When you make a conscious choice to be happy, no one can take it away from you because no one gave it to you: you gave it to yourself.

A quote from April Green's - Bloom For Yourself Journal

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Welcoming Tony Riches and his book - ESSEX - Tudor Rebel - to my blog

 Today I'm welcoming Tony Riches and his book - ESSEX - Tudor Rebel - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

I am delighted to share an excerpt with you all, but first I will introduce the book as always.
ESSEX - Tudor Rebel

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, is one of the most intriguing men of the Elizabethan period. Tall and handsome, he soon becomes a ‘favourite’ at court, so close to the queen many wonder if they are lovers.

The truth is far more complex, as each has what the other yearns for. Robert Devereux longs for recognition, wealth and influence. His flamboyant naïveté amuses the ageing Queen Elizabeth, like the son she never had, and his vitality makes her feel young.

Robert Devereux’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Book Title: Essex – Tudor Rebel

Series: (Elizabethan Series, Book 2)

Author: Tony Riches

Publication Date: 9th April 2021

Publisher: Preseli Press

Page Length: 352 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Universal Link:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:

This novel is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

Now for the excerpt -

William Cecil’s House, Theobalds Manor, June 1578

The sun cast long shadows before Robert could be alone with Elizabeth. They escaped to her mother’s garden behind the house, where the delicate scent of roses filled the still summer air. The only sounds were the sleepy buzz of honeybees, and the trilling song of a skylark high overhead.

The stifling atmosphere of Trinity College, with its strict rules and relentless routine of study and prayer, seemed a world away. Robert no longer thought of Chartley Manor as home. His childhood seemed a different life, and Theobalds was where he was happiest.

Elizabeth smiled at him, her eyes twinkling with amusement. ‘Now you can tell me what it’s really like at university in Cambridge.’

‘I’ve learned some important lessons during my first year.’ He returned her smile. ‘They will serve me well, but are not what I expected when I first entered Trinity College.’

They’d reached her mother’s wooden bench seat. Shaded from the setting sun, the secluded spot had a good view of the garden, yet allowed them some privacy. Elizabeth sat and arranged her dress to stop it from creasing, then gestured for him to join her. ‘Tell me what you’ve been doing. I want to know everything.’

Robert wasn’t sure where to begin. ‘I’ve found my studies interesting enough, and my tutors are kind and encouraging, but I have to say after a whole year I have few real friends. Master Wright does his best for me, but I miss your company.’

Her cheeks reddened, and her voice softened, as if something had changed between them. ‘There must be other students your age?’

‘Some seek me out in the belief I’ll be of use to them.’ He shook his head. ‘They pretend friendship, yet only because I have the title of Earl of Essex. Much worse are those who do their best to unfairly provoke me.’

‘What do they say?’ She placed her hand on his arm.

‘They call down the corridors, like the cowards they are, “Your mother is a harlot, Essex!”’ Her eyes widened as he mimicked their harsh shouts. ‘One said she had my father poisoned.’ The comforting warmth of her hand rested on his arm, and he was glad to be able to tell her. ‘I try to ignore them, but their taunts trouble me, and one name keeps returning to my mind.’

‘Your godfather, Sir Robert Dudley?’ Elizabeth looked serious. ‘You told me your sister Penelope didn’t trust Dudley. She suspected your mother was seeing him while your father was away in Ireland.’

Robert nodded. ‘She said rumours begin from a grain of truth. Did you know Robert Dudley’s wife died in a fall down her stairs one day, while he was with the queen?’

Elizabeth’s hand went to her mouth. ‘Do you think he might have had his wife murdered?’

‘Who can know? I’ve been thinking about the day my father’s secretary, Edward Waterhouse, told us what happened in Dublin. There could be something about my father’s death he kept back, perhaps for good reason.’

‘You must find out, for your father’s sake.’

Robert agreed. ‘I shall write to Edward Waterhouse and ask about my father’s last days.’

The sun turned the sky a soft peach as they walked back to the house. He’d worried the bond between them might have changed – and it had, but for the better. Robert saw how her eyes shone when she laughed, and liked the feel of her hand on his arm. For the first time, he found himself wondering if they might marry, when he’d earned his degree and reached his majority.

