Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My Guest Today is Ashley York, Author of Irish Historical Romances

My guest today is author of Irish romances Ashley York. Aside from two years spent in the wilds of the Colorado mountains, Ashley is a proud life-long New Englander and a hardcore romantic. 

She has an MA in History, which brings with it, through many years of research, a love for primary documents and the smell of musty old libraries. With her author's imagination, she likes to write about people who could have lived alongside those well-known giants from the past.

Today she’s sharing with us some of her research on the subject of marriage from her new book, Curse of the Healer.

Marriage in Medieval Ireland, a Secular Event by Ashley York

Marriage being performed in a church is, historically speaking, a pretty recent development. It wasn't until the late Middle Ages (1300-1500) that marriage itself became one of the Seven Sacraments within the church. In Éire (Ireland) 1095, where Curse of the Healer takes place, marriages were the concern of Gaelic "secular" law. All that was required for a marriage was an agreement.

The agreement would include the all-important coibche, or bride price, agreed upon between the man responsible for the woman, usually the father, and the suitor. Any dowries would also be considered so that if the marriage was to end, the woman could not only get her dowry returned but could get part of the coibche paid for her. Her value could be a milch cow, land, or even silver.

In my upcoming release, Curse of the Healer, my hero, Diarmuid, settles the price with the cousin of my heroine, Aednat. It was handled this way because her cousin, Sean, had taken her in, or fostered her, and negotiated the price the same as her father would have if he'd been alive.

A person's worth was very important in this social order. Established by their standing within both their family and society, the position could be improved but it would be over generations rather than within a life time in most cases. Slaves had minimal value and no honour price because it was not a culture dependant on slaves. Each person's honour price was used to establish the amount they would receive for a wrong done to them. These wrongs could vary from a strike on the cheek to a wound that drew blood. This amount also helped establish the bride price.

Depending on the source, divorce was acceptable. In Hibernensis, the Irish Collection of Canon (church) Law circa 8th century, a couple could divorce only if the husband or wife joined the church and the other did not, they could then be considered divorced. In Gaelic law, if a couple decided to divorce, it could be done for a number of reasons or no reason at all. These reasons included impotence, loss of property, obesity, homosexuality, and not providing for his wife's needs, for example. Remarriage was expected and accepted so that men having several wives throughout their life was not unusual.

According to the Cáin Lánamna, a seventh century source for Irish Law, a man’s having more than one wife at a time was not unheard of. He could have his primary wife, or cétmuinter, who had the highest legal standing, as well as a lesser wife, or ben aititen, which translates as "recognized concubine" which doesn't sound very honorable a position to have. I'm thinking I would not want to be that second wife! How about you? 

Ashley's new book is Curse of the Healer and she is giving away a copy of the ebook to one lucky commenter. Be sure and leave your email.
After the death of Brian Boru in 1014, a legend arose of a healer so great she could raise a man from the dead, with a power so strong it could make any warrior the next high king of Éire...and to steal it away from her, he need only possess her. 

Fated to be a healer…

Aednat has spent her entire life training to be the great healer, knowing she must remain alone. When she meets Diarmuid, the intense attraction she feels toward him shakes her resolve to believe in such a legend. If she gives in to the passion he ignites in her, can she settle for being less?

Destined to be his…

Diarmuid of Clonascra is renowned for his bravery in battle. Only one thing daunts him: the prospect of taking a wife. The safest course would be to keep his distance from Aednat, the bold, headstrong healer who's far too tempting for his peace of mind. But his overking orders him to protect her from a group of craven warriors intent on kidnapping her to steal her power.

What starts as duty for Diarmuid quickly transforms into something more. Aednat's power might be at risk, but so is his closed-off heart.
 The book on Amazon, iTunes & Kobo.

And keep up with Ashley on her Website, via Email and Twitter.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Review: Julie Doherty’s SCATTERED SEEDS – Worthy Scots-Irish Heroes Find Love in the New World!

Set in 1755, beginning in Donegal, Ireland, this is the story of Henry McConnell and his father, Edward, farmers who assume false names and escape debts and drought in Ireland to sail to the New World. Before they leave, Henry’s father gives him their most treasured possession, passed from one son to another: a gold torc from their ancestor, Somerled.

The night before the ship sails, Henry finds love in the arms of a widow named Sarah. On the ship, Henry reconnects with a childhood friend, Mary Patterson. Both men realize their love for but they are separated from them by distance (in the case of Sarah) and in the case of Mary, when a man purchases her indenture.

