Hardcover Giveaway: Paris by Edward Rutherfurd (International)

Hello, my lovely readers! Today I am stoked to bring you a giveaway that is sure to excite a lot of you. Edward Rutherford's latest masterpiece, PARIS, is a phenomenal book and I'd like to gift one of you with a hardcover copy to add to your bookshelves!

Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Doubleday Publishing
Hardcover; 832p
ISBN-10: 0385535309

Internationally bestselling author Edward Rutherfurd has enchanted millions of readers with his sweeping, multigenerational dramas that illuminate the great achievements and travails throughout history. In this breathtaking saga of love, war, art, and intrigue, Rutherfurd has set his sights on the most magnificent city in the world: Paris.

Moving back and forth in time across centuries, the story unfolds through intimate and vivid tales of self-discovery, divided loyalties , passion, and long-kept secrets of characters both fictional and real, all set against the backdrop of the glorious city—from the building of Notre Dame to the dangerous machinations of Cardinal Richlieu; from the glittering court of Versailles to the violence of the French Revolution and the Paris Commune; from the hedonism of the Belle Époque, the heyday of the impressionists, to the tragedy of the First World War; from the 1920s when the writers of the Lost Generation could be found drinking at Les Deux Magots to the Nazi occupation, the heroic efforts of the French Resistance, and the 1968 student revolt.

With his unrivaled blend of impeccable research and narrative verve, Rutherfurd weaves an extraordinary narrative tapestry that captures all the glory of Paris. More richly detailed, more thrilling, and more romantic then anything Rutherfurd has written before, Paris: The Novel wonderfully illuminates hundreds of years in the City of Light and Love and brings the sights, scents, and tastes of Paris to sumptuous life.

About the Author

Edward Rutherfurd was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and educated at Cambridge University and Stanford University in California. His first book, Sarum was based on the history of Salisbury. London, Russka, The Forest, Dublin and Ireland Awakening all draw on finely researched details of social history. Edward Rutherford has spent much of the last 30 years living in New York and Conneticut. He has an American wife and two American educated children and has served on a New York co-op board. 


Passages to the Past has one hardcover copy of PARIS up for grabs! To enter, please complete form below.

Giveaway is open internationally and ends on September 9th. Good luck!

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Giveaway: His Last Mistress by Andrea Zuvich (UK Only)

Author Andrea Zuvich embarked on a virtual book tour for her novel, His Last Mistress, and today's stops include an interview at Flashlight Commentary and here at Passages to the Past, I am proud to be hosting a giveaway!

Andrea will be on tour through September 6th, be sure to check out the schedule of stops at the end of this post.

His Last Mistress jpegPublication Date: May 20, 2013
Paperback; 206p
ISBN-10: 149042556X

Set in the tumultuous late 17th Century, His Last Mistress tells the true story of the final years of James Scott, the handsome Duke of Monmouth, and his lover Lady Henrietta Wentworth.

As the illegitimate eldest son of King Charles II, the Duke is a spoiled, lecherous man with both a wife and a mistress. However, this rakish libertine is soon captivated by the innocence of young Lady Henrietta Wentworth, who has been raised to covet her virtue. She is determined to spurn his advances, yet she cannot deny the chemistry between them. Will she succumb? At the same time, the Duke begins to harbour risky political ambitions that may threaten not only his life but also that of those around him.

His Last Mistress is a passionate, sometimes explicit, carefully researched and ultimately moving story of love and loss, set against a backdrop of dangerous political unrest, brutal religious tensions, and the looming question of who will be the next King.

About the Author

Andrea ZuvichBorn in Philadelphia in 1985 to Chilean-Croatian parents, Andrea Zuvich is a historian specialising in the Late Stuarts of the Seventeenth Century and is the creator and writer of the history website, The Seventeenth Century Lady. Andrea studied History and Anthropology at both the University of Central Florida and Oxford University, and has been independently researching the 1600s since 2008. Andrea is a leader on and one of the original developers of The Garden History Tours at Kensington Palace, Historic Royal Palaces, and lives with her English husband in Lancashire, England.

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

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, August 26
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, August 27
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, August 28
Review at The Happy Booker

Thursday, August 29
Guest Post at The Happy Booker

Friday, August 30
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, September 2
Review at West Metro Mommy
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, September 3
Review at One Book at a Time
Review & Guest Post at The Lit Bitch
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, September 4
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, September 5
Review at Historical Tapestry & The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Interview at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, September 6
Review at The Worm Hole
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry


Passages to the Past has one copy of His Last Mistress up for grabs. Giveaway is open to UK residents only and ends on September 6th. To enter, please complete form below.

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Giveaway: Marching with Caesar: Antony and Cleopatra, Part II - Cleopatra

Today kicks off the virtual tour for R.W. Peake's Marching with Caesar: Antony and Cleopatra, Part II - Cleopatra and Passages to the Past is excited to start the festivities off with a giveaway!

R.W. will be on tour through September 20, so be sure to check the schedule of stops below.

