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I have updated my review and giveaway policies page (now just titled Policies above). If you are entering a giveaway, please read and abide by the applicable policy.

Attention Authors! If you arrived here looking for information on the Two Sides to Every Story guest post series, see the tab at the top of the page for more info!


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Monday, July 24, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Rake’s Bargain by Lucy Ashford

the rakes bargain

The Rake’s Bargain by Lucy Ashford
Unabridged; 8 hr. 8 min.
Recorded Books
Charlotte Strevens (narrator)
December 30, 2016
★★½☆☆☆
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Heat Rating:
2 flames (1)

Genre: Historical Romance

Source: Received from publisher for review

The stage is set
Deborah O'Hara loves her life, leading her troupe of actors. But when she becomes entangled in a web of secrets spun by the rakishly handsome Damian Beaumaris, Duke of Cirencester, she is forced to play the hardest role of her life: that of the stunning but disloyal Paulette, the duke's widowed sister-in-law.

To regain the honor of his family, Beau needs Deb's help. But despite his intentions to let nothing distract him from his plan, he doesn't bargain on the forbidden sparks that fly with his beautiful leading lady….

So I’m 1 for 2 with my Harlequin Historicals experience, which I guess is par for the course, but I was hoping this would be another good one, but alas this was more of a dud.

The opening scenes were pretty good and starts out with really the most action of the whole novel. There is a theft, a near escape, and a kidnapping by bumbling idiots that was rather enjoyable. However, once Beau drags Deb into his game of subterfuge, I began losing interest. The first half of The Rake’s Bargain feels a little like an overplayed rom-com (I personally kept drawing parallels to 90’s favorite She’s All That), which I could get behind if done right: guy uses unsuspecting girl to achieve his end game and doesn’t care what happens to the girl along the way, only for them to fall in love at the end. Unlike the rom-com though, I couldn’t find much of anything romantic or comedic about it. I actually kept wondering all the way through to the end how the heroine could find the guy to be even remotely interesting or could redeem himself. The way he treats her is not something I could overcome regardless of how beautiful he might be. She knows he is using her for an outcome that she can’t justify. I just couldn’t buy into the romantic element, that didn’t even begin to develop until over halfway through the book, because the guy was such an ass all the way through. I kept waiting for something more to happen, particularly for the woman she is supposed to be (Paulette) to show up, now that would have made things interesting!

I did like the heroine though. From the very beginning Deb is looking out for the good of her acting troupe and is willing to put her personal reputation on the line over and over to better their lot. It isn’t everyday that the main character is an actress and it was refreshing to see her use her skills both to delight audiences onstage and to move through this twisted mess with Beau more smoothly.

Ultimately I feel like there was a solid premise here, but it got lost in the details and ultimately wasn’t that enjoyable of a read for me in the end. With a romance you really need to buy into the motives of both of the characters involved and I certainly didn’t find that here.

audiobookimpressions

★★★★☆

The saving element for this book was the audio presentation, because without that, I would have probably put it down despite its short length. While I was originally thrown off by the narrator’s accent, it fit appropriately with the setting and after a little bit I grew to accept it. Strevens does make an effort to create different voices for her various characters and pulls off her male voices acceptably (I’ve certainly heard worse!). Her reading pace I found to be appropriate and kept the plot moving. I did find that the pauses between tracks felt longer than necessary; I kept checking my iPod to make sure that it hadn’t accidentally paused on me only to have it then move on to the next track.

You can check out a sample of the audiobook below (link opens to Audible):

Play symbol 85x85

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia


Also by Lucy Ashford:

captain and innocent
The Captain and his Innocent

captains courtesan
The Captain’s Courtesan

the major and pickpocket
The Major and the Pickpocket

belle marchmain
The Outrageous Belle Marchmain

conistone
The Return of Lord Conistone

the problem with josephine
The Problem with Josephine


Find Lucy Ashford:
Website



Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cover Crush: The Last Camellia

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

last camelia

So this isn’t a new release, but I was scrolling through some lists on Goodreads looking for some ideas for another post and I came across this one which caught my eye.  When I first look at it it looks like there is a waterfall in the center background, but that is a woman and maybe just in a ray of light.  But regardless, I like how the flower is defined in the foreground and the back is a little less defined, and for me, a little ambiguous! 