He put the thought from his mind for now, and turned to her. ‘Why didn’t your brother attend university?’

Elizabeth looked serious. ‘My brother is being groomed to one day take our father’s place.’

‘To become the most important man in England?’

She nodded. ‘He will be well suited to it, as his private tutors prepare him for a life of court politics. There is talk he might go to Oxford.’

‘You sound as if you envy him?’

‘And you, with the Master of your college, Doctor John Whitgift, as your personal tutor.’

‘I’d not thought how it must be for you.’

‘I’m more fortunate than many girls my age, who learn little more than needlework and hope for an early marriage; my mother makes sure I have the best tutors. But it’s not the same.’

They reached the house. Robert silently rehearsed an apology for being so preoccupied with his own problems. The moment passed, but he’d glimpsed the resentment behind Elizabeth’s smile, and there was nothing he could do about it.

Robert Devereux’s remarkable true story continues in ESSEX- Tudor Rebel, the epic tale of loyalty and love and adventure follows Robert from his youth to his fateful rebellion.

 Tony Riches

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling Tudor historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. Tony’s other published historical fiction novels include: Owen – Book One Of The Tudor Trilogy, Jasper – Book Two Of The Tudor Trilogy, Henry – Book Three Of The Tudor Trilogy, Mary – Tudor Princess, Brandon – Tudor Knight and The Secret Diary Of Eleanor Cobham.

You can connect with Tony Riches via these platforms -






Amazon Author Page:


You can also learn more about the author and the book by visiting the other blogs on this tour.


That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe



Monday 24 May 2021

Welcoming H D Coulter and her book - Saving Grace: Deception. Obsession. Redemption - to my blog

  Today I'm welcoming H D Coulter and her book - Saving Grace: Deception. Obsession. Redemption - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

I'm delighted to share an excerpt with you all, but first I will introduce the book.

Saving Grace: Deception. Obsession. Redemption

Beacon Hill, Boston. 1832.

“You are innocent. You are loved. You are mine.”

After surviving the brutal attack and barely escaping death at Lancaster Castle, Beatrice Mason attempts to build a new life with her husband Joshua across the Atlantic in Beacon Hill. But, as Beatrice struggles to cope with the pregnancy and vivid nightmares, she questions whether she is worthy of redemption.

Determined to put the past behind her after the birth of her daughter Grace, Bea embraces her newfound roles of motherhood and being a wife. Nevertheless, when she meets Sarah Bateman, their friendship draws Bea towards the underground railroad and the hidden abolitionist movement, despite the dangerous secrets it poses. Whilst concealed in the shadows, Captain Victor Hanley returns, obsessed with revenge and the desire to lay claim to what is his, exposes deceptions and doubts as he threatens their newly established happiness.

Now, Beatrice must find the strength to fight once more and save Grace, even if it costs her life. 
Series: The Ropewalk series, Book 2 
Author: H D Coulter 
Publication Date: 11th May 2021
Publisher: Independently Published
Page Length: 330 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction 
You can purchase a copy of the book via -
Universal Link to other bookshops: 
Ropewalk; Rebellion. Love. Survival (The Ropewalk Series, Book 1) is only 0.99 on ebook during the tour. Here are the buy links: 
Universal Link to other bookshops:

Now for the excerpt -

Chapter 12

August 1832, Beacon Hill, Boston.

Joshua stared down at the sleeping baby in her crib. She was three months old now, and he had only held her twice, both times at Bea’s insistence. She was showing character now, little chuckles and smiles when Bea was playing with her. He noticed how protective his wife was over the baby, not letting her out of her sight, monitoring every tiny sound and each recent development. But he couldn’t deny that being a mother suited Bea, and the baby brought back a side of her he had missed. There was a light in her eyes, and a genuine joy in her world once more. The tiny little girl was looking more like Bea every day, and for that he was unspeakably grateful.

He shuffled around the room on his tiptoes as he collected his shoes and jacket, cursing the creaking floorboards as the baby moaned and twisted in her blanket. Bea had only fallen asleep an hour ago, and he knew it would disappoint her if he couldn’t leave without waking the baby. As the moans got louder, Joshua dropped his shoes and jacket on the ever-faithful velvet chair and quickly made his way over to the crib.

