Interview & Giveaway: A Light of Her Own by Carrie Callaghan {HFVBT Blog Tours}

Hello, dear readers! Today on the blog I am super excited to be hosting an interview with Carrie Callaghan, author of A Light of Her Own! I also have a giveaway for a signed hardcover copy, so don't forget to enter!

Hello Carrie and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about A Light of Her Own!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

Thank you for hosting me, Amy! I’m so thrilled to be here virtually. In real life, I live in Maryland, just miles from where I was born. I have a supportive spouse, two sword-fighting children, two eccentric cats, and a busy day job. It’s hard to find the time to write, but I have sharp elbows! There is nothing like losing myself in the past as I try to re-imagine it, either in writing or reading.

What inspired you to write A Light of Her Own?

Judith’s paintings caught my heart and didn’t let go. When I first saw her work at a 2009 retrospective exhibit, I was astonished that a woman had painted during the time of Rembrandt. It was the Dutch Golden Age of painting, and yet I had never heard of a female master artist from that time. Judith Leyster had established herself and succeeded, and I wanted to think my way into that story – how did she do it? What sacrifices did she need to make, and at what cost?

What other research did you undertake when A Light of Her Own?

I read the exhibit catalog, which is an excellent compilation of the scholarly research done on Judith. Next, I read other books about painting techniques of the time, 17th century Dutch life, the Thirty Years War, musical instruments in 17th century art, craft guilds, and philosophy of the era. Lastly, I read scholarly articles, talked to experts, and looked at paintings by Judith and her contemporaries. The research is half the fun, and I’m so glad I got to learn all that I did about the 17th century. The time period came to life in my mind, and I hope I was able to help conjure that historical moment for readers.

Did you come across anything in your research that surprised or fascinated you?

The thrill of encountering both the known and the unknown makes the research delightful. I was surprised at how relatively tolerant Dutch society was toward women, who could run businesses and act with an economic independence that women in other countries of the time often didn’t have. It’s important for us to realize how women have always strived for empowerment, and in many moments of history, they have made gains. Those gains might get erased, but they were real. Then there were also the smaller surprises – how people lived their lives. One account of a kermis festival noted that the trash strewn in the streets was so deep that people were wading through it up to their calves. That seemed too extreme to me, so I had to tone it down in the book!

What would you like readers to take away from reading A Light of Her Own?

I would be delighted if readers took a moment to think about friendship and how much work it is, but how worthwhile that work is.

What was your favorite scene to write?

I loved writing the final climax scene, which I won’t describe here, but will say that it involves Judith doing something daring in front of everyone who’s important to her. I love those kinds of scenes, and was thrilled to get to write one myself.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The scenes where characters were ill or dying were hard, both because I loved the characters and hated to see them suffering, and because I had to do some stomach-turning online research about gruesome topics. The scene with Maria (Judith’s friend) and the children in the leper house was particularly hard, largely because she had hope for them that I couldn’t have, knowing what a modern reader knows about the treatment of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) over the centuries.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I loved writing stories since I had the ability to do so (my first reading was to my third-grade class, the poor kids), but I didn’t think I could be a writer. Publishing a book was something that only famous people could do, or so I thought for years. But writing became a way of life, a way of processing the world. I loved writing, and eventually thought I’d like to share my work with others.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

When I sit down to write, particularly the first draft, there’s a nasty little smoke-curl of a voice that snakes into my ear and hisses about how terrible I am. When I was first starting to write seriously, this voice was overpowering, and it was hard to silence the criticism. Now, I know how to box the voice up and set it aside. First drafts are supposed to be rough; it doesn’t matter if the writing is not perfect. What matters is that I’m doing it. Then, magically, once I silence that voice, I fall into the scene and lose all sense of time. That is the miracle of first drafts, that fugue state, and I can usually find it.

Who are your writing inspirations?

I adore women who write about serious, philosophical historical questions. Hilary Mantel was the first one to show me it could be done (with her glorious A Place of Greater Safety), and I also admire Jessica Shattuck and Emma Donoghue, among many, many others.

What was the first historical novel you read?

Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager was the first quasi-historical novel that I remember, and certainly the first book I obsessed over.

What is the last historical novel you read?

Can I mention two? The Bowl with the Gold Seams by Ellen Prentiss Campbell, and When I Leave You by Crystal Hana Kim. Both beautiful and haunting in their own ways.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I’m a vegetarian, I speak fluent Spanish, and I am a cat person who also loves dogs.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

Humans are infinitely unique and shockingly similar, and historical fiction conveys both of those truths. When we learn about the past, we learn yet another example of how people act in difficult circumstances – how 17th century families who grieved stillborns by placing a black rectangle on their city door were similar to families who grieve the loss of a child today, or how kings considering how to placate their retainers and advisors are similar to presidents hoping they can maintain the loyalty of their political party leaders. That knowledge is fascinating and useful. The “fiction” part of our genre means that history is related in the form of an intimate narrative that is designed to entertain. So, we learn about humans while entertaining ourselves with a narrative. What could be better?

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

I bounce around a lot, but if I had to pick I’d say I’m more fond of things from the 17th, 19th, and 20th centuries. That’s not very narrow, is it?

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

My friends and I have been playing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign for nearly nine years now, and I love the group storytelling that we do with that. Generally, I’m thrilled anytime when I can get together with friends (and ideally a nice glass of wine or a gin cocktail) and talk about stories and books.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

Another brave woman whose story has been lost to history. This one is an early 20th century journalist. She’s bold and sassy and a little bit sad – I adore her.

Ooohhh, I'm intrigued! Can't wait to hear more about it! Thanks so much for spending time with us today! Have a great rest of your blog tour!

A Light of Her Own by Carrie Callaghan

Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Amberjack Publishing
Hardcover; 320 Pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Biographical

In Holland 1633, a woman’s ambition has no place.

Judith is a painter, dodging the law and whispers of murder to become the first woman admitted to the prestigious Haarlem artist’s guild. Maria is a Catholic in a country where the faith is banned, hoping to absolve her sins by recovering a lost saint’s relic.

Both women’s destinies will be shaped by their ambitions, running counter to the city’s most powerful men, whose own plans spell disaster. A vivid portrait of a remarkable artist, A Light of Her Own is a richly-woven story of grit against the backdrop of Rembrandt and an uncompromising religion.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

Carrie Callaghan is a writer living in Maryland with her spouse, two young children, and two ridiculous cats. Her short fiction has appeared in Weave Magazine, The MacGuffin, Silk Road, Floodwall, and elsewhere. Carrie is also an editor and contributor with the Washington Independent Review of Books. She has a Master’s of Arts in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For more information, please visit Carrie Callaghan's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Twitter and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 12
Feature at Naomi Finley's Blog
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Tuesday, November 13
Review at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, November 14
Interview at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, November 15
Review at Broken Teepee

Friday, November 16
Review at View from the Birdhouse

Sunday, November 18
Review at Carole's Ramblings

Monday, November 19
Review at Just One More Chapter
Feature at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, November 20
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, November 21
Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Friday, November 23
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, November 26
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Tuesday, November 27
Review at What Cathy Read Next

Wednesday, November 28
Review at Pass Me That Book

Thursday, November 29
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, November 30
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Monday, December 3
Review & Interview at Reading the Past

Tuesday, December 4
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, December 5
Review at I'm Shelf-ish

Thursday, December 6
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Friday, December 7
Review at Pursuing Stacie


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 signed hardcovers of A Light of Her Own! To enter, please see the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Light of Her Own

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The King James Men by Samantha Grosser

Today on the blog I am also featuring Samantha Grosser's exciting new historical novel, The King James Men! You can read about the book below & enter to win a copy!

