#Author #Interview Conducted By Lou for The Gentleman of Holly Street By Lotte R. James @lottejamesbooks @HarlequinBooks @rararesources #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #BlogTour #Christmas #ChristmasReads

The Gentleman of Holly Street
By Lotte R. James

Today I am delighted to be closing the blog tour with an interview session with Lotte R. James about her new historical fiction book – The Gentleman of Holly Street. Discover why she writes in this genre, but not always, the inspiration to themes and the rags to riches tale of her book, what’s coming next and more in 5 questions. I thank Lotte R. James, Mills and Boon and Rachel Random Resources for this opportunity. Without further ado, follow down to the blurb and then the interview.

Will this Christmas…
Change Their Lives Again

When self-made gentleman Freddie Walton rescued penniless Philomena Nichols at Christmas eight years ago, he never imagined that he would build his empire with her. Yet whilst they have created a life together as friends, Freddie can’t let their special connection become more than that. Not when his dangerous past continues to haunt him… But what happens when Freddie’s feelings for Philomena also refuse to stay hidden?

Welcome to my blog Lotte. Thank you for agreeing to take part in a Q&A session with me about your book and what’s next for you. 

  1. What inspired you to write Historical Romance and choose Mills and Boon as your publisher, or did they choose you?

I’ve always loved history, and I think that prompted my interest as a reader in Historical Romance. From there, it was really just wanting to write something in the genre that I loved so much. I did write my debut with Harlequin/Mills & Boon specifically with the Historical line in mind, as it was a literal dream to be part of that collection of incredible authors. It went through quite a few revisions and rewrites, but then I was lucky enough to get the call!

 

  1. You chose to work with some fairly strong themes – Anxiety, Houselessness, Childhood trauma, Mild violence, Mention of suicidal ideation. What inspired you to write about them?

I think all my books feature fairly strong themes to be honest. Merely because we face some very difficult things in life, and it’s important to me to represent that in what I write. I don’t believe all art should be a mirror of reality, don’t get me wrong, but I do feel that I am, and always have been, personally drawn to exploring the grey areas, of people, and of life. To exploring the challenges we all face, and I think to an extent, showing just how incredible humans are.

 

  1. What sort of empire does your main character – Freddie build up and what inspires you to a rags to riches story?

Freddie builds up a sustainable and ethical shipping empire. I’ve always loved rags-to-riches stories myself, and I think that’s why subconsciously, when I first introduced Freddie in The Housekeeper of Thornhallow Hall, I introduced him as a self-made man. Throughout history, you have incredible stories of people who succeeded – in a myriad of ways, I don’t mean success here to be merely financial – by being at the forefront of change, and I think that’s an aspect I am often drawn to as well. People who have the vision to make change happen.

 

  1. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to write in the Historical Fiction genre?

Be passionate about the period you want to write in, and of course, about the genre itself. It isn’t merely about loving old-time clothes, or more polite ways of courting. It’s about finding why you have to write Historical, rather than any other genre; what you want to say, and represent.

 

  1. What book are you currently reading and are you working on a new book?

I’m currently reading Rogue by Jennifer Bernard – which I’m enjoying very much so far – and yes, I am always working on a new book. Currently, I am juggling three main projects – one Historical and two Contemporary – because my brain will not let me stop… Though I haven’t started my next Harlequin/Mills & Boon yet – that will likely be how I start off 2023!

About the Author 

Lotte James trained as an actor and theatre director, but spent most of her life working day jobs crunching numbers whilst dreaming up stories of love and adventure. She’s thrilled to finally be writing those stories, and when she’s not scribbling on tiny pieces of paper, she can usually be found wandering the countryside for inspiration, or nestling with coffee and a book.