Marching with Caesar_Antony and Cleopatra IIPublication Date: April 1, 2013
Paperback; 598p
ISBN-10: 0985703083

In the fourth book of the critically acclaimed Marching With Caesar series, Titus Pullus and his 10th Legion are still in the thick of the maelstrom that follows after the assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar. With the disastrous campaign in Parthia behind them, Mark Antony continues his struggle with Octavian, both men vying for ultimate control of Rome. Enter Cleopatra VII, the Pharaoh of Egypt and mother of Julius Caesar's son, who harbors ambitions and dreams of her own. Through her son Caesarion, Cleopatra is a powerful player in her own right in the continuing drama being played out for control of the most powerful society on Earth. With Cleopatra combining forces with Mark Antony, Octavian, the legitimate heir to Caesar's fortune is facing the most formidable barrier to his ascendancy yet. Through it all, Titus Pullus and his men must tread a very careful path as the two forces head for an inevitable showdown at a place called Actium.

Praise for Marching with Caesar: Civil War

Peake also charges his narrative with huge amounts of historical detail (page-long paragraphs are not uncommon) and yet makes it all work so smoothly that the reader turns the pages eagerly. There’s history here, and character, and action enough for three novels, and all of it can be enjoyed even if readers haven’t seen the first volume yet. Very highly recommended. - Historical Novel Society Review

Praise for Marching with Caesar: Conquest of Gaul

"Peake’s exhaustive research shows on every page, but always fascinating, never tedious. The pacing is deliberately leisurely, the dialogue crackles with realism, and of course Pullus is right there to watch history unfold. Fans of Roman historical fiction—or military fiction just in general—shouldn’t miss what looks to be one heck of a series." - Historical Novel Society Review

About the Author

I am a retired Marine, with a primary MOS of 0311, although over the years I picked up a few other designators, but I guess I will always think of myself as a grunt. I was born and raised in Houston, and have only recently relocated to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. After my medical retirement from the Marines and realizing that my experience at locating, closing with and destroying the enemy by fire and maneuver was not exactly going to have employers knocking down my door, I decided to earn a Bachelor's degree, majoring in History, with a goal of teaching. Then my daughter came to live with me full-time, and while thrilled, I learned very quickly that a teacher's salary would not support her in the style in which she was accustomed.

So I went into the software business, starting at a small startup that I stayed at for 10 years, clawing my way to middle management, to echo a commercial of that era. My company went public, and I had these things called stock options, so for a brief period of time I was one of those tech paper millionaires. Then the great NASDAQ crash of 2000 happened, and I was a working stiff again. When my company got bought in 2006 by one of the largest software companies in the world, I very quickly learned that working for a big company was not for me, so I took the lure of the (relatively) big bucks as a VP of a much smaller company. It was the worst professional mistake of my life, but the one good thing that did come out of it is that my dissatisfaction drove me to consider taking a risk on something that those who know me had pushed me to do as long as I can remember, and that was to write.

I must admit that I have always enjoyed writing; in fact; I wrote my first novel at 10ish, featuring myself and all of my friends from the street where I lived who almost single-handedly fought off a Soviet invasion. I was heavily influenced by WWII history at that time, it being my second historical passion after the Civil War, so our stockpile of weapons consisted almost exclusively of Tommy guns, M1's, etc. Why the Russians chose my particular street to focus their invasion I didn't really go into, but after a series of savage, bloody battles, my friends and I were forced to make a strategic withdrawal to the only other part of the world I was familiar with at that time, the Silverton area of Colorado. I recently re-read this magnus opus, and it is interesting to track the course of my friendships with the core group that were the main characters of my novel. Some sort of argument or disagreement would result in the inevitable serious wounding of the friend with whom I quarreled, and depending on how serious it was, they might linger for days, clinging to life before they recovered, but not after suffering excruciating pain.

From that beginning, through my adult life, I was always told that I showed talent as a writer, but it wasn't until I hit the age of 50 that I decided it was time to find out if that were true. And the result is Marching With Caesar-Conquest of Gaul, the first in a completed trilogy that is the story of one of the lucky few men who managed to survive and retire, after rising through the ranks of the 10th Legion. I hope that you enjoy following Titus Pullus' exploits as much as I enjoyed bringing him to life.

For more information on R.W. Peake and the Marching with Caesar series, please visit the official website and blog. You can also follow R.W. on Facebook and Twitter.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, August 26
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, August 27
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, August 29
Interview & Giveaway at Enchanted by Josephine

Monday, September 2
Review at Book-alicious Mama

Thursday, September 5
Review at A Bookish Affair

Friday, September 6
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Monday, September 9
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, September 10
Guest Post at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Friday, September 13
Guest Post at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Friday, September 20
Interview at MK McClintock Blog


Passages to the Past has one copy up for grabs.  Giveaway is open internationally and ends on September 5th.  To enter, please complete form below.
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Guest Post by Jo-Ann Costa, author of The Bequest of Big Daddy

Today Passages to the Past is pleased to bring you a guest post by author Jo-Ann Costa. Jo-Ann is currently on a virtual tour for her novel, The Bequest of Big Daddy, the first book in her Longleaf Legacy saga. The schedule of tour stops can be found at the end of this post.