“Shush now, baby.” He never spoke her name; calling her baby gave him the distance he needed to persevere with their new life as a family. He placed a hand lightly on top of her chest, reassuring her with a move he had watched Bea make repeatedly, to soothe and quieten her in moments of unrest. Her little hands reached out and clung on to his thumb, her eyes wide and wondering, gazing up at his face in complete seriousness. He wondered at her tiny fingers, and how enormous his hand looked against her body. She let out a gummy greeting. He smiled back. She let out a little cry, a sign to be picked up, and a demand for comfort. Bea stirred in bed, ready to jump at her baby’s command. Without thinking, Joshua quickly scooped Grace up. Supporting the head, he held her tightly against his chest, feeling the little heart thump against his, and the warmth of her body. He felt her nestle in against his shirt as her morning drool created a damp patch, but he didn’t mind. She smelt like Bea He lowered his head down further and took a deep breath into her wisps of hair. There was also a sweet, lavender smell, and within a few moments he could hear her own breathing become deeper. He relaxed with her; doing it on his own terms wasn’t so bad after all. For months before she was born, he had feared he would hate her, especially if she had been a boy, a consistent reminder of Hanley. To his relief, she was a girl, and he didn’t hate her, but he also found that no matter how many days passed, and how much happier Bea grew, he couldn’t love her either. The only thing that mattered to him in the first couple of days, weeks, and months was Bea, and the fear of her leaving him alone in this world and he would have to bring up Hanley’s child alone. But Bea had survived. More than that, she now thrived as a mother, knowing that this little person was her entire world, one that she could contain and celebrate always. And for Joshua, that was enough. To gain glimpses of an old version of his love was enough for now, and he was occasionally even hopeful that in time, she would return to him completely.

He lost all track of time, watching her little hands and feet clutch at his under-shirt as she dreamed, her lips forming a pout, desiring milk again. He would have stayed there until she woke if Sarah hadn’t come through the door and reminded him he had work.

She gave him a surprised smile, filled with warmth, at finding him holding the baby whilst Bea slept.

“She stirred, and I - I didn’t want Bea to wake,” he whispered, feeling awkward at being discovered.

“Sir, your breakfast is waitin’ for you downstair’, I’ll take her until Mistress wakes.”

“Very good, thank you Sarah.”

She lent in and scooped Grace out of his arms in one swooping motion, swaying on the spot to settle her once more. As Joshua left the room and made his way down, his arms seemed naked, missing the weight from her body and the smell of her head. He tried to shrug it off, make out it was all nonsense. But as he helped himself to coffee, he knew deep down that she had done it; she had broken through his barrier. He now saw what Bea was trying to tell him, that Grace was innocent of everything that had happened before.

Joshua devoured his breakfast and almost jogged to the stables. He was running late, and he was never late. Mr Goldstein was an old-fashioned individual with traditional values, and believed a man should only interact with his child on a Sunday afternoon for a few hours, or sent to boarding school once they had turned five, never to be seen again until they were eighteen. As for wives, his attitude was remarkably similar: “Women? Hmmm, they are strange creatures, I leave them to it; don’t get yourself mixed up with all their drama, my boy.”

Joshua left his mare with the groom to be stabled and cleaned himself up.

“Ah - Mason, my boy, is it all done and sorted, then?” Mr Goldstein’s voice barked out the moment Joshua stepped over the threshold.

Joshua could make him out in one of the side offices. His broad frame always looked unusual against his small stature, but his rich, sonorous voice made him seem like a giant. Joshua paused for a moment. “Sir...!” Before he could begin, he heard scurrying footsteps on the floorboards above, followed by thundering footsteps coming down the stairs as George appeared, looking panicked. He had clearly covered for Joshua and was trying to save the situation before his line manager put his foot in his mouth. George held up a piece of paper on which Joshua glimpsed details of the ‘Lioness’ shipment, quickly dropping it when Mr Goldstein spun round, glaring at the interruption.

“Ah – Yes, sir, the... Lioness, is all sorted now.”

“Glad to hear it - it was a good thing you got here early, Mason, to sort it all out. Mr Carter, said customs wanted to make a search?” Trying to poke holes in his story, Joshua knew he hadn’t quite believed George’s explanation of his absence.

