Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Royal Watching: Part I

He was the reluctant heir to the throne of a desert kingdom. 
She was a virgin queen living far away in the south.
A little bird told him of her beauty--he had to meet her. 
A traveling merchant told her of his wisdom--she had to meet him.
Something greater than either of them conspired to bring them together. When they met, could there be any doubt they were meant for each other? But would duty to country prevail over their pledge to one another? Only time and love would tell.
Sound like the stuff of romance novels? Yes, this was a romance writ large because it was an affair of state and royalty. And these characters appear in no less than four holy books: the Torah, the Koran, the King James Bible and the Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings).
In Biblical times, he who could kill or overcome enemy tribes became king. With lots of children and careful planning, his heirs would succeed him. But not all countries had the same traditions. In some parts of the world, women ruled by might or by right to the throne. For the royals, marrying and having children was an affair of state. Right up until recent times, it was not uncommon for the royalty of different lands to marry for the mutual benefit of their countries. In our modern era, heads of state and heirs to thrones have been granted the freedom to marry whom they choose--within reason. 
Millennia before Prince William and Kate Middleton’s time on the world stage, people have been royal watchers. Some watched to see if they were in favor and able to gain, others to see if they were out of favor and about to lose--their heads! Still others watched because it was simply the best show in town.  So when the royalty of Israel met the royalty of Sheba, all eyes were upon them. Based on the appearance of these two royals in no less than four world religions, no one could resist watching the wise King Solomon and the beautiful Queen Makeda.
In researching my upcoming release, Kiss of the Virgin Queen, I, too, became a royal watcher--from a distance of over three thousand years.  My historical voyeurism has taken me down a circuitous path across time and cultures to their mythic romance.  Destinies entwined, some would say the Makeda/Solomon romance was beshert.
With construction on the first Temple well underway by the time King Solomon greeted the extravagantly generous Queen of Sheba,* he already had seven hundred (700) wives and three hundred (300) concubines. By marrying princesses of rival kingdoms, he had built an extraordinary alliance and ensured the safety of the trading routes. Curious about the man behind the legend, Queen Makeda traveled fifteen hundred (1500!) miles from Ethiopia to meet the wisest man on earth--and to ask him “hard questions.” When they met, the Queen was “left breathless by Solomon’s magnificence” (Coogan, Brettler, Newsom, & Perkins, 2001, pp. 508). The attraction was mutual--but there was nothing they could do about it. Or was there? The eyes of the world were upon them.
Coming soon! Kiss of the Virgin Queen
Available October 15, 2015 
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If you are interested in reading more about this topic, here are some books for you.
Budge, W. (Translator). (2007). The Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings). Lexington, KY: Silk Pagoda. 
Clapp, N. (2001). Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen. New York, NY: First Mariner Books.
Coogan, M.D., Brettler, M.Z., Newsom, C.A.,  & Perkins, P. (Eds.). (2001). Kings 10:1-13 in The New Oxford Annotated Bible. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, p. 508-509.
Fraser, A. (2004). The Warrior Queens. New York, NY: Anchor Books.
Razwy, S.A.A. (Ed.) & Ali, A. Y. (Translator).  (2009). The Qur’an Translation. Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Book Review: Angel Unbound by Sharon Saracino

When earthbound angel and notorious womanizer, Luca Fiorelli, reconnects with formerly missing and presumed dead, Callista McAllister, he is annoyed to discover centuries old feelings re-emerging. Of all the angels, in all the realms, why did she have to walk into his ice cold world and trigger a thaw? Sure she's the sister of his best friend, but wasn't she held captive by the notorious Jaques Rapier for a hundred years? How could his evil not rub off on her? Not to mention the certainty Jacques had used and abused her. Better to serve, protect, and steer clear of her emotionally than lose his dignity--right?

Callista McAllister, locked up and untouched like a nun in a convent by the murderous Jacques, now released to her family, is equally confused. She always saw Luca as her big brother's best friend. Sure, she had a girlish crush on him, literally ages ago. Now she's a woman, an independent adult Earthbound, albeit minus her abilities to sense the presence of evil or to fade and travel instantaneously. She doesn't need that overbearing oaf, Luca, telling her what to do, where to go, or how to feel, even when those feelings leave her light-headed, weak in the knees, and day-dreaming about all the books she read about sex while in captivity.

When a demon reappears and Archangel Michael is called upon to shed light on the cause and cure for this hellish creature, it's all Fallen and Defensori hands on deck. Can they keep the demon from wreaking damages on all of Rome? What unholy alliances will they be forced to enter to defeat him? Will Luca and Calli ever get together?

No spoilers from me! You will have to read to find out. This can be read as a stand alone, but why miss out on the fun of the series? A highly enjoyable read, ANGEL UNBOUND earns five sparkly stars from me.

Buy Now:  Amazon  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn by Linda Bennett Pennell

Casablanca, 1943: a viper’s nest of double agents and spies where OSS Officer Kurt Heinz finds his skill in covert operations pushed to the limit. Allied success in North Africa and the fate of the First Allied Conference—perhaps the outcome of the war—hang on Kurt’s next mission. The nature of his work makes relationships impossible. Nonetheless, he is increasingly torn between duty and the beautiful girl who desperately needs his protection and help.

Sarah Barrett, U.S. Army R.N., is finished with wartime romance. Determined to protect her recently broken heart, she throws all of her time and energy into caring for her patients, but when she is given a coded message by a mysterious dying civilian, she is sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue that threatens her very survival. The one person who can help Sarah is Kurt Heinz, a man with too many secrets to be trusted. 

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Kurt watched in dismay as the man in gray picked up his fedora and rose from the table next to the one recently vacated by the two women. This had to be his contact. The man had watched Kurt on the sly since he arrived at the restaurant. Moreover, the guy matched the description right down to the red pocket square in his suit breast pocket and the thin, pale scar running along his left jawline. Making a quick decision, Kurt pushed his chair back and tossed some cash on the table.

"It's been interesting guys, but I'm calling it a night. Use this to cover my tab."

"What's the rush, Heinz? We haven't even ordered dinner."

"I guess my sins are catching up with me. It's return to quarters and bed for me."

"You headed back with us on the return flight tomorrow?"

"Nope, I'm here with the Old Man for the duration. You boys have a good trip."

The street was nearly deserted when Kurt stepped out onto its glistening concrete surface. Misty rain created halos around the sparse street lamps and obscured most objects more than a few feet distant. Only the two women, Sarah and Agnes, stood under an umbrella waiting for a taxi. Kurt watched them from the restaurant