MORE to BROWSE - Pages that might be of Interest

Thursday 31 August 2023


My Coffee Pot Book Club
Spotlight One Day Tour


Jan Christopher's first tour interview!

Summer 1972

Writing a Series (1)
Keeping track of what's what

Writing a Series (2)
The essential supporting cast

Read an excerpt

Make hay while the sun shines?

Jan Christopher's first interview

Fancy a fictional holiday in Devon

Read an Excerpt

More about A Meadow Murder & some more photos of making hay

How I got the idea for A Meadow Murder

Why the English countryside makes an ideal
 setting for a murder mystery!

the Jan Christopher Mysteries episode 4
"As delicious as a Devon Cream Tea!" (author Elizabeth St John)   
Make hay while the sun shines? But what happens when a murder is discovered, and country life is disrupted?

Summer 1972. Young library assistant Jan Christopher and her fiancé, DS Lawrence Walker, are on holiday in North Devon. There are country walks and a day at the races to enjoy, along with Sunday lunch at the village pub, and the hay to help bring in for the neighbouring farmer. But when a body is found the holiday plans are to change into an investigation of murder, hampered by a resting actor, a woman convinced she’s met a leprechaun and a scarecrow on walkabout.


“Helen tells a great story & writes consistently readable books”
(Bernard Cornwell) Enjoy getting to know characters in a series? Try these for size! #HistoricalFiction  #KingArthur #NauticalAdventure #Pirates #CosyMystery #1970s  My Books on Amazon:

Have you ever thought of saying 'thank you'?

Tuesday 22 August 2023

My Coffee Pot Guest: Stella Riley - The Shadow Earl

Welcome to my Blog!
Wander through worlds
real and fictional,
meet interesting people,
visit exciting places
and find good books
to enjoy along the way!

About the Book

Book Title: The Shadow Earl

Author: Stella Riley

Publication Date: 15th July, 2023

Publisher: Stella Riley

Page Length:  433

Genre: Historical Romanc

At the end of his Grand Tour, somewhere between Athens and Constantinople, Christian Selwyn, the young Earl of Hazelmere, vanished - seemingly without a trace.

Time passes.  In London, his uncle and cousin move into his home … while his unofficial fiancée, Sophia, is left desolate and in limbo.  Finally, his friends – loyal and close as brothers – set out to search in person. 

Christian’s startling re-appearance at a grand ball takes society by storm and fuels endless speculation. Where has he been during these three missing years? What happened to him? 

And more importantly, how did it happen? 

Only one thing is clear.  The earl who left England five years ago, has returned a changed man.  A man with secrets.


London 1779:  Christian, Lord Hazelmere, has been missing for 2 years

Four gentlemen sat in a private card room at Sinclairs while one of them reminded the others of things, most of which they already knew.

‘After we recalled the other searchers, Penfold stayed on but to little effect. He found no trace the dragoman Christian engaged for his journey or the fellows Basil sent to find him when he didn’t arrive at Palermo or the ones Eustace claimed to have sent to search when Basil returned alone.’

‘No surprise there,’ muttered Daniel. ‘There’s a murky pit of jealousy in Basil – and possibly Eustace – that I don’t think Kit is remotely aware of.’

‘He knows,’ said Benedict. ‘He just doesn’t care to explore it.’

‘Quite.’  Gerald reached for the next page. ‘There was a possible sighting of Christian on the Dardanelles and a rumour of a fair-haired Westerner outside Constantinople – but those might be anyone.’  He looked up. ‘Basically, we’re no nearer finding him than we were a year ago. All we can be sure of is that he would have returned if he could.  So either he’s too ill or injured to travel or …’

‘Or someone is preventing him doing so,’ finished Benedict grimly.  And then, ‘We’ve let this slide far too long.’

‘I agree.  Sending men to search was all very well,’ replied Anthony. ‘But when they found nothing, we should have gone ourselves.’