“Indeed, sir... One of their random checks. But I... I informed them of the rumours surrounding the recent Indian shipments. The fortunate result was that they postponed our checks for another day.” As soon as Mr Goldstein left, he knew he would need to inform the team on the boards to cover all bases.

Mr Goldstein let out an alarming gruff chuckle that Joshua hadn’t heard before. “Grand.”

Most of the customs men were endemic racists and took any excuse to throw their weight around with the more ‘exotic’ traders, searching their piers and shipments at the least excuse. Whilst Mr Goldstein liked to keep certain cargo on certain shipments on a low radar. The ‘Lioness’ being one of them.

“Men come at night, clear out part of the cargo and declare the rest in the morning... and if you want to keep your job sir, you don’t ask why... not even you.” George had told him on the first day working in the office.

“Now, Mason: Mrs Goldstein is organising a Gala to raise money for some sort of charity, you and your wife must attend. It’s in a month; I’ll get Mrs Goldstein to send out an invitation. A chance for you to meet your fellow employees.” It wasn’t a question; it was an order.

“It would please Mrs Mason and I greatly to attend. Thank you for the consideration, sir.” He knew Bea wouldn’t be happy about making the date, but once he explained he had no choice, he was sure she would understand. After all, now with Grace here, he couldn’t risk his job and reputation, not now their family was expanding.

H D Coulter 
Hayley was born and raised in the lake district and across Cumbria. From a young age, Hayley loved learning about history, visiting castles and discovering local stories from the past. Hayley and her partner lived in Ulverston for three years and spent her weekends walking along the Ropewalk and down by the old harbour. She became inspired by the spirit of the area and stories that had taken place along the historic streets. 
As a teacher, Hayley had loved the art of storytelling by studying drama and theatre. The power of the written word, how it can transport the reader to another world or even another time in history. But it wasn't until living in Ulverston did she discover a story worth telling. From that point, the characters became alive and she fell in love with the story. 
You can connect with the author via these platforms -
Sign up to Hayley’s newsletter between now and May 30th to be placed into a giveaway raffle for a personalised BookBox, including a signed copy of Ropewalk
and Saving Grace.

You can learn more about the author and the book by visiting the other blogs on this tour.

That's it for now.
Till the next time.
Take care Zoe.



Thursday 20 May 2021

Welcoming Cathie Dunn and her book - The Shadows of Versailles - to my blog

  Today I'm welcoming Cathie Dunn and her book - The Shadows of Versailles - to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

 I'm delighted to share an excerpt with you all, but first I will introduce the book.

The Shadows of Versailles

Dazzled by Versailles. Broken by tragedy. Consumed by revenge.

When Fleur de La Fontaine attends the court of King Louis XIV for the first time, she is soon besotted with handsome courtier, Philippe de Mortain. She dreams of married life away from her uncaring mother, but Philippe keeps a secret from her.

Nine months later, after the boy she has given birth to in a convent is whisked away, she flees to Paris where she mends gowns in the brothel of Madame Claudette, a woman who helps ‘fallen’ girls back on their feet.

Jacques de Montagnac investigates a spate of abducted children when his path crosses Fleur’s. He searches for her son, but the trail leads to a dead end – and a dreadful realisation.

Her boy’s suspected fate too much to bear, Fleur decides to avenge him. She visits the famous midwife, La Voisin, but it’s not the woman’s skills in childbirth that Fleur seeks.

La Voisin dabbles in poisons.

Will Fleur see her plan through? Or can she save herself from a tragic fate?

Delve into The Shadows of Versailles and enter the sinister world of potions, poisoners and black masses during the Affairs of the Poisons, a real event that stunned the court of the Sun King!

Book Title: The Shadows of Versailles

Series: An Affair of the Poisons, Book One

Author: Cathie Dunn

Publication Date: November 20th, 2020

Publisher: Ocelot Press

Page Length: 251 (ebook) / 277 (pb)

Genre: historical fiction / mystery

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:

The book is also on Kindle Unlimited. 

