Category Archives: Uncategorized

Book Review – ‘The Secret Wife’ by Gill Paul

the-secret-wifeA Russian grand duchess and an English journalist. Linked by one of the world’s greatest mysteries . . .

Love. Guilt. Heartbreak.

1914 Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger . . .

2016 Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret . . .Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience.

 ‘The Secret Wife’ is an engrossing read which takes the reader back to the days of the Russian Revolution and on through the years of the 20th century. It follows the life and loves of Dmitri, an aristocrat who has to flee from the communist regime not knowing where the woman he loves is, or even if she is still alive. It is a tale of war, romance, lost love and redemption. The book also follows the troubled life of Kitty, Dmitri’s great-granddaughter, whose research into the life of her ancestor helps her to come to terms with problems in her own life and helps her to make a decision about what she wants for her future. The two stories are expertly woven together into a novel which I found difficult to put down.

Ms Paul has written a truly captivating novel with strong characters and a strong, believable story line. The history, particularly the turbulent times surrounding the lives of the Romanov’s, has been well researched and is presented in a style which is easy to read yet immerses the reader in the political intrigue and violence of revolution and the life of a political refugee. Ms Paul also expertly delves into the psychological impact that such events would have on an individual. It is easy to sympathise with Dmitri as he struggles to come to terms with his changed circumstances, with Tatiana as she copes with violence and loss, and with Kitty as she understands why she is the person she is and finds a new direction for here future.

Many of the characters in this novel are actual historical figures about whom we know quite a lot, but historical evidence for what happened to some of them disappears after 1916/17. We do know the fate of some (no spoilers!), but it would be nice to think that Ms Paul’s story could be true!

If you like historical fiction, sagas, intrigue, strong characters and a story which draws you in right from the start then please give this book a read. I will certainly be reading more of Ms Paul’s books in the future.

Ms Pauls website can be found here

The Secret Wife can be found on Amazon

You can find more of my Recommended Reads here

 

Advertisements

Great books for Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching, and books are as popular as ever as gifts. The question is, how do you make a decision with so many to choose from? Maybe this will help:-

Do you know someone who likes
Heronfield

Historical fiction
Epic stories
Family sagas
World War 2
Books which are character driven
Great dialogue
Intriguing plot lines
A little bit of romance
If so, then ‘Heronfield’ could be just the book for them!

 

Check it out here,
or buy now

Print edition
Kindle
Other ebook formats

The Historical Novel Society says of ‘Heronfield’The characters are incredibly realistic; it is difficult to set Heronfield down. It would not be possible to write a story about the bravery of the soldiers or the Resistance without making sure that the reader is aware of just why they were so brave, and this is put across tactfully, but still gives the reader an idea of the horrors faced by these people. An amazing read.

‘Heronfield’ not the book for the person you are thinking off? Do they like

The Guardians

 

Supernatural stories
Ghosts
A little bit of history
A little bit of horror
Intriguing plot lines
Interesting characters

Then maybe ‘The Guardians’ would make a great sticking filler!

 

Check it out here, or buy now
Print edition
Kindle

Whatever you choose, I wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Christmas!

Book launch – The Guardians

If you have been waiting for my second book – the wait is over!

‘The Guardians’ is available on Kindle from today. Print version will follow soon.

The Guardians

The gold of El Dorado belonged to the Aztecs. Their gods will do anything to protect it.

It is all too easy to lose focus on what is really important in life when surrounded by the pressures and demands of modern living. It can take something extraordinary, something out of this world, to re-focus us on life’s priorities.

For archaeologist Rick Gibson the priority is to discover a ‘great find’ which will make him a household name, and he is prepared to sacrifice everything – his home, his wife, his son – to achieve this. After years of disappointment Gibson’s luck changes with the discovery of an ancient manuscript detailing the hiding place of the Aztec treasure of Montezuma. Gibson leads a dig to Mexico to uncover the famous treasure of El Dorado, but it is not as easy as he had assumed for the treasure is guarded. ‘The Guardians’ come from the world of the dead to protect the treasure and, one by one, the members of Gibson’s party suffer the consequences.

The suspense builds from a gentle beginning in suburban England to a terrifying climax with supernatural forces of good and evil battling for supremacy. Woven skilfully into the narrative are the questions which all humans face, and the answers to which will bring life, or death, for Gibson.

 

All Authors Blog Blitz

The All Authors Blog Blitz is a one day event to showcase authors and their work. Author Beem Weeks will be posting about my book, Heronfield, whilst here we can learn more about his great book, Jazz Baby.

Please do keep a look out on all social media on 15th June for all the other authors taking part in this Blog Blitz – you are sure to meet some great people and find some fantastic books!

Jazz Baby

By Beem Weeks

Jazz BabyEmily Ann “Baby” Teegarten is a young girl with big dreams. She has the sort of voice that convicts sinners simply through song. But Baby has bigger aspirations than singing spirituals to that Mississippi congregation on Sunday mornings during the summer of 1925. The girl yearns to sing jazz in the clubs way up in New York City. Her father is her biggest supporter, standing behind the girl every step of the way—until he passes away suddenly. Her mother, accused in the father’s demise, follows him to the grave shortly thereafter.

So what’s a poor white-trash orphan girl supposed to do to answer the call of her dreams? Her strict, Bible-believing Aunt Francine has ideas of her own for this tiny girl with the big voice. She brokers a marriage between Emily and Jobie Pritchett, the preacher’s son.

Emily Ann is a composite of several girls I’ve known over the years. There is a psychological element to this character that comes from reality, as harsh and dark as that might seem to some readers. She demanded to be written into existence. I could hear her voice, with that Mississippi lilt, calling out to me from the ether, arguing that it’s her time, so pick up that pen, author man, and get to writing.

What Jazz Baby is meant to be is a trip into the year 1925; a shared summer with one young girl trying to find her way in life, in the world of her day. I spent untold hours in researching the era and that region of the country, and human behavior in general. The thing about human behavior is, it doesn’t change, no matter the era in which we live. Stories from that era, told to me by my own grandfather, seem to suggest that the young people from the 1920s sought out the same things young people from the 2010s search after.

These weren’t asexual, sober, boring people back then. Not at all. The stories I heard, either directly or through eavesdropping, told tales of young and vibrant lives, of men and women on the prowl for good times, cheap booze, and dirty sex. Not at all different from today. (Google “vintage porn” and see how many nudie pics from the 1920s pop up.) The thing is, today we see our grandparents (mine are long dead) as old people who spend a lot of time in church, doing good and Godly things. But they were young once. Young, and quite different from who they are today. Humans grow older, we mature, we change. It’s part of the life experience.

I found it interesting that opium was a popular recreational drug in use during that era. Marijuana grew wild in parts of the country, going unmolested by the local authorities, many of whom would consider it silly to dedicate time, money, and effort in trying to eradicate a weed. The young people of the 1920s, the partiers, were the very ones partaking of these forbidden fruits.

One reviewer referred to the characters in Jazz Baby as “Blue Velvet-type characters.” I like that comparison, though that movie never once crossed my mind as I wrote the book. These are indeed a collection of strange and bizarre types. I’ve always loved stories that break from the normal novel template. Good, quirky characters are a blast to create. The idea for the character called “Pig” came from a documentary film on 1920s movie star Fatty Arbuckle. He’d watched his career ruined through a sexual scandal that had no basis in truth. But in Jazz Baby, this character truly is scandalous. He really has those “unnatural” appetites.

Even Emily Ann has a bit of the quirky in her. She’s fearless, reckless, and foolish, the way she traipses around the streets of New Orleans, running through the red-light district once known as Storyville, where she considers an invitation to allow her virginity to be auctioned to the highest bidder in a Storyville whorehouse. She’s a fan of bootleg whiskey, opium, and cigarettes, and she hasn’t a care in the world. Sexuality awakens in the girl, has her pondering the things that can take place between a boy and a girl–or between two girls. Is she bi-sexual? Labels mean nothing to Emily. And neither does race, as she spends much of her time in the company of “colored” jazz musicians, sharing intimacy with a certain piano player.

But the streets are quite dangerous for a young girl of Emily’s size and age. Not everyone she meets has her best interests at heart. This is where that reckless side could cost her more than she’s able afford. Dark characters have their own ideas for this girl, how best to profit from her talents–even her father’s best friend proffers his own schemes.

It took me upwards near ten years to complete this novel, with all the rewrites, the research, and a two-year abandonment. It is available at Amazon as a paperback or an ebook for Kindle.

Beem Weeks

 

 

 

To find out more about Beem, or to buy a copy of Jazz Baby, please use the links below:

At Amazon.co.uk the link is: http://www.tinyurl.com/lap5nvv

At Amazon.com the link is http://www.tinyurl.com/bbj4my7

For Barnes & Noble the link is: http://www.tinyurl.com/pdfvot7

Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6112818.Beem_Weeks

Blog site: http://www.beemweeks.wordpress.com/

 

Monsoon in Kamaraj Valley

When I lived in England rain was something we put up with grudgingly, but now that I am living in India I appreciate the value of the life giving rains.  All living things, man or beast, look forward to the monsoon and welcome its arrival.

This poem first appeared on my blog lakesideindia after the first monsoon rains of autumn 2012.

 

Monsoon in Kamaraj Valley

A gentle breeze from the west swirls, changes direction.

Blowing harder now, from the east.

Leaves fly from the trees;

Whirlwinds rise, dust whipped into life by the growing wind.

In the air the scent of rain.

 

Lake reflections shatter, broken by the growing waves

into a million pieces.

Lone egret takes flight.

Sambar lifts his head, questing the wind.  Turns silently

Into the forest, is gone.

 

Dark clouds billow, climbing high into the threatening sky.

The wind drops, eerie stillness descends.

Blinding flash of light.

Thunder rolls around the valley, echoes from the hills.

The sun shrouded, darkness descends.

 

The first drops raise dust, disappear into the parched earth.

Silence reigns, then thunderous roar

Of heavy rain on leaves.

Lake and mountains disappear, grey curtain hiding all.

Senses succumb to the rain.

 

Raindrops bounce, sparkling, shinning; consuming sunburned earth.

Roots reach out, greedily seeking;

Flowers raise their heads.

Verdant green revealed; leaves long hidden by yellow dust

Washed clean by the longed for rain.