Sunday, 25 September 2011




At this time of night, most the businesses had closed down, excepting the saloons, of course, of which there was no shortage. Judging by the lights, the sounds, and the smells, they constituted a majority on every block, just as they did in certain areas of Spokane. No safe place for me to run or hide, here. The only other establishment open was a rather seedy appearing hotel with a sign identifying it as The Sterling.” I headed for it, walking now, because I cringed a bit at what I might find.

I had nearly arrived when I knew for certain my earlier suspicions were warranted. Far from being a product of my imagination, someone was following me. Heels clumped on the boardwalk behind me, yet when I whirled to see who, no one was there. I heard the brush of clothing in the narrow passages between buildings, but saw only shadows. Terror flew through me on black wings.

“Bogeyman.”  I hated myself for being afraid. At the same time, I knew better than to mistrust such a strong premonition.

Unashamed of my cowardliness, I broke into a run, my feet pounding on the plank boards until I reached the hotel. I flung open the door, and raced inside. Dismayed, I found the lobby empty, but spied an open doorway across the room. Panting, my ribs squeezed, I fled toward it, calling out, “Hello. Is anyone here? Hello?”

I passed through the portal into a dark hall. My head turned auto- matically towards the lighted room at my left and I saw yet another saloon. This one of a higher class in that it wasn’t open to the street and the patrons were more intent on cards than on low women. Then all thought cut off as someone grasped me around the waist from behind and put a hand over my mouth, stifling my screech.

It was too much. More angry than frightened, I kicked backwards, jolted as I connected with my captor’s shin. Stepping down again, I ground the sharp Spanish heel of my shoe on top the man’s foot.

He yelped, grabbed me all the tighter, and began dragging me into a darker part of the hall. I heard fabric tear, and felt the sudden give as the hem ripped out of my skirt. This made me even angrier, if such is possible, and my arm, the one not pinned within his grasp, flailed, striking the side of his face.

He muttered a curse, but then swept me up in his arms and without further ado, ran with me up a staircase I hadn’t even seen. Well, how could I? He held my nose, my whole face, crushed against his chest until I could scarcely breathe.

Lack of breath didn’t stop me from fighting. I stiffened, twisted, jerked, thumped at him with the carpetbag I refused to drop. I dare say the man was blowing like an old, used-up Shay locomotive when we reached the landing on the second floor.

The arm beneath my knees gave way and my feet dropped onto thick carpet. He still had hold of me, though, and taking me by the shoulders, spun me around until I faced him.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Past and Present Converge in A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE

The past does impinge on the present, church history lecturer Father Antony keeps reminding his student Felicity Howard. But this young American woman studying at a theological college in a monastery in remote Yorkshire isn't having any of it. She's going to change the world— Now.

Until she finds her favotire monk Father Dominic brutally murdered and Father Antony soaked in his blood. Felicity and Antony are catapulted into a race against death across England and Scotland that takes them to ancient holy sites and forces Felicity to learn truths both ancient and modern in order to save her life.

It all began in the year of our Lord 698 on The Holy Isle of Lindisfarne:

Hands folded, heads bowed, the black-robed brothers gathered in the front of their monastery church. The candles glowed beside the rough stone altar, casting flickering shadows on the hard-tamped earthen floor, marking the spot where their beloved Cuthbert had lain for eleven years.
Now the brothers must perform their solemn task. Eleven years was the prescribed period. Eleven years buried in the earth. Plenty of time for worms, rot and decay to have done their work. Plenty of time for the body of the holy Cuthbert to achieve the end of all mortal flesh. The Prior, presiding in the absence of the Abbot who was on retreat, read out the solemn words, "My strength is dried up like a potsherd; my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death."
And the brothers replied, "All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust."
The Prior strengthened his voice, "The Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. He takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust."
And again the reply, "All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust."
"All are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. The dust shall return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
"All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust."
Their brief litany ended, the brothers set about their task, digging in the consecrated ground. A few feet down their shovels hit the lid of the stone sarcophagus. Now they dropped to their knees and did the rest of the digging with their hands, brushing the soil from the stone until they could grasp the handles on each end and lift the heavy stone box from the ground. Now the precious bones could be washed clean and enshrined above ground in order to be more accessible to the steady stream of pilgrims that made their way to Lindisfarne to pray at the holy man's grave.
The brothers knelt around the coffin while the Prior led in a prayer of petition for rest to attend the soul of their dear departed. "And may light perpetual shine upon him," the brotherhood replied. The prior sprinkled the coffin with holy water and blessed it with incense. Then the two strongest brothers lifted the heavy stone lid.
All held their breath as stone grated on stone. The cloud of incense cleared, and the brotherhood crept forward to view the remains.
One brother fainted. Another shrieked. Several fell back, crossing themselves. The Prior began babbling.
There before them was not the skeleton they had expected. The casket which had been buried in the earth, untouched, beside their own altar for eleven years held a fresh, fully intact body. Cuthbert looked more like a man who had been asleep for eleven hours than one who had been buried for eleven years. Even his vestments were clean and fresh, unstained by water, mud or worms.
One brother kilted his robe to enable him to run to the shore. The tide was in, so he was obliged to shout across the neck of water to the abbot who was making retreat on tiny Hobthrush Island, just beyond the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne. The abbot paddled over in his tiny coracle and brought order to his astonished, agitated community.
He gave precise orders: dress the uncorrupted body in fresh vestments; place it, along with Cuthbert's portable altar and other holy objects, in the wooden coffin already prepared; and proceed with the elevation ceremony. God had spoken clearly.
Cuthbert was a saint.

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 36 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning GLASTONBURY, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, book 1 in the Monastery Murders series is her reentry into publishing after a 10 year hiatus. Book 2 A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH will be out this month and she is at work on book 3 AN UNHOLY COMMUNION scheduled for 2012.

Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 10 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.

To see the book video for A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE and pictures from Donna's garden and research trips go to:
Her blog is at:
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Sunday, 11 September 2011

PUMPKINNAPPER, Regency Halloween comedy, 2011 EPIC Contest Finalist

Halloween is coming! How about some Regency Halloween comedy?

Let me tell you a tale of a love triangle: man, woman and goose. Join the fowl frolic as Henry the man and Henry the goose spar over heroine Emily's affections while they try to capture the foul (or is it fowl?) pumpkin thieves.

Pumpkinnapper was a finalist in the 2011 EPIC eBook Awards Competition in the Historical Romance category.

Pumpkin thieves, a youthful love rekindled and a jealous goose. Oh my!

Last night someone tried to steal the widowed Mrs. Emily Metcalfe's pumpkins. She's certain the culprit is her old childhood nemesis and the secret love of her youth, Henry, nicknamed Hank, whom she hasn't seen in ten years.

Henry, Baron Grey, who's never forgotten the girl he loved but couldn't pursue so long ago, decides to catch Emily's would-be thief. Even after she reveals his childhood nickname--the one he would rather forget. And even after her jealous pet goose bites him in an embarrassing place.

Oh, the things a man does for love.

"Emily, even with Henry, formidable as he is--" Hank glared at the goose. The goose glared back "--you need protection. I will send over some footmen to guard the place."

"No. Turnip Cottage belongs to Charlotte's husband. What will the townspeople think, with Lord Grey's servants about my house?"

Her refusal increased his fury. The sight of her hand on that damned goose's head didn't improve his mood, either. He balled his fists as his patience thinned and something else thickened. "I'll find you a guard dog. You must have some protection out here all alone."

"But I have Henry." She patted the goose's head and the bird snuggled into her hand. Again.

Heat flooded Hank, part desire for Emily's touch, and part desire to murder that damned goose, who was where he wanted to be. His insides groaned. "Very well, then, you leave me no choice. I will help you catch the culprits."


He changed his voice to the voice that either melted a woman or earned him a slap in the face. "Who knows, mayhap we would enjoy ourselves as I lie in wait with you." I would love to lie with you.

Her eyes widened. Had she understood the innuendo?

"I cannot stay alone with you, and you know it," she said, her voice severe.

"You are a widow in your own home and no one will see. I will make sure of it."

"No." She marched back into her cottage and slammed the door. Henry smirked and waddled away.

Hank grinned. He would be back, whether she liked it or not.

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Author Bio:

Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!

I'm Linda Banche, and I write witty, sweet/sensual Regency romances with nary a rake or royal in sight. Most contain humor, some fantasy, and occasionally a little paranormal. But comedy is my love, and I've created my own wacky blend of humor and Regency with stories that can elicit reactions from a gentle smile to a belly laugh.

Like many other romance authors, I read romances for years before I wrote my own. Once I tried, I quickly discovered how difficult writing is. Did I stop? No, I'm persistent--that's French for "too stupid to quit".

I live in New England and like aerobics and ducks.

So, laugh along with me on a voyage back to the Regency era. Me and my ducks. Quack.

I have four Regency novellas, all from The Wild Rose Press. LADY OF THE STARS (time travel, finalist in Science Fiction Romance in the 2010 EPIC eBook Contest), PUMPKINNAPPER (finalist in the 2011 EPIC Contest in the Historical Romance category. I'm two for two now. I've entered the EPIC contest twice, and I've finaled twice.), MISTLETOE EVERYWHERE, and my latest, GIFTS GONE ASTRAY.

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Beloved Pilgrim, by Nan Hawthorne

Adventure and romance with a twist.

Beloved Pilgrim is the story of Elisabeth on Winterkirche, a young Bavarian noblewoman who in order to escape a brutal marriage and the llimiting life she was born to, chooses to adopt the identity of a man , her own late twin brother.  What follows is a well-researched and realized story of the disastrous Crusade of 1101 full of rich characterizations of both historical and fictional figures. and vivid descrriptions of the settings and battles. 

     "God, it's heavy!" Elisabeth cried as Albrecht and Magdalena struggled to redistribute the weight of the chain mail coat on her shoulders.
"You get used to it," Albrecht reassured. "Wait until you try the helm!"
It was the next morning, and Elisabeth and Albrecht were readying to leave Magdalena's tiny hermitage. The rest of the day before Magdalena had plied her needle making adjustments to Elias's clothing so they would fit his sister, though in fact there had been less need than she anticipated. Harder was how to deal with the armor, something becoming apparent now that Elisabeth had the mail coat on.
"Your arms are too short," Albrecht said as she shook out her arms so the links would fall into place. "And your legs too, even though you are almost as tall as Elias."
"Women are shaped differently from men," Magdalena  observed.
The squire gave her a look. "No, really?" There was a humorous sparkle in his eye.
"Can they be shortened? Not my arms and legs, the mail?"
He looked at the older woman. "Do you have any sort of metal cutters?" When she shook her head, he went on. "We will have to wait until we can get some. I had not thought of it. In the meantime, let's hope you don't trip, my lady."
"Now the helm?" Elisabeth asked.
He shook his head. "We should wait until you are on your horse."
"I think you should let her try it while she still has two feet on the ground. On the horse she might lose her balance."
"You are right," Albrecht responded. He leaned to lift the heavy metal helm from where it sat on the ground. "No, don't lean over. You could break your neck."
Magdalena had shorn Elisabeth's hair the evening before. The young woman exulted in how cool and free she felt. Now she stood with the mail hood covering what was left. She stood straight, as the man had advised.
He lifted the helm over her head and slowly lowered it as far as it would go.
"Ouch! The mail is biting into my scalp!" Elisabeth cried.
Magdalena quickly snatched up the quilted coif that lay nearby. "She needs this under her mail hood."
Already taking the helm off her, Albrecht apologized. "I forgot that. I am so sorry, my lady."
Elisabeth chided, "You better start calling me 'my lord' so you get used to it."
She pushed her mail hood back so Magdalena could fit the quilted head covering over her hair, tying the strings under her chin.
"No, bring the strings around to the back of her neck. Otherwise the knot will get uncomfortable under her chin." Albrecht lifted his own bearded chin to show where the strings crossed and wrapped around to the back.
With her mail hood back in place, Albrecht lifted her helm over Elisabeth's head again. "It is heavy. I don't have to wear it every minute, do I?"
"No, just in battle, or if you anticipate battle. And I will put the gorget on next time. That will even out the weight. Mostly you just carry the thing, strapped to your saddle."
Elisabeth tried to shrug her shoulders but the helm was weighing too heavily to allow her to do that. Nevertheless she felt exhilarated. "Why do I feel like I've done all this before?"
Magdalena smiled. "Perhaps it's not so much that you have done it before but that you were meant to."
Albrecht stepped back to survey his handiwork. He took a deep startled breath. The two women looked quizzically at him. "You look so much like Elias." He turned and walked a distance away to cover his sudden surge of grief.
She did look just like her brother as she stood there in his clothes and armor. She did not have Elias's short beard showing between the cheek plates of his helm, but her form, already angular and now sheathed in the thick layer of clothes, padded jerkin, and mail, and the bearing with which she held herself made her truly her brother's twin. She looked like a very young man.
Looking from Elisabeth to the squire, Magdalena said, "Wait here. I have something for you."
Albrecht took the minute that Magdalena needed to retrieve some items from her cottage to regain his composure. He turned back just as Magdalena came out.
"Here, if you are a pilgrim, then you need a pilgrim's cross." Magdalena reached out a hand and put a cross on a leather thong into Elisabeth's. "And you need a cloak."
Albrecht and Elisabeth stood and gaped at the item the woman held up and shook out. It was a cloak with armholes and which must be pulled on over one's head. As she held it by its shoulders, the two were able to see that it was very white wool with a red cross sewn onto one side of the upper breast.
"A crusader's cloak!" Elisabeth cried. Her eyes lifted to Magdalena's, full of gratitude and awe. She had already removed her helm carefully, and now she strung the cross around her neck. Magdalene bunched up the cloak so she could put it over her head. She let it fall, and Elisabeth slipped her arms in the armholes. Magdalena stepped forward to shake out the garment so it would hang right.
"Why did you make me a pilgrim's cloak? You know I am not planning to go on crusade for real."
Magdalena shook her head. "Let's just say I wanted to see you in one." Her look was unreadable.
Elisabeth raised her arms as Albrecht reached around her to put the heavy sword belt on her. Buckling it he looked up into her eyes. "You truly are Elias," he murmured. He shook his head as though to clear it. He stepped back and tried to joke, "Except you are missing something important."
Elisabeth twisted from side to side examining herself. "What? The gorget?"
Albrecht and Magdalena exchanged conspiratorial looks. "You have to be born with what he is talking about," Magdalena chuckled. "Oh, that reminds me, how are you going to pee?"
Elisabeth stood nonplussed. "I suppose I could be a very shy young knight?" she proposed.
"You wouldn't be the first," Albrecht responded. "I can let it out you have some sort of disfigurement . . . down there . . . and are ashamed to let anyone see it."
Magdalena had a most un-nun-like look on her face. "You could tell others the disfigurement is that it is massive!" she quipped wickedly.
The other two stared at her surprised, and then both fell into laughter. "No, I'd better not. Then everyone will want to see it."
Elisabeth's lips spread in a smile of complete satisfaction. "This feels so right. I feel like I am fully dressed for the first time." She swung one leg and then the other, reveling in the freedom of no skirts. "I feel like I am completely me for the first time."

Read it now on Kindle.

"Hawthorne remains absolutely loyal to the facts of the crusade while her characters bring exotic and fresh angles to the story."  Crusades novelist Richard Warren Field.