Now, please enjoy this guest post by Jo-Ann Costa...

The Days and Nights of Big Daddy: a tale of little conscience

Warmest thanks to my host, Amy Bruno for this lovely opportunity to talk about THE BEQUEST OF BIG DADDY

Set in the Deep South, a generational saga about family betrayals, separations and reunions, The Bequest of Big Daddy was the third book I wrote before selling my work of historical fiction. And so it is really true when experts say that a writer should write more than one book to get the hang of writing a book! How I sold my third book is a subject for another day, but for this particular novel, it required hundreds of hours of research to achieve accuracy of historical facts and sociolinguistics of the times.

It is also true that I drew generously upon my Southern heritage. Having heard countless times, the rich and often ribald stories passed down from my elders, and having lived in “Dixieland” during my formative years, I knew its people intimately – therefore writing about them was second nature. No matter where on this earth I eventually landed, I had only to tap into the memory of these voices to hear again, the complex patois spoken by many, their idioms, and the subtle differences between country folks and those blessed with an education and thus considered more erudite. For me, the dialog was the easy part.

While they existed, my family’s Fourth of July family reunions also provided a colorful palette for some of the scenes I describe in my book. The man who started these reunions really was my great-grandfather, who, like my main character, Ratio Janson, we also called Big Daddy. Together with the family stories, my great-grandfather, James Henry Johnson, shown in the photograph on the steps of Alpine Baptist Church, inspired the writing of The Bequest of Big Daddy.

A few more words about our family reunions: As background, the Lenoir/Johnson family reunion began in Chilton County, Alabama before the turn of the last century. Boasting an annual attendance of 400–500, family members made up the bulk of attendees, but also included close friends, judges, mayors, as well as present and past Alabama politicians. As our reunions grew in reputation, they were also featured in SOUTHERN LIVING MAGAZINE’S FAMILY ALBUM: Stories of kinfolk—penned and read by writers of the South, including Pat Conroy, Reynolds Price and Roy Blount, Jr. To sum it up, an elderly uncle once said it best: “We like hot weather, beer, politics, barbeque and the American flag.”

It is no accident then, that when I decided to write a novel of historical fiction, I chose the American South and the period spanning just prior to the Civil War through Reconstruction and charging head-on into the Twentieth Century. To me, the painfully slow evolution of the political, social and racial consciousness of that grand old Southern Dame, as told through the life of one exasperating, larger-than-life character, was far more interesting (and familiar) than writing about countries I’d never visited. Besides, in today’s divided environment, I thought it might be of interest to tell the un-adulterated truth about the past – inasmuch as it could be told within the confines of a single work of fiction. This includes the creation of an unlikeable main character, who is an anti-hero, and who becomes a much-feared family patriarch (which flies in the face of conventional wisdom that suggests that readers should “like” the main character).

What I did not anticipate, however, was the stream of disparate feelings my story engendered in me while writing about the life of Big Daddy and those whose lives were interwoven with his audacious existence.

For example, the beautiful, but dour young woman in the photo is Mina Satterley Janson – Ratio Janson’s mother. She is portrayed in this tintype as a grieving, embittered widow. To invite Mina, in all her reinventions, to live on my pages required that I try to imagine how she might have been shaped by her experiences after losing her family, her home, a husband and a privileged life to the ravages of the Civil War. In an unprecedented turn of events, Mina became an unfeeling, self-centered being who thought only of surviving, by then, having no semblance of love left in her empty soul. For her character, I often revisited a long-ago journey that lead me across the North Sea. I thought of the abandoned crofter’s huts along the barren shores of the outer islands of Scotland and the icy water’s depths. With these images in place, I wrote about Mina, who becomes the main cause of Ratio’s constant torment. With these images, I could also sustain her hateful persona and longing for a vanished past throughout the book. Not least, I could comprehend her personal suffering.

It’s a struggle being born, and it’s a struggle once you’re here. If you’re Clayton Man Janson, born feet first, with no middle name on his Mama’s mind, you’re branded what you’re handed.

If the country doctor hadn’t said, “Well, well, I think we have us a little man here,” Clay Man’s exhausted mother might not have given any thought to another name. But the doctor did, and “Man” it was.

When the prophet Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he probably never imagined that his reference to “iron and clay feet” would someday be associated with possessing a character flaw. Neither did Clay Man’s mother, who was something of a Bible scholar, but too tired to analyze the second name she gave her newborn.

As an adolescent, Clay Man would be the first to admit that he lost his soul when he met Mina Satterley. But Fate is a patient manipulator, in no special hurry for a reluctant Mina to eventually wed Clay Man and bear his child, Ratio Janson. As many of us must, Clay Man makes a life-changing choice in my book. Only his is an act that will result in his burial in a remote part of Ivy Creek Cemetery, laid to rest far apart from his family. Next to the character of Big Daddy, it was Clay Man Janson, who touched my heart. At least Big Daddy stood up and fought his mother, Mina. Clay Man lay down and died for love of his unreachable wife.