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: (updated as they go live).

keep calm and support book bloggers



Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Book Alert: Days to the Gallows by Katherine Spada Basto

days to the gallows

Days to the Gallows by Katherine Spada Basto
e-book & Paperback; 252 Pages
CreateSpace Independent Publishing
ISBN: 1536978043
December 6, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Book Blurb:

Before the Salem Witch Trials...in 1662, a witch panic struck Hartford, Connecticut. Seventeen year old Hester Hosmer is a neighbor and friend to Ann Cole, despite Ann's reputation for being "strange" and a mooncalf. One night when Hester tries to drag Ann home from one of her moonlight walks, the girls stumble upon a strange fire-lit gathering on the South Green. But in 1662, such gatherings are strictly forbidden. When a child dies mysteriously, Ann's hysteria begins and she accuses certain townspeople of witchcraft. A witch panic envelopes Hartford and paranoia runs rampant. Hester tries to discourage Ann's hysterics and the more she discovers, the more conflicted she becomes about her own loyalties. Hester's budding romance with Tom, the peddler's son only makes Ann jealous and increases the tension. With the ruthless Marshal Gilbert, the Puritan Elders and the Acting Governor himself at her beck and call, Ann can prove to be a dangerous enemy. After all, anyone in Hartford might be a witch. After years of research, Ms. Spada Basto has brought to life a turbulent and disturbing period of Colonial Connecticut History. It is a time when wolves prowled near the town and superstitions about witches often brought people to an untimely death-hanging by a noose on Gallows' Hill.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia 


I came across this book/author while reading through my local newspaper – the headline was “Resident Publishes First Novel” – so of course I was intrigued.  And even more so once I saw it was a historical novel set right here in our small state of Connecticut.  The witch hysteria has always interested me and Connecticut has a rich history of it too, just not as well known as that of Salem.  So I’m interested in checking this one out.

You can read more about the author and the book in this article from The Hartford Courant.



Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Cover Crush: The Jersey Brothers

cover crush_thumb[3]_thumb

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

jersey brothers

This cover is powerful and doesn’t need a lot of words.  It’s a spooky kind of quiet – the kind that doesn’t bring peace, but rather a lack of noise because everything has stopped.  You see the helmet and the ocean and regardless I think D-Day in my head – wherever it is, I get that same vibe.  Sadness.  Stillness.  I really want to read this book.

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: (updated as they go live).

keep calm and support book bloggers_thumb_thumb



Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Book Review: The Duke of Defiance by Darcy Burke

The Duke of Defiance Cover

The Duke of Defiance by Darcy Burke
Book 5 in The Untouchables series
ARC, e-Book, 265 pages
Darcy Burke
June 27, 2017
★★★½☆☆
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Heat Rating

3 flames

Genre: Historical Romance

Source: Received from publicist for review

Difficult and defiant as a child, Bran Crowther, Earl of Knighton left England as a young man to pursue independence and adventure. He never expected to inherit the title and when duty calls him home, he still finds Society’s codes constricting and others’ expectations oppressive. Nevertheless, he needs a wife to be a mother to his young daughter, preferably a woman of intelligence and warmth who is, above all, immune to his idiosyncrasies—and to falling in love.

Widow Joanna Shaw isn’t interested in a second marriage, not after the loveless, passionless union she endured. She’d much rather dote on her young niece and nephew since they will likely be the only children in her life...until she meets a precocious girl, in desperate need of a mother. But her father, the so-called Duke of Defiance, is as peculiar as he is handsome, and Jo won’t take another risk with her heart. Their rules, however, are made to be broken, even when the consequences could destroy them both.

Besides the fact that I had enjoyed prior entries in The Untouchables series, the cover of this one drew me right in – regardless of what the book was about. It is STUNNING! With that out of the way, let’s dig into the actual story.

