I was thrilled to receive an email this morning from the Australian Romance Readers Association telling me that THE CURRENCY LASS is one of the finalists in the 2017 Historical Romance Awards.
Sergey is one of my favourite heroes and I had such fun writing this story. After all every girl dreams of running away with the circus, doesn't she? I know I did!
If you'd like to find out a little more about my divine Russian horseman, the book is available in print and ebook from my publisher Harlequin MIRA, and if you're an overseas reader who prefers print check out Book Depository, they have free delivery worldwide.
Here's the blurb:
She can run but she can't hide…
As her father's only heir, Catherine Cottingham expects to inherit their sprawling property in the Hunter Valley. What she doesn't understand is why her father is trying to push her into a marriage to the pompous and repulsive Sydney businessman Henry W. Bartholomew.
When the will is read it becomes clear money, or the lack of it, lay behind her father's plans. Catherine is mortified – as a married woman all her possessions will pass to her husband, the overbearing Bartholomew. Her only alternative is to wait until her twenty–first birthday and inherit the property in her own right, but can she elude such a determined man until then?
A chance encounter with a travelling circus and its fiery lead performer, Sergey Petrov, offers the perfect solution and Catherine escapes to the goldfields. But there is more to the circus than spangles and sawdust and Catherine finds herself drawn into a far–reaching web of fraud and forgery…
This year I've decided it would be fun to talk to historical fiction authors who explore some of the less traditional eras. First hansom off the rank is Elizabeth Ellen Carter whose second book in the Revenge of the Corsairs releases on January 10th.
When one things of the Regency period, it’s tempting to simply think of Jane Austen or the delightful comedy of manners that characterise many of Georgette Heyer’s works.
But that would be doing the era a disservice. Australia was finding its feet from penal settlement to thriving colony. Napoleon had embroiled Europe in a bloody war. And another revolution was at hand – the industrial revolution which would forever change the world.
Another part of the early 19th century which is often forgotten was the ongoing wars and skirmishes with the Ottoman Empire which had posed an existential threat to Asia and Europe from 1299 to its final collapse in 1922.
While the worst of its rapacious expansionism ended in the 16th century, for more than two hundred years afterwards it continued to be a major player in socio-political events around the Mediterranean through its control and support for its client states along north Africa that would raid ships and collect slaves from across north Africa and into Europe as far north as Iceland.
So, no tea and cucumber sandwiches here.
For a writer, it is a rich area to explore, particularly the costumes, culture and cuisine of countries not as familiar to us as England, France, Australia and the United States.
The villain of Revenge of the Corsairs is Rabia, the third wife, now widow of Selim Omar. She is driven by status and power and knows that she can only hang on to it through her young son – I guess you could describe it as another type of regency.
Because Rabia has been blamed for the events leading up to the death of Selim Omar, she has been forced into exile, and the only way to retrieve her son is by kidnapping him.
I set the ambush in the mountains of Libya and had wonderful time researching the landscape and learning about the skilful horseman ship of the Berber tribesman and some of the delicious spicy flavours in their traditional dishes.
Here’s one to try at home!
One of the dishes I describe in Revenge of the Corsairs is called Utshu. It is a simple, tasty and filling dish. Not surprisingly it is one of the most popular dishes in Libya.
It features a dough cooked in hot water (a bit like a large dumpling) and served in the centre of a plate with an accompanying sauce/stew.
The dish is eaten by breaking a piece of the dough and dipping it into the surrounding sauce.
Take 1 kilogram of flour and boil about 350ml of water in a large deep saucepan. While the water is boiling add flour a bit at a time while constantly stirring until the mixture solidifies into dough.
Remove from heat and knead the dough into a ball and place in the middle of the serving bowl.
Fry two large onions, add garlic, turmeric, chili powder and tomato puree, then throw in the lamb chops (or beef or fish), a bit of salt and water, and then cook until the meat is cooked. Add potatoes and pumpkin pieces (or other vegetable of your choice) and return to heat until vegetables are done. Add more garlic (usually two or three crushed cloves), heat for a further minute or two, remove from heat then pour around the dough and serve hot - with a squeeze of lemon on top.
Revenge of the Corsairs (Heart of the Corsairs book two) Blurb
Rescued after two years as a concubine in an Ottoman harem, former debutante Laura Cappleman faces a difficult journey back to normal life. As she travels to Palermo aboard Kit Hardacre’s ship, the Calliope, she is deeply traumatized – and pregnant by her kidnapper.
Laura rejects the emotional support of her long-time admirer, Calliope First Officer Elias Nash, and her cousin, Sophia, Kit’s wife. She withdraws into herself and her art. Finally, after giving birth, she decides to return to London, hoping to erase tormented memories.