01C96993-BDDD-4960-AD65-D5050F33D146

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#Review by Lou of An Indiscreet Princess By Georgie Blalock @Harper360UK #GeorgieBlalock #HistoricalFiction #RandomTTours #AnIndiscreetPrincess #RoyalFiction

An Indiscreet Princess
By Georgie Blalock

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Today I am on the blog tour for a historical fiction book that takes facts of a time and princess from historical times and fictionalises it, but gives some detail about the rebellious and artistically talented daughter of Queen Victoria – Princess Louise. How could I pass up such a book, when there’s my namesake right there? Except, I have no blue blood that I am aware of running through my veins, but I do have a care for and interest in the Royal family.
Discover more about the princess in the blurb and my thoughts of the book in my review. I also thank RandomTTours, Compulsive Readers and Harper Collins UK for the invite to review and a copy of the book.

Blurb

Before Princess Margaret, before Duchess Meghan, there was Princess Louise: royal rebel.

As the fourth daughter of the perpetually in-mourning Queen Victoria, Princess Louise’s life is more a gilded prison than a fairy tale. Expected to sit quietly next to her mother with down-cast eyes, Louise vows to escape the stultifying royal court. Blessed with beauty, artistic talent, and a common touch, she creates a life outside the walled-in existence of the palace grounds by attending the National Art Training School—where she shockingly learns to sculpt nude models while falling passionately in love with famed sculptor Joseph Edgar Boehm.

But even as Louise cultivates a life outside the palace, she is constantly reminded that even royal rebels must heed the call of duty—and for a princess that means marriage. Refusing to leave England, she agrees to a match with the Duke of Argyll, and although her heart belongs to another, she is determined to act out her public role perfectly, even if her private life teeters on the brink of scandal. But when a near fatal accident forces Louise back under her mother’s iron rule, she realizes she must choose: give in to the grief of lost love or find the strength to fight for her unconventional life.

Review

There have often been royals who have a rebellious side and Princess Louise was, as well as being a bit flighty when younger. To put her life in even more context of time, she also  lived at the same time as Bertie, someone perhaps a bit more known than she.
She, interestingly had a love of art, whilst in a way so did Queen Victoria enjoy the arts, but preferring Mr Browning and his writings, rather than the National Art Training School and all that’s as taught there, which was an interest of Princess Louise, who needs to convince the Queen to let her go and then let her stay for another term, urged by her professor who was constructing a memorial for Lord Holland in Holland Park. This again adds context as well as shows her path in life that she is going down.

What is also interesting is how far in history, Balmoral goes as it is mentioned here in this book. The novel has interesting bits of places that play a role in both today’s society and monarchy and of yesteryear. It gives it another hook, especially since it crosses borders and shows the monarchy, even way back then was for all of the UK, as it is now.

There’s the question of romance,marriage and a wedding and all her emotions as well as the UK coming together, but with Princess Louise’s feelings not being quite as you’d expect from a marriage, nor her actions, partly this is because of the times, partly her personality and her desires being different from the Crown.

It is clear to see that Princess Louise does try to balance her passion for art and her beliefs and her duties, but also that of Queen Victoria trying to steer her away from scandal. This book shows appreciation and royals doing their best, especially that of the Queen and eventually an appreciation of the senior royals and what it means to have the crown. It has a surprisingly good and poignant ending.

The book certainly glides along and the author certainly found a story to tell.

#Review by Lou of An Indiscreet Princess By Georgie Blalock @Harper360UK #GeorgieBlalock #HistoricalFiction #RandomTTours #AnIndiscreetPrincess #RoyalFiction

An Indiscreet Princess
By Georgie Blalock

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Today I am on the blog tour for a historical fiction book that takes facts of a time and princess from historical times and fictionalises it, but gives some detail about the rebellious and artistically talented daughter of Queen Victoria – Princess Louise. How could I pass up such a book, when there’s my namesake right there? Except, I have no blue blood that I am aware of running through my veins, but I do have a care for and interest in the Royal family.
Discover more about the princess in the blurb and my thoughts of the book in my review. I also thank RandomTTours, Compulsive Readers and Harper Collins UK for the invite to review and a copy of the book.

Blurb

Before Princess Margaret, before Duchess Meghan, there was Princess Louise: royal rebel.