The King James Men by Samantha Grosser

Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Sam Grosser Books
eBook & Paperback; 393 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Christian Fiction

Connected by love, divided by faith. A novel of faith, friendship, and betrayal set against the religious turbulence of 17th Century London.

England 1604

Two men, once friends, have long since gone their separate ways. But when the new King James commands a fresh translation of the Bible, their paths are fated to cross again.

For biblical scholar Richard Clarke, the chance to work on the new translation seems like a gift from God, a way back in from the cold where his friendship with Separatist Ben Kemp has kept him for many years. But Richard soon discovers there is a price to pay for his new-found favour, and that price is betrayal. Caught between love for his friend and his faith in his Church, Richard must make a decision that could cost him his soul.

Set against the background of the writing of the King James Bible, and inspired by true accounts of the community who became the Mayflower Pilgrims, The King James Men is a vivid portrayal of the religious struggles of the age, and the price of being true to your faith.

About the Author

Historical fiction author Samantha Grosser originally hails from England, but now lives on the sunny Northern Beaches of Sydney with her husband, son and a very small dog called Livvy.

Combining a lifelong love of history with a compulsion to write that dates from childhood, Samantha is now bringing her passion for telling compelling stories to the world.

Samantha has an Honours Degree in English Literature and taught English for many years in Asia and Australia. She is the author of wartime dramas Another Time and Place, and The Officer’s Affair. The King James Men, set during the turbulent years of the early years of 17th Century, is her third novel.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, November 20
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, November 21
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Thursday, November 22
Interview at The Writing Desk

Friday, November 23
Excerpt at Let Them Read Books

Saturday, November 24
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, November 26
Feature at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 27
Review at Introvert Booklover
Interview at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, November 28
Feature at Faery Tales Are Real

Thursday, November 29
Review at Broken Teepee

Friday, November 30
Feature at Hisdoryan
Review at A Book Geek

Saturday, December 1
Review at Impressions In Ink

Monday, December 3
Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, December 4
Review at The Reading Woman
Interview at Love Books Group


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away one eBook & one paperback copy of The King James Men! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

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

The King James Men

David Blixt's What Girls Are Good For Book Blast

Today I am super excited to be featuring David Blixt's new novel, What Girls Are Good For! I cannot wait to read this book as I've long been fascinated with Nellie Bly!

What Girls Are Good For by David Blixt

Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Paperback & eBook; 535 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Nellie Bly has the story of a lifetime. But will she survive to tell it?

Enraged by an article entitled ‘What Girls Are Good For’, Elizabeth Cochrane pens an angry letter to the Pittsburgh Dispatch, never imagining a Victorian newspaper would hire a woman reporter. Taking the name Nellie Bly, she struggles against the male-dominated industry, reporting stories no one else will – the stories of downtrodden women.

Chased out of Mexico for revealing government corruption, her romantic advances rejected by a married colleague, Bly earns the chance to break into the New York’s Newspaper Row if she can nab a major scoop – life inside a madhouse. Feigning madness, she dupes the court into committing her to the Insane Asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

But matters are far worse than she ever dreamed. Stripped, drugged, beaten, she must endure a week of terror, reliving the darkest days of her childhood, in order to escape and tell the world her story. Only, at the end of the week, no rescue comes, and she fears she may be trapped forever...

Based on the real-life events of Nellie Bly’s life and reporting, What Girls Are Good For is a tale of rage, determination, and triumph - all in the frame of a tiny Pennsylvania spitfire who refused to let the world tell her how to live her life, and changed the world instead.

Available on Amazon

Praise for What Girls Are Good For

"David Blixt pens a heroine for the ages in "What Girls Are Good For," which follows the extraordinary career of pioneer newspaperwoman Nellie Bly. A pint-sized dynamo who refuses to stay in the kitchen, Nellie fights tooth and nail to make a name for herself as a journalist, battling complacent men, corrupt institutions, and her own demons along the way. This real-life Lois Lane had me cheering aloud as I turned the pages - simply a delight!" - Kate Quinn, author of The Alice Network

"Dramatic, engrossing, and spirited, What Girls Are Good For takes the reader straight to the heart of an unsung American hero--a feminist icon whose voice rings loud and true. This is a must-read for anyone who loves an underdog and celebrates justice; the perfect accompaniment for our present times." - Olivia Hawker, international bestselling author of The Ragged Edge of Night

"With rich imagination and meticulous research, David Blixt has brought the hectic, exciting world of nineteenth-century journalism vividly to life. His Nellie Bly is determined, independent, crafty, irresistible -- a heroine any reader would be delighted to get to know." - Matthew Goodman, New York Times bestselling author

About the Author

David Blixt‘s work is consistently described as “intricate,” “taut,” and “breathtaking.” A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS’D series) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY’S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history.

Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, he describes himself as “actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order.”

For more information, please visit David Blixt's website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, November 26
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 27
Hoover Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 28
What Is That Book About

Thursday, November 29
Donna's Book Blog

Friday, November 30
Clarissa Reads it All

Monday, December 3
100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, December 4
History From a Woman's Perspective

Wednesday, December 5
The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, December 6
Pursuing Stacie

Friday, December 7
Peppermint Ph.D.
CelticLady's Reviews

N.R. Walker's Nova Praetorian Book Blast & Giveaway

Nova Praetorian by N.R. Walker

Publication Date: October 24, 2018
BlueHeart Press
Paperback & eBook; 394 Pages

Genre: Historical Romance/LGBT

Quintus Furius Varus is one of the best lanistas in Rome. Tall and strong in build, fearsome in manner, and sharp of wit, he trains the best gladiators bound for the arenas of Rome. When Senator Servius Augendus seeks personal guards, he attends the Ludus Varus for purchase of the very best. He puts to Quintus an offer he cannot refuse, and Quintus finds himself in Neapolis, contracted as a trainer of guards instead of gladiators.

Kaeso Agorix was taken from his homelands of Iberia and delivered to Rome as a slave. Bought by a senator to be trained as a guard, his fate is handed to the man who would train him. Absent free will, Kaeso knows his life is no longer his own, though he soon realises the gods have favoured him when he learns his new master has a kind heart.

Quintus and Kaeso forge a bond that far exceeds the collar at Kaeso's neck, and together they discover the senator's move for promotion has an ulterior motive. Thrown into a world of politics and conspiracy, of keeping enemies close, they move against time to save Rome before traitors and the gods themselves see to their end.

And in doing so, see the dawn of the nova praetorian--the new guard--rise.

"Highest marks for bringing to life a time and place not often tackled these days, the tale told with such authenticity it draws you in and holds you in thrall. Add to that mix a devious plot of traitorous political machinations and characters who will not only warm your heart but command your respect. Nova Praetorian is yet another well-crafted, engrossing tale that kept me up half the night, sighing with pleasure even while chewing my fingernails with anxiety. I highly recommend this read." - Beach Bum Books

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the Author

N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn't have it any other way.

She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things...but likes it even more when they fall in love. She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since...