Now for the excerpt -

From Chapter One:

Mid-August, 1675

Château de Versailles

The air was still as Blanchefleur de La Fontaine climbed from the coach with the help of a footman. His brow was glistening with sweat from standing in the full sunshine, likely for hours. After only a few moments in the sun’s glare, the powder on Fleur’s face, neck and décolleté made her skin itch, and her hands grew damp.

Mother was already waiting in the shade provided by a makeshift pavilion erected to keep those waiting in line cool. Tapping her closed fan into her left hand, she was looking Fleur up and down. Fleur groaned inwardly. Sophie de La Fontaine’s expectations always exceeded the harsh reality that their family hailed from only minor nobility. This meant they were never granted rooms at the Palace of Versailles where King Louis, the fourteenth of that name, held yet another of his famous events.

They had travelled from Paris and booked themselves into a nearby inn. At the palace, space was limited to the highest courtiers, not available to minor landowners like the La Fontaines.

Fleur knew the slight irked her mother greatly, but she was relieved. The thought of spending days and nights in the company of the nobles of the court seemed daunting. She’d heard the rumours!

Fleur thanked the footman with a nod and adjusted her skirts, relishing the soft whoosh of the water silks against her calves, sticky with sweat. Fighting the urge to scratch the skin beneath the lace of her sleeves, Fleur walked towards her mother. Nervously, under the icy stare, she eyed her décolleté, then her corset and her ruffed skirts. All was as it should be. So what did the woman object to now?

Come here, closer.” Sophie, marquise de La Fontaine, waved her towards her, and Fleur obliged. Her mother ruffled the sleeves and pulled down her gown at the front, revealing more than a mere hint of Fleur’s breasts. “There’s not much to see here anyway, so we must show off whatever there is.”

Fleur shivered at the glint in her mother’s eyes. Quickly, she averted her gaze and fanned herself to dispel the heat in her rouge-painted cheeks. Everyone around them had seen what her mother had done. Some were grinning rudely, but others looked away. Fleur was certain it happened all the time. Mothers keen to parade their daughters like the chattels they were – a sure way to advertise a daughter to the large market of eligible young and not-so-young – men that flocked to court.

Perfect. Now try not to spoil it, Blanchefleur.” Sophie turned and walked up the carpeted path lined on both sides with large flower pots arranged in the most spectacular way. The scent of roses was almost overpowering.

No doubt to make sure people don’t smell each other in this heat.

She almost snorted behind her fan and meekly followed her mother. To the far side, she saw how the renovations of the former hunting lodge progressed. Soon, Versailles would be like no other palace in France, or anywhere else, for that matter. Her mother talked of little else these days, mostly in the vain hope that an invitation to stay would come fluttering into their home. Fleur knew it was in vain.

Sophie waited for her to catch up, then she turned her head slightly. “Tonight’s programme is very exciting: musical recitals, a performance of Racine’s tragic Iphigénie, and spectacular fireworks! The gardens will delight you. His Majesty has created the most stunning setting, and it’s not completed yet. But first we head inside. We should make ourselves known to some of our acquaintances. It can’t do any harm.” Fleur didn’t like the look Sophie sent her. The combination of ambition and calculation sent shivers down her spine. “Come!”

As she trailed Mother through the richly decorated rooms, she was under no illusion. Sophie had brought her here to find her a husband. The richer the better, and ideally above a marquis. Fleur rolled her eyes, giggling when a handsome young man she was passing laughed out loud. Had he seen her gesture? She smiled.

Blanchefleur!” Sophie’s polite façade couldn’t hide her cold eyes.

Fleur sent him an apologetic glance, then rushed after her mother, who was crossing yet another vast room where groups of lords and ladies were chatting. 

Cathie Dunn

Cathie Dunn writes historical fiction, mystery, and romance.

Cathie has been writing for over twenty years. She studied Creative Writing, with a focus on novel writing, which she now teaches in the south of France. She loves researching for her novels, delving into history books, and visiting castles and historic sites.

Her stories have garnered awards and praise from reviewers and readers for their authentic description of the past.

Cathie is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

After nearly two decades in Scotland, she now lives in the historic city of Carcassonne in the south of France with her husband, two cats and a rescue dog. 

You can connect with Cathie Dunn via these platforms -







Amazon Author Page:


 You can also learn more about the book and the author by visiting the other blogs on this tour.

That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe