Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Book Review - The Jezebel's Daughter

Juliet MacLeod
Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
1700's Golden Age of Piracy

Loreley Jones and her family are sailing from England to start a new life in the Caribbean when their ship runs into a massive storm. Being the only one small enough to fit through a porthole, Loreley saved from the sinking ship, but is swept away as she clings to flotsam while the rest of her family are lost at sea. Loreley's life goes from bad to worse when, upon being washed up on shore, she is taken by brigands to be sold to the local brothel.

As Loreley from an aristocratic family and both young and beautiful, her virginity is auctioned off at a high price to a cruel captain who bids not only for her first night, but to have her as his possession that no other patrons may touch. Loreley's time in the brothel is not all bad, she makes a beautiful connection to a slave woman who looks after her like a daughter. Still mourning the death of her family and old life, Tansy's love and affection toward Loreley is both needed and returned.

Life once again changes for Loreley, she is able to leave her prison after some time there, but instead of going back to her beloved England, she becomes (transforming herself into a boy) part of the crew of a pirate ship and falls deeply in love.

The book is a beautiful depiction of life on the high seas in the Golden Age of piracy, but is well researched and more than a little myth-destroying. I'll not touch on the rest of the book as it will give too much away, but I enjoyed reading every page. It is a romance – there are detailed sex scenes and some rape scenes at the beginning that may make some readers uncomfortable, but I feel the author wrote as both her genre and the story needed to make the narration real and lead the book forward. The vivid description of island Voodoo was excellent, as was the detailed and believable characters that I immediately identified with. My favourite was Tansy by far, though Ben takes a close second. This book will sweep you away into another time and place and leave you both satisfied and more than a little tear stained.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Tudor Mysteries, Moves, and HNS

It's been ten months since the relocation – we still have some boxes in the garage and everyone is settled in their new work/school routine. I expected that a move to such a sunny location would alter my writing from the Tudor feel I was after, but instead it has helped me dive deeper into the era somehow. With my dedicated writing room/library (the former formal dining room, we've never had one of these, so there is no need to start now) I've been whizzing through scenes of intrigue and betrayal, inns and court, kirtle and... well, you get the picture. Having spent all of 2014 in dedicated research, by January I was ready to write. By late June I had a strong working draft and by September, I had an edited version for my trial readers.

Now that most of the dust has settled and book one is drafted and edited (currently going through another edit), the timing of the Historical Novel Society's 2016 Oxford conference tickets being on sale was just right. I've booked my place at the conference, accommodation and evening costume gala, which, I do believe means I'll be the only one in my group of historical fiction friends who will be dressed as a Tudor; the rest of them seem to be Georgian-heavy. As I'm used to sticking out like a sore thumb everywhere I go, this is probably a good thing (or, at least, in my comfort zone). This means getting out the continuing work-in-progress known as the Tudor gown and getting some appropriate Tudor undergarments (Elizabethan era rather than early Henrician as my story is set, but hey).

With England in my sights again, I've also put together a Tudor tour so I can go back to both Hever Castle and Framlingham Castle (book two is set mostly at Framlingham Castle) since my photos were lost in transit due to a bad memory stick and a defunct laptop; my current WIP was the only thing to go smoothly in the past twelve months.

Which, somehow brings me back to the manuscript. I had sent it out to US agents and also one UK agent who had invited me to submit at the last HNS (still pending a response, I know they are busy) and I wasn't sure if I was going to be happy having my book with US spelling (something I'm not fond of), so I've made the decision to keep it to UK English. Sounds like such a simple thing, but writing Tudor era stories with a modern edge to keep the speech intelligible to the general public is hard enough, dropping the extra vowels that are so unique to UK English is a soul-killer.

I've also finally joined the Historical Novel Society as a member and am looking forward to getting more involved and writing up more research-based blogs. Happy days!