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

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, November 26
Passages to the Past

Wednesday, November 28
Pursuing Stacie

Thursday, November 29
Coffee and Ink

Friday, November 30
Hoover Book Reviews

Monday, December 3
CelticLady's Reviews

Tuesday, December 4
Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, December 5
Donna's Book Blog

Friday, December 7
Velvet Panic

Monday, December 10
Svetlana's Reads and Views

Wednesday, December 12
T's Stuff

Friday, December 14
What Is That Book About


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a $40 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Nova Praetorian

Stella Riley's Cadenza Blog Tour & Giveaway

Today on the blog I am very excited to be hosting Stella Riley's Blog Tour for her latest novel, Cadenza, which was published TODAY! Happy Pub Day to Stella!

You can read all about the book below and enter our giveaway! Are you ready to meet the Rockliffes?

The Times said of the Rockliffe series: " I read all five books in the series back to back on the way to work and loved them all. I finished the last one while actually walking over London Bridge, because I couldn’t put it down. Read it now. Thank me later."

Cadenza by Stella Riley

Publication Date: November 22, 2018
eBook; 380 Pages

Genre: Historical Romance

The performance finished in a flourish of technical brilliance and the young man rose from the harpsichord to a storm of applause.

Julian Langham was poised on the brink of a dazzling career when the lawyers lured him into making a catastrophic mistake. Now, instead of the concert platform, he has a title he doesn’t want, an estate verging on bankruptcy … and bewildering responsibilities for which he is totally unfitted.

And yet the wreckage of Julian’s life is not a completely ill wind. For Tom, Rob and Ellie it brings something that is almost a miracle … if they dare believe in it.

Meanwhile, first-cousins Arabella Brandon and Elizabeth Marsden embark on a daring escapade which will provide each of them with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The adventure will last only a few weeks, after which everything will be the way it was before. Or so they think. What neither of them expects is for it to change a number of lives … most notably, their own.

And there is an additional complication of which they are wholly unaware.

The famed omniscience of the Duke of Rockliffe.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

About the Author

Readers' Favorite award-winning author and B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree Stella Riley trained as a teacher in London and now lives in Kent. She enjoys Amateur Dramatics, dancing, reading and travel. She is fascinated by the English Civil Wars and has written six books set in that period. She loves the extravagant fashions of the mid-Georgian period, likes men with long hair and her current passion is for Baroque harpsichord music.

The first 5 books of the Rockliffe series (recommended in The Times newspaper!) are also available in audio, narrated by Alex Wyndham. And Rockliffe Book Six - CADENZA - is currently available for pre-order and will be released on November 22nd.

Visit Stella at for all the latest information on her books and her 'Who's Who' and Extras pages. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away eBooks from Stella Riley's Rockliffe series - The Parfit Knight, The MĂ©salliance, The Player, The Wicked Cousin, or Hazard! 5 eBooks are up for grabs!

To enter, please see the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.


Review & Giveaway: A Holiday By Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Perfectly Proper Press
eBook & Paperback; 172 Pages

Genre: Historical Romance/Christmas/Novella

A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He's grim and silent. A man of little emotion--or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she's ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn't as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there's Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What's a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there'll be no false formality. This time they'll get to know each other for who they really are.

Available on Amazon

My Review


After having read The Matrimonial Advertisement recently, I knew I needed another Mimi Matthews book STAT! Lucky for me Mimi released her novella, A Holiday by Gaslight, and happier I could not be to dive in.

When you read a Mimi Matthews book it's a given that you're going to get a fabulous story line, characters that will charm your socks off, and a sweet romance that will make you believe in love again. When it comes to romances in books I'm a pretty tough critic, but Mimi can write love better than anyone. Sophie and Edward are fabulous, and I loved how honest they were with each other, and watching their love grow was a lot of fun.

With A Holiday by Gaslight I was smitten the instant I started reading. That's how good Mimi is. She grabs you at the get go and doesn't let go until you breathlessly reach the end (no matter how much you don't want it to end).

So, grab a soft, warm blanket and a hot cup of tea or cocoa, and settle in for a holiday treat! It can be easily read in one sitting because, well, trust me when I say, you won't want to put it down.

If you're a fan of Georgette Heyer, or you love sweet historical romances, then I highly, highly recommend A Holiday By Gaslight, as well as Mimi's other novels. She is fast becoming one of my favorite writers. I will happily buy any book that she releases and know that I will have hours of enjoyment ahead of me!

Praise for A Holiday by Gaslight

"Matthews includes all the required elements of a cozy English Christmas and a classic Victorian love story. Matthews’ novella is full of comfort and joy—a sweet treat for romance readers that’s just in time for Christmas. A very merry tale of romance that’s perfect for the holiday season." -Kirkus Reviews

"Matthews (The Matrimonial Advertisement) pays homage to Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South with her admirable portrayal of the Victorian era's historic advancements in addition to courtship struggles arising from societal castes. Revealed incrementally throughout are family circumstances molding the characters of both Sophie and Ned, allowing their genuine identities to evolve naturally, just like their sincere and sweet romance...Readers will easily fall for Sophie and Ned in their gaslit surroundings." -Library Journal, starred review

"A Holiday by Gaslight is a real delight. Completely satisfying as a graceful love story, it also doubles as a family drama and an authentic presentation of the 1860s that reads with the simplicity and visual gusto of a period movie...It's a sweet tale filled with believable characters...Fun to read and fun to read again, this book is one of my favorites now." -Readers' Favorite

"This is magical, it beautifully entwines a gorgeous Victorian Christmas, social prejudices of the era and the most marvellously different cast of characters that you would ever want in a historical romance...[A] wonderfully charming and vividly rich romance, that will have the readers swooning with absolute delight. Perfect!" -Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

"A perfect holiday treat for Victorian-loving romantics. Sophie and Ned's sweet romance is sure to steal your heart." -Lena Goldfinch, bestselling author of The Unexpected Bride

"This is the epitome of what historical romance is all about. Like all of Mimi Matthews' books, her characters are full-bodied and evenly matched; the details are historically accurate, coloring the pages with vibrancy. Sure to warm your heart--perfect read for the holiday season!" -Christina Boyd, The Quill Ink

About the Author

Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, The Lost Letter) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.

For more information, please visit Mimi Matthews’ website and blog. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterBookBubPinterestGoogle+, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, November 13
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Wednesday, November 14
Review at Proverbial Reads
Feature at Tea Book Blanket
Feature at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Friday, November 16
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads
Feature at View from the Birdhouse

Monday, November 19
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 20
Review at A Darn Good Read
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All

Wednesday, November 21
Review at Amy's Booket List

Friday, November 23
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, November 26
Review at Jennifer Tar Heel Reader

Wednesday, November 28
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Friday, November 30
Review at The Lit Bitch


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of A Holiday By Gaslight! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Holiday By Gaslight

Excerpt & Giveaway: Imperial Passions by Eileen Stephenson

Happy Monday, everyone! Today on the blog I am very happy to be hosting Eileen Stephenson's Blog Tour for Imperial Passions! I have an excerpt from the book for you & a chance to win a beautiful Byzantine-style Sterling Silver bracelet.

Imperial Passions: The Porta Aurea by Eileen Stephenson

Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Blachernae Books
Paperback & eBook; 387 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

At the center of Byzantine society, fifteen-year old orphaned Anna Dalassena lives with her grandparents among the most powerful men and women in Constantinople. But the cutthroat politics of the Great Palace sends the family into exile in a distant corner of the mepire. Her bleak situation finally turns promising after meeing a handsome young soldier, John Comnenus, and his brother Isaac, before the are finally permitted to return home.