One thing that I have always liked are the characters that Burke creates. Jo is the sister of one of the heroines from an earlier installment in the series, The Forbidden Duke. I didn’t know this character well because I haven’t yet read her story, but she figures prominently into the plot here. Jo comes to live with her sister after her husband dies to determine what to do with her life. While the two sisters have a very warm relationship, there is some resentment that simmers as the story progresses from their earlier days. We get to see how Nora’s actions that resulted in her fairytale romance have affected her sister. I honestly think this was one of the strongest relationships in this book. Typically we see the heroines of the series traipse through the pages of all the subsequent novels, and while we hear of Ivy, Lucy, and Aquilla, it is only Nora who figures prominently for the women. However the men on the other hand get their due here! Most of the Untouchables make an appearance in a hilarious scene welcoming Bran back to England. While this scene served to familiarize the reader with each of the relationships, I thought it gave WAY too much away where you really don’t have to go back and read the other books because you know what happens. I think authors do themselves a disservice when they do this because instead of intriguing readers to go pick up their other books they have essentially taken that need away from them. Maybe explain a little less next time! I loved that Bran had his idiosyncrasies which made him very unique among his set, but I kept wanting to know a little bit more about what was the root of them. He is compassionate for his daughter above all else, which I have yet to read in any historical romance to date, it is usually the woman that happens to have a child from a prior relationship or out of wedlock, not the man. It is something needed in this genre for sure from time to time as it would have certainly been an issue at the time: a widowed father needs to find someone to be a mother to his children. Jo spends most of the novel wrapped up in the events of her past, both with her sister and late husband, which didn’t really allow for much growth of character but I found her likable anyway.

One element that I picked up on early in this story is how the author explores the concept of how a bad prior relationship can taint the ability to move on and have strong positive relationship. Whether the cause is physical, sexual, or emotional those mind games can effect how you related to other people and that happens here with Jo. She struggles throughout the novel with the lasting effects of her first marriage and constantly undermines herself, until she is finally able to get out of her own way. I thought that this was very well done.

During the experience of reading I thought that the plot was entertaining, but looking back on it, it was a little less exciting than other installments in this series. For the most part Jo doesn’t go anywhere other than her sisters home and Bran’s home. It honestly felt like there were only two scenes where the plot actually moved forward – one at the very beginning and one very nearly at the end. There is a lot of exploration of character (I won’t say it’s quite character development exactly), but nothing really happens. In The Duke of Deception the plot continually barreled forward, but it was a little lackluster here. The point of contention between the two love interests didn’t lend itself to a plot with action, it was just something for the two of them to trip over and ultimately find their way into each other’s beds. I would have liked the plot to be bulked up more which would have added to my overall enjoyment.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia


Also by Darcy Burke:

The other titles in this series include:

The Forbidden Duke - BK 1
The Forbidden Duke
(Book 1)

The Duke of Daring - BK 2
The Duke of Daring
(Book 2)

The Duke of Deception - BK 3
The Duke of Deception
(Book 3)
[My Review]

duke of despire
The Duke of Desire
(Book 4)
[My Review]


Find Darcy Burke:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads



Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

New Book Alert: The Duke Meets His Match by Tina Gabrielle–Excerpt & Giveaway

The Duke Meets his Match book  3
The Duke Meets His Match by Tina Gabrielle
Book 3 of The Infamous Somertons series
e-Book & Paperback; 252 pages
Entangled- Scandalous
ISBN: 1548204889
June 22, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance
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Book Blurb:

The daughter of an infamous art forger, Chloe Somerton grew up poor. Desperate to aid her sisters, she’d picked a pocket…or two. Now circumstances have changed, and Chloe has a chance to marry a young, wealthy lord. Only his mentor—a dark, dangerous duke—stands in her way. The duke knows about her past, and she’ll do anything to keep him from telling.

The moment Michael Keswick, the Duke of Cameron, sees Chloe Somerton, he recognizes her as a fraud. The stunning beauty with sapphire eyes and golden hair now appears to be a proper lady, but he knows better. What begins as a battle of wills soon escalates into a fierce attraction. In Chloe, Michael finds peace from the memories of war, but he refuses to marry…and she won’t settle for anything less.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

TDMHM Teaser

Check out this delightful EXCERPT from The Duke Meets His Match!!