As the fourth daughter of the perpetually in-mourning Queen Victoria, Princess Louise’s life is more a gilded prison than a fairy tale. Expected to sit quietly next to her mother with down-cast eyes, Louise vows to escape the stultifying royal court. Blessed with beauty, artistic talent, and a common touch, she creates a life outside the walled-in existence of the palace grounds by attending the National Art Training School—where she shockingly learns to sculpt nude models while falling passionately in love with famed sculptor Joseph Edgar Boehm.

But even as Louise cultivates a life outside the palace, she is constantly reminded that even royal rebels must heed the call of duty—and for a princess that means marriage. Refusing to leave England, she agrees to a match with the Duke of Argyll, and although her heart belongs to another, she is determined to act out her public role perfectly, even if her private life teeters on the brink of scandal. But when a near fatal accident forces Louise back under her mother’s iron rule, she realizes she must choose: give in to the grief of lost love or find the strength to fight for her unconventional life.

Review

There have often been royals who have a rebellious side and Princess Louise was, as well as being a bit flighty when younger. To put her life in even more context of time, she also  lived at the same time as Bertie, someone perhaps a bit more known than she.
She, interestingly had a love of art, whilst in a way so did Queen Victoria enjoy the arts, but preferring Mr Browning and his writings, rather than the National Art Training School and all that’s as taught there, which was an interest of Princess Louise, who needs to convince the Queen to let her go and then let her stay for another term, urged by her professor who was constructing a memorial for Lord Holland in Holland Park. This again adds context as well as shows her path in life that she is going down.

What is also interesting is how far in history, Balmoral goes as it is mentioned here in this book. The novel has interesting bits of places that play a role in both today’s society and monarchy and of yesteryear. It gives it another hook, especially since it crosses borders and shows the monarchy, even way back then was for all of the UK, as it is now.

There’s the question of romance,marriage and a wedding and all her emotions as well as the UK coming together, but with Princess Louise’s feelings not being quite as you’d expect from a marriage, nor her actions, partly this is because of the times, partly her personality and her desires being different from the Crown.

It is clear to see that Princess Louise does try to balance her passion for art and her beliefs and her duties, but also that of Queen Victoria trying to steer her away from scandal. This book shows appreciation and royals doing their best, especially that of the Queen and eventually an appreciation of the senior royals and what it means to have the crown. It has a surprisingly good and poignant ending.

The book certainly glides along and the author certainly found a story to tell.

#BookReview By Lou of The Good Servant By Fern Britton @Fern_Britton @LizDawsonPR @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #HistoricalFiction #BookRecommendation #BookTwt #TheGoodServant

The Good Servant
By Fern Britton

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Good Servant, a book that is fiction based on fact about an ordinary woman in Dunfermline, Scotland, whose life turned into the extraordinary, in this fascinating and engrossing book.
Thanks to Harper Collins for a review copy.
Find out more in the blurb and rest of my review below.

The Good Servant cover

Blurb

From the no.1 Sunday Times bestselling author comes the story of Marion Crawford, governess to the Queen – an ordinary woman living in an extraordinary time in 1932. Dunfermline, Scotland.

Marion Crawford, a bright, ambitious young teacher, is ready to make her mark on the world. Until a twist of fate changes the course of her life forever…

1936. Windsor Castle.

At first this ordinary woman is in a new world, working as the governess to two young princesses, in a household she calls home but where everyone is at a distance. As the course of history changes, she finds herself companion to the future Queen, and indispensable to the Crown. And slowly their needs become her needs. Their lives become hers.

It’s then she meets George, and falls in love for the first time. Now Marion faces an impossible choice: her sense of duty or the love of her life.

Review

The Good Servant is fiction based on fact. It’s a fictionalised account of Marion Crawford’s life from before, during and after she an employee for the monarchy.
Marion is a young Scottish woman who becomes a governess to two princesses – Princess Margaret and the princess who became our present queen – Queen Elizabeth II. They were devoted to Marion Crawford and affectionately called her Crawfie. She was ambitious, but hadn’t planned to take her ability to teach to that end of the population; her original plan was to educate and be a child psychologist at  the other end of the scale – the underprivieged, until fate drew its hand and changed them quite unexpectedly and dramatically. She took them on a journey of what people who aren’t royalty, call normality.