The vicious power struggles, uprisings, and betrayals at the highest levels of the empire push Anna and John unwillingly into its center as they struggle to deal with their own tragedies. When rebellion puts her life and those of everyone she loves at risk, is the reward a throne for her family - too big a gamble?

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For those of you interested in 11th century Byzantium, here is an excerpt from my novel, Imperial Passions - The Porta Aurea. This scene takes place in the church of the great monastery of St. John Stoudion, not far from the Porta Aurea (Golden Gate) of Constantinople. It marks the end of the 5 - 6 month reign of the young and foolish Byzantine Emperor, Michael V Kalaphates. This incident was described in some detail by Michael Psellus in his Fourteen Byzantine Rulers history.

Setting the scene: Rioting has broken out in Constantinople as the people have become outraged at the shabby treatment Michael V has given his adopted mother, the rightful Empress Zoe. Anna Dalassena, her grandparents and two women servants have gone to the Monastery of St. John Stoudion where Anna's uncle is a monk and they hope to be safe until the commotion has died down, not realizing they have entered the eye of the storm.

The End of Michael V Kalaphates

“The emperor is here, with his uncle Constantine. They are with the hegoumenos. They’ve begged for sanctuary, and to be tonsured as monks. They sailed from the palace to our dock a little while ago.”

Grandfather swore under his breath. Suddenly, the sounds of the angry mob were close and I turned to see an immense number of people swarming up the street that had been empty only moments earlier. Uncle Simeon looked over my shoulder, his usual calm gone.

“Theotokos help us,” he prayed, then pulled us in before barring the gate. “Come with me. I’ll put you in an alcove in the church. It should be safe there. They won’t dare desecrate the sanctity of the church.”

Uncle Simeon secured the gates to the monastery before turning us all towards the church. I grabbed hold of Maria and Alethea’s hands and we raced through the gardens towards the archway that held the door the monks used. We’d been in the church many times before, but always from the visitors’ entrance, never from the monks’. Uncle Simeon rushed us through a back corridor and up steep stairs to a gallery overlooking the nave. He glanced over the railing, then gasped.

“They’re here,” he whispered, looking towards a few figures we could see through the entrance in the iconostasis.

That time of day, the gallery was in shadows, hiding us while we could see all that transpired below.

The man I had seen proudly attired in imperial purple just a day earlier, was now in the plain robes of a monk, his head pink where he had just been tonsured. Another man stood near him, also pink with the tonsure, but a beardless eunuch. They were pleading for protection from the Hegoumenos, Matthias, their hands grasping the altar.

The door to the church crashed open below and a voice called out, “They’re in here.” The rabble rushed in while the two new monks frantically grabbed the altar, crying out “Sanctuary! Sanctuary!” repeatedly. I thought the people would seize the men at that moment, but the hegoumenos raised a hand.

“Stop! Stop! Not one step further, you are in the house of God. I will not have you desecrate it with violence.” Matthias, a soft-spoken elderly man, would have had better luck trying to stop the waves from lapping on the shore than to deter this mob.

A couple of the larger men pushed the sputtering hegoumenos to the other side of a door near the altar, shutting it and ending any further monkish interference. Uncle Simeon, up in the balcony with us, was the only monk to witness to the retribution dealt the two miscreants.

One of the men in the crowd, with light brown hair that poked out at odd angles, a beaky nose and receding chin, and wearing the garb of a palace official, pulled away from the mass of people and began berating first Constantine, and then Michael for their sins against the empress. The two men cowered, hands gripping the holy altar.

“Was there anything she ever did that could have justified your cruel treatment?” Looking directly at Michael, his angry rebuke continued, “The empress is your adopted mother and has been only kindness and generosity to you. I saw it with my own eyes. And this is how you repay her? With baseless accusations and imprisonment?”

The crowd surrounding them cried out in assent to these statements, shaking fists and waving swords at the two figures clinging to the altar.

The beardless one began stammering a reply, pointing a finger at Michael. “It was him—I couldn’t stop him. I tried to but he would’ve killed me.” He gibbered on, lapsing into incoherent sobbing excuses for what had happened.

The one who had been emperor gaped at his uncle’s efforts to absolve himself from any blame. He started to speak, looked around at the crowd and thought better of what he had planned to say, then began again.

“It is true, I sinned against my kind mother, the empress.” Michael stopped and gulped hard, looking around to gauge the impact the admission had on his listeners. “But I’ve repented and taken the holy vows and tonsure, as I deserve for my wickedness. My kind mother has told me she forgives me. Please, please have mercy.” With that, he bent his face to the altar and rested his cheek against it, almost daring the mob to pull him off.

The rabble was slowed by this speech of repentance, but not stopped. The anger and outrage throbbed through the air, thirsting for blood. A few men with spears jabbed their weapons at the two, sometimes pricking the skin and rousing the crowd to greater frenzy as bloody cuts appeared. I heard one woman call out to finish them off.

Suddenly, two soldiers entered with about twenty of the Varangian guards. I recognized among the Varangians the tall blonde guard called Harold who three years earlier had escorted my family to our ship and exile. Grandfather whispered that one of the men was Constantine Cabasilas, the one who had gone to bring Zoe’s sister, Theodora, back from her convent.

In the fading light I tried to see who the other man with the Varangians was. His shape looked familiar when I realized with a shock that it was John Comnenus.

Cabasilas ordered Michael and his uncle to leave with him, that the new empress Theodora had ordered it, Zoe conveniently forgotten for the moment. All eyes were on the sobbing men gripping the altar, and I moved out into the little remaining light in the church that came through the windows. John had been speaking to some of the Varangians when my movement caught his attention and he saw me, eyes widening in disbelief. Grandmother pulled me back into the shadows.

“Didn’t you see him? That’s John down there with the soldiers,” I whispered urgently to her.

“I don’t care who it is, we need to stay hidden until this mob is gone,” her voice edgy at my recklessness.

Michael and his uncle were steadfastly refusing to leave the altar, but none were ready yet to physically remove them from it.

Cabasilas tried another way to remove them willingly from the church, but I think he was lying when he spoke.

“I swear by the Holy Relics of the holy St. John of this Church, and by the Theotokos, that you, Michael, and you, Constantine, will come to no harm, by order of the Empress Theodora. But you must leave with me now,” he concluded.

It did no good; they still refused to be moved from their sanctuary. At that, Cabasilas lost all patience. He nodded at the leaders of the mob. The two men were pulled from the altar and dragged, screaming desperately, out to the street in their new monk’s robes, sick fear in their cries.

I turned to Grandmother, shaking at what I had witnessed. Her pale face was as shocked as mine. The church grew quieter as the crowds surged through the doors back to the open area outside. Almost without realizing it, we were drawn like iron filings to a magnet, turning to look through the windows at the front of the church down at the scene below.

The mob poked and taunted Michael and his uncle, making ribald jokes about the old eunuch, nicking them with their swords, spinning them around until they fell, weak kneed and dizzy, into a heap. Damp spots on their robes showed the fear they felt. Suddenly a beefy man appeared carrying a brazier with several pokers sticking out of it.

“Phillip, welcome, we have been waiting for you so this party can begin,” Cabasilas said with sick humor.

It seemed Michael’s uncle recognized the man before Michael did, and let out a horrified moan before falling into an unnatural silence, resigned to his fate. Michael took a few more seconds before he, too, realized the inevitable. Yet he, instead of accepting the punishment as his uncle did, fought frantically, if unsuccessfully, against it. Several men took pleasure in restraining him with the occasional fist.