Chloe rapped softly on the door and waited. When there was no response, her fingers grazed the handle. She knew entering a man’s bedchamber was recklessly improper, but she thrust the thought aside. She’d seen the duke—Michael—last night. He’d clearly suffered from shock when the fireworks had exploded at the end of Madame Saqui’s performance at Vauxhall Gardens. She’d witnessed the flash of wild grief that had ripped through him…had glimpsed his pain and inner turmoil in the depths of his eyes. In his mind, he’d been transported back to the horrors of battle.

Without further hesitation, she pushed the door open. The room was dim and her eyes took a moment to adjust. A ray of sunlight that penetrated between the nearly closed curtains provided sufficient light to see. It was a purely masculine room with mahogany Chippendale furniture, a plush Oriental carpet, an escritoire in the corner, and a leather chair by the window. But it was the enormous fourposter that dominated the room—a bed large enough to fit a man well over six feet tall—that drew her eye.

The duke lay in the bed, sprawled on his back in a restless sleep. Heart pounding, Chloe tiptoed close and then stopped breathing at the sight of his bare chest. Unable to stop herself, she stared. Ropes of muscle defined his broad shoulders, biceps, and sculpted chest. His skin was bronzed, and she wondered how he exposed himself to the sun. Her knees grew weak as an image of him riding shirtless arose in her mind. A sprinkling of hair trailed down his flat stomach and disappeared beneath the bedclothes that covered the lower half of his body. One long, muscular leg was uncovered where he’d kicked the linens aside. The raw power of his body nearly stole her breath. With a start, she realized that he slept naked and hadn’t bothered with a nightshirt. Had he sent his valet scurrying out of the room last night?

She’d never seen a man’s naked chest before, but she knew without a doubt, that no one else of her acquaintance could ever compare.

Certainly not Henry.

Michael had the body of a soldier. He appeared strong and muscled from hours of disciplined training. He was no dandy or coxcomb or spoiled aristocrat who’d never known physical labor. Her fingers trembled with the need to touch his flesh, to run her fingers down his chest.

Deep lines slashed between his dark brows, and he tossed on the bed. “Gavin…no…no. Look out!”

Chloe’s eyes flew to his face, and a heavy feeling settled low in her stomach at his distress. He was clearly in the throes of a nightmare. Whatever feelings she had for him, desire and anger, her heart ached to see him in pain. She reached out to touch his arm and lowered her voice to a whisper. “Your Grace.”

He moved so fast she didn’t have a second to breathe. Her wrist was caught in a powerful grip and she was pulled down and across his chest. He rolled, taking her with him and pinning her beneath him. Engulfed by his weight, she couldn’t move an inch.

Her heart slammed against her chest. She was aware of every rigid angle, every powerful muscle, and his hardness pressing between her thighs made her inhale sharply at the contact. His dark visage was fierce and unyielding as he hovered above her, and she experienced a trepidation of fear.

He’d reacted instinctively, like an experienced soldier who’d been threatened.

“Your Grace!” She gasped. “It’s Chloe.”

He blinked and focused on her face inches from his. “Chloe?”

“Yes…yes. It’s me.”

His merciless hold on her arms eased. “Why are you here?”

“I…I was worried about you after last night.”

His mouth was set in a grim line, his gaze narrowed and determined. “Christ. I could have killed you. Crushed you as easily as a twig. How the hell did you get into my bedchamber?”

“Your butler and housekeeper told me you were still abed.”

One dark eyebrow shot upward. “I’m surprised either permitted you to enter here.”

“They didn’t. I let myself up here.”

“Why does that not surprise me?”

His voice lowered to an intimate whisper and she became even more aware of his hardness pressed against the apex of her thighs. The coverlet had fallen aside so that a thin sheet and her own clothing were the only barriers between them.

Sweet Lord. His manhood seemed so…large. She should have been more afraid—any proper female would have been—but Chloe had never been proper, had she? Instead her initial fear ebbed as she lay soft and pliant beneath him. The physical contact stoked a gently burning fire, and she was powerless to stop the wicked thoughts that came to mind. She was wildly curious by nature, and the hushed whispers of the servants and her own married sisters when they thought she wasn’t listening had always fascinated her.