In this handsome picture of Ratio Janson, aka Big Daddy, the photographer has seized the man’s arrogant appeal with his camera. It is his wedding day and Ratio is dressed to the nines. But I caution you: Make no mistake about his good looks. He is not as he seems. By now, Ratio is a hardened man who will only become more ruthless with time. His marriage to the sweet, impressionable Eugenie is merely one of convenience because Ratio Janson is a dealmaker and his contrived marriage to Eugenie is the shrewdest bargain he will ever strike.

This aside, in writing about Ratio as an unloved child, my heart opened in ways that carried him through the book, though what he later becomes is abhorrent even to this writer. Because I knew why he was what he was, that knowledge was always a consideration even as he abused others. The man is complex – you don’t know whether to love or hate him… and neither did I.

In my story, you will also meet Jo-Dee Grace Janson, Ratio’s great-granddaughter and sometimes narrator, who visits Big Daddy at his deathbed and soon attends his funeral. She grows up hearing fabled stories about her kin, forever remembering Big Daddy’s captivating blue eyes and outhouse language. She is, in fact, forever caught up in his spell, unable to ever forget that she shares his blood, and maybe, just maybe, his violent streak.

In writing about Jo-Dee, I thought a lot about family traits, beliefs, mannerisms and all that blood-kin connections may imply. I wanted Jo-Dee to experience a familial legacy of a unique kind, handed down from a dead ancestor. How she handles this legacy, what she does when she discovers the biggest lie of all, tells us much about her character and helps to explain Big Daddy himself.

If you are interested in learning about the fallout of the American Civil War on one planter-class family and the slaves who lived among them, along with the feudal institutions which died a long slow death, despite Emancipation, then this particular slice of history is exposed in my book…raw, as it was, in the language of the times, starring one hellava’ character, who goes for the throat.

Thank you for reading my guest post. It is my hope that after reading The Bequest of Big Daddy you will better understand these inglorious times in our country’s past and the horrific conditions that produced someone such as Big Daddy.

About The Bequest of Big Daddy

The Bequest of Big DaddyPublication Date: April 1, 2013
Koehler Books
Paperback; 280p
ISBN: 978-1-938467-27-1

Ratio Janson is the crusty patriarch with an infamous background and a hair-trigger temper, reverently referred to as Big Daddy by his family clan. His feisty great-granddaughter, Jo-Dee, overhears shocking gossip at Big Daddy's funeral and is determined to plumb his murky past, spanning the Civil War, Reconstruction and forging head-on into the twentieth century.

From a vast turpentine industry to the ruins of a decaying plantation with its feudal order a memory, Jo-Dee explores the complex nature of family and self, only to make a startling discovery. Will she betray her great-grandfather and disgrace the family name, or will she preserve his shameful secret? And on the ancient grounds of the family mansion destroyed in the Civil War, will Big Daddy's spirit claim her even from the grave?

Praise for The Bequest of Big Daddy

“Costa’s expressive voice effortlessly guides the compelling story… Costa’s debut novel tells the engaging story of a man whose tumultuous life provides an even greater tale than the grand myths that surround him.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Anyone who enjoys Southern fiction or picaresque novels will love this one!” — Lisa Alther, Author of four New York Times bestsellers

“All families have secrets, some darker than others. In her richly imagined debut novel, Jo-Ann Costa explores the impact of one family’s secret down through the decades and generations. The Bequest of Big Daddy marks the arrival of a fresh new voice in Southern literature.” — Will Allison, Author of the New York Times bestseller Long Drive Home.

“Ms. Costa writes like she was born to the craft. Wonderful storytelling and memorable characters you won’t soon forget. Big Daddy is not just any character—he gets into your head and refuses to budge.” — Hillel Black, former Publishing Executive and Editor of twenty New York Times bestsellers

Jo-Ann Costa’s Bequest is part gothic, part adventure, part mystery and wholly satisfying. Move over Tennessee Williams, there is a new Big Daddy in town.” — Claire Matturro, Award-winning author of three bestsellers

“Costa is a skilled storyteller who draws the reader into the Southern world.” — The Durango Herald

About the Author

Jo-Ann CostaJo-Ann Costa studied her craft at the knees of her clannish Alabama kin, who are among the most accomplished at fabricating outlandish tales. Thus trained as a storyteller, Ms. Costa honed her compelling voice while serving in executive roles for a mega-corporation founded by the late Howard Hughes.

Along with the wildlife, Ms. Costa now makes her home at the edge of Colorado's Weminuche wilderness, where she writes historical fiction and mysteries. She is a graduate of California State University, the University of Southern California's Managerial Policy Institute, Leadership Southern California and the Public Affairs Institute. She also studied at the UCLA Writers’ Extension Program.