Phillip came up to the men with his instruments at the ready, the crowd closing in on them. The view from our vantage point was crystal clear.

Suddenly I heard the eunuch speak, “You there,” to Cabasilas, “make the people stand back, so all can see how bravely I bear my punishment?”

Cabasilas looked over the crowd before nodding and people spread back in anticipation of the gory show. The old uncle looked in vain for mercy, before lying down on the cold stones, ready for Phillip’s hot irons. Phillip started to bind his victim’s arms but Constantine stopped him.

“If you see me flinch, then nail me down. Until then, leave me as I am.”

With a shrug, Phillip took up the first of his hot pokers, touching close to first one eye of the man, and then the other. Constantine took his punishment bravely, not moving or screaming at all, despite the agony he must have felt. Michael, seeing his uncle’s now blind face, began wailing and struggling more. The grinning soldiers forced him to the ground and bound him more tightly. Still he writhed, trying to escape punishment, forcing more men to grab and hold him down. It was not long, though, before he shrieked like a wounded animal from the first wound.

Voices in the crowd muttered, “Got what he deserved,” and “Piece of horse shit,” and “Dug up your bones.” Most approved what happened, but a few of the women fell back in shock.

Still they were not finished. Another anguished scream rose from the man who had been emperor, as the poker pierced his other eye. I stood mesmerized until the mob’s cheering broke the spell, and I turned around. Someone put his arms around me as Michael’s anguished cries echoed in the square.

The ghastly job completed, the mob dissipated like a morning mist on the Marmara. It had had its fill of blood and laughed in satisfaction at their accomplishments. Monks emerged from the monastery to tend the two blind men in the street, leading them to its infirmary to bind up their wounds.

I finally looked up and realized it was not Grandfather’s arms around me as I had thought, but John’s. I leaned against him in relief, wiping my tears on his shirt.

About the Author

I was born in Fort Worth, Texas, but after a peripatetic childhood ended up in the Washington, DC area, where I attended college, married, worked a day job in finance, and raised three children.

My first book, Tales of Byzantium, contains short stories taking place in the middle years of the Byzantine Empire. My second book and first novel, Imperial Passions - The Porta Aurea, introduces Anna Dalassena, the extraordinary mother of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Comnenus, and an unstoppable force in her time.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 19
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, November 21
Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, November 22
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, November 23
Review & Excerpt at Locks, Hooks and Books

Monday, November 26
Feature at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, November 27
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, November 28
Excerpt at Tea Book Blanket

Thursday, November 29
Review at Passages to the Past

Monday, December 3
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, December 4
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 6
Excerpt at Introvert Booklover

Friday, December 7
Feature at Jathan & Heather
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, December 10
Review at Bookramblings


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a beautiful Byzantine-style Sterling Silver Bracelet! To enter, please see the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
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– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Imperial Passions

Excerpt & Giveaway: Elizabeth's War & Crossfire in the Street by D.L. Rogers

Happy Wednesday, dear readers! Today on the blog I am hosting the lovely D.L. Rogers who is currently touring the blogosphere for her novels, Elizabeth's War & Crossfire in the Street. I have an excerpt from each book to share with you and a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

I had the chance to interview D.L. the other day and you can check that out here, if you haven't read it yet.

The reviews from the tour have all been great, so I am looking forward to reading these two books soon.

Pursuing Stacie said this..."Elizabeth’s War is a story of survival, of fortitude, of determination…and most importantly, of the unrelenting will of the human spirit. A brilliant author, a definite recommend."

Elizabeth's War by D.L. Rogers

Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Paperback, AudioBook, & eBook

Genre: Historical Fiction

Read the complete first chapter here.

In a time when raiders, bushwhackers, and Redlegs rode the Cass County, Missouri, countryside bringing fear and destruction with them, Elizabeth Miers and her family barely survived into the next day. When the enemy, in the form of Elizabeth’s neighbors, comes a-calling more than once with mischief on their minds, Elizabeth fights back to keep her children safe against men she once called friends.

On August 25, 1863, following the issuance of General Order No. 11 by Union General Thomas Ewing, thousands of women, children, and the elderly were forced to vacate their homes in the brutal summer heat within fifteen days. With determination and a plan, Elizabeth sets out on a sixty-mile trek toward St. Clair County. Carrying enough prepared food and water on a rickety built sled to reach her aunt and uncle’s farm, she prays her kin are there to welcome them, not knowing whether they lived through the burning of Osceola two years prior—or not.

Facing more than just the lack of food and shelter and the unbearable heat, they’re set upon by raiders and foraging soldiers who try to take more than just their meager provisions. Much more. Left with little after their supplies are stolen and their property destroyed, Elizabeth and her fellow travelers continue south, facing more indignities before their journey is done.

Through Elizabeth and the thousands of other refugees that traveled ahead of and behind her, feel what they felt in the wake of General Order No. 11, an order that took everything and left them destitute and afraid they wouldn’t live to see one more day.

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ELIZABETH’S WAR: Missouri 1863
Chapter Two

(Mid-June, 1861)

Elizabeth’s heart pounded like a horse shoer’s hammer. She’d never known fear like she felt right now, awakened in their beds by riders pounding up the lane, men shouting and firing guns into the bright, moonlit night.

Elizabeth was out of bed seconds after her husband.

James turned hard eyes to her. “Hurry, I’ll rouse Steven, if he isn’t already awake. Get the children.”

Elizabeth was so scared she could only nod. Her hands shook so much she couldn’t find the opening of her day dress to slide over her head, wasting precious moments. Please, please, please, Dear Lord, protect my family this night, she prayed over and over in her head.

Dressed but barefoot, she hurried to gather the children. Nora, Vera, and Sally were sitting up in the bed they shared in the large room at the back of the house, the covers balled in fists at their necks, eyes wild with fright. Little Joseph was still sound asleep in his fold down cot attached to the wall.

“What’s happening, Mama?” Nora cried.

“Make it stop, Mama, make it stop!” Vera shouted.

“Shhh, girls. We must all go to the front room. Hurry now, hurry.”

Clutching their long nightshirts the girls jumped out of bed. Nora hauled Sally into her arms and Elizabeth awkwardly lifted a still slumbering Joseph over her shoulder.

“What’s going on?” Vera asked again, voice quavering, following behind her mother and sister.

Elizabeth ignored her daughter’s question and herded everyone to the other room.

James and Steven were already positioned at the two windows, the shutters open wide enough to slide out a rifle barrel. Elizabeth put Joseph on his feet, the little boy whining and swaying. Elizabeth pointed. “Vera, Nora, sit down on the floor between the wall and cabinet with the children. Quickly now.”

“They’ve finally come, haven’t they, Mama?” Nora shuffled the two little ones toward where her mother had directed. Her words were said matter-of-factly, like she’d been waiting for this night for a long time.

“Yes, they’ve come. I want you both to keep your brother and sister quiet on your laps and do not move until I or your Papa tells you it’s all right. Do you understand?”

Neither girl spoke, but each nodded, their eyes as wide as the full moon outside. Needing no further encouragement, they squeezed into the corner with Joseph and Sally on their laps, their arms wrapped tight around the sleepy, whining smaller children who understood none of what was happening.