She couldn’t stop wondering: what would it be like to know the duke intimately. Would he be gentle or demanding or both?

Their gazes locked, and a corner of his lips turned up in a wicked smile as if he sensed what she was thinking. His pupils expanded, black and gold flecks in his eyes. “I suppose I should be grateful for your impetuous nature which led you here. At last, I have you right where I want you.”

Tina Gabrielle

About Tina Gabrielle

Tina Gabrielle, an Amazon best-selling author, is an attorney and former mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. She often picked up a romance and let her fantasies of knights in shining armor and lords and ladies carry her away. She is the author of adventurous Regency historical romances: A Spy Unmasked, At The Spy’s Pleasure, In The Barrister’s Bed, In The Barrister’s Chambers, Lady Of Scandal, and A Perfect Scandal from Entangled Publishing and Kensington Books. Tina’s books have been Barnes & Noble top picks, and her first book, Lady Of Scandal, was nominated as best first historical romance by Romantic Times Book Reviews. Tina loves to hear from readers. Please visit her website to join her newsletter and enter her free monthly contests and giveaways.

Find Tina Gabrielle: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

An Artful Seduction book 1Real Earls Break the Rules book  2


Tour Wide Giveaway

As part of this tour, there is an excellent tour-wide giveaway to win the following: Classic Art coloring book, digital copy of An Artful Seduction by Tina Gabrielle, & $15 Amazon Gift Card!.  Entries can be made through the Rafflecopter below or on any of the tour hosting blogs.  Please note, any questions should be directed to the publicist as I do not have any input in this giveaway.  Good luck!!


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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

New Book Alert: Denying the Duke by Callie Hutton–Excerpt & Giveaway

DenyingTheDuke-1600px

Denying the Duke by Callie Hutton
Book 3 in the Lords and Ladies in Love series
e-Book & Paperback; 238 Pages
Entangled: Scandalous
ISBN: 1548204714
June 22, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance
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Book Blurb:

Four years ago, Alex, a second son, had planned a life together with Lady Patience. However, when Patience was betrothed to his brother, the heir, Alex left his family’s estate and joined the military.
Alex returns to assume the title Duke of Bedford when his brother unexpectedly dies. He is unprepared for both his new responsibilities and the reunion with Patience. The horrors of war are a heavy burden, and when he learns that Patience never married his brother, he is stunned.

Patience withstood the bullying of her fiancĂ© and her father for four long years. She refuses to marry Alex just because he’s the duke, especially if he no longer loves her. How would that be better than what she has already endured? Promises made in their youth are not enough to overcome the changes life has wrought for them but love can grow and transform, if only Patience could believe that.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

TastyToursExcerpt 

Check out this awesome EXCERPT from Denying the Duke!!

Dragging his thoughts back to the present, he walked from the church graveyard where all the Dukes of Bedford were buried in the family mausoleum, to the Abbey, his boots making a sucking sound in the mud.

He stopped on the stone pathway and studied the building. It looked exactly as it had all his life, and for generations before that. He, however, had changed significantly from the angry, brokenhearted young man who had left. War had carved him into a bitter, bedeviled-by-ghosts man. No softness remained from that addlepated young man in love.

Precisely how he liked it.

Patience, otherwise known as the Duchess of Bedford, would be holding court for the mourners who had come to comfort her on the death of her husband. Since he’d had no contact with his family in the four years he’d been gone, he had no idea if she and Cyrus had children. Of course, there wasn’t a son, or Alex would not have been summoned home to take up his duties as the new Duke of Bedford.

He snorted. One could only hope the pater was spinning in his grave as the prodigal son returned to assume the title he’d held so dear. He no more desired to be the duke than his father would have wanted him to be.

His thoughts returned to the Duchess of Bedford. It seemed nothing had changed since he left. Under the law, as his brother’s widow, Patience was just as off-limits to him as she had been as Cyrus’s betrothed. Of course, he had no reason to believe he still felt the same about her as he had four years ago. That Alex was dead, and he had the vile memories and dark dreams to prove it.