Emir Selim Omar died on the day of Laura’s rescue, but his wickedness lives on in his third wife, Rabia, in whose household Laura was held. The ruthless widow may yet hold on to the power she wielded as mother to the Emir’s only male heir. However, as opportunists pick his empire apart, her child dies.
When Rabia learns Laura has given birth to a boy, the solution is obvious – the concubine is stolen property and so is the child sired by her late husband. She will take the boy and kill anyone in the way.
As Rabia’s assassins close in, Elias – both embraced and rejected by the damaged woman he loves, uncertain she will ever return, and alone in Palermo with the child he has given his name – must take the battle to the enemy. Otherwise, there may be nothing for Laura to come home to.
Revenge of the Corsairs excerpt
The air was much cooler at this altitude and the previous night’s rain had departed, leaving only a cloudy mist of dove grey that evaporated as the morning sun rose higher, pushing back purple shadows.
Rabia sat with the other women on a blanket and was given a wide, round loaf of bread and a bowl of the thick stew of lamb and vegetables called utshu. She broke off a piece of bread and stirred it through the bowl. The flavors of paprika, cumin, and garlic filled her mouth – simple and satisfying.
The mountainous region of Jebel Akhdar was the most beautiful wilderness she had ever seen. High above the desert plains to the south, the undulating mountains were verdant. Trees, shrubs and grasses fed by a generous amount of rainfall that turned cuttings and ravines into waterfalls and rivers, feeding the livestock and permitting small holdings of crops to be planted.
It had been three weeks since she had left Pantelleria for Tripoli to be certain she arrived ahead of Orhan’s caravan. It had been many years since she traveled simply and on foot but the exercise had made her stronger. It stoked the fire of vengeance that woke her every morning and lulled her to sleep every night for the past four months.
Soon, she would hold her son in her arms again and restore to him his rightful place. Soon, he would be a man of great importance, perhaps even greater than his own father.
A tribesman leading a magnificent seal-brown stallion crossed her view, the sun catching gold on the play of muscles as the creature walked. Man and beast joined the other horses and riders at one end of the encampment. The raiding party was twenty-five in all.
Several yards away from them, another group of men gathered. Unlike the Jabal al-Akhdar tribesman who were dressed in their customary white robes over wide-legged pants, these half-dozen men were dressed head-to-toe in black. Under their hip-length tunics, their pants were fitted at the legs and tied close to the ankles. Suspended from black leather belts were several knives glinting in the sun as they passed around a clay bowl from which they all drank.
These men were specialists in the art of death and were, according to Toufik, descended from the Nazari whose acts of bravery and brutality had become the source of legend. Their very name sent a shiver through her but Rabia suppressed it. She was being watched closely and would show weakness to no one.
The final plans had been worked out last night. The assassins had shadowed the caravan for the past three days and the tribesmen had recommended this location for the ambush. Toufik had acted as her intermediary. As a woman, merely her presence here was enough to arouse suspicion.
Never mind. The how and the why of it were of little concern to Rabia in the scheme of things, of idle interest only. The only things that mattered were her son being returned to her, those she-dogs who kept him from her punished, and Orhan dying in agony.
Revenge of the Corsairs is available on Amazon January 10
US - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07885RNLD
Aus - https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07885RNLD
UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07885RNLD
Canada - https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07885RNLD
Look at all those lovely selfies!
Thank you to everyone who took the time to capture The Naturalist's Daughter in the wild. Everyone's names went into Chief researcher #1's hat and ... drum roll ....
Do you dream of a white Christmas?
I don’t. I spent the first twenty years of my life wading through slush with a nose that rivalled Rudolph’s, dreaming of Christmas on the beach. Those dreams didn’t come true until I finally arrived in Australia on 23rd December, at the ripe old age of 24, with 40 cents in my pocket and a handful of addresses. Luckily I struck gold and on December 25th I found myself on Chinaman’s Beach with an esky full of prawns, mangoes and champagne and a group of people I'm still lucky enough to count as friends … it was my idea of heaven and suffice to say, I’ve never lived in England again.
I often wonder how the early English settlers felt at Christmas time. No prawns, mangoes and champagne I was certain … until for I stumbled across this menu from Government House around 1850.
Are you a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas lunch or are you a pigeon-in-aspic kind of person?
On the subject of pigeons, and other Australian animals … yes, the crested pigeon is native to Australia … I thought I’d share my Christmas present with you— a new release called The Naturalist’s Daughter.
It tells the story of two women, a century apart, drawn into a mystery surrounding the biggest scientific controversy of the nineteenth century, the classification of the platypus.