Unsatisfied a stray bullet wouldn’t find one of her children, Elizabeth cleared the heavy oak table in the middle of the floor with one stroke of her arm, shattering two glass candle holders, a plate of fruit, and a glass left there after supper. “Help me move this,” she ordered her son who hurried from the window to help. In moments the table lay on its side in front of the cowering children.

Four windows in the house needed defending. Two were in the front room, one to the right of the door and one on the left wall, the third was in James and Elizabeth’s bedroom on the right side of the house, and the fourth in the loft, where Steven slept.

“Go,” was all James said to his son before the boy scurried up the ladder carrying an older-model Spencer rifle and a six-shot Colt revolver, one of two pieces James had purchased recently in preparation for such an attack. “Liz.” He handed her a small squirrel rifle, a Colt, and pointed her to their bedroom. “I’ll take the brunt of it here.”

Elizabeth hurried to the bedroom, laid the Colt on the table under the window, opened the shutter enough to slide the rifle barrel out, and waited. She didn’t wait long before three men emerged into the moonlit yard from behind the house on her right headed toward the barn. They disappeared inside and re-emerged a few moments later leading Solomon, Blaze and Poppyseed, Elizabeth’s palomino mare.

“You, inside!” someone yelled from the front of the house. The children shrieked in the other room and Elizabeth almost dropped the rifle.

“What do you want from us? We’ve got no quarrel with you. There are children in here!” James yelled from the window.

“You know what we want,” came the reply.

What did they want? Elizabeth’s skin bubbled up with fear. Had they come to take her husband and son away because they believed in the southern cause? Were they here to burn their house down and leave them homeless? Her mind was whirling, waiting for James’ response when a rifle exploded from the front of the house. She didn’t know where it had come from and thought she’d choke on her heart. Poppyseed, the greenest of the three horses being led from the barn reared. The man leading her tried to hang onto the rope, but the mare was having none of it. She pawed the air until the rope jerked through the man’s hands. He shrieked and the horse raced away, the rope flying wildly behind her. Feeding on Poppyseed’s fear Solomon and Blaze reared and jerked away from the men leading them, thundering off into the darkness after Poppyseed. Regardless of the graveness of the situation, Elizabeth smiled and said a silent prayer they might escape this night with their lives and their horses.

Her attention was drawn from the men, blowing on their rope-burned hands, when someone out front shouted, “Whoever’s up in that loft better make sure if you shoot again you don’t miss!”

“I didn’t miss the first time! I hit exactly what I intended. Next time it’ll be right in the middle of your gut!” Steven shouted from the loft.

Running footsteps drew Elizabeth’s attention and she turned in time to see the three men who’d been leading the horses disappear around front. Her pounding heart roared like a train in her head, but she forced herself to stay steady, watching for any mischief at the rear of the house or near the barn. With each shouted threat from out front, her children whimpered and cried. She wanted to run to them and comfort them, but she stayed put, aware if she left it would leave them all vulnerable.

Her husband’s voice drew her attention. “My son means what he says. And he’s not the only one inside this house that can shoot. I can hit the eye out of a squirrel at 60 paces without trying, so it won’t be difficult for me to hit any one of you!”

Bile rose in Elizabeth’s throat when she spotted three men creeping from the front of the house along the left wall toward her. One man carried a torch. She waited until they were only a few feet away before she said, “I suggest you stop right there, drop the torch and put your hands up.”

The man carrying the torch didn’t hesitate. He dropped the torch and jerked his hands in the air. The other two did the same. When they looked up Elizabeth couldn’t believe her eyes. Two were neighbors, the Harrison boys!

Shaking off her surprise and allowing anger to replace it, she said in a deep, even tone that brooked no argument, “You boys better think hard about what you mean to do. I’m not usually a violent person. I try to be a good, Christian woman. But when you attack me or mine, my children in particular, there’s a side of me you boys don’t want to see—and won’t live to tell about if you don’t git outta here.” She paused a moment to let her words sink in before she added, “I’ll give you ten seconds to make up your minds whether to do as I say or defy me, but if you doubt my words, I promise I’ll blow a hole right through you.”

“You ain’t got but one shot in that squirrel gun, Miz Miers,” the unknown man challenged of the single-shot .32 caliber rifle she had pointed at them.

Elizabeth chuckled so deep it sounded evil even to her. “You haven’t seen what I’ve got next to me. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve shot many a varmint in my lifetime with this rifle I’m pointing at you boys, and to me right now you’re worse than any one of those slimy creatures. You threaten my family any further, you’ll find out exactly what I can, and will, do when I shoot each one of you just like one of those critters I’ve pulled this trigger on many times before. So make up your minds. You gonna skedaddle? Or am I gonna show you exactly what me and this rifle, and whatever else I’ve got next to me, can do? One, two....”

“We believe you, Miz Miers. We’ll go,” Roger, the older Harrison brother shouted.

“Good. Throw those guns in the dirt, kick them away, tuck your tails between your legs and run back out front with those other cowards who are threatening my family! I don’t really want to shoot anybody tonight, especially not neighbors, but if I’m provoked further I will not hesitate!”

Slowly, using only two fingers, Roger pulled his weapon, threw it down and kicked it away. Elija, the younger brother, heaved his rifle away and waited, but the third man hesitated.

“Walker, don’t be a fool. Do what she says,” Elija said.

Elizabeth thought she was going to be sick and her hands started to shake, but she couldn’t let them see it. She could not back down. Everything she loved was at stake. “Throw it down, now!” she shouted at Walker. The brothers jumped and raised their hands higher in the air.

Walker put his hand on his pistol, but Elizabeth sensed he had no intention of throwing it away. The weapon glinted in the moonlight as he drew on her and, without a moment’s hesitation, she pulled the trigger. The rifle exploded, shattering Walker’s arm below the elbow. He screamed and fell to his knees.

“You shot me!” He rocked back and forth, holding his elbow with his other hand. Blood ran down his arm, through his fingers and dripped on the ground.

“She told you she would you dumb peckerwood. Elija looked up at Elizabeth. “We’re going now, all right?”

“Take him with you. And don’t come back!”

The Harrison boys grabbed Walker and dragged him out front, his blood leaving a dark trail in the dirt behind him. Absently, Elizabeth wondered if he’d die before someone stopped the bleeding, but she pushed the thought from her mind. He’d brought it on himself and she would shoot him again if need be.

Elizabeth had no idea how many men were outside her home, but there had to be at least a dozen or so. Anger began to gnaw at her belly like bad food then started to boil like a witch’s cauldron the more she thought on what these men were doing. They had no right! How dare they attack her home! There were children here! Innocent children! They hadn’t done anything to anybody! They just wanted to be left alone! Anger overrode all rational thought and exploded like an uncapped volcano. She dropped the spent rifle on the bed, grabbed the pistol and headed for the front room.

James was yelling out the window, but she had no idea what he was saying. She stomped to the front door.

“What are you doing!” James screamed from beside her, but she ignored him.

She threw open the door and stepped outside. “You men!” she challenged, standing straight as a post, her legs braced. Elizabeth held the cocked pistol at the ready, moving it back and forth between the men on horseback.

She saw and heard rifles lifted and cocked through the thundering in her head. She was crazed with anger, and until that anger was spent, these men would either listen to her—or shoot her. But not before she was heard!

“If you men want to shoot someone so badly, here I am! Will you shoot a woman? Or is there still a shred of moral, Christian decency in you? If you intend to shoot us all, perhaps I should save you the trouble and bring my babies out here right now so you can dispense with them first!” The children shrieked in the background, spurring her anger even higher. She was charged like lightning and would have her say. “Cowards! Coming in the middle of the night to threaten my family! Every one of you is a coward!”

