On Tour with Rebecca Cohen and Idolatry (Reagalos: Book 2-Sequel to Servitude)

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Rebecca Cohen is on tour with the 2nd book in the Reagalos series, Idolatry.  Be sure to enter the contest for an ebook copies of Servitude and Idolatry by visiting the Rafflecopter link here.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Rebecca Cohen has also brought by an exclusive excerpt for ScatteredThoughts, don’t forget to check it out below!

 

 

 

Book Name: Idolatry (Reagalos: Book 2 – Sequel to Servitude)Idolatry600x600Banner
Author Name: Rebecca Cohen
Author Bio:

Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and baby son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.

Author Contact:
http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.cohen.710
http://www.twitter.com/R_Cohen_writes

idolatry_final02Title:  Idolatry by Rebecca Cohen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Shobana Apu

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner eBook   Paperback

Amazon      All Romance eBooks (ARe)

Blurb:

Upon taking the throne as High Lord of Katraman and Liege of Scura, Lornyc Reagalos’s focus on rebuilding one city and reassuring another leaves little time for his husband, Methian. Added to that, he must contend with is the unexpected revelation that his grandfather, Romanus, set up his own religion and named an enigmatic figure called The One as its deity. Through some twisted interpretation of the signs left by Romanus, the Cerulean Cult comes to believe Lornyc is their god and invites him to sanctify the Cult as part of its five-hundred-year anniversary. During the Sanctification Ceremony, the Cult’s holy relic, an orb given to it by Romanus, is split, releasing an entity that tears a hole in the dimensions. The species that guards the dimensions, the Valen, force Lornyc to fix the breach, or they will have him extinguished.

 Idolatry Special Excerpt

 

Methian had complained when Lornyc rolled out of bed, but he’d learned years ago how to wiggle out of Methian’s grasp and dodge his wayward hands. They still had a few hours before dinner and more than enough issues piling up in his office.

What Lornyc didn’t expect to find on his desk was a pair of black leather boots. He stopped in midstride, still holding the door handle as the chair swung around. The chair’s occupant’s long copper hair fell loosely over her shoulders, and she smiled coldly as Lornyc slammed shut the door.

“So you’re back,” said Lornyc sourly.

He hadn’t factored in the prospect of Diam’s return so soon into the mess he was already trying to deal with.

“I told you I would be.”

“Back for babysitting duties?”

“Your words, Lornyc, not mine.” Diam clasped her hands together and rested them on her midriff. “Are you saying you need babysitting?”

“What do you want, Diam? I’ve more than enough things to keep me occupied without your interference. You would think that a race of superior beings would have better things to do than watch over me.”

“We all have our jobs to do. And my current one is to be your guardian and keep you out of trouble.” She stood “I’m going to be here a lot, so I’d get used to the idea if I was you.”

“And what makes you think I’m going to put up with you?” sneered Lornyc.

“Who says you have a choice? You might think your powers are something special. But I could crush you in a heartbeat.”

“Then why don’t you?” Lornyc stepped toward her, standing only inches away. He was tired and angry, the last few weeks had been nothing but relentless, and he’d had enough of the constant demands placed upon him. “Last time we met, you told me you were my guardian, but are you really here to protect others from me? Perhaps you should just remove me now and you’d be able to do something more worthwhile with your time.”

She laughed and patted Lornyc on the shoulder and the force of it almost sent Lornyc flying. He staggered backward but managed to remain on his feet.

“I like you, Lornyc. You’ve got balls.”

 

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IdolatryBadgeTour Dates & Stops:
9/4: Prism Book Alliance, Parker Williams
9/5: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
9/8: Fallen Angel Reviews
9/9: The Hat Party
9/10: Havan Fellows
9/11: Love Bytes
9/12: The Novel Approach, 3 Chicks After Dark
9/15: Amanda C. Stone, LeAnn’s Book Reviews
9/16: MM Good Book Reviews
9/17: Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings

Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway for the Rafflecopter Prize: An e-copy of Servitude & Idolatry

Review: Forever Hold His Peace (The Crofton Chronicles #3) by Rebecca Cohen

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5 (rounded up to 5)

Forever Hold His Peace coverAnthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton,and Sebastian Hewell have found happiness and love with each other during the perilous era of Queen Elizabeth.  A marriage born out of politics and deception, Sebastian has to play the role of his twin sister, Bronwyn, as the wife of the  Earl in order for them to be together.   Just as they had adjusted to their married state and become a family than another threat arrives at Crofton Hall.  Someone has started to spread rumors that Lady “Bronwyn” is a witch who used her powers to ensnare her rich husband.  As the rumors gather momentum, small herbs and items used in witchcraft are planted to make sure that Bronwyn/Sebastian is investigated by the Sheriff.  Such an accusation would ensure that Anthony and Sebastian’s deception would be uncovered when the Sheriff arrives to take “Bronwyn” off to jail, destroying them both.

While Anthony and Sebastian try to figure out who is behind the plot against them, they decide that they have no other course but to “lay Bronwyn to rest” sooner than they had anticipated.  But first they have to delay the Sheriff’s investigation while beginning their own, and all the while planning Bronwyn’s final illness and funeral.  With so much at stake, including their heads, will they be able to find a way to stay together long after “Lady Bronwyn” has been laid to rest?

The first two stories in the Crofton Chronicles were wonderful, somewhat frothy fare that I throughly enjoyed.  Rebecca Cohen put her two main characters through a romantic romp while staying true to the period and the perilous politics found at Queen Elizabeth’s court. In The Actor and the Earl and  Duty to the Crown, we have gotten to know and love actor Sebastian Hewell and the Earl of Crofton, Anthony Redbourne. First as their planned marriage was designed by court politics and Sebastian’s uncle. Sebastian’s decision to impersonate his identical twin sister, Bronwyn, was born out of desperation when she decided to elope with her blacksmith love.  Astonishingly, Sebastian’s deception was met with delight by Anthony whose proclivities for men had to remain hidden.  Their subsequent marriage and love surprised them both with its happiness and success while delighting us with all the obstacles and adjustments that had to be made by both men and the few staff in on the switch.  From the wigs and corsets that plagued Sebastian to the gossips and maneuverings at court, all the details Cohen included just added depth and authenticity that was remarkable as it was subtle.

From the beginning of the Crofton Chronicles, Rebecca Cohen crafted a lively, entertaining romance that spread across two years. And while she was entertaining us with their lusty antics, jealous stages, and finally love, she was also educating, however gently, about the reign of  Queen Elizabeth the First and the politics of that era.  Court intrigue was only as far away as a pot of vermilion or ceruse, face paint favored by the Queen and demanded at court.   The court and social intrigue seen was due to Anthony’s title and status as a Queen favorite.  But the reader is also steeped in stage  and plays of William Shakespeare as well as the construction of the Globe Theatre because of Sebastian’s profession as an actor.  We are lucky to get both of their worlds and everything in between.  It brought these stories to life just as assuredly it did Cohen’s characters.  I loved all the minutiae and atmosphere as much as I did the characters.  It never felt overdone. Instead it came across as an intelligent, marvelous bit of staging.

But unlike the first two novels, Forever Hold His Peace concerns the dissolution of a marriage through a “death” instead of two men in love adjusting to their union and deception.  The first two were fun, and while danger was never far away, the romance and happiness were at the center.  Not so here.  Forever Hold His Peace is a much darker, sadder story.  As it has to be.  Sebastian and Anthony’s deception was never expected to last and always present was the idea that “Bronwyn” came with a time limitation.  So their happiness was always a fragile thing.  Now, someone has maneuvered Sebastian and Anthony into killing off Bronwyn sooner then they had anticipated.  The plot that forces their hand is a ruthless and potentially deadly one.   Rebecca Cohen’s knowledge of that era is displayed in the references to the herbal plants and roots that also have “witchcraft” overtones, like the mandrake.  The very idea of witchcraft was taken seriously and the end result for the person identified as a witch was horrific.

There are so many plot threads at work here.  The plan to force Anthony and Sebastian to get rid of Bronwyn, their investigation, and Bronwyn’s death.  And finally Anthony’s revenge on the person behind it all.  And overlaying it all, is the sadness and uncertainty of Sebastian and Anthony at their changing relationship and new status.  I was surprised by how much this upset me even though I knew it was coming.  From Sebastian’s maid/substitute mother Miriam saying goodbye to the idea of young William losing one more mother, I admit to weeping more than a few tears.  But what really put me over the edge was the Epilogue.

Epilogues tend to be hit or miss with me.  Either they miss the point of an epilogue entirely or they go too far.  I am still trying to decide about the epilogue here.  Part of me wants to think it went too far into the future giving me more than I wanted to know and another side of me is content to see how it all played out.  I’m still thinking about it so I guess it did its job and then some.

Some elements here felt a tad long, such as intricacies of Anthony’s revenge plot and its resolution. It managed to reveal the opposition to Queen Elizabeth and the plots against her  while discussing some of the issues that came from having a “virgin” Queen. I’m not sure it needed all that but enjoyed the information anyway. Still, Forever Hold His Peace is my favorite story of the series, for all its sadness and weight or maybe because of it.   The characterizations felt deeper and more layered, perhaps because of the seriousness of the issues they were dealing with.  Even Sebastian’s real sister Bronwyn came across more fully realized than ever before.  The threat of death will do that.   There is room to add to the Crofton Chronicles here as a new heir apparent appears at the end with all of Anthony’s appreciation of men intact.  I would love to see Rebecca Cohen continue with the Croftons to see where it may take them, perhaps to the New World and beyond.

Whether that happens or not, I absolutely recommend The Crofton Chronicles to all lovers of m/m romance and m/m historical fiction.  Read all the books in the order that they were written to see the romance begin, mature, and perhaps even end in a way.  I loved these stories and think you will too.  I’m still thinking about them, Anthony and Sebastian.  So what does that tell you?  They are a most memorable couple.  Make your introduction to them today.

 Book Details:

book, 200 pages
Published June 16th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 15th 2014)
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5090&cPath=55_462
seriesThe Crofton Chronicles #3

Cover art by Anne Cain.  My favorite cover of the three stories, love the models and the emotion conveyed. Lovely.

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press         Amazon              ARe

Books in The Crofton Chronicles:

The Actor and the Earl (The Actor and the Earl #1)
Duty to the Crown (The Actor and the Earl #2)
Forever Hold His Peace  (The Crofton Chronicles #3)

On Tour: Interview with Rebecca Cohen on her latest release, Forever Hold His Peace

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ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is happy to have Rebecca Cohen with us today to talk about her latest book Forever Hold His Peace and m/m fiction.  

Contest: There is a Rafflecopter contest to go along with this book tour.  The Rafflecopter Prize: E-Copy of the new book, “Forever Hold His Peace – Crofton Chronicles: Book Three.   Visit here to enter.

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STRW  Why did you choose to write M/M stories ?

RC:  This might sound a little odd, but I wasn’t so much actively choosing to write M/M, but more a particular story worked better when the main male characters were lovers. In Servitude, my first published novel, my main character Lornyc has to serve a magical contract to another character called Methian. I tried several things, but once I wrote them as secret lovers, it all clicked into place. It took a long time to write Servitude (7 years from start to publication) and in the beginning I didn’t even realize there was such a thing as M/M as a specific genre, but I really enjoyed writing the dynamics between the male characters. Let’s just say I never looked back!

STRW:  What was your inspiration for this particular story?

RC: Forever Hold His Peace is the final Crofton Chronicle and as with each of the other Elizabethan novels it is a nod to a specific Shakespeare play – for this one its Hamlet (or rather Laertes and Ophelia). Also you might recognise the title from the wedding service, and someone in the story really should’ve have held their peace over Sebastian and Anthony’s relationship. With this being the last in the series, I really wanted to give my boys a good sending off, so a happy ending was an absolute must.

STRW:  What makes a character a hero to you?

RC:To me being a hero is not about grand gestures but doing what needs to be done, even in the face of adversity. Bravery comes in many forms, and sometimes it is the little things that can make a big impact on others. Sebastian in the Crofton Chronicles begins playing his sister to uphold his family’s honour. And despite the risk he could be executed if he was found out, he continues to play his role as Lady Crofton out of love for Anthony.

STRW:  How much research to you do for any particular story?


RC:   I love research, having trained in a scientific discipline it’s a hard habit to break! And it’s a good job, as you can imagine the historical novels take a lot of work to get them right. But even for other genres I put the background work in too. For sci-fi and fantasy I like the premises to have recognisable concepts, even though they might not completely align with our universe or current scientific knowledge.


STRW: Is there any specific genre of writing you don’t connect with and which ones are your favorite to write?

RC:  I must admit that there is one genre that leaves me cold, and maybe it is because I’m a Brit, but I’ve never really connected with Westerns/cowboys. But when it comes to writing I have a terrible problem. I can’t stick to one genre – fantasy, historical, sci-fi, contemporary … I love to write them all. Each one has its challenges, but I love the freedom of high fantasy, and to some extent sci-fi, but the historical and contemporary genres also give me a buzz for creating something that can still be magical, but within the boundaries of our world.

Thank you, Rebecca, for stopping by today.  An excerpt from Forever Hold His Peace and all the tour dates and stops (each with a different excerpt to read) is listed below.

Author Bio:

I’m a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, I have left London behind and now live with my husband and baby son in Basel, Switzerland. I can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.

Forever Hold His Peace (final Crofton Chronicle novel) will be released June 2014 and Idolatry (sequel to Servitude) is due out Autumn 2014.

My current WIPs are Saving Crofton Hall (a modern Crofton spin off from the Elizabethan novels), Under Glass (a sci-fi novel) and Overly Dramatic (contemporary rom-com)… that should keep me busy for a while!

You can contact/follow Rebecca Cohen at the following:

ForeverHoldHisPeace (3)Book Details:

Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Blurb(s):

Sebastian Hewel has never been happier. But his life playing the role of his twin sister Bronwyn, the wife of Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, is about to change. Rumors abound that Bronwyn is using witchcraft to enthrall her husband, and false evidence has been found. Practicing witchcraft is a crime that could have Bronwyn brought in for questioning by the sheriff, and that would reveal Sebastian and Anthony’s secret.

Together they must decide whether it is time to lay Bronwyn to rest. Anthony intends to ensure that whoever implicated Bronwyn pays for the treacherous deed. Whatever happens, Sebastian and Anthony must prepare to face an unknown future together.

Buy Links:  Dreamspinner Press Ebook  DSP Print      Amazon

 

As this is an excerpt tour, each blog will have their own unique excerpt. Visit each site and check them all out! The excerpt for ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords can  be found at the end of the post.

ForeverTourBadgeTour Dates: June 23 – July 7
Tour Stops:
June 23: Hearts on Fire, Parker Williams
June 24: 3 Chicks After Dark, MM Good Books
June 25: Amanda C. Stone, Pants Off Review
June 26: Love Bytes, Iyana Jenna
June 27: Havan Fellows, Kimi-Chan, LeAnn’s Book Reviews
June 30: My Fiction Nook, Tara Lain
WillPrideJuly 1: Nephylim, Cate Ashwood
July 2: Jade Crystal, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
July 3: Elisa Rolle
July 4: The Hat Party
July 7: Prism Book Alliance

 

Forever Hold His Peace book excerpt (NSW): The reader acknowledges that they are over the age of 18 if they continue reading… Continue reading

Review: Duty to the Crown (The Crofton Chronicles #2) by Rebecca Cohen

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Duty to the Crown coverAnthony Redbourne and Sebastian Hewel, in the role of Lady Bronwyn, wife of the Earl of Crofton, are still new to their marriage and arrangement of deceit.  Madly in love with one another, Sebastian and Anthony are still adjusting to married life while making sure that their deception is kept carefully hidden or both will loose their heads. They would prefer to stay at Anthony’s country estate but orders from the Queen cannot be ignored as Queen Elizabeth requires Anthony’s assistance with a threat to the Crown.

The Queen wants Anthony to seduce Marie Valois, the beautiful daughter of a French noble who is wanted by the King of France as well as Queen Elizabeth.  Just the idea of Anthony courting and perhaps even bedding another breaks Sebastian’s heart.  Most perplexing of all, Anthony doesn’t seem to understand just how painful it would be for Sebastian to watch Anthony flirt and  wait on another.  However, Fate has someting else in store for all.  When Marie’s brother, the hot headed and handsome Nicholas, arrives at Crofton Hall, to protect his sister from the scandalous advances of Lord Redbourne, it’s Anthony who’s upset when Nicholas starts to court  Lady “Bronwyn” under his very nose.

As the plans and games shift,  Anthony soon realizes that his old ways could cost him everything he loves.  As the danger of exposure mounts, something worse lurks at the edges of court politics and family pride, especially when Sebastian’s uncle returns to the scene with his own demands.  Will Anthony and Sebastian keep their marriage and deception safe or will duty to the crown bring everything tumbling down around them.

A sequel to The Actor and The Earl, Duty to the Crown continues the mad historical romp and romance between Lord Anthony Redbourne. Earl of Crofton and Sebastian Hewell, now married to the Earl as Lady Bronwyn while still pretending to be her twin brother Sebastian as well.  Newly wed, Anthony and Sebastian are juggling their new status while trying to keep their deception a secret from the Queen and court.  Rebecca Cohen manages to combine historical accuracy and an imaginary duplicitous romance in an entertaining and totally enjoyable tale of royalty and love.

As with the first story in the series, Cohen brings the facts of life in Queen Elizabeth era to life in all its malodorous, intrigue centric, white faced glory.  From the odors of a sweltering London in the summer to the high politics and intrigue of Queen Elizabeth’s court, Cohen’s characters and settings are so vividly described that one almost flinches at the thought of walking in these character’s shoes during that time period.  With faces covered in white (ceruse) and topped off with vermilion, the sea of chalky faces, high odor, and lacy garments must have been quite a sight and smell to behold.  No heads could said to be safely sitting on their shoulders, as the Tower and the Queen’s whim were a deadly combination.  The court itself was a gossipy, envious sea of people jockeying for position and favor, where the wealthy tread carefully while sniping at each other.  Cohen does a beautiful job here with her locations and settings as all come across as authentic and believable.

Into this maelstrom of gamesmanship and politics, Cohen plops poor Sebastian, now Lady Bronwyn, who is unequipped and new to the court’s intrigue and gossip, especially where it concerns his husband’s past ways and his own “plain” appearance.  Cohen quickly builds on Sebastian’s insecurities and fear as the snide comments and glares get to Sebastian while at court.  From the scenes and dialog, the ease and safety that Anthony and Sebastian find being cocooned at Crofton Hall is dispensed with once they head to London with all its peril and dangers.  The contrast between the country and the city are remarkable just as it must have been at that time.

The romance and love affair that started in The Actor and the Earl is deepening here.  Cohen brings Anthony’s young son into the relationship with heartwarming accuracy to the times.  The interaction between “Lady Bronwyn”, Anthony, and William is a delight and it makes this family unit even more precious and endearing.   And fragile.   Because despite all the wonderful, loving scenes between Sebastian and Anthony, and his son, the reader has the knowledge in the back of their mind that all this could be taken away instantly with one terrible discovery.  The tenuousness of the arrangement and the danger inherent in the deception is a constant factor throughout the story, made more so by demands from Sebastian’s uncle and a determined suitor from France.

Anthony becomes a more accessible character here as he continues to grow and reflect on his past.  More changes are in store for the people we have met in the previous story as well.  If there is a drawback here in Duty to the Crown, it is that you must read the first story in order to understand all the events and circumstances that lead up to Sebastian and Anthony’s deception and marriage.  There is a lack of back history to this sequel that might confuse a first time reader.  That said, I feel that Duty to the Crown builds beautifully on The Actor and the Earl, deepening the relationship and romance between the main characters while adding more history and flavor to the time and setting.  I loved this story and am moving on to the third in the trilogy, Forever Hold His Peace (The Crofton Chronicles #3).

Need a new romance?  Love historical novels? Consider this story, Duty to the Crown, and The Actor and the Earl highly recommended.  Grab them both up now and start your adventure now.

Cover art: Anne Cain.  Lovely but I wish there was a bit more about the design that reflected the times and clothing.

Books in the Crofton Chronicles include:

The Actor and the Earl (The Actor and the Earl #1)
Duty to the Crown (The Actor and the Earl #2)
Forever Hold His Peace (The Actor and the Earl #3)

Buy Links: DSP    Amazon     ARe

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Published March 4th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623803691 (ISBN13: 9781623803698)
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3637
seriesThe Crofton Chronicles #2

Summer Has Begun and the Week Ahead at Scattered Thoughts….

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Summer officially started yesterday and already I feel as though I am behind in my normal summer activities.    The late winter combined with a cold and rainy spring has meant all my gardening chores were delayed well into late Spring.  Now my gardens are playing catchup with flowers blooming out of season and major replantings necessary due to the frigid conditions that saw many of the temperate plants perish.   On the downside I lost some of my favorite plants like my old rosemary bush and many of my lavenders.  On the plus side?  I get to redesign some spaces and bring in new plants I have always wanted in my gardens.

Funny how things always seem to happen that way.  Old things give way to new, cycles continue whether you want them to or not.  Change arrives and its what you make of it that matters.  Mourn the old if you must but welcome the new and see where it takes you…..gardening lessons that work no matter what you are actually applying them to.  Weed out the extraneous from your life.  Mulch and prune as necessary.  Fertilize and nuture.  Water and let go.   Repeat…appreciate the seasons.    And keep the terriers from hunting the toads…..that foaming at the mouth is nasty and the toads don’t like it either.

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Winner Announcement: Winner of the “Looking After Joey” contest is Jo johannasnodgrass@yahoo.com. Jo has been contacted by myself and David Pratt. Congratulations to Jo.  My thanks to David Pratt for the wonderful interview and book giveaway.

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My week ahead at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is looking like this:

Monday, June 23:         Cold Feet by Lee Brazil

Tuesday, June 24:          Miles and the Magic Flute by Heidi Cullinan

Wed., June 25:               G.B. Lindsey “One Door Closes” Book Tour/Contest

Wed., June 25:               Voodoo ‘n’ Vice by K.C. Burn

Thursday, June 26:       Book Blast:  Lee Brazil and “Less Than All” (contest)

Thursday, June 26:       Swords, Sorcery and Sundry by Mina  MacLeod

Friday, June 27:             Author Spotlight: An Interview with Mina MacLeod (contest)

Friday, June 28:            Book Blast: Draven St. James and “Fused By Fire” (contest)

Saturday, June 29:        Duty to the Crown by Rebecca Cohen

 

Happy Reading…now off to the gardens while the sun shines…

Review: The Actor and the Earl (The Crofton Chronicles #1) by Rebecca Cohen

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Actor and the Earl coverWhen Elizabethan actor Sebastian Hewel’s twin sister Bronwyn elopes unexpectedly, it leaves him and his uncle in a huge mess.  His uncle had accepted money from the Earl of Crofton for her hand in marriage.  That money was to pay off Sebastian’s father’s debt to his uncle.  Now with one shocking action, everything his uncle had arranged was in jeopardy and that was money that the poor actor had no way of paying back.  His cousin’s solution?  For Sebastian to take his sister’s place at meeting between the Earl and Bronwyn prior to the wedding to give them time to find Bronwyn and bring her back.

For Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, a marriage is just the thing he needs to quiet the voices at court about his “peculiarities” , sexual appetites that could cost him his head.  Queen Elizabeth will only approve of marriages to families whose loyalty to her is unquestionable.  The Hewels are just such a family and the marriage to Bronwyn is the perfect solution.

At the meeting between “Bronwyn” and Anthony nothing goes as planned.  Sebastian finds the Earl not only handsome but shrewdly intelligent as Anthony guesses at the real identity behind the skirts.  But instead of anger and outrage, the Earl applauds the deception and suggests an arrangement.  Sebastian will marry the Earl and play the part of his sister for a year.  And if the arrangement includes the benefits of a marriage bed for both, even better given their proclivities and the lethal consequences should they be found out.

Sebastian is warned by those in the know not to fall for the Earl because of his inability to remain satisfied by one partner.  But what happens when the heart isn’t listening and Sebastian finds himself falling in love for the first and only time in his life.

I always approach a historical fiction story with trepidation.  Why?  Because quite a few authors I have read forget the first rule of historical fiction is an accurate setting and an attention to detail. Historical fiction of any type is, in my opinion, one of the hardest genres to write.  Not only does the author have the usual elements to create and incorporate, such as plot, characters, and setting, but in addition the historical aspect of any work must include an authenticity of that era to make it believable.  To render a historical story authentic an author should pay particular attention to details such as the type of clothes worn, laws and societal norms, art, music, architecture, and yes, even dialog.  To get it right means research, research, and more research.   You would be amazed how often that doesn’t happen.   Alexander Bell’s invention of the telephone is put in the wrong year. Dates are mixed up along with royal families, scandals, and types of dress.  And when that happens and is spotted, then it almost always ruins the story as time is spent searching for more errors than is spent involved in the plot and characters with the reader thinking…”well, if they got that (fill in the blank) wrong, what else will I find…”

Why do I point all this out?  Because Rebecca Cohen gets it right in The Actor and the Earl.   And I can’t begin to tell you how much that increased my enjoyment of this already entertaining tale.  Some of the historically accurate highlights were the mention of premier pamphleteer  Thomas Nashe’s The Choice of Valentines and Philip Sydney’s The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia. The Globe is almost finished construction, and Queen Elizabeth holds court with a face painted white using ceruse and vermillion for the lips and cheeks. Cohen slides these facts into her story with a subtly I appreciated and in a manner that helps to set the time frame for her story.  I love it when authors get it right without making it seem like an information dump.  Great job.

So with her background and setting firmly in place, Rebecca Cohen then goes on to give the reader some wonderful characters to follow and root for.  First off is 20 year struggling actor Sebastian Hewell.  Sebastian rebelled against his uncle’s plans for him after his father perished and left him with debts.  Sebastian has worked for years as an actor but at his age, romantic roles (the female ones) are getting scarce.  I fell in love with Sebastian in the back dressing room of the theater where he was working.  He feels young, ruefully aware of his waning future and still determined to do it on his own.  Such vulnerability in Sebastian works to pull in the reader’s affections and keep us engaged throughout the story.

Another astonishing twist is his sister, Bronwyn.  In most stories, Bronwyn would be slender, gorgeous, and extremely feminine,  Not so here.  Bronwyn is plainfaced (as is Sebastian supposedly), straightforward, blunt, a true force of nature.  I loved her.  The scenes with her, Sebastian and Anthony were priceless, especially when she is putting the Earl in his place with a “fat assed pig” bit of name calling.  Did I want more of Bronwyn?  Why, yes I did!

Anthony Redbourn was a character that left more questions in my mind then I felt the story answered.  There were hints of a special role he played for Queen Elizabeth that never came forward.  Is Anthony a spy perhaps?  We don’t know, only that he is favored at court and on call for the Queen at her whim.  I loved the accurate picture Cohen paints of London at that time.  Smelly and rank, especially in the summer, people fled to their country estates to escape the heat and the odors that overpower you in the city.  It came across as just as unpleasant as it probably was, especially for the women who had to travel by coach.   The Earl’s estate is beautifully described along with the dinners served, which made me sort of queasy. Ah, the picky tastes of the modern person.  Still for all the authenticity framing the character, it was the character himself that was a little lacking.  A man in his 30’s, arrogant and confident, his switchover to impulsive and jealous felt surprising.

I wish we had more of a romance between Sebastian and Anthony, although the sex was plentiful.  I believed in them as a couple and just wished for a little more of a foundation to base their love on then the brief interludes we got.  There are also some elements here sure to upset those readers who like their pairings chaste and of the “cleaving only to each other” type.  Anthony is a “womanizer” and a flirt, that’s not going to change overnight and doesn’t.  There are some holes in the plot with questions about how gullible the upper classes would be with Bronwyn and Sebastian switching in and out of their role. But those were my only quibbles and my enjoyment in this lighthearted historical romp didn’t falter because of them.

There are already three stories in this series to date.  I have listed all below.  I am already on to the next one to see how Sebastian and Anthony are faring and will let you know how that works out.  In the meantime, if you want a pleasurable, accurate historical romance, then The Actor and the Earl just might be the story for you.  Don’t expect a lot of drama or mystery, perhaps that’s coming next.  This is the beginning of a romance….let’s see where Rebecca Cohen will take us next.

Cover art by Anne Cain.  Cain’s cover is a wonderful representation of the story.  Sebastian’s looking pretty good in both genders.

Buy Link:  Dreamspinner Press     ARe         Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st Edition, 206 pages
Published November 30th 2012 by Dreamspinner Press (first published November 2012)
original titleThe Actor and the Earl
ISBN 1623801516 (ISBN13: 9781623801519)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3429
seriesThe Crofton Chronicles #1

Books in The Crofton Chronicles Series are in the order they were written and should be read:

The Actor and the Earl (The Actor and the Earl #1)
Duty to the Crown (The Actor and the Earl #2)
Forever Hold His Peace (The Actor and the Earl #3)

Winner Announcements and the Week Ahead in Reviews, Book Tours and Giveaways

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 ✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍

 It’s been a busy week at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords with May ending and June  just beginning.  It feels like summer is about to begin.  Vacation for some, beach for some, and plenty of wonderful books to read and listen to for all.

Up this week I have cowboys, a mad historical impersonation, chefs, a mystery, and some mad knitters.  Two long awaited sequels are here.  One is Amy Lane’s Blackbirds Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair.  For those of you who have been following this Granby series and want to  know what happened to Jeremy Bunny, here is your answer.  And Sue Brown continues with her Isle of Wight series with Isle of Waves.  Don’t miss a day this week.

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Congratulations to the following winners of 3 Authors Book Contests.  They have been notified.  Thank you to all who left comments!  Happy Reading!

 

 Winner Announcements!

Winner of RJ Scott’s Giveaway is penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

Winner of Katey Hawthorne’s Fairy Bound giveaway is MHupp20032003 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Winner of S.A. McAuley’s Powerless Book Giveaway is H.B.

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The Week Ahead at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords:

Monday, June 2:             Let It Ride Book Tour with L.C. Chase (contest)

Monday, June 2:             Let It Ride (Pickup Men #2) by L.C. Chase

Tuesday, June 3:             Book Blast/Contest: Their Plane From Nowhere by Princess So

Wed., June 4:                   Dinner at Home by Rick R. Reed

Thursday, June 5:           Blackbird Knitting in the Bunny’s Lair by Amy Lane

Friday, June 6:                 On Tour with D.T. Peterson and The Cove (contest)

Friday, June 6:                The Isle of Waves by Sue Brown

Sat., June 7:                      The Actor and the Earl by Rebecca Cohen

Review of Lashings of Sauce Anthology

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3rdRating: 4.5 stars

Lashing: British slang for lots or large amounts.  In celebration of 2012 Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 3rd Annual UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet, a lashing of authors from all over the Globe put forth an GLBTQ anthology of stories that highlight everything that makes Britain  (and mainland Europe) a great place for GLBTQ people to love and live.

Here is a list of stories and authors in the order they appear:

• Post Mortem by Jordan Castillo Price
• Dressing Down by Clare London
• Et Tu, Fishies? by JL Merrow
• Zones by Elyan Smith
• Sollicito by Charlie Cochrane
• A Few Days Away by Elin Gregory
• Vidi Velo Vici by Robbie Whyte
• Shelter From Storms by Sandra Lindsey
• Faulty Genes by Rebecca Cohen
• Lost in London by Tam Ames
• My Husband by Zahra Owens
• Waiting for a Spark by Lillian Francis
• Social Whirl by Emily Moreton
• School for Doms by Anne Brooke
• Dragon Dance by Josephine Myles
• Reclaiming Territory by Becky Black

The stories contained within this anthology really run the gamut of GLBTQ sexuality as well as genre.  Here you will find stories of wereshifters of London (no, not those, quite the contrary) to lesbians in love, love in transition, timeless love or should that be love amuck the ages and finally lost lovers reunited after a long separation.  There is humor, ok, humour (sheesh) and brooding, and angst, all the emotions love pulls out of you and more.  And oh what authors await you between the pages, it is almost sinful to have such a wealth of talent in one book.

Some of the stories don’t fall into the realm of books I normally read and review but I will say that I enjoyed them all.  Thank you for my visit into f/f fiction as well as D/s.  There are stories of transgender persons and one who cross dresses with panache. These stories manage to combine great characterizations, vivid descriptions from locations all over Britain and plots that make you guffaw and break down in tears.  Here were some of my favorites among a list of outstanding stories:

Et Tu, Fishies? by J.L. Merrow.  When Bill leaves his fish tank along with his flat in the hands of Marty for the week, Marty was prepared for many things.  Cleaning, feeding the fish, masturbating in Bill’s bed, lots of things.  Nothing, however, prepared him for Arthur, the weird upstairs neighbor.  That would be Arthur Prefect. When Marty challenges him on his name, he says it used to be Herbert Wells.  Right.  And Arthur has lost his lover.  That would be..nope not giving that one away.  Yes, indeedy, we are off on a wonderful romp involving lashings of vodka, wine , walnuts and cheesy balls.  And time travel, snappy dialog and drunken sex.  Loved it.

Sollicito by Charlie Cochrane.  She did it, she went ahead and did it. Charlie Cochrane gives us weresloths of London.  With shifters of all sorts bounding across the pages of book after book, there was nary a weresloth among them.  Until now. Told from the point of view of an unnamed bloke who sprouts fur and long curved claws at the most inopportune moment, he bemoans the fact that his shifting, unlike the numerous wolf shape shifters, has no rhyme nor reason to it.   One moment he is fine, the next he has fur and the urge to move slowly along a balustrade.  Yes, insert spew event.  The whole story is like that.  While laughing out loud, I found a new phrase to use “divvy doo dah”.  Love the sound of that.  Had to look up Martin Johnson (not a clue), read the words “brolly dangling stage” several times as obscene images flittered across my mental landscape while remaining completely in the dark about the Junction 6 of the M40. Yes,I know.  It’s a British thing!  Love this story even as it boggled my very American mind.

Vidi Velo Vici by Robbie Whyte. Whyte uses a clever format for this story of lust, if not love discovered during a daily commute through traffic.  Each day Evan sets out for the office in his car only to find himself trapped in horrific traffic. Each day finds him on the phone to his sarcastic assistant, Tia, to have her rearrange his schedule as he is going to be late into the office.  Monday, 8:38 am and Evan’s car mirror is clipped by a cyclist weaving through the clogged cars.  Evan’s rage is only abated by watching some outstanding glutes in tight spandex peddling away.  Day after day, Even and the faceless cyclist appear on the same road and at the same time.  You listen in on Evan’s inner dialog as he watches for that magnificent physique to appear in the mirror, Evan consults with his sat-nav with the voice of Vader, Evan talks to Tia whose droll comments on Evan’s current legal case involving a shih tzu,  dog custody and someone named Antonio who he keeps sleeping with had me giggling madly.  It’s funny, it’s real, and has a great ending.

Shelter From Storms by Sandra Lindsey takes us back to the French Revolution as a wounded, frail Louis appears on the doorstep of Daniel Elcott in England.  He has made his way through war torn France to Daniel’s country manor with only a small dirty calling card to hand the butler. Once the men were lovers when younger, now Daniel is married with children.  But Louis has no where else to go as he has lost it all.  The men reconnect as Louis falls ill and Daniel attends to his needs.  Their love sparks once more as Louis convalesces.  Daniel finds that with Louis’ return so does the man he once was.  Lovely, well told story that brings history to life and makes a gay relationship seem not only possible but realistic as well.

Lost In London by Tam Ames.  Here we meet Kevin Larton, from Calgary in Canada.  He’s in London to go to school but finding it difficult to navigate his way.  He is finding his courses difficult, making new friends more so and when it comes to reading maps and getting around town, he is at a complete loss.  It doesn’t matter that he is here to get his PhD in Economics or was a city planner.  Kevin just can’t read maps so he is always lost. A chance meeting with Benjamin White gives Kevin a change in direction.  Everything starts to become possible, friends, degree and perhaps even a boyfriend.  There is a hilarious drunken scene, wonderful characters and I learned what a feedlot was.  Ewww.  Great story, though.

My Husband by Zahra Owen charts one person’s marriage through the tumultuous stages of their transitioning from female to male.  There is never a missed step as Owens treats the subject with sensitivity and authenticity.  Told from Sam’s POV, we meet Sean their husband and see their courtship and marriage through Sam’s memories.  Owen gives us a glimpse of what it must feel like to be born in the wrong body and the journey one person makes to correct nature’s mistake. Poignant and lovely.

Dragon Dance by Josephine Myles is the penultimate story and one of my top two (I have no intension of telling you all the other, guess why don’t you).  I love going to Chinatown here in DC and watching the Dragon Dance during the Chinese New Year so imagine my delight over a story wrapped around two friends and their families preparing the costumes and dragon for their neighborhood’s New Year celebration. Gan and Archie are two lifelong friends whose families are equally close in their small village’s Chinese community.  As their mothers make the Dragon from crimson parachute material and fashion the pearl it will chase after, the boys discover their sexuality and the love that has always been present.  Myles pulled me in completely from the vibrant portraits of the boys as they dance the Dragon Dance. As they practice, their movements are jerky and uncoordinated with respect to each other but as they communicate their love and desire  it becomes sinuous, motions beckoning each other forward that mimic the depth their relationship has finally achieved.  I could picture it unfolding so real did it all become. Sigh.

Reclaiming Territory by Becky Black is the last story of the anthology so it is fitting that it is the story of  an old love lost and then later reclaimed.  Jim and Andy are riding a motorcycle and sidecar to Whitby, a place full of memories for both men and their relationship, good and bad.  As they wander through town, making various stops we learn their history and what is has taken for the men to get to this stage in their relationship where they are now.  The story bounds between 2012, 1987 the year they broke up, and 2009, the year they reconnected.  Jim is so very human in his fears and faults as is Andy in his anger over Jim’s betrayal and cowardice.  All it takes is a look at the date and remember what it meant to be gay during that time period.  Yes, things have changed, yes, they have gotten easier in some parts of the globe but this story is a reminder of the fears of coming out and staying together as a gay committed couple that many had during the 80’s.  It is fitting that in celebrating our present, the past is never forgotten and Black does an outstanding job of bringing that  to us in the forms of Jim and Andy riding into the future firmly hooked together by vehicle and by choice.

Go out and grab this anthology, read each story, find your own favorites, Mine might shuffle as I read it once more.  Happy Jubilee, Queen, Great Olympics, Britain and have a wonderful time at the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet.  I really wish I was there with you.  Divvy doo dah!

Cover art by Alex Beecroft.  Smashing I say! lol