‘Can’t we just kidnap Baz Selwyn and choke the truth out of him?’ suggested Daniel. ‘I wouldn’t put dirty tricks past him.  And he knows more than he’s saying.’

‘We believe he does,’ corrected Benedict with a wry smile. ‘But we can’t prove it.’

‘So we force him to admit it.’

‘He won’t.’  Gerald straightened his papers. ‘He and his father are living in Christian’s house, spending his money and treating the earldom as if it was their own.  In short, they’re behaving as if Christian was dead.  But they can’t say that he is dead without admitting knowledge they claim not to have.’

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Audiobook narrated by Alex Wyndham

Buy Links:

Universal Link:

Amazon UK:  

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:

Barnes and Noble:



About the Author

Winner of four gold medals for historical romance (Readers' Favourite in 2019, Book Excellence Awards in 2020, Global Book Awards in 2022 and Book Excellence Award in 2023) and fifteen B.R.A.G. Medallions, Stella Riley lives in the beautiful medieval town of Sandwich in Kent.

She is fascinated by the English Civil Wars and has written six books set in that period. These, like the 7 book Rockliffe series (recommended in The Times newspaper!) and the Brandon Brothers trilogy, are all available in audio, narrated by Alex Wyndham.

Stella enjoys travel, reading, theatre, Baroque music and playing the harpsichord.  She also has a fondness for men with long hair - hence her 17th and 18th century heroes.






Book Bub:

Amazon Author Page:



 Follow the tour

Twitter Handles:  @RileyStella @cathiedunn

Instagram Handles:  @stellarileybooks @thecoffeepotbookclub

Hashtags: #HistoricalRomance #HistoricalMystery #BlogTour 

#The CoffeePotBookClub

Tour Schedule Page:

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You might also like 

books written by Helen Hollick 


Amazon Author Page: 

The Jan Christopher Cosy Mysteries
set in the 1970s

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Saturday 19 August 2023

My Coffee and Thorn Guest: Empire’s Daughter by Marian L Thorpe

Coffee and Thorn Book Tours

Welcome to my Blog!
Wander through worlds real and fictional,
meet interesting people, visit exciting places
and find good books to enjoy along the way!

About the Book

Genre:  Historical fiction , Literary fiction
Print length: 345 pages (80K words)
Age range: This is an adult book, but would be suitable for mature teens age 16+
Trigger warnings: on-page violent death (human and animal), funeral, kidnapping of child  
Amazon Rating: 4.5*

Empire’s Daughter stands alone, but is also the first in the prize-winning Empire’s Legacy Series.

Lena’s world is about to change forever. Harried from north and south by two different enemies, both wanting this last remnant of a greater Empire’s land, and with invasion imminent, the military leaders see no choice but to ask the unthinkable: that women learn to fight.

In accepting the challenge, Lena is separated from her lover, who chooses banishment rather than break with generations of tradition. Promoted to leadership, drawn into the intrigues of power, Lena must make difficult choices, for herself, for her village, and for her country: a young woman at the heart of the violence and diplomacy that will begin her epic journey to save her land. Evoking Europe after the decline of Rome, the imagined world of Empire’s Daughter and its sequels is brought to vivid, believable life by the precise and powerful writing of Marian L Thorpe.

QueerIndie Gold 2023 for Fiction/Nonfiction;

Eric Hoffer Finalist, 2021;

 IndieBRAG recipient, 2021; Silver Medal, Historical Fantasy Box Set of the Year (as part of Empire’s Legacy) 2019

‘I dread the day Marian will be finished writing this series’ Cover to Cover Reviews

‘Thorpe’s writing is beautiful – strong in the details of landscape both physical and political, delicate in the handling of strong emotion, and cunning in how stealthily details of the plot are seeded throughout.’ Karen Heenan, author of The Tudor Court series.