Before he could reach for the front door latch, the door opened. A new butler, unknown to him, stood there, stiff as a board. “Welcome home, Your Grace.”

Your Grace.

Callie Hutton

About Callie Hutton

USA Today bestselling author, Callie Hutton, author of more than twenty-five historical romance books, writes humorous and spicy Regency with “historic elements and sensory details” (The Romance Reviews). Callie lives in Oklahoma with two rescue dogs and her top cheerleader husband of many years. Her family also includes her daughter, son, and daughter-in-law. And her almost three year old twin grandsons “The Twinadoes.”  Find her online at her Website, for a complete list of all her books and sign up for her newsletter to receive information on new releases, appearances, contests and exclusive subscriber content.

Find Callie Hutton: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Tour Wide Giveaway!

As part of this tour, Entangled, has an excellent tour-wide giveaway to win a $20 Amazon gift card and a print copy of Marrying the Wrong Earl, book 2 in the Lords and Ladies in Love series (US only)!.  Entries can be made through the Rafflecopter below or on any of the tour hosting blogs.  Please note, any questions should be directed to the publicist as I do not have any input in this giveaway.  Good luck!!

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, July 10, 2017

Giveaway Winner–June is Audiobook Month

giveaway balloons

I am a tad bit overdue in announcing the winner from the giveaway for the June in Audiobook Month celebration (I honestly forgot until I cleaned off my table and found the prize!  Sorry!).  That being said, the winner is…

Karen G!!!

Congratulations Karen!!  I have sent an email to get your mailing information.  Please respond within the next 3 days or I will select a new winner.

Thanks to everyone that entered!  I hope you found some new wonderful audiobooks throughout this event.  I can’t wait for next year.



Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Interview with Marisa Parker

Good afternoon everyone!  I have the pleasure of welcoming BRAG Medallion recipient, author Marisa Parker, to the blog today.  Her book, Goodbye to Italia, is non-fiction, set during the years of WWII.  I can’t wait to share about this book with you.

goodbye italia

Heather: Hi Marisa! Welcome to The Maiden’s Court.  Can you tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?

Marisa Parker: I was looking for different ways to promote my debut book to global communities – an online market. I wondered if I could apply for a book award and so undertook a Google search. Firstly, I came across a couple of articles advising caution on book award applications as there are some not so credible awards. I hadn't even thought about this! I investigated further and came across a top ten list of recommended book awards of which one was indieBRAG. I liked the sound of that especially when I realized that it was a Book Readers Appreciation Group. The thought of my mum and dad's story receiving recognition as a good story from other readers was important to me, so I applied.

H: You make a great point about having to do your research first – in anything!  I hadn’t thought about less than reputable book awards either, but I guess there are as with anything.  Thanks for bringing that to our attention. 

Getting to your book, to start off, can you tell us a little bit about it, GOODBYE To Italia?

MP: GOODBYE To Italia – a timid Italian girl; a young soldier; a love story – is the story of my parents during WWII in Italy and Africa. With thirteen years age difference, they went through very diverse experiences. The book opens in Northern Italy in 1942. Imagine a dark-haired little Italian girl called Mariolina skipping outside to peer up at the unexpected drone of airplanes, unaware of the danger as her neighbor, an eccentric opera singer, fervently prays for her teenage son. That son is my father Eugenio, who at twenty years old, is in the Italian army, fighting in North Africa as part of the Italian army. He’s soon captured by the Australian and British forces and sent to a Prisoner of War camp. Whilst captive in Southern Africa in the largest POW camp of Commonwealth forces (over 63,000 prisoners at one-time), he tries to keep upbeat about things but invariably struggles emotionally and physically.  The chapters in the first half of the book interchange between the two distinct characters and events until the war ends and my father returns to Italy. The changing relationship between my mum and dad then unfolds as my mother comes of age.

H: That’s a great time period to write about, there was so much happening in the world that there was no choice but for people to change with it.

Your book is non-fiction and based on the experiences of your family. Can you give us some insight into what made you decide to tell their story?