She aimed her pistol at the lead rider. “Hello, Mr. Bartlet. It’s a fine, moonlit night for a raid, don’t you think? And Mr. Warren? Did you get your crops planted? Oh, perhaps not. I see you’ve found other things to keep you busy.” She stood defiant, stared down every man, and said hello to each one she knew.

“You came here threatening my home and my children. I won’t hold with that, and I’ll shoot the first man who makes a move toward my house. You may shoot me down, but I’ll take one or two of you with me before the ammunition in this gun is spent!” She swung the gun at Mr. Bartlet. “You’ll be the first one I shoot, Mr. Bartlet. Count on it. Ask that man over there, whose arm is dripping blood, if I’ll shoot you if I say so, and if I don’t hit what I aim for?” She waved the pistol at Walker, woozy on his feet, watching her with blazing, hate-filled eyes, his arm wrapped in someone’s kerchief, but still dripping blood. She thought her heart would explode, but she couldn’t stop now. She’d gone too far. Anger and indignation rode her back like a serpent.

James stepped out beside his wife, his rifle raised and ready, his pistol tucked in easy access at his belt. “I guarantee you men, she means what she says. She’s as good a shot as most men.” He paused and smiled. “But I’m better, and whoever she misses, I’ll be sure to take with me before I’m done.” He swung the rifle toward another of their neighbors and the man shifted uneasily in his saddle.

“And whoever they miss, I won’t!” came Steven’s voice from the upper window. “And I’ve got a good view of every one of y’all from up here, so you can bet I’ll take a few down before any of y’all even get close to the house!”

“So, gentlemen, unless you intend to shoot me, my husband and my children,” Elizabeth raised a hand to encompass the house, “the children screaming and crying in that house behind me, I suggest you git on outta here and leave us to our own business!”

The men sat in stunned silence. Seemingly unnerved by her bravado, knowing they’d lost the upper hand and unwilling to die to test her and her family’s mettle, those farthest away turned their horses and melted into the night.

Minutes later when the last rider passed beyond the front gates, Elizabeth grabbed James’ arm, cried out, and slid to the floor in a faint.

Crossfire in the Street by D.L. Rogers

Publication Date: June 7, 2018
Paperback & eBook

Genre: Historical Fiction

Read the first two chapters here.

The Civil War yielded many bloody battles and the Battle at Lone Jack was among the worst. Fought across a sixty-foot strip of dusty road, brothers fought brothers, neighbors fought neighbors, cousins fought cousins, and the blood of horses and men ran together in the street under the blistering August sun.

The Green family tried to keep from being caught up in the war headed for their doorstep, but their efforts were lost—even before the Yankees came to town.

In their youthful exuberance and ignorance, sixteen and fifteen year old Hank and Jesse sneak into town to watch the battle—and find more trouble than they bargained for. Pete, the oldest brother, joins the Rebels and fights to save his life—and that of his brothers. Cora, the oldest daughter on the cusp of becoming a woman, loves a boy who runs off to fight with the Federals—and breaks her heart.

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Chapter Five

“That’s not fair! You had a head start!” Jesse swam up beside his brother, waiting at the edge of the pond. “You cheated!”

“I did not. I got a better start than you did and I’m a better swimmer than you,” Hank said.

“Are not! I swim just as good as you when you don’t cheat!”

“You sound like a girl, Jess. Try harder next time.”

Jesse was on him in a heartbeat. “Take it back!” Jesse and Hank rolled on the pond bank, arms and legs flying.

For the first time, Hank had trouble getting his brother off him. Jesse’d caught up with him in size and, if truth be told, he had more bulk than Hank. Jesse looked more like the older brother these days than Hank did.

“All right, all right! I take it back. Just get off me.”

The boys rolled to their backs, eyes closed, breathing hard. When Hank opened his eyes he was looking up at four men on horseback. He scurried to his feet. Jesse did the same.

“Easy boys.” One of the men waved a pistol in their direction.

Hank thought his heart would fly right out of his chest.

“Hank?” Jesse’s voice squeaked. He sounded like the boy he was.

“It’ll be all right, Jess.” Hank smoothed his hair and looked through the sun’s glare at the men. “You got no cause to hold a gun on us, mister.”

“Holster it, Evans.” Another rider prodded his horse forward.

“The man holstered his gun. Hank and Jesse stared up at the four men.

“We ain’t done nothin’. We even finished our chores before we came to the pond.” Jesse’s youth was evident in the crack and pitch of his voice.

The men chuckled, but it didn’t ease Hank’s fear. “He’s right. We should be on our way home. Our Pa is gonna be worried about us. Come on Jess.” Hank started forward, but the man moved his horse in front of him.

“Not so fast.” The man sat in the saddle studying the two boys. “How old are you two?”

Jesse turned to Hank with wide, frightened eyes. Hank answered for both of them. “I’m sixteen last month and Jesse is fifteen.”

“Sixteen, you say?”

Hank’s back went up. “Yes sir.” He knew more than one sixteen year old boy had been whisked off to war against their will. The possibility of that happening scared him to death.
“You know how to handle a rifle?” the man asked.

“Of course, what boy in these parts doesn’t?”

“Exactly, what boy in these parts doesn’t?” The men chuckled again before the rider asked, “You a Rebel?”

“Sir?” Hank’s body sang with warning.

“Are you a Rebel—or a Yank?” he repeated, as though talking to a dim-witted child.

“I don’t know what I am, Sir. I’m just a kid. I don’t know much about what’s goin’ on in the war,” Hank lied. He was as much a Rebel as his Pa.

Jesse stood silent. His eyes darted between his brother and the men, his face white as paste.

“What do you think?” one of the men asked the apparent leader. “They’re both still snot-nosed and wet behind the ears.”

Hank wanted to yell that he wasn’t, but decided keeping his mouth shut was the better part of valor today.

“Yes they are still snot-nosed and wet behind the ears.” Pete emerged from the bushes behind the men with his hands raised.

Four guns turned on Pete as he walked toward his younger brothers. “You don’t want these boys.” The look he gave Hank told him to keep his mouth shut and let him do the talking.

“I’m not armed. I’m their older brother, Peter Green. I’m eighteen years old and, if you’ll let these two boys go,” he said with extra emphasis on the word boys, “I’ll go with you.”

“No!” Hank shouted. “You can’t!”

“Pete, no!” Jesse yelled.

“You’ll come with us willingly if we let these two go?” the apparent leader asked.

“Yes sir. I was thinking of joining up anyway and these boys are too young. If I go, they’ll be needed even more at our farm. If you take both of them I don’t know what my Pa would do. With harvest coming up, well…” He raised his chin and stood his ground.

“We could take all three of you if we wanted to,” one of the other men challenged.

“I suppose you could, but I’m betting your honor won’t allow that. I’ll willingly go with you if let these two go home. I’d bet you’d rather have one willing man than two unwilling boys.”

Hank was ready to protest until Pete glared at him in a way that told him to keep his mouth shut.

The leader dismounted and strode toward Pete. He held out his hand. “You got a deal. Welcome to the army of the Confederate States of America.”


Hank and Jesse busted through the cabin door. “They took him, Pa! They took him!” the boys shouted at the same time.

Artie had returned only minutes earlier. He hugged them as soon as they were inside. He was so happy to see them. It took him a moment to realize what they’d shouted. Fear tore through him. “Who got took?”