‘this book has it all: tight plotting, strong characters, action, danger, drama, and pathos.’ Discovering Diamonds Reviews

About Marian L Thorpe

“My books are historical fiction of an imagined world, one that is close to Britain, Northern Europe, and Rome, but isn’t any of them. A world where a society evolved differently after the Eastern Empire left, an Empire on the edge of history.

After two careers as a research scientist and an educator, I decided it was time to do what I’d always really wanted, and be a writer. As well as my novels, I’ve published short stories and poetry. My life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history provided the inspiration for my books, while my other interests in landscape archaeology and birding provide background.”


QueerIndie Awards, 2023: Gold for Fiction/Nonfiction, for Empire’s Daughter  

Indie Ink Awards, 2022: Finalist, for Empire’s Heir

QueerIndie Awards, 2022: Queer Fiction/Non-Fiction: Bronze, for body of work.

Book Bloggers Novel of the Year Award, Semi-Finalist, 2021 for Empire’s Daughter

Eric Hoffer Awards: Finalist, 2022, for Empire’s Heir.

B.R.A.G Medallion, 2021, for Empire’s Daughter

Readers Favourite 5-Star Award, 2021, for Empire’s Legacy: The Complete First Trilogy.

Coffee Pot Book Club: Highly Recommended, 2021, for Empire’s Heir
Historical Fantasy Book of the Year, 2019, Gold Medal for Empire’s Exile, Book III of Empire’s Legacy
Box Set of the Year, 2019, Silver Medal for Empire’s Legacy
Highly Recommended, 2020, for Oraiáphon: A Novella of the Empire
Historical Fantasy Book of the Year, Gold Medal, 2020, for Empire’s Reckoning
Discovered Diamond Award,
September 2021, for Empire’s Heir, Book VI of Empire’s Legacy
March 2020, for Empire’s Daughter, Book I of Empire’s Legacy
April 2020, for Empire’s Hostage, Book II of Empire’s Legacy
June 2020, for Empire’s Exile, Book III of Empire’s Legacy.
June 2020, for Empire’s Reckoning, Book I of Empire’s Reprise
Historical Fiction Company
Highly Recommended, 2021 , for Empire’s Heir.




An honest review

For five years I ran an online review site for historical fiction - Discovering Diamonds. Alas I found that I no longer had the time to keep it going, so sadly and reluctantly, closed it down (although all the reviews are still there for you to discover quality novels worth reading). One among these was Marian L. Thorpe's Empire's Daughter, which was duly reviewed by one of the review team. I've considered re-reviewing this title for Coffee and Thorn, but to be honest, I think the original is too good to pass over... so here it is:

It's a difficult and probably daunting task to make up a world. The author has to utterly convince the reader that this new world is believable, and realistic, even though it is fantasy. So the first test of such a book surely must be to make the reader think that they are having a real world described to them. Empire's Daughter passes this first test brilliantly. The whole time I was reading, I was convinced that Ms Thorpe knows every tiny detail of the empire she has created, which made what she described on the pages feel incredibly real. The scenery, the customs and traditions, the way of life - all were portrayed so well that it felt like reading about a real time and place. It's clear that the author has done a great deal of research on several periods of history in order to make her imagined world feel so authentic.

I wasn't sure, initially, though, whether it was a place I necessarily wanted to spend time in, so far-removed was it from anything I'd come across before. But within a few pages I had settled in and felt like I was walking with Lena as she moved around the village. It was almost as if the author was saying, 'It's okay, come on in. It's new and different, but let me be your guide.'

And what a sure-footed guide Ms Thorpe is. This, the first in a trilogy, contains all the elements required of a great story: battle plans, battle scenes, a journey. But it also has human relationships, a love story, and a main character who grows and learns throughout the course of the book. It's not all about the main character though, and all the people whom Lena encounters are depicted vividly and are three-dimensional. One character, Tice, does not have a major role and yet her story affects many of the other characters. (She even has her own song, printed in full at the back of the book, which I thought was a great idea which gives a moment to pause and consider all that has been played out.) Lena's interaction with the other people in the story bring some touching moments, and the bonds she forms with them develop in a believable way. The relationship between her and her partner Maya is interesting and true to life; they love one another, but have opposing views and this leads to scenes of tender, emotionally-charged moments which really resonated. I really enjoyed this book and felt like I'd gone on Lena's journey with her. And here perhaps, the reviewer should ask whether the book passes the ultimate test: does it do its job, imagined world notwithstanding? The answer is a resounding 'Yes'. Long after I'd closed my Kindle on this particular volume, I found myself thinking about the characters and am keen to pick up the story in the next volume of the trilogy.

Originally Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds

and here is an additional review of my own:

What makes a novel not just worth reading, but one that sticks in your mind and at the end of the final chapter leaves you wanting more? That feeling of satisfaction for a story well told, and a deep urge to know what happens next... and after that... and after that...? A good author has the reader well and truly hooked into the life of the characters involved, the time and the place they live, work, love or hate in. The  events that happen. That 'page turner' quality that keeps a reader thinking 'just one more chapter ... just one more...' into the small hours of a morning, or missing a stop on the train or bus.

To create all the above an expansive imagination is required, backed up by research to make that imagined fiction appear more real than reality. When reading any book of fiction, be it of any genre, the reader has to get to know the characters, both main and background players in the story, has to journey with them through the events that gradually unravel - maybe the ups and downs of a romance, the solving of a crime, the exploration of travel. To delve into events that happened in the past. All this the author has to vividly and realistically create by the use of words, and nothing but words. Add in an entirely fictional world - or an entire empire - to be described, then the responsibility of the author to take the reader into an even deeper realm of believability is a two, or even three-fold requirement.

To bring all of it - place, events and people - to life requires the creative talent of a very good author, and Marian L. Thorpe is not merely a very good author but an exceptionally brilliant one.

Helen Hollick
* * * * * 5 stars


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You might also like 

books written by Helen Hollick 


Amazon Author Page: 

The Jan Christopher Cosy Mysteries
set in the 1970s

* * *
the events that led to 1066
the Battle of Hastings

1066 - the events that led to the
Battle of Hastings
from Amazon
Harold the King  (UK edition)
I Am The Chosen King (US/Canada edition)
1066 Turned Upside Down -
an anthology of alternative stories

* * *
The Pendragon's Banner Trilogy

 The Boy Who became a Man:
Who became a King:
Who became a Legend... KING ARTHUR

There is no Merlin, no sword in the stone, and no Lancelot.
Instead, the man who became our most enduring hero.

New Editions available worldwide 
(except USA/Canada)

Available USA/Canada 


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Thursday 17 August 2023

My Coffee Pot Guest: Cindy Burkart Maynard - Esperanza’s Way

The Seekers Series Book #2

Welcome to my Blog!
Wander through worlds
real and fictional,
meet interesting people,
visit exciting places
and find good books
to enjoy along the way!

About the Book

Book Title: Esperanza’s Way

Series: The Seekers Series, Book 2

Author: Cindy Burkart Maynard

Publication Date: June 13, 2023

Publisher: Historium Press

Page Length: 262

Genre: Historical Fiction

Motivated by the memory of her mother dying in her arms, Esperanza resolves that she will one day walk the halls of the Scola Medica at Salerno and train to become a healer. Fate brought Amika, a talented herbalist, into her life and helped Esperanza take her first steps toward gaining the knowledge that would fulfill her dream. Unfortunately, a tragic accident forced Esperanza to flee Amika's home. Her journey toward finding the path to success is littered with stumbling blocks, some more difficult to avoid than she expected.

Read An Excerpt



The city of Napoli shimmered in the late season sunshine. The desperate, cloying heat of summer had abated from a full boil to a subtle simmer. Ships and vessels of all sorts crowded the harbor, bobbing on the sun-drenched sea. Hulking cogs, like Ibrahim’s ship, rested their flat bottoms on the harbor’s soft seabed, their square sales furled tightly against their masts. Sweating men groaned under heavy loads as they descended the gangway. The sounds of shouting in many languages were like lyrics of a song in which the creaking boards of ships provided the bass notes, and seagulls shrieking above sang soprano. The triangular sails of dhows hung limp after their voyage from the Red Sea and eastern Arabia to Napoli’s bustling port. . .


A hand on Esperanza’s shoulder startled her back into reality. A robust man in a short, royal blue tunic and finely woolen hose loomed over her. Around his neck hung a thick gold chain with gold fleur de lis pendant. The footman’s firm hand gently steered her toward an ornate carriage. This can’t be happening, she thought as it jerked forward, propelled by four strong horses. Curiosity overcame anxiety as they climbed higher up the slopes of Vesuvius, the sleeping volcano. Deep green olive groves gave way to aromatic lemon trees and fields of rye and barley.


The peasant cottages, though simple, were not hovels, and many of their occupants paused, leaning on their hoes, to watch them pass by. They looked healthy, with ruddy complexions and leathery skin from laboring under the powerful Neapolitan sun. She did not stop gaping at the scenery until they slowed to a halt at an imposing stone tower that marked the entrance to the small village adjoining the villa. A lone guard swung open a wrought iron gate and Esperanza’s carriage rolled into the village.


The carriage jostled its way over the cobblestones, through the village square, and down a narrow street to a stone tower, identical to the one through which they just passed, to the far side of town. As they rumbled along, townspeople called to the driver.

“Hey, Paolino! What are you delivering to the Signore today? Is she as beautiful as the last one?”


“Ciao, Paolino, your family will expect you at eight bells. Don’t be late like you were the last time.”


“Paolino, you devil,” A saucy black-eyed beauty tossed her abundant wavy tresses over her shoulder as she cast him a provocative sidelong glance. “Later, si?”


Paolino didn’t respond to any of them, just kept his eyes focused on the tower gate. Once outside the walls of the village Esperanza caught sight of the villa, perched on the volcano’s flanks, a short distance above town on a well-traveled trail.


“And this,” he said, gesturing to the elegant edifice, “is where you will live.” Inside, a bustling town square, a church, and a scattering of shops, and residences huddled in the midday sun.


Buy Links:

Universal Link – Esperanza’s Way (Book 2):

Universal Buy Link – Finding the Way (Book 1):



About the author:

Cindy Burkart Maynard is passionate about history, and the natural world, a passion that adds rich detail and context to her historical fiction novels. Her characters come to life on the page as they portray what it was like to live in another time and place. She weaves compelling, dramatic stories based on strong characters facing daunting challenges. She has co-authored two nonfiction works about the Colorado Plateau and the Desert Southwest and contributed articles to Images and Colorado Life Magazines. She has been a Volunteer Naturalist for Boulder County for more than twenty years, and served as a Docent at the Sonora Arizona Desert Museum in Tucson, AZ


Colorado Authors League Award Winner for Western Literature

Women Writing the West Award Finalist

WILLA Literary Award finalist for soft cover fiction.

Readers’ Favorite Five Star Author

Winner of the Marie M. Irvine award for Literary Excellence

Professional Affiliations:

Historical Novel Society of North America

Lighthouse Writers

Women’s Fiction Writers Association

Colorado Authors League

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers

Authors Guild

Social Media Links:


Publisher author page:




Amazon Author Page:


Follow the tour

Twitter Handles:  @LgmtBird @cathiedunn

Instagram Handles: @cmaynardre @thecoffeepotbookclub

Hashtags: #HistoricalFiction #Spain #womansjourney 

#BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

Blog Tour Page:

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You might also like 

books written by Helen Hollick 


Amazon Author Page: 

The Jan Christopher Cosy Mysteries
set in the 1970s


A prequel novella - how Jesamiah Acorne became a pirate 

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