MP: I've always thought my mum and dad's story was fascinating and I took for granted the amazing bond shared between them. As a teenager, I was thrilled by the snippets of war stories they told me and wondered at their sheer determination and courage. As an adult, it became a burning passion of mine to write and share their love story, their incredible war-time adventures and their Italian sense of fun and drama. This experience was made much more emotional by the re-discovery of my father’s diaries (written in Italian) revealing to me his charismatic and boisterous character that was so captivating to my mother – a girl brought up in a very different atmosphere of reticence and duty in Northern Italy.

H: Wow! To have his diaries you can really get a feel of what his life was like in the moment rather than recollection looking back.  That’s a wonderful keepsake to have. 

Have you had to do outside research to complete the story you are telling? If so, what have you done? Any great books you could recommend?

MP: It took me four years to write the book. That was due to a few things, as I work full time and, am rather pedantic and particular about researching, reviewing and re-writing, so time passed quickly. Also, as it was my first book, I wanted to ensure that the manuscript was the best that it could be and importantly, receive confirmation from my mum that she liked the way that I had written such a personal account of her life. To reach this point, I undertook research to set her story in context, align with worldwide historical events and provide authenticity into what it was like during WWII in Italy and Africa. This was undertaken through Internet searches and, through reading some books.

One of the books was Il Duce and His Women by R Olla and S Parkin. I found the character of Benito Mussolini, nicknamed Il Duce, a fascinating public and private figure, He was so popular and powerful but through time and circumstances everything unravelled. He enthralled his Italian compatriots; sold the idea of fascism as the true and only ideology and was instrumental in aligning Italy with Germany and the Hitler regime. Mussolini had a fundamental influence on my grandmother and her son, Eugenio Piergiovanni, my father.

H: I would imagine that it would be extremely important to get the nod from your mother, on a personal level.

I hear that you are working on a second book, a continuation of their story. What more can you tell us about this upcoming work?

MP: Yes! I'm writing the sequel to GOODBYE To Italia. Once my mum and dad are married, they soon leave Italy to go and live in Africa in the fifties. The book commences as the ship departs Italy. My mother is suddenly plagued with indecision. She’s never been apart from her mamma and nonna (except for one week during WWII). Now, she’s on her way with her new husband who has ideas of making his fortune in colonialist Africa.

This book is written as a memoir from my mother’s perspective as my father passed away many years ago. My parents were incredibly determined and showed great perseverance. Moving within the glamourous circles of a surreal colonialist environment they even get caught up in political intrigue!

MP: I find that so fascinating!  To leave your home to go to a place that would have been so very foreign when, as you state, she had always had family to rely on and support her.  I can’t even imagine.

What drew you towards independent publishing as opposed to traditional publishing?  Has there been anything that was more or less challenging that you expected?  Would you do it again?

MP: I'm a romantic at heart. This influences the way I write. I set some goals at the start of this writing journey - to finish the book; get it published; see it in bookstores and ultimately, be made into a movie! I sought advice from a traditionally published author who gave guidance on preparing a pitch to publishing houses. Unfortunately, three submissions were unsuccessful. As my mother is now in her eighties, I decided to forge ahead and went the self-publishing route. Seeing the book in print and online as an eBook has been a most satisfying achievement.

Two most challenging things that I hadn’t really thought about was the unexpected and slightly overwhelming cost implication regarding professional editing, printing, website creation and marketing of the book (both time wise and financially). I also had no concept of how time consuming it would be to promote the book.  Writing the story has been the easy and most satisfying part. Getting out and about physically and, ensuring I spend enough time online so attending to a consistent online strategy has pushed me out of my comfort zone. But onwards I must go even if sometimes I just want to put my head in the sand!

MP:  I’m sure it has meant a lot to your mother to be able to see her story in print.  I have heard many independently published authors say that they were overwhelmed with how much additional work there is to do after the writing is done!

Have you had any struggles in the writing process?  How have you worked through these?  Any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

MP: Some people will just shake their head at this but I've never had a problem with words flowing. In fact, it's the opposite. Probably that’s why I review and redraft so many times. I can read through copy that I thought was quite good at the time and then on re-reading, I think what the ##**!