The Bequest of Big Daddy is the first book in her epic saga, Longleaf Legacy.

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

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, August 12
Review at The Most Happy Reader

Tuesday, August 13
Guest Post at HF Connection

Wednesday, August 14
Review at Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews

Thursday, August 15
Interview at The Most Happy Reader

Monday, August 19
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, August 21
Review at From L.A. to LA

Thursday, August 22
Review at CelticLady's Reviews

Tuesday, August 27
Interview at Bibliophilic Book Blog

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Guest Post by Kate Quinn + Giveaway of The Serpent and the Pearl

Today I have the awesome opportunity to host a guest post by the fabulous Kate Quinn and a giveaway of her latest novel, The Serpent and the Pearl (A Novel of the Borgias, Book One)! I am currently reading it and so far it's threatening to knock Mistress of Rome out of the #1 spot for my favorite book by Kate. Be forewarned though, this book will make you very hungry so make sure to have some munchies available!

Please enjoy the post by Kate and be sure to enter the giveaway below!

“Older Men, Younger Women: The Historical Dilemma”

I went on my first date when I was fourteen—a classic awkward trip to the movies. It didn't help that the movie we chose was the fairly awful Arthurian epic, “First Knight,” starring Sean Connery as King Arthur, Julia Ormond as Guinevere, and Richard Gere as Sir Lancelot who comes between them. The movie didn't work for me, and for one reason above all: I shook my head at Julia Ormond over my popcorn bucket and said in utter disbelief, “You picked Richard Gere over Sean Connery???” Sure, Connery was sixty-five; he had thirty-five years on Julia, and a full fifty years on me. Didn't matter: offered a choice at fourteen, I was Team Connery all the way.

This little trip down memory lane helped me get around one of the chief banes of any historical novelist's life: historical truth versus modern taboos. If you write about the past, you have to work around historical attitudes that are unpalatable to modern eyes—and believe me, this is a problem that makes us all groan. Even HF goddess Margaret George herself admitted that she had no idea how to write about the fact that Elizabeth I enjoyed a good bear-baiting. For my latest book “The Serpent and the Pearl,” I had to tackle an even bigger doozy: Age difference, or rather, that oldest of stories—the older man and the younger woman. To be specific, the famous love affair between the Borgia pope and his mistress Giulia Farnese, who was historically eighteen years old to his sixty-one. And I had no idea how to write that romance without making every reader on earth say “Blech.”

Not that age gaps are uncommon in historical couples. In almost any historical era, men waited to marry until they were financially secure enough to provide for a family, which typically meant they were older—and they married women of prime child-bearing years, i.e. young girls. Dynastic alliances made things even more extreme: think of all those little jeweled princesses sent off at twelve or thirteen to seal a treaty between kingdoms. But the relationship between Giulia Farnese and her pope was no dynastic treaty or arranged marriage: it was a love affair between a teenage girl and a man more than forty years her senior. It would be one thing if Rodrigo Borgia were just a dirty old man, and Giulia Farnese an unscrupulous gold-digger looking for a sugar daddy. But Giulia was my heroine, the furthest thing possible from an unscrupulous gold digger . . . so how could I make her choice palatable to a modern audience?

Answer: tap into my fourteen-year-old self, the girl who would have picked Sean Connery over Richard Gere. When I was a teenager, Leonardo di Caprio was the heartthrob du jour—first in “Romeo + Juliet,” then in “Titanic.” But I was different: my dream dates were more along the lines of Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, and Sean Bean—respectively twenty-nine, thirty-nine, thirty-three, and twenty-two years my senior. No denying it: my male fantasies were all mature men and not boys my age. Maybe this was due to my parents' example; they had thirty years between them, and they were the happiest couple imaginable. Or maybe it was my love of historical fiction, which meant I fantasized about guys who led armies rather than guys who led football teams, and guys who lead armies don't tend to be teenagers (well, unless you're either Edward IV or Robb Stark from “Game of Thrones”). Whatever the reason, my dream dates were all older men.

Of course, this is all in the realm of fantasy. If any man forty years my senior had actually asked me on a date when I was fourteen, I'd have called the police. But for idle fantasy, men have it all over boys. When Sean Connery from “First Knight” picks you up for the evening, you know he won't show up driving his mother's mini-van littered with fast-food wrappers. When Colin Firth from “Pride and Prejudice” invites you out to eat, you know he doesn't mean a 99 cent Frosty and a small fries at Wendy's. If Liam Neeson from from “Rob Roy” gives you a present, it wouldn't be a mixed-tape of grunge bands you've never heard of. There's no awkward pauses in the conversation because Jeremy Irons from “The Man in the Iron Mask” knows how to carry on intelligent discussions and not just stare at your chest, and there's no fumbling on the doorstep because Sean Bean from the Richard Sharpe series most assuredly knows how to kiss you goodnight without getting saliva on your chin. And those are the reasons, I decided, why the beautiful Giulia Farnese would choose sixty-year-old Rodrigo Borgia as a lover: he might not have been young and dashing, but he had charisma, humor, and older-man charm to burn, and he knew how to use it all.