It’s a fascinating story that is revealed and makes me want to look into Marion’s life more as I am sure many readers will after reading this rivetting book.

The book has an air of authenticity to it and Fern Britton has cleverly woven through the facts of an ordinary woman who suddenly has her life changed to the extraordinary and has to weigh up choices she hadn’t thought she had to face, with the consequences to choose which path she will go along and some of the mistakes made along the way.

There are twists as readers see what mistakes are made and motives uncovered, involving a certain man in her life.

This is a book I recommend as it is very interesting, about a woman I certainly was barely aware of and the writing coupled with the research makes it a very good read.

#BookReview By Lou of The Little Wartime Library By Kate Thompson @katethompson380 @HodderBooks #TheLittleWartimeLibrary

The Little Wartime Library
By Kate Thompson

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Little Wartime Library is based on real events and is absolutely extraordinary! It is insightful and will lead you to a library you may not have known existed where it did. It is far from your usual place in this book with a fascinating page-turning, heartwarming plot, based on a lot of fact. I am truly impressed.
Thanks to Kate Thompson for allowing me to review and to be part of an interview process of 100 librarians for an article (not commented on this review, as I have not seen it, but what I have commented on is the book itself and the author’s note). This is an important and must read book for all of society. Find out more in the blurb and my review below.

The Little Wartime Library, Kate Thompson, The Paris Library, historical fiction, women's fiction

Blurb

London, 1944.

The Little Wartime Library, Kate Thompson, The Paris Library, historical fiction, women's fictionClara Button is no ordinary librarian. While the world remains at war, in East London Clara has created the country’s only underground library, built over the tracks in the disused Bethnal Green tube station. Down here a secret community thrives: with thousands of bunk beds, a nursery, a café and a theatre offering shelter, solace and escape from the bombs that fall above.

Along with her glamorous best friend and library assistant Ruby Munroe, Clara ensures the library is the beating heart of life underground. But as the war drags on, the women’s determination to remain strong in the face of adversity is tested to the limits when it seems it may come at the price of keeping those closest to them alive.

Based on true events, 
The Little Wartime Library is a gripping and heart-wrenching page-turner that remembers one of the greatest resistance stories of the war.

The Little Wartime Library, Kate Thompson, The Paris Library, historical fiction, women's fiction                                    The Little Wartime Library, Kate Thompson, The Paris Library, historical fiction, women's fictionReview

Readers meet Clara Button in 1944 in the East End of London. She created a safe library underground, when there was war all around. The introduction to her and this story is fascinating and shows the flexibility and resilience of librarians and their assistants.
Throughout, there are some quotes taken from various librarians. There is mention of an article. I have not seen this in the proof copy I had to review from.

Kate Thompson has interviewed 100 librarians, I was absolutely priveleged to be one of them. She writes an authors note, addressing librarians and also for anyone reading her book, that is so pleasing to read. It is a bit like a love letter. She has debunked many myths about libraries and librarians and also tells a truth about what is happening to them, as well as their importance and how and why they are still as relevant today as they ever were. I’ve never read anything like it and nor am I probably ever likely to again and for this, I thank Kate Thompson for what makes my heart soar with joy that someone truly understands.

There’s an adventure to be embarked. One of history and a library to be found and suddenly readers are hurtled back from the present day, (where it begins in the prologue) to 1944. It is an emotional, vivid and inspiring book.
This book shows that in 1944, libraries didn’t disappear as such and this one ingeniously moved underground. Clara is such a likeable character and it is so interesting getting to know her and her best friend and library assistant – Ruby Munroe. Clara has such strength in character, that she carried on, even through her own grief. I got a sense that her and I just might have got along.