After a grueling ship journey (very well done by the author), Henry and his father travel deep into the frontier. That journey is also very well told. It’s an exciting one. I felt like I was trudging along with them with their one ox and their blistered feet. I could see the beauty of this new world and yet feared the obstacles they faced. Constant setbacks have them worried about their seed and their lives: Indian attacks, the threat of new forts, a bear stealing the food they laid up for the winter and many other hardships.

In this romance, the two heroes are separated from their ladyloves for much of the book. The women are still in their minds and hearts but not with them. When they finally get word of both Sarah and Mary, the men go after them, but a villain is stalking the precious torc.

Doherty’s research shines through as she brings America’s wilderness and this period in America’s history to life. Her descriptions are vivid and the historical era well presented. She captures the Scots-Irish longing for freedom and their commitment to the new land, notwithstanding the trials they must endure.

A uniquely told tale, it’s also a fast-paced, action-packed story that is a delight to read. I recommend it.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Best Irish Historical Romances

Rock of Cashel Tipperary, Ireland

Initially, I developed this list for a friend of mine of Irish descent who loves Irish historical romances. But since then, I have updated this list each year as I have come to love these stories that feature Ireland, Irish heroes or heroines, and/or Irish immigrants. The books on this list cover all time periods. Some transcend typical historical romance as they bring to life heartrending tales of the wonderful Irish people who survived much hardship to help make great their adoptive countries.

If you’re looking for stories of the Emerald Isle or handsome Irish hunks, or worthy Irish heroines, you will find them here. All these have been rated 4 or 5 stars by me:

·      A Love by Any Measure by Killian McRae
·      Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry by Amanda Hughes
·      Black Falcon’s Lady by Kimberly Cates (originally released as Nightwylde by Kimberleigh Caitlin)
·      Black Sword by Kathryn Le Veque
·      Briar’s Rose by Kimberly Cates
·      Bride of the Baja by Jane Toombs (original author name Jocelyn Wilde)
·      Broken Vows by Shirl Henke
·      Brotherly Love by Lorna Peel
·      Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare
·      Countess of Scandal, Duchess Of Sin and Lady of Seduction, the Daughters of Erin trilogy by Laurel McKee
·      Crown Of Mist by Kimberly Cates
·      Dark of the Moon by Karen Robards
·      Dark Torment by Karen Robards
·      Dream Lover by Virginia Henley
·      Embrace and Conquer by Jennifer Blake
·      Emerald Ecstasy by Emma Merritt
·      Emerald Prince by Brit Darby
·      Enticed by Virginia Henley (first published as The Irish Gypsy)
·      Forbidden Love by Karen Robards
·      Forbidden Passion by Theresa Scott
·      Golden Surrender, The Viking’s Woman and Lord of the Wolves, the Viking/Irish trilogy by Heather Graham
·      Her Warrior Slave and Her Warrior King, from the MacEgan Brothers Series by Michelle Willingham
·      Lady of Conquest by Teresa Medeiros
·      Lily Fair by Kimberly Cates
·      Lions and Lace by Meagan McKinney
·      Lord of Hawkfell Island by Catherine Coulter
·      Maid of Killarney by Ana Seymour
·      Moonlit by Emma Jensen (3rd in her Regency spy series; the only one set in Ireland)
·      Maidensong by Diana Groe
·      Master of My Dreams by Danelle Harmon
·      No Gentle Love by Rebecca Brandewyne
·      Odin’s Shadow by Erin Riley
·      Passion’s Joy and the sequel Virgin’s Star by Jennifer Horsman
·      Raeliksen and Mac Liam (from the Emerald Isle trilogy) by Renee Vincent
·      Rose in the Mist and Irish Gypsy (from the Riordan trilogy) by Ana Seymour
·      Rose of the Mists, A Rose in Splendor and A Secret Rose, trilogy by Laura Parker
·      Scarlett: The Sequel to Gone With the Wind by Alexandra Ripley
·      Scattered Seeds by Julie Doherty
·      Sea Raven by Patricia McAllister
·      Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small
·      Stealing Heaven by Kimberly Cates
·      Stormfire by Christine Monson
·      Storm Maiden by Mary Gillgannon
·      Surrender the Stars by Cynthia Wright
·      Tears of Gold by Laurie McBain
·      The Black Angel by Cordia Byers
·      The Divided Heart by Beppie Harrison
·      The Game by Brenda Joyce
·      The Ground She Walks Upon by Meagan McKinney
·      The Hawk and the Dove by Virginia Henley
·      The Heart and the Holly by Nancy Richards-Akers
·      The Highwayman by Anne Kelleher
·      The Irishman by Jennifer Roberson (first published as Royal Captive)
·      The Irish Devil by Donna Fletcher
·      The Irish Duke by Virginia Henley
·      The Irish Princess, The Irish Enchantress and The Irish Knight, trilogy by Amy Fetzer
·      The Irish Rogue by Emma Jensen
·      The Irish Rogue by Judith E. French
·      The Linnet by Elizabeth English
·      The Passions Of Emma by Penelope Williamson
·      The Prize by Brenda Joyce
·      The Rebel by Christine Dorsey
·      The Seventh Son by Ashley York
·      The Sword of the Banshee by Amanda Hughes
·      The Wayward One by Danelle Harmon
·      Touch of Lace by Elizabeth DeLancey
·      Whispers of Heaven by Candice Proctor
·      Wild Angel by Miriam Minger
·      Windsong by Judith E. French
·      Wolf’s Embrace by Gail Link