Take a look at his game below, when the newly-married Giulia learns her marriage has been arranged so she can be Cardinal Borgia's mistress...

I lowered my eyelids in scorn. “And if I say no?” Could I say no? Or would I go to hell for defying a cardinal? Oh, Holy Virgin, who ever would have thought getting married would make everything so complicated?

“Say no, and you will be none the worse off.” The Cardinal rose in a rustle of scarlet silks, his majestic height dwarfing me again. “In fact, you will be considerably the richer. You’ll have a pliant young husband—he’s a spineless little coward, but he’s still a better prospect than most of those withered gray specimens who manage to wed girls like you. You’ll have enjoyed the pleasant sensation of being courted for yourself rather than your dowry, which all women should experience at least once in their lives.” A glance at the braided hair beneath my veil. “Before their bloom fades, that is.”

I threw my head back and gave him a slow arrogant smile.

His mouth curved, and he clapped a hand to his heart as though my smile had pierced it like an arrow. “And,” he concluded cheerfully, “you’ll have a casket full of sparkly things—gifts from me. I’m rather good at presents, as any of my former mistresses can tell you.”

“I don’t want your gifts.”

“Then throw them away,” he said carelessly, and took possession of my hand again. “All I want is to give them to you. It’s called being besotted, my dear. You should try it sometime.”

He turned my hand over and brushed his lips across the inside of my wrist.

So you tell me—would you give Rodrigo Borgia a chance? Maybe, maybe not—but hopefully, at least you're not thinking “Blech!” 

About the Book

Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Berkley Trade
Paperback; 432p
ISBN-10: 0425259463

One powerful family holds a city, a faith, and a woman in its grasp—from the national bestselling author of Daughters of Rome and Mistress of Rome.

Rome, 1492. The Holy City is drenched with blood and teeming with secrets. A pope lies dying and the throne of God is left vacant, a prize awarded only to the most virtuous—or the most ruthless. The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web…

Vivacious Giulia Farnese has floor-length golden hair and the world at her feet: beauty, wealth, and a handsome young husband. But she is stunned to discover that her glittering marriage is a sham, and she is to be given as a concubine to the ruthless, charismatic Cardinal Borgia: Spaniard, sensualist, candidate for Pope—and passionately in love with her.

Two trusted companions will follow her into the Pope's shadowy harem: Leonello, a cynical bodyguard bent on bloody revenge against a mysterious killer, and Carmelina, a fiery cook with a past full of secrets. But as corruption thickens in the Vatican and the enemies begin to circle, Giulia and her friends will need all their wits to survive in the world of the Borgias.

Read an excerpt here

About the Author 

Kate Quinn is a native of Southern California . She attended Boston University, where she earned a bachelor's and master’s degree in classical voice. A lifelong history buff, she’s written three previous novels set in ancient Rome -- Mistress of Rome, Daughters of Rome, and Empress of the Seven Hills -- all of which have been translated into multiple languages. Kate lives in Maryland with her husband.

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


Passages to the Past has one copy of The Serpent and the Pearl up for grabs. Giveaway is open to US only and ends on August 23rd. To enter, please complete form below.

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Giveaway: Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

Today kicks off Elizabeth Fremantle's virtual tour for Queen's Gambit and Passages to the Past is excited to bring you a giveaway as part of the tour.

Elizabeth will be on tour through September 13 and we have some of your favorite blogs on the tour, so be sure to see the schedule of stops here

Queen's Gambit2Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Simon & Schuster
Hardcover; 432p
ISBN-10: 147670306X

Widowed for the second time at age thirty-one Katherine Parr falls deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of the ailing, egotistical, and dangerously powerful Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the Continent. No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal so, haunted by the fates of his previous wives—two executions, two annulments, one death in childbirth—Katherine must wed Henry and become his sixth queen.

Katherine has to employ all her instincts to navigate the treachery of the court, drawing a tight circle of women around her, including her stepdaughter, Meg, traumatized by events from their past that are shrouded in secrecy, and their loyal servant Dot, who knows and sees more than she understands. With the Catholic faction on the rise once more, reformers being burned for heresy, and those close to the king vying for position, Katherine’s survival seems unlikely. Yet as she treads the razor’s edge of court intrigue, she never quite gives up on love.