The Naturalist’s Daughter releases in just two days, December 18th, in print and e-book and, here’s where the sharing comes in, anyone who leaves a comment below, and lives in Australia, will go into the draw for a print copy – hot off the press! If you don’t live in Australia I’m afraid it will have to be an e-book. I simply couldn’t get Rudolph to agree to transporting anything to do with a platypus, in fact he was quite offensive.
Have a great Christmas wherever you might be, and however you may choose to celebrate the holiday, and don’t forget to enter the raffle copter (below) there's $150 up for grabs and leave a comment! If you missed any of the early blogs you can find them here - just scroll down and click on any of the names on the list at the end!
PS While you're here I'd love you to join my readers group, there are a heap of competitions and prizes coming up in the new year!
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED:
CONGRATULATIONS to Dina and Rhonda and to Ro Richards who has won a copy of The Horse Thief!
The members of this coastal romance group are authors and readers who love reading romance by the water, whether it be the ocean, a lake, a tropical island or any other body of water where our heroes and heroines fall in love and live happily ever after!
Some of our authors have combined their resources and planned this Christmas blog hop. Once the blog begins you have the opportunity of winning by going to their blog post for the day (Each author will post until Christmas Eve) and commenting on their post to go in the draw to win a book. Then by clicking on the rafflecopter link below, you will be entered in the grand prize draw for a $150 Amazon gift card.
Prizes: Drawn on Christmas Eve.
First prize: $150 Amazon gift card
Second prize: 30 ebooks
Third prize...Each comment on each author's blog will go in the draw for an e-book from that author. Some of out authors have also indicated there may be a print book for Aussie entrants!
So what are you waiting for? Come visit, get clicking, commenting and enter EVERY day. Stay posted... the blog hop begins tomorrow!
You will discover some wonderful new authors and some awesome books too!
It's like an advent calendar so bookmark this page and open a blog every day on the calendar below until Christmas! The more blogs you read, the more entries you have, and the more chances of winning the fabulous prize.
Our Facebook Group...click to join
Our Christmas Blog Hoppers
Click on the name when it's turned to blue to read the blog!
Ann B Harrison
Jenn J McLeod
Phillipa Nefri Clark
24th December is Prize Draw
So comment, tweet and share every day for lots of chances to win!
A good news bad news story!
The original copies of The Horse Thief have sold out - that's the bad news! The good news is that my lovely publishers HQ Fiction (Harper Collins) have given it a bright shiny new cover and re released it in B Format (that's the smaller, and cheaper print version). You should be seeing it in bookshops around about now. If you do I'd love to know. Just drop me a message and a photo on my Facebook page and I'll send you a little something.
I love the new cover, especially designed to match The Naturalist's Daughter which releases in just three weeks!
What do you think?
Incase you haven't read The Horse Thief here's the blurb!
When India Kilhampton is caught up in the heart-stopping excitement of the first Melbourne Cup her mind is made up. She will breed a horse to win the coveted trophy and reunite her fractured family. Determined to make her dream a reality she advertises for a horse breeder.
Jim Mawgan arrives at Helligen Stud in the Hunter Valley to take up the position. Jim however, has a mission: he must fulfil his father’s dying wish to right past wrongs and prove his ownership of the prized stallion Jefferson.
Jim and India discover they share a common goal but as the secrets of the past unravel old enmities surface. Although betrayed, will India save Jim before he is branded a horse thief and sentenced to death?
If you can't make it to the shops the lovely people at Booktopia have copies!
1808 Agnes Banks, NSW
Rose Winton wants nothing more than to work with her father, eminent naturalist Charles Winton, on his groundbreaking study of the platypus. Not only does she love him with all her heart, but the discoveries they have made could turn the scientific world on its head. When Charles is unable to make the long sea journey to present his findings to the prestigious Royal Society in England, Rosie must venture forth in his stead. What she discovers there will change the lives of future generations.
1908 Sydney, NSW
Tamsin Alleyn has been given a mission: travel to the Hunter Valley and retrieve an old sketchbook of debatable value, gifted to the Public Library by a recluse. But when she gets there, she finds there is more to the book than meets the eye, and more than one interested party. Shaw Everdene, a young antiquarian bookseller and lawyer seems to have his own agenda when it comes to the book – and Tamsin. In an attempt to discover the book’s true provenance Tamsin decides to work with him.
The deeper they delve, the more intricate the mystery becomes. As the lives of two women a century apart converge, discoveries rise up from the past and reach into the future, with irrevocable consequences…
,THE NATURALIST'S DAUGHTER will be available on December 16th. Just in time for Christmas! In the meantime you can pre-order, both print and ebooks, from the following websites:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2wdEoaD
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2iF8hvI
Amazon AUS: http://amzn.to/2vzm6xV
I'm thrilled to be part of the Writers at Dural author series with eleven great Australian writers. It will be held over three weeks at Dural library - on 4, 11 and 18 May from 10.30-12.