“Pete! They took Pete!” Hank said.

Jesse, standing inside the door, looked like a scared boy.

“They took him at the pond, Pa.” Hank gulped in deep breaths.

Artie suddenly had a hard time breathing himself.

Anne came through the door with an armful of laundry. “Thank goodness, you boys are back! You rode in like your pants were on fire and didn’t even take care of the horses,” she chastised.

She took one look at them and asked, “What’s happened?”

“Sit down, Anne.” Artie tried to lead her to the table, but she shrugged him off. Clean laundry floated to the floor.

“I don’t want to sit down. I want to know what’s going on!”

Margie charged into the house, also carrying a bundle of laundry. “What’s going on?”

Eddie and Mabel ran in behind Margie. “Why is everyone shouting?” Eddie asked.

“Everybody just be quiet a minute.” Artie ushered his family to the table. “Sit down and we’ll figure this out.”

“There’s nothing to figure out, Sir,” Hank said. “Pete’s gone. They took him.”

“Who took Pete?” Margie’s face was stricken with fear. She looked at Hank then Jesse and then her father. “Who took Pete?” she shrieked when no one answered. “And where’s Cora?”

“Calm down, Margie. I’m right here.” Cora stomped into the cabin, brushing dust from her skirt. Spotting the boys she ran to them and hugged them. “You’re here and you’re safe! Thank goodness. Who found you? Where were you?” She scanned the room. “Where’s Pete?”

“Sit down. Everyone just sit down. Now!” Artie commanded. His tone brooked no argument.

The family sat in their usual seats, with one glaring exception. Once they were all seated, Artie said to Hank, “All right, tell me exactly what happened.”

“Me and Jesse were at the south pond swimming. We were done checking the fence and stock, Pa, honest we were. It was so hot we needed to cool off so…”

“Get on with what happened to Pete, Hank.”

“Yes sir. Jesse and I were catching our breath on the bank. When we opened our eyes, there they were.”


“Riders. Four of them. They drew on us, Pa.”

Who dared draw a gun on his children? Artie tamped down his rage. “What happened next?”

“They asked how old we were and if we could shoot a rifle.”

Artie knew where this was going. Those men were considering taking Hank and Jesse—until Pete showed up. “And then?”

“Pete come out of the bushes, his hands up and telling those boys they didn’t want us cause we were snot-nosed and wet behind the ears.”

Hank sounded incensed, but Artie knew Pete had done it to save them from being taken. “Go on.”

“Well, Pete said he’d go with them if they let us go home.”

Anne whimpered beside her husband and Cora sucked in a deep breath. Everyone else remained quiet.

“Why didn’t they take all three of you?” He knew full well many a young boy had been pressed into service against their will.

“One of them men asked Pete that same thing. Pete said he believed their honor would keep ‘em from it. Said they didn’t want us young ‘uns and why take two that didn’t want to go, when they could take one that was older and wouldn’t fight ‘em,” Hank answered.

Artie took a deep breath to keep from screaming his rage. His son was gone. Taken. Where to, he had no idea. Now he knew how Mrs. Pierce felt—completely helpless.

“Pa? We have to get him back,” Cora said. “We have to.”

“Which way did they go?” Artie asked Hank.

“Headed south, heard ‘em say they were goin’ to join up with Colonel Cockrell, coming this way from down south.”

Artie jumped to his feet. “Come on, boys, they’re not taking my son and getting away with it.”

Hank and Jesse got to their feet, but with less enthusiasm than their father. Cora jumped up, too. “You’re not going without me.”

Anne leaped up and grabbed her husband’s arm. “What are you going to do?”

“Find them—and bring my son back.”

She held tight.


His wife led him across the room. “I’m as upset about them taking Pete as you are, but think about everything that’s at stake. If you ride out of here to bring Pete back, what will keep them from taking you, as well? Or Hank or Jesse this time? Something could happen to Cora if she rides with you.”

“Are you asking me to leave it go?”

“I don’t know what I’m asking. All I know is that there are three other people in this household they could take, and I couldn’t bear to lose all of you. Pete was considering joining up anyway. He’s a man full grown now. He made a choice. He traded himself to make sure the boys were left alone. It wouldn’t be a very good choice if you or the boys got taken anyway.”

“But, Anne, I have to do something. I can’t just let them ride off with my son!”

“Like they did with Solomon Pierce? No one raced to help Mrs. Pierce get her husband back and no one is going to help us.”

“How can you be so calm about this,” Artie asked his wife.

“Calm? You think I’m calm? I want to hit someone. I want to tear their eyes out for taking Pete, but I’m also aware of the fact that I have three other sons, two of whom are old enough to be whisked away just like he was—without a choice. And you could be taken, too. Where would that leave us?”

“I’m too old. They don’t want me.”

“The hell they don’t!” Her curse drew wide-eyed stares from the children and her husband. “Solomon Pierce is older than you and they took him easy enough!”

“Pa?” Hank called from across the room.

“What is it?”

“Pa, Pete knew you’d want to follow him. Before they lit out he told us to tell you not to. He said it was his choice to go with them, just like you talked about the night before.”

Artie’s chin dropped to his chest. “I told him it was his choice, but after we talked about it, he said he was going to think on it a while longer and decide later.” Artie picked up a cup from the counter and threw it against the wall. It exploded into a hundred pieces. “I guess he doesn’t have to decide anymore, does he?”

About the Author

Although born in New Jersey of parents from New Jersey and Tennessee, it was just a matter of time before Diane's "southern" blood revealed itself. And reveal itself it did, in a passion for all things western and related to the Civil War. Having learned a great deal in her research since her historical journey began, especially in the midwest, Diane has attempted to portray both the west and the war from numerous points-of-view, which is not always the same history as what has been previously portrayed--or taught.

As a kid, Diane played Cowboys and Indians more than she did Barbie, and as she got older, she and her cousin (whose parents were reversed) gave themselves the moniker of "Yebels." The question of what it would have been like during the Civil War years, when friends and family fought on opposite sides of the war, festered inside Diane until she answered her own question in the form of the novels she writes of the west and Civil War, where everyday people, regardless of what "side" they were on, when faced with difficult situations, rose to the challenge, and survived.

Now living south of Kansas City, Missouri, on fourteen acres of property, when Diane's not writing or marketing, she enjoys sitting on her front porch, reading when she can or just watching her horses in the pasture and multitude of cats in the yard. When she does venture into town, it's to work at a lawfirm on the Plaza, or visit her two children and five grandchildren.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 5
Review at Pursuing Stacie (Elizabeth's War)

Tuesday, November 6
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, November 7
Excerpt at T's Stuff
Feature at Maiden of the Pages
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads (Crossfire in the Street)

Thursday, November 8
Review at Locks, Hooks, and Books (Elizabeth's War)

Friday, November 9
Review at Bri's Book Nook (Elizabeth's War)

Monday, November 12
Review at The Reading Woman (Elizabeth's War)

Tuesday, November 13
Feature at Book Nerd

Wednesday, November 14
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Thursday, November 15
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews
Review at The Book Junkie Reads (Elizabeth's War)

Friday, November 16
Review at Pursuing Stacie (Crossfire in the Street)

Monday, November 19
Review at Bri's Book Nook (Crossfire in the Street)

Tuesday, November 20
Review at Locks, Hooks, and Books (Crossfire in the Street)


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

D.L. Rogers

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