Praise for Queen’s Gambit

"This is a superbly written novel... Fremantle is surely a major new voice in historical fiction and this book is the answer to the question about what Hilary Mantel fans should read while waiting for the final part of her trilogy." -The Bookseller

“Wildly entertaining…lively, gamey, gripped with tension…one of the best historical novels I’ve read.” -Liz Smith

"Elizabeth Fremantle's rich narrative breathes vibrant life into Henry VIII's most intriguing, intelligent and least known wife, Katherine Parr." -Anne Easter Smith author of A Rose for the Crown and Royal Mistress

"Queen's Gambit is an earthy, vivid portrait of Tudor England seen through the eyes of Henry VIII's last wife Katherine Parr and her loyal maid servant. Elizabeth Fremantle has added a richly written and engrossing novel to the endlessly fascinating story of the Tudors." -Stephanie Cowell author of Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet

"Queen's Gambit is a lovely, sensual, subtle read, telling the story of Katherine Parr with both rich imagination and scrupulous attention to factual detail. After reading this historical novel, you truly comprehend what it would mean to be the sixth wife of a dangerous man wielding absolute power. Katherine is no selfless nurse here, nor religious fanatic, but a complex and compelling person who both men and women were drawn to. This is a very impressive novel." -Nancy Bilyeau author of The Crown

"Beautifully written and finely observed, this suspenseful tale of Henry the Eighth's last wife expertly conveys all the dangerous intensity and passion of the Tudor court." -Rachel Hore, author of A Place of Secrets

"With a painter’s eye for detail, Fremantle brings the dazzling, dangerous Tudor court to life and sheds an intriguing new light on Katherine Parr, one of history’s great survivors. An enthralling tale of power and passion, loyalty and betrayal." - Elizabeth Wilhide, author of Ashenden 

“All those wives, their fates and Henry's transformation from handsome young monarch to debauched obese tyrant continue to fascinate…Now Elizabeth Fremantle has returned to Henry's court with her debut novel Queen's Gambit." -Express

"The Tudor court comes to life in this gripping story of Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII, where passion, secrecy and betrayal power the suspense." -Woman & Home

"Fremantle...navigates Tudor terrain with aplomb." -Publishers Weekly

"Sins, secrets and guilt dominate the landscape of British writer Fremantle’s debut...[her] emphasis is on intrigue, character portraits and the texture of mid-16th-century life. Solid and sympathetic." -Kirkus Reviews

“Intrigue, romance, and treachery abound in Fremantle’s debut novel . . . . This compulsively readable fictional biography of the ultimate survivor is infused with the type of meticulous attention to historical detailing that discerning fans of Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory have come to expect in the Tudor canon.” -Booklist



Buy Links

Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Elizabeth FremantleElizabeth Fremantle holds a first class degree in English and an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck College London. She has contributed as a fashion editor to various publications including Vogue, Elle and The Sunday Times. QUEEN'S GAMBIT is her debut novel and is the first in a Tudor trilogy. The second novel, SISTERS OF TREASON, will be released in 2014. She lives in London.

For more about Elizabeth and her future projects, please visit her website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest.


Thanks to Simon & Schuster, I have three copies of Queen's Gambit up for grabs.  Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 22nd.  To enter, please complete form below.
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2013 Release: Dollface: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties

Here is an exciting new release for all of you fans of the Roaring Twenties!

Publication Date: November 5, 2013
NAL Trade
Paperback; 416p
ISBN-10: 0451419200

America in the 1920s was a country alive with the wild fun of jazz, speakeasies, and a new kind of woman—the flapper.

Vera Abramowitz is determined to leave her gritty childhood behind and live a more exciting life, one that her mother never dreamed of. Bobbing her hair and showing her knees, the lipsticked beauty dazzles, doing the Charleston in nightclubs and earning the nickname “Dollface.”

As the ultimate flapper, Vera captures the attention of two high rollers, a handsome nightclub owner and a sexy gambler. On their arms, she gains entrée into a world filled with bootleg bourbon, wailing jazz, and money to burn. She thinks her biggest problem is choosing between them until the truth comes out. Her two lovers are really mobsters from rival gangs during Chicago’s infamous Beer Wars, a battle Al Capone refuses to lose.

The heady life she’s living is an illusion resting on a bedrock of crime and violence unlike anything the country has ever seen before. When the good times come to an end, Vera becomes entangled in everything from bootlegging to murder. And as men from both gangs fall around her, Vera must put together the pieces of her shattered life, as Chicago hurtles toward one of the most infamous days in its history, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

About the Author

Renée Rosen is the author of DOLLFACE, A Novel of the Roaring Twenties. DOLLFACE tells the story of a flapper who falls in love with two mobsters from rival gangs during Prohibition Chicago. Coming November 5, 2013 by Penguin/NAL.

She is also the author of EVERY CROOKED POT, a YA novel published by St. Martin's Press.

Renée has contributed to many magazines and newspapers, including Chicago Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Complete Woman, DAME, Publisher's Weekly and a slew of now sadly defunct publications. She lives in Chicago where she is at work on a new novel also coming from Penguin/NAL in 2014. Visit her at www.reneerosen.com.

Guest Post by Anna Belfrage, author of The Graham Saga, plus Giveaway!

Passages to the Past is pleased to bring you a fabulous guest post from Anna Belfrage, author of The Graham Saga. The third book in the series, The Prodigal Son, was released in July. Anna went on tour last month and bloggers loved the book, so she is doing it again in October and I am very much looking forward to reading those reviews.

Please enjoy this post and be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post. One winner will receive a copy of The Prodigal Son and another winner will receive a Kindle eBook bundle of Books One - Three.