And I hope you’ll read my Regency novella, The Shamrock & The Rose with an Irish hero!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New Review: Bertrice Small’s SKYE O’MALLEY – Unusual Irish Love Story!

This story is classic Bertrice Small. Set in Ireland, Algiers and London in the mid 16th century, it is the first in the O’Malley series, and tells of the Irish noble families and the loves of an amazing heroine. Though her wealthy Irish sea captain father, famous for his merchant piracy, had 6 daughters, the O’Malley had only one like himself: Skye, strong and intelligent in business—and in her case, also beautiful.

When she is 15, though betrothed to another man (a man she hates), Skye falls in love with the dashing Niall Burke, heir to the MacWilliam, the O’Malley’s overlord. But their families deny them the marriage they want. Instead, Skye is wed to the brutal, lecherous man, and Niall is wed to a highborn woman who would prefer to be a nun. It will be years before they can get together.

You know, if you’ve read Bertrice Small before, her romances are…well, let’s just say, unusual. Perhaps they are more realistic of life in the times, but one should be aware. Typically, there is not just one couple nor is the heroine with just one “hero.” So, be prepared if you pick up this one. To be sure it’s a good story and will hold you captive as the scene moves from Ireland to Algiers and then to England; but what happens can be disconcerting at times. For example, using the vehicle of amnesia, at one point Small has the heroine adopting a lifestyle that is inconsistent with who she is and her life in Ireland. There were other instances where I lost my admiration for the heroine but in the end she triumphs, and so does Niall, though for a long while, he had one piece of bad luck after another. 

Original Cover
The whole thing, though a bit farfetched, was very well done. Small’s descriptions of people, places and even dress and food really put you in the scene and make you feel like you are there. And the real life characters of young Queen Elizabeth’s court, including Elizabeth herself, were very believable.

Should you want to read more in the series, here’s the list:

The O'Malley Saga:

Skye O’Malley
All The Sweet Tomorrows
A Love For All Time
This Heart of Mine
Lost Love Found
Wild Jasmine

Skye’s Legacy:

Darling Jasmine

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Kimberly Cates’ HER MAGIC TOUCH- Irish Mythology Brought to Life!

The story begins in Ireland as 6-year-old Mary Fallon Delaney listens to her dying mother tell her the legend of Ciaran of the Mist, a mythical Celtic warrior who promised to appear at the hour of Ireland's greatest need. And her mother gives her a magical brooch that will summon Ciaran.

In 1808, Fallon, now grown, on Beltane eve, goes to a castle ruin where she hid the brooch years ago. When an English officer appears and threatens to destroy the castle ruins, Fallon waits for the moonlight and summons Ciaran and a naked stranger stumbles out of the mist.

The man (who accepts the name Ciaran) insists he is no Celtic warrior from the fairy realm, but he has no memory of who he is. He knows nothing of his life before he stumbled out of the mist, a gash on his head, and he has no intention of getting swept up in the clash between the Irish and the English. But Fallon, still lost in her fairy stories, has other ideas.

Captain Redmayne is looking for a smuggler call “Silver Hand” and thinks it just might be this guy named Ciaran. When Fallon claims he is her fiancé, the English officer forces them to wed, thinking the ruse will be up. But it isn’t and they marry, knowing nothing of each other.

This is historical romance ribboned with fantasy and Irish mythology. Cates writes in lovely, lyrical style that weaves the fairy tales Fallon believes in with the fictional characters. The heroine is very sheltered and naïve and does some unwise, if unlikely things, but inevitably manages to succeed. Even the hero comes to believe in her legends. There’s a twist at the end and a heartwarming Epilogue. Fans of Irish mythology will love this one.

The Celtic Rogues series (I've read them all and recommend them; the first is my favorite):
Black Falcon's Lady
Her Magic Touch
Briar Rose
Stealing Heaven
Lily Fair