However, as it's my family's history most of the time it's just all-consuming and hours will pass to be interrupted by my husband asking, what's for lunch? This is because I normally set aside writing time on the weekends as I work through the week. Even so, I have had times when I just cannot write anymore. That's when I change to research mode. The most arbitrary or extraordinary facts can be unveiled that in an instant can relight a fire or creative flow. So, using research time for periods of writer’s block is probably one piece of advice. It is also important to have a specific time slot every day or during the weekends to keep adding to and growing your story.

H: I would imagine that it would be easy to become absorbed in your family’s story. 

When you are not reading for research or otherwise writing, what type of books or what authors do you enjoy reading?

MP: I love reading. It takes me into another world. My tastes have changed considerably over the years. I'd say it's been influenced by my environment or certain stages in my life. For the past few years, I enjoy mostly fiction, as long as it is well written. I get annoyed with more than one spelling mistake or if a character feels artificial. I try not to be judgmental but after three chapters, if the story or a character hasn’t gripped me, I likely won’t continue with that book.

My current books of taste are historical or contemporary romances and even detective or intrigue (drama), as an escapism after a busy day at work. Although I do intersperse this with memoirs and biographies whose book summaries catch my eye. Two of my favourite books that are very diverse are Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand and, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

H: I wish I could give up on a book that isn’t doing it for me as quickly.  I’m one of those “it must get better at some point” sort of readers…

What type of things do you like to do for leisure?

MP: For leisure, I garden, read and cook. The weather can dictate the varying preferences of these three things. My husband and I would love to spend more time with our two grown up daughters but they no longer live at home. We manage to catch up weekly by various digital means and every now and then in person. They are independent beautiful women, living their lives and seeing the world but it would be great to be able to see them more often and just sit and chat!

H:  That sounds wonderful!  Thank you Marisa for stopping by and letting us get to know more about you and your book, Goodbye to Italia.

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Photo Credit: University of Southern Queensland, Australia

Hi, I’m Marisa Parker. My mamma, Maria (Iucci) Martore and papa, Eugenio Piergiovanni, have led such an amazing life that I had to write their story. The first book, GOODBYE To Italia – a timid Italian girl; a young soldier; a love story – is about their diverse experiences in Italy and Africa in WWII. I’m now writing their second book (2017) after they married and went to live in Africa. The story will be related personally from my mum’s perspective, as she recalls it.

Currently, my husband and I live in the hills behind the Gold Coast in Australia. We have two grown-up daughters who were born in Zimbabwe, Africa – where I was also born. Although it was called Rhodesia back in the day! We left Africa in 2000 and went to live in New Zealand for six years before moving to Australia which is now our home. Since moving here, I’ve undertaken study as a mature-age student whilst working full-time. It’s been a tough journey but oh, so worth it.

Find Marisa Parker: Website | Facebook | Twitter

goodbye italia
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Book Blurb:

A pretty little Italian girl skips outside to peer up at the unexpected drone of aeroplanes, unaware of the danger as her neighbour, an eccentric opera singer, fervently prays for her teenage son. It is the start of WWII. An age difference of thirteen years separates the little girl Mariolina Martore and the army officer Eugenio Piergiovanni, but their lives are destined to intertwine.
Mariolina is a timid but stalwart child who lives with her mother and grandmother. During the war years, they endure bombings, cold, hunger, and disease in Torino, Northern Italy.

In contrast, Eugenio, a teenage soldier, is captured and spends six years in African prisoner-of-war (POW) camps—one of which boasted 63,000 prisoners at one time. Eugenio’s transition into adulthood during captivity, as told through his diaries, makes for bittersweet humour as he strives to find laughter in sad situations.

Goodbye to Italia is a non-fiction romantic story of Italian drama, courage, and humour. So as to stay true to the retelling by my mamma and papa, and to capture the essence of living through those times, the chapters in the first half of the book interchange between the two diverse characters, Mariolina and Eugenio, as they come of age.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia


A Message from IndieBRAG:

We are delighted that Heather has chosen to interview Marisa Parker. who is the author of, Goodbye to Italia, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Goodbye to Italia, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

brag interview team




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