Take it away, Anna...

First of all, thank you dear Amy for allowing me to post on your blog! I wish I could say I’ve kept it short and sweet, but you know me too well by now to believe that, so I might just as well confess straight off that this is not short. Nor is it all that sweet, but I hope you’ll find it entertaining anyway. When I was a child, I ran around with a wooden shield and sword, pretending to be a knight. Other children ran around playing at being fire-fighters, or doctors, or astronauts, or… Now and then, I’d be able to round up enough of my friends for a couple of hours of playing at being Robin Hood, or crusaders – or Spanish conquistadores – but mostly they’d prefer their games and I’d stick to mine. 

We were all time travelling in a fashion, but where my contemporaries were time travelling FORWARD – to impending adulthood – I always time travelled backwards. I still do, and while I haven’t gone to the lengths one of my dearest friends has done (she has driven from stone circle to stone circle in Scotland, hoping that maybe, maybe the stones will sing for her and transport her two hundred years backwards in time – blame Diana Gabaldon for that), I tend to approach old monoliths, absurdly symmetrical rock formations and all sorts of crossroads with certain caution. After all, you never know; maybe those time nodes I write about do exist, places where the warp of time is frayed and fragile, thereby allowing the unsuspecting person to fall to another time, another place.

The romantic me would welcome being jettisoned hundreds of years backwards in time. The romantic me would prefer if such a time journey also shaved some decades off my own age, allowing me to land young and fresh wherever I ended up. Once there, the romantic me of course assumes a number of adventures, all of them ending with a happily ever after with the man of my dreams. (As a side-note, it must perhaps be clarified that I am very happily married to a man who is grounded in the here and now, but who finds my imaginative excursions into the past entertaining rather than weird. Lucky me!)

The rational me is less enthused by the prospect of ending up in, let’s say, the 16th century. It would be dirty and cold, it would be cramped and smelly, there would be lice and mice, the bread would taste of yeast and mould, the food would be depressingly similar day after day, and, as a woman, I’d be at the mercy of my man. Hmm. So why, one wonder, does the concept of travelling through time exert such a pull on me?

For a start, it is pretty obvious that the romantic me is stronger than the rational me. Also, being a modern woman raised in a home where both parents made it clear that only the sky was my limit, I am probably deluded enough to assume that IF I were to end up in Tudor England, I would probably succeed in changing things in my immediate surroundings so as to find them acceptable. My man would not hit me – he wouldn’t dare! – he would value my opinion, he would, by some miracle, be very much into baths and be rich enough to change shirts every third day or so.

The knowledgeable reader is already chuckling; I am describing an anomaly, as men in Tudor times didn’t wash much more than face and hands on a daily basis, rarely cleaned their teeth, wore their clothes well beyond their laundry date, and as a matter of course disciplined their wives – if it was considered necessary. Okay, so we skip Tudor England and go to… Ah; there’s the rub! Wherever you go, female emancipation is a relatively novel concept, with most traditional societies built around the concept of the man as the head of the family.

Of course, in real life I believe the women played a far more central part than that of being an obedient and meek spouse. Life was tough, requiring a couple to work as a team to ensure the survival of their children – and of themselves. Also, I do believe most people strive for some sort of accord in their domestic arrangements, if nothing else because it makes home life so much nicer, and so the pragmatic man married to a firebrand woman would strive to channel that energy rather than douse it.

Since some years back, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will probably never time travel – not in real life. Which is why I have Alex Lind, the heroine in The Graham Saga, do so in my stead.

“Thanks a lot,” she mutters.

A modern woman, well-educated and successful, Alex is yanked out of her time (2002) and propelled through time, landing at the feet of a most surprised Matthew Graham. Adapting to an existence in the 17th century is tough – and being a computer expert is of no obvious value.

“Tell me about it.” Alex studies her hands, her dirty apron, and grimaces in the direction of the lowing cows.

“I could write you back,” I say.

Alex raises her brows. I nod, defeated. I could write Alex back to her time, but that would mean separating her from Matthew, and that, dear reader, would be an amputation neither of them would survive. Not now, not now that they have found each other and moulded together, two halves combining into a perfect whole.

“Mind you, he’s a tad old-fashioned at times,” Alex says, smiling in the general direction of her husband, a silhouetted shape against the orange evening skies. As if he heard her, Matthew straightens up, raising one arm in a wave. Alex is already on her feet, moving towards him with the grace and speed of a swallow in flight.

So far, I’ve published three books in The Graham Saga. In celebration of this, I am offering the latest as a paperback giveaway, and all three of them (one complete set) as Kindle books. 

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The Graham Saga

Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son

About the Author

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

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

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

For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s WEBSITE.


Passages to the Past has two lovely giveaways courtesy of Anna. Both are open internationally and ends on August 16. To enter, please complete the form below. Good luck!

- One winner will receive a paperback copy of The Prodigal Son
- One winner will receive a Kindle eBook Bundle of all three books

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