The writing shows that a lot of research has been put in and yet it is light with its touch. It is a beautiful story of war, resillience, love and loss and of course libraries carrying on no matter what is thrown at them. It pulls you in and the style of writing is entrancing. It’s a feast for the eyes and mind with characters that are fascinating to meet, some with their own issues to deal with, including Clara herself with her family, especially the fractious relationship between her and her mother as far as the library was concerned. There is also a new boss, who is not likeable and may cause readers to have a fixed glare at his character, despite this, the library is abuzz with atmosphere and people reaching out for books.

There is also Ruby’s story being told in alternating chapters and as it unfolds, you get to know what a lovely friend she is to Clara. She also has a penchant for Gin cocktails. There is also some flirtation going on with some of the ARP. 

Weaved amongst the two main characters are the lives of others within the area and it all becomes a rich tapestry of people from all different backgrounds, with their own stories to tell, some are the most heart-wrenching anyone could have. There are other big themes on mysoginist attitudes, that also encapsulate what was happening socially at the time, including attitudes around reading. There’s a lot of strong observation in the book that perhaps highlights certain things that aren’t always examined when looking at war-times, more topics looked at before and after, not always during, so that stands-out too.

There is trepidation, other than the dangers of war of course, that is very gripping.

Time moves onwards and Clara and Ruby are still there, and some of the debates around reading are still the same in 2022. Much like now, the library was under threat of closure, what ensues is a sobering thought. Suddenly by the end of some voracious reading, it is hard not to read slower, wondering what is going to happen as there was a turn of events earlier.

The book finishes with a wonderful epilogue, returning readers back to present day, where they began and this demonstrates the arcs that bridge different time periods very well.

About The Author

Kate Thompson was born in London in 1974, and worked as a journalist for twenty years on women’s magazines and national newspapers. She now lives in Sunbury with her husband, two sons and a Lurcher called Ted. After ghost writing five memoirs, Kate moved into fiction. Kate’s first non-fiction social history documenting the forgotten histories of East End matriarchy, The Stepney Doorstep Society, was published in 2018 by Penguin. Her seventh novel, The Little Wartime Library is to be published by Hodder & Stoughton in the spring of 2022.

           www.katethompsonmedia.co.uk                Twitter @katethompson

 

#BookReview By Lou -The Language of Food By Annabel Abbs @AnnabelAbbs @simonschusterUK #TheLanguageOfFood @BookMinxSJV

The Language of Food
By Annabel Abbs

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Language of Food is fiction based on fact. It takes reader into the life of a little known woman, by many, called Eliza Acton. She changed the course of cookery forever and when today’s cooks come across her, they are inspired by her story and style. Annabel Abbs has now opened her life up so that everyone can know the achievements and hardships and good times of her. Discover more in the blurb and my review. I also thank Simon and Schuster for gifting me a copy of the book.

The Language of Food pic

Blurb

The Language of Food picEngland 1835. Eliza Acton is a poet who dreams of seeing her words in print. But when she takes her new manuscript to a publisher, she’s told that ‘poetry is not the business of a lady’. Instead, they want her to write a cookery book. That’s what readers really want from women. England is awash with exciting new ingredients, from spices to exotic fruits. But no one knows how to use them

Eliza leaves the offices appalled. But when her father is forced to flee the country for bankruptcy, she has no choice but to consider the proposal. Never having cooked before, she is determined to learn and to discover, if she can, the poetry in recipe writing. To assist her, she hires seventeen-year-old Ann Kirby, the impoverished daughter of a war-crippled father and a mother with dementia. 

Over the course of ten years, Eliza and Ann developed an unusual friendship – one that crossed social classes and divides – and, together, they broke the mould of traditional cookbooks and changed the course of cookery writing forever. 

Eliza Acton, despite having never before boiled an egg, became one of the world’s most successful cookery writers, revolutionizing cooking and cookbooks around the world. Her story is fascinating, uplifting and truly inspiring.

The Language of Food pic

                                              The Language of Food pic

Review

The Language of Food may make you hungry, it may make you feel warm and cosy and it may show you something you perhaps did not know before.

This is a fictional book, but features a real person from history – Eliza Acton. She was a cookery writer who lived between 1799-1859 and got a blue plaque. I love and appreciate food and cookery, but I had never heard of her before, perhaps because, as the book says, so little was known about her, but this book weaves into her life, what was known about her. More well-known cooks of this more modern era, such as Delia Smith and others, have been influenced by her. Eliza’s books were bestsellers, selling vast amounts of copies at the time.

Each chapter is nicely designed in the way they are written and titled – using food related terms or actual food. The book also goes between Ann and Eliza to tell their life stories. It begins with Ann and Mr Whitmarsh, who has given her a present. Immediately, Mr Whitmarsh brings energy that runs through the opening chapter, but also one of intrigue at a certain reaction to the more well-known – Mrs Beaton…

The book then goes to Eliza, on her way to a publisher, hoping to publish some more poetry. The publisher then sees an opportunity for a cookery book. The book shows how things were at a certain time in people’s views and at the same time, therefore also shows how things have moved on as time has passed and views have differed and what is realised about women’s talents, that were overlooked and not taken seriously before, as she argues the point of how poetry was good enough for great male stalwarts of this type of writing, but perhaps not women. There is also a level of perspective within Ann’s world, where she isn’t pleased at this finding, but Mr Whitmarsh soon shows a bit of reality within his cooking world.

The book has a sense of movement in time and is, in some respects, the writing is poetic, something perhaps Eliza Acton may have appreciated…. perhaps… It also shows her determination, ambition and almost fearlessness to do things how she wants to, which then drove a change in the way cookery books were and are written.

It isn’t as simple as that. Eliza has to think about food in a more focussed way to give her publishers a cookery book, but with one tiny problem… she has never even boiled an egg before, which makes you wonder how on earth she can write a cookery book and the sort that her publishers would want to show the world and sell. So, she learns and gets inspired by food and what Jack has told her. Eliza, against the odds, begins to add unexpected ingredients for Britain at that time.

The food and how it was cooked, all blended into the story, unfolds in a way that educates in how food was prepared and also feeds the senses terribly well and absorbs into the mind, wanting to soak up and consume every word. Given that there, as readers are informed at the beginning, that there is little known about Eliza Acton, I can’t help but think that this book is respectfully done. There’s a certain sense, especially as it captures the times and then hones in on the food and brings a believability to it and shows how cuisine was then and how Eliza started to change it, and also learnt from other cooks. The book demonstrates a whole foody web of connections and sparks of inspiration gained from others, even if not always in-person, but in their cookery books.

As well as all the food that leaps from the page, there, intertwined is also other parts of her life, because people have more than one interest and more than one thing going on in their lives. There are the friendships forged, even when some may seem unlikely, but showing that sometimes, they can be great friendships. There are also health challenges and how they were seen at the time.

There is also great insight into the characters lives, and the places featured, lots that are real, including a mental health asylum. Those that feature a lot in the book have a very interesting note at the end of the book, which gives even greater context and interest and attention to detail.

As a book as a whole, it’s a good introduction to Eliza Acton, who will, I am sure be a bit better known than she perhaps used to be, and is interesting as well as being humorous with lots of food within it and snippets of her and Ann’s lives throughout, creating a believable story, that then picques interest to do a small amount of looking around for Eliza Acton, something I often find myself doing after a biopic or a fictional story based on a real person’s life, if it interests me enough.

About the Author

Annabel Abbs is the new rising star of biographical historical novels. She grew up in Bristol, Sussex and Wales before studying English Literature at the University of East Anglia and Marketing at the University of Kingston. Her debut novel The Joyce Girl was a Guardian Reader’s Pick and her second novel Frieda: The Original Lady Chatterley earned critical acclaim including Times 2018 Book of the Year. She regularly appears on national and regional media, with recent appearances on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and Sky News, and is popular on the literary festival circuit. She was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, the Caledonia Novel Award and the Waverton GoodRead Award. Annabel lives in London with her husband and four children.