Please save the dates. We'd love to see you there!
4th May: Lisa Chaplin, Isolde Martyn, Cathryn Hein and Lizzy Chandler
11th May: TJ Hamilton, Sarah Barrie, Téa Cooper and Emily Madden
18th May: Mary-Anne McGregor, Shannon Curtis and Penelope Janu
You can book (just $5 to cover the cost of tea and biscuits) directly through the library website as well. www.thehills.nsw.gov.au/library
Books will be available for purchase (cash only) on the day, or the we will all be happy to sign copies of books you've already purchased!
In my misspent youth I had a passion for all things 'Cavalier'. I was a member of 'The Sealed Knot' - a bunch of diehards who dressed up and re-enacted battles from the English Civil War. At one stage I was firmly convinced that I was Nell Gywn reincarnated sadly I was seriously lacking her comic talent and other attributes!
When I came to Australia I buried my royalist leanings.Thanks to Alison Stuart and her swashbuckling 17th century romances every once in a while I have the opportunity to relive those days.
AND THEN MINE ENEMY is the first book in a two book series (FEATHERS IN THE WIND) spanning the years of the English Civil War from 1642- 1645.
To celebrate her new release Alison is giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card. Just scroll down to the bottom of the blog to enter!
AND THEN MINE ENEMY
A family ripped apart in a country divided by war . . .
England 1642: Hardened mercenary, Adam Coulter returns to England sickened by violence, seeking only peace, but he finds England on the brink of civil war. He has seen first-hand what that will mean for every man, woman and child and wants no part of it.
King or Parliament? Neutrality is not an option and Adam can only be true to his conscience, not the dictates of his family.
Having escaped a loveless marriage, Perdita Gray has found much needed sanctuary and the love of a good man, but her fragile world begins to crumble as Adam Coulter bursts into her life. This stranger brings not only the reality of war to her doorstep but reignites an old family feud, threatening everything and everyone she holds dear.
As the war and family tensions collide around them, Adam and Perdita are torn between old loyalties and a growing attraction that must be resisted.
Here's an excerpt…
A shudder of rain slewed across the sodden countryside, sending its cold fingers cutting through Adam’s already saturated cloak. He huffed out a misty breath and straightened his aching shoulders. Not for the first time he cursed his brother for summoning him to a meeting Adam knew would inevitably end in grief and recrimination.
The remote inn loomed out of the gloaming and led on by the cheerful light spilling through the front windows, Adam urged his weary horse forward. The miserable beast, the mud dragging at its every step, plodded forward.
A young boy ran from the stable, a sack over his head and shoulders. Adam threw him the reins e and, taking a deep breath, strode into the inn. He tossed his hat and gloves to the innkeeper, his numbed fingers fumbled at the ties of his cloak
‘His Lordship’s in the private parlour.’ The innkeeper scowled as he held the dripping garb at arm’s length.
Adam pushed open the door the man indicated. The two men seated beside a cheerful fire that burned in the wide hearth rose to their feet. His half-brothers schooled their faces to a neutrality that Adam knew would not last. As they faced him across the room, a growing sense of despondency gripped him as he stood before them. Once more the cuckoo in the nest, always the acknowledged baseborn son but not even given the protection of his father’s name.
Denzil Marchant, just as Adam remembered him, tall and powerful, with a mane of tawny hair like his father, and his younger brother Robin, as tall but of a slighter, elegant build, his hair more auburn and sleekly curling.
‘Denzil, Robin,’ Adam acknowledged them as he stepped into the room. ‘I wish I could say, well met, but I would be lying.’
‘Adam Coulter.’ The deliberate use of his full name jarred, as Denzil no doubt intended. ‘I would scarcely have recognized you. Hardly the darling of the court now, are you?’
‘I found lovelocks and pearl earrings something of a hindrance to the life of a soldier.’ Without waiting to be invited, Adam poured himself a full measure from the bottle.
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ABOUT ALISON STUART
Award winning Australian author, Alison Stuart learned her passion for history from her father. She has been writing stories since her teenage years but it was not until 2007 that her first full length novel was published. Alison has now published seven full length historical romances and a collection of her short stories. Her disposition for writing about soldier heroes may come from her varied career as a lawyer in the military and fire services. These days when she is not writing she is travelling and routinely drags her long suffering husband around battlefields and castles.
Connect with Alison at her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or subscribe to her newsletter for exclusive free reads, contests and more…
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