This week, L: (clicking on the names will take you to the author website; book titles will take you to Amazon)
Erica Lainé This is the first in Erica's trilogy, The Tangled Queen, telling the story of Isabella, which I read on Kindle, and focuses on her years as John's wife. Erica does a good job of portraying all the warring factions without it becoming confusing. Following John around his kingdom must have been exhausting for his wife, and the idea of never being settled comes across strongly. Isabella's sense of isolation is keenly felt - she seems to have no women around her and she is forever the outsider, given little say in matters, even concerning her own family. I feel, like all good trilogies, that this book was building up to something and I think she will become a force to be reckoned with in Book 2. She starts Book 1 as a child, but by the end she is a woman, a mother, a widow, and the game has changed. Can't wait to read on!
Gemma Lawrence Depictions of this period usually focus on her difficult relationship with her elder half-sister, Mary, but The Bastard Princess, which I read on Kindle, made me consider how the young Elizabeth would have been affected by the rapid appearance and disappearance of her step-mothers. Obviously, the treatment of her own mother at the hands of her father would have had a huge impact on her, (though she was scarcely old enough to remember it, she'd certainly have known about it) yet I'd given little thought to her relationship with her father's subsequent wives and how this constant fluctuation might have led her to form fixed opinions about what it meant to be a wife. I'd have enjoyed an alternative point of view, as this is all told by Elizabeth herself, but this is a thought-provoking examination of the early life of the queen.
NJ Layouni I 'met' NJ in a readers' group on FB, and when we discovered we lived fairly near to each other, we met in real life. When we first met, I'd read the first in the Time Traveler series, and now I've read all three. It's so lovely to know the person who dreamed up this fantasy, medieval-style world, into which our 'heroine', modern-day Martha, falls. This is time-travel, but sideways, as Martha slips not back in time, but into a different universe.Even if you think time-slip novels are not your thing, I urge you to read these books. NJ has a real skill which allows us to get right inside the characters' heads. There is also drama, tension and love in these stories. Ironheart: Anselm's Tale is perhaps my favourite, but start at the beginning - Book One is permafree - and work your way through. I believe at least two more are in the pipeline.
Pam Lecky I met Pam in real life, in a pub in Buttermere, where large portions of The Bowes Inheritance are set. In this Victorian-era story, Irish-born Louisa inherits a large estate in Cumbria, and she thinks that the change of lifestyle will help her invalid sister. So far, so idyllic. But not all the neighbours are friendly, there seem to be family secrets which could put their lives in danger, and Louisa is distinctly unsure about the local magistrate, Nicholas. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which I read on Kindle. It has the perfect blend of history, mystery and romance, with stunningly locations, beautifully described. Pam has a new book out today, No Stone Unturned, the first in The Lucy Lawrence Mysteries. I think it's fair to say that Pam has settled herself comfortably into the 1880s and plans to entertain readers for a long while yet!
Loretta Livingstone I've been aware of Loretta for a while, as she's been on the HNS Indie Book of the Year shortlist, and I 'know' her through FB and Twitter. I love the cover of Blossom on the Thorn, but I'd held off buying it because it seemed to be the third in a series, and I felt I needed to read the first two first. Not so! Loretta assures me that this can be read as a standalone, so it is now on my Kindle, waiting for me. The year is 1195: "I should have had nothing to do with those accursed Angevins. I should have run like hell in the opposite direction." Giles de Soutenay is promised an heiress by Queen Eleanor, but, although young and attractive, his bride has all the warmth of a stone effigy. Newly widowed Isabella will give de Soutenay no reason to complain but he will not have her heart ... I can't wait to find out this one resolves itself!
Paula Lofting Paula and I are in many of the same FB groups. Not surprising, really, as she too writes novels set in Anglo-Saxon England. She's a re-enactor, too, and reading her story Sons of the Wolf, I knew immediately that I was comfortably 'at home' with the pre-Conquest world. Everything she describes felt real to me. Wulfhere has struggles on and off the battlefield and the family crises which beset him work well within the time-frame, but also speak universally for fathers throughout the ages, I think. Paula has also published The Wolf Banner, and I believe that Book Three is well underway. Wulfhere, incidentally, is based on a real person. Paula found a reference to him, and built his life story in her imagination. It's a few years now since I read this book, but I still vividly remember Wulfhere and his family.
If you're looking for a new read, or even a new favourite author, I hope you find something here. Join me next time for authors with names beginning with M 😊