Publishers Weekly

Beautiful ... an imaginative tour-de-force with the best-written naughty bits I have ever read." —UK Daily Mail

Inspired by Wharton’s letters, The Age of Desire is by turns sensuous . . . and sweetly melancholy. It’s also a moving examination of a friendship between two women. —Bookpage

“A fascinating insight into the life of my favorite novelist. Fields brings a secret side of Wharton to life, and shows us a woman whose elegant façade concealed a turbulent sensuality.” —Daisy Goodwin, author of The American Heiress

“With astonishing tenderness and immediacy, The Age of Desire portrays the interwoven lives of Edith Wharton and Anna Bahlmann, her governess, secretary, and close friend. By focusing on these two women from vastly different backgrounds, Jennie Fields miraculously illuminates an entire era. . . . I gained insight into both Wharton’s monumental work and her personal struggles—and I was filled with regret that I’d finished reading so soon.” —Lauren Belfer, author of City of Light and A Fierce Radiance

“In the vein of Loving Frank or The Paris Wife, Jennie Fields has created a page-turning period piece. Fields portrays a woman whose life was hardly innocence and mirth, but passionate, complex, and more mysterious than one might ever imagine.” —Mary Morris, author of Nothing to Declare and Revenge

Buy Links

Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Jennie FieldsBorn in the heart of the heart of the country – Chicago -- Jennie Fields decided to become a writer at the age of six and produced her first (365 page!) novel when she was eleven. She received her MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop and published her first short stories while spending a postgraduate year at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. But needing to feed her family in the era just post-Mad Men, she became an early female copywriter at an advertising agency, soon rising to creative director and moving to New York. In her 32-year advertising career, she wrote and produced many well-known and award-winning commercials. People even now can embarrass her by telling her they grew up dancing to one of her McDonalds’ jingles.

Still, fiction was her great love. Writing during her lunch hour and after her daughter’s bedtime she penned her first novel, Lily Beach, which was published by Atheneum in 1993 to much acclaim. Since then, she’s written three more novels including Crossing Brooklyn Ferry and The Middle Ages. Her latest, The Age of Desire, is a biographical novel based on the life of the author dearest to her heart, Edith Wharton. An Editor’s Choice of the New York Times Book Review, it describes Wharton’s mid-life love affair with a younger, manipulative man. Why the affinity to Wharton? Because she wrote about people attempting to break society’s expectations for them – which is something Fields has been yearning to do all her life.

For more information, please visit Jennie's website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 30
Guest Post at The Book Barista

Wednesday, July 31 
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Review & Interview at vvb32 reads

Thursday, August 1
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, August 2
Review at West Metro Mommy

Monday, August 5
Review at Carole's Ramblings & Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Tuesday, August 6
Review at A Bookish Affair
Interview at From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, August 7
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, August 8
Review at Book-alicious Mama

Friday, August 9
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Monday, August 12
Review at Carpe Librum
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, August 13
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, August 14
Review at My Reader's Block

Thursday, August 15
Review & Interview at A Bookish Libraria

Friday, August 16
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Monday, August 19
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, August 20
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, August 21
Review at Book Addict Katie

Thursday, August 22
Review at Amused by Books
Review at Just One More Chapter

Friday, August 23
Review at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Monday, August 26
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review at Books, Belles and Beaux

Tuesday, August 27
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Guest Post at Books, Belles and Beaux

Wednesday, August 28
Review at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, August 29
Review at CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, August 30
Review at A Novel Review
Review & Giveaway at Books in the Burbs


Passages to the Past has one copy of The Age of Desire up for grabs! To enter, please complete form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 9th.
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Guest Post by Gillian Bagwell + Giveaway of Venus in Winter

Recently I had the extreme pleasure of meeting one of my favorite authors, Gillian Bagwell, at the Historical Novel Society Conference in Tampa. Not only is she a talented writer, she is also a very gracious and lovely woman, not to mention hilarious! Meeting her was one of the highlights of the conference for me and today I am thrilled to host a guest post by her and a giveaway of her latest novel, Venus in Winter. I just started the book myself and it's really great so far, Bess of Hardwick is an intriguing woman and her life story is a remarkable one. 
Here is Gillian as host for the Costume Pagent at the HNS Conference.

Gillian's guest post talks about the recipes used during the Tudor period to aid pregnant women, which is quite apropos at the moment as I am 6 months pregnant with baby #3. Very interesting post, but I think I'll stick to modern medicine! I hope you enjoy it and be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post.

The Tudor Housewife's Remedies for Pregnancy and Motherhood
Bess of Hardwick

During the lifetime of Bess of Hardwick, the subject of my novel Venus in Winter, housewives at all levels of society commonly kept herb gardens and made medicines for their households. Sarah Longe, Her Receipt Book, which was published in about 1610, included not only recipes for food, but also for herbal remedies.

In those days before birth control, women frequently spent a large part of their adult lives pregnant or nursing, so naturally there were many remedies related to these conditions.

During the ten years of her third marriage, Bess of Hardwick bore eight children. Here are a few recipes that she might have used.

For Sore Nipples

Take house-leeke, marigold leaves, plantine Ribwort, Ledwell parsley, Beesewax, of each a like quantity. Boyle them in fresh butter unwashed, while it is enough, then stirre it, and keep it for your use.
Elizabethan Children

The Oxford English Dictionary defines house-leeke as the plant sempervivum tectorum, a succulent herb with pink flowers and thick stem and leaves. Ribwort is the narrow-leaved plantain plantage lanceolata, or ribgrass. Of course the beeswax and butter would have created a greasy base for this soothing herbal ointment. 

For a Vomitt

Take Crocus, Merhelosuse, and put a drame into a pint of sacke, and so keepe, and the night before you give it, shake the glass, and so give six sponefulls of the wine to one that is old, and 3 to a Child, or by weight an Ounce, and to a Child half an Ounce.

Crocus is a flower, one species of which yields saffron. I can't discover what Merhelosuse is, but it probably is a flower or herb. Sacke refers to dry (seco) white wine that in Tudor and Elizabethan times was imported from Spain or the Canary Islands.
A Remedy for Such as Are Subject to Miscarry
Take a quart or two of strong Aile, and a pound of Currence, an ounce of Nutmegg's, and prick them full of holes, and take pith of 2 oxen, and one handfull of Nipp, & a handfull of Pimpernell, one handful of Clary, and boyle them together, till a point be boyled away. Brush the Currence and the Pith of the Oxen, and put them in againe, and boyle it againe, and then drinke it morning, and Evening warmed.

"Currence" surely means currants, which are similar to raisins. Pith is the "spinal marrow or core," which perhaps was intended to provide strength or stamina. Nipp is catmint or catnip. Clary is a sweet liquor consisting of a mixture of wine, clarified honey, and various spices such as pepper and ginger. This sweet and spicy drink would probably make a lovely warm bedtime drink, though moden medicine would probably look askance at ale and wine as ingredients good for pregnant women.

Images of a birth - Sixteenth Century

An Excellent Plaster to Keep a Woman from Miscarrying

Take of the choicest Mastick 4 drames, gum Elemie halfe an Ounce, Burgandie pitch 3 drames, Benjamin, and Dragons blade, of each 2 drames; melt all these, and straine them, and add to them 2 draimes of the Trochises, called Alepta Muscata, one drame of Venice Turpintine a little boyled, 3 drames of the plaster of red lead made of Oile of Quinces, half an Ounce of Bees-wax, one drame and a halfe of Indian Balsome, 2 scruples of Oile of Spike, make all these into one plaster, and spread thereof upon your leather, one for the region of your back, and another for the lower Region of the belly.

Mastic is a gum or resin from the bark of pistacia lentiscus and some other trees. Gum elemi is a resinous plant product from bursera simaruba, which grows in the Bahamas, and must have been expensive. Burgundy pitch is the resinous juice of the spruce fir, which grows chiefly near Neufchatel, which was once a Burgundian territory. Benjamin is gum benzoin, another imported resinous substance. Dragons blade may be dragonsblood, another gum or resin. Trochisks are medicated tablets or disks. I can't find a definition of alepta muscata, but it might relate to the muscat, the grape from which muscatel is made. Oil of spike is an essential oil from lavendula spica, or lavender. The recipe would have produced a very thick and aromatic substance, which might at least have smelled and felt like it was doing some good!

Gillian Bagwell's novel Venus in Winter, based on the first forty years of the formidable four-times Tudor dynast Bess of Hardwick, was released on July 2. 

To find links to Gillian's other posts related to the book, please follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or visit her website.

About Venus in Winter

Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Berkley Trade
ISBN-10: 0425258025

The author of The September Queen explores Tudor England with the tale of Bess of Hardwick—the formidable four-time widowed Tudor dynast who became one of the most powerful women in the history of England.

On her twelfth birthday, Bess of Hardwick receives the news that she is to be a waiting gentlewoman in the household of Lady Zouche. Armed with nothing but her razor-sharp wit and fetching looks, Bess is terrified of leaving home. But as her family has neither the money nor the connections to find her a good husband, she must go to facilitate her rise in society.

When Bess arrives at the glamorous court of King Henry VIII, she is thrust into a treacherous world of politics and intrigue, a world she must quickly learn to navigate. The gruesome fates of Henry’s wives convince Bess that marrying is a dangerous business. Even so, she finds the courage to wed not once, but four times. Bess outlives one husband, then another, securing her status as a woman of property. But it is when she is widowed a third time that she is left with a large fortune and even larger decisions—discovering that, for a woman of substance, the power and the possibilities are endless . . .

Buy Links

Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Gillian Bagwell grew up in Berkeley, California, and began her professional life as an actress, studying at the University of California Berkeley and the Drama Studio London at Berkeley before relocating to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and television. She moved into directing and producing theatre, founding The Pasadena Shakespeare Company, where she served as artistic director for nine years, producing thirty-seven critically acclaimed productions.

She united her life-long love of books, British history, and theatre in writing her first novel, The Darling Strumpet, based on the life of Nell Gwynn. Her second novel, The September Queen, is the first fictional account of the perilous and romantic odyssey of Jane Lane, an ordinary English girl who risked her life to help the young Charles II escape after the disastrous Battle of Worcester in 1651 by disguising him as her servant. Gillian recently returned to Berkeley and is at work on her third novel, about the formidable four-times widowed Tudor dynast Bess of Hardwick. Visit Gillian's website,, for further information about her books and upcoming events, and links to her blogs, articles, and videos of sites in Nell Gwynn's London.


I have one copy of Venus in Winter up for grabs.  Open to US only.  To enter, please complete form below.

Giveaway ends on August 1st.  Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Exciting 2013 Release: Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb

One of this year's releases that I've most been looking forward to is Becoming Josephine, the debut novel by Heather Webb! Today the cover was revealed and I think it's fantastic!

I had the pleasure of meeting Heather and speaking on a panel with her at the HNS Conference in St. Petersburg last month and she was extremely nice and super cool, I just loved her and am so thrilled for her during this exciting time! 

Heather is currently running a really awesome Pre-Order contest, so check it out here.

Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Paperback; 350p
ISBN-10: 0142180653

Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. She arrives exultant to follow her dreams of attending Court with Alexandre, her elegant aristocrat and soldier husband. But Alexandre dashes her hopes and abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution.

Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.

After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century- Napoleon Bonaparte.

BECOMING JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman's journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.

Praise for Becoming Josephine

“Heather Webb’s epic novel captivates from its opening in a turbulent plantation society in the Caribbean, to the dramatic rise of one of France’s most fascinating women: Josephine Bonaparte. Perfectly balancing history and story, character and setting, detail and pathos, Becoming Josephine marks a debut as bewitching as its protagonist." –Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway's Girl

“With vivid characters and rich historical detail, Heather Webb has portrayed in Josephine a true heroine of great heart, admirable strength, and inspiring courage whose quest is that of women everywhere: to find, and claim, oneself.” --Sherry Jones, bestselling author of The Jewel of the Medina

“Spellbinding . . . Heather Webb’s novel takes us behind the mask of the Josephine we thought we knew.” –Christy English, author of How to Tame a Willful Wife and To Be Queen

“Enchanting prose takes the reader on an unforgettable journey . . . Captivating young Rose springs from the lush beauty of her family's sugar plantation in Martinique to shine in the eighteenth century elegance of Parisian salon society. When France is torn by revolution, not even the blood-bathed terror of imprisonment can break her spirit.” –Marci Jefferson, author of The Duchess of Richmond (Thomas Dunne Books, 2014)

About the Author

Heather Webb grew up a military brat and naturally became obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full time novel writing and freelance editing. Her debut, BECOMING JOSEPHINE will release December 31, 2013 from Plume/Penguin. 

When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world. She loves to chitchat on Twitter with new reader friends or writers (@msheatherwebb) or via her blog. Stop on by!

New Giveaway! The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora by Stephanie Thornton

Passages to the Past is thrilled to be hosting debut author Stephanie Thornton today as part of her virtual tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

Stephanie's first novel, The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora, was released last week and has garnered great reviews so far! I finished the read last night and loved it! Stephanie is definitely an author to check out, if you haven't done so already. And I have three chances for those who haven't had the pleasure of reading The Secret History, to win a copy!

The Secret HistoryPublication Date: July 2, 2013
NAL Trade
Paperback; 448p
ISBN-10: 045141778X

Where Theodora went, trouble followed…

In sixth century Constantinople, one woman, Theodora, defied every convention and all the odds, and rose from being a common theater tart to become empress of a great kingdom, the most powerful woman the Roman Empire would ever know. But the woman whose image was later immortalized in glittering mosaic was, in fact, a scrappy, clever, conniving, flesh-and-blood woman full of sensuality and spirit whose real story is as surprising as any ever told…

When her father dies suddenly, Theodora and her sisters face starvation on the streets. Determined to survive, Theodora makes a living any way she can—first on her back with every man who will have her, then on the stage of the city’s infamous amphitheater in a scandalous dramatization of her own invention. When her daring performance grants her a back-door entry into the halls of power, she seizes the chance to win a wealthy protector—only to face heartbreak and betrayal.

Ever resilient, Theodora rises above such trials and by a twist of fate, meets her most passionate admirer yet: the Emperor’s nephew. She will thrive as his confidant and courtesan, but many challenges lie ahead. For one day, this man will hand her a crown. And all the empire will wonder—is she bold enough, shrewd enough, and strong enough to keep it?

Praise for The Secret History

“Stephanie Thornton’s Theodora is tough and intelligent, spitting defiance against the cruel world of the Byzantine Empire. Her rise from street urchin to emperor’s consort made me want to stand up and cheer. Her later years as empress are great fun to read, but it was her early struggle as actress and courtesan that really had me roaring: either with rage at the misfortunes heaped on this poor girl, or with delight as she once more picked herself up with a steely glint in her eye and kept on going.”—Kate Quinn, author of Empress of the Seven Hills

"Loss, ambition and lust keep this rich story moving at top speed. Stephanie Thornton writes a remarkable first novel that brings a little known woman to full, vibrant life...A sprawling and irresistible story."—Jeane Westin, author of The Spymaster's Daughter

"A fascinating and vivid account; in The Secret History, the life of Empress Theodora leaps from the page, as colorful and complex as the woman herself."—Michelle Diener, author of The Emperor's Conspiracy

About the Author

Stephanie ThorntonStephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel. 

For more information, please visit Stephanie Thornton's website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter


Passages to the Past has three chances to win!  Two winners will win one copy of the book each and the grand prize winner will receive one copy of the book + a Byzantine Coin.

To enter, please complete the form below.  The giveaway is open internationally and ends on July 18th.  Good luck!

Byzantine Coins
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Paperback Giveaway: The Queen's Vow by CW Gotner

Today, Passages to the Past is very excited to be hosting a giveaway of the fabulous novel by CW Gortner, The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile, which was just released in paperback yesterday!

Gortner is on a virtual tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours through August 6th, so be sure to check out the other stops. You can find the schedule here.

The Queen's Vow PBPublication Date: July 2, 2013
Ballantine Books
Paperback; 416p
ISBN-13: 9780345523976

No one believed I was destined for greatness.

So begins Isabella’s story, in this evocative, vividly imagined novel about one of history’s most famous and controversial queens—the warrior who united a fractured country, the champion of the faith whose reign gave rise to the Inquisition, and the visionary who sent Columbus to discover a New World. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner envisages the turbulent early years of a woman whose mythic rise to power would go on to transform a monarchy, a nation, and the world.

Young Isabella is barely a teenager when she and her brother are taken from their mother’s home to live under the watchful eye of their half-brother, King Enrique, and his sultry, conniving queen. There, Isabella is thrust into danger when she becomes an unwitting pawn in a plot to dethrone Enrique. Suspected of treason and held captive, she treads a perilous path, torn between loyalties, until at age seventeen she suddenly finds herself heiress of Castile, the largest kingdom in Spain. Plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, she is determined to wed the one man she loves yet who is forbidden to her—Fernando, prince of Aragon.

As they unite their two realms under “one crown, one country, one faith,” Isabella and Fernando face an impoverished Spain beset by enemies. With the future of her throne at stake, Isabella resists the zealous demands of the inquisitor Torquemada even as she is seduced by the dreams of an enigmatic navigator named Columbus. But when the Moors of the southern domain of Granada declare war, a violent, treacherous battle against an ancient adversary erupts, one that will test all of Isabella’s resolve, her courage, and her tenacious belief in her destiny.

From the glorious palaces of Segovia to the battlefields of Granada and the intrigue-laden gardens of Seville, The Queen’s Vow sweeps us into the tumultuous forging of a nation and the complex, fascinating heart of the woman who overcame all odds to become Isabella of Castile.

Praise for The Queen’s Vow

“A masterwork by a skilled craftsman . . . Make a vow to read this book.”—New York Journal of Books

“A beautifully crafted piece of historical fiction . . . Gortner’s vivid details blend with his deeply intensive research to re-create Isabella and Castile in a way that the reader will find compelling and immersive, bringing not just the Queen but the whole nation to life.”—RT Book Reviews

“A fascinating story . . . Through his creative and spellbinding storytelling, Gortner’s readers come to know Isabella intimately in mind, heart and body as she lives through a tumultuous time, her intense longing to be the determiner of her own unique destiny.”—Wichita Falls Times Record News

“A novel of triumph as Isabella vanquishes her enemies one by one . . . [She is] a very human and appealing character.”—The Roanoke Times

“Politically charged, passionate . . . [a] well-researched, intriguing historical.”—Bookreporter

About the Author

CWGC.W. Gortner is the author of The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, The Tudor Secret and The Queen's Vow. He holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California. In his extensive travels to research his books, he has experienced life in a Spanish castle and danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall. Half-Spanish by birth, he lives in Northern California.

You can find more information on C.W. Gortner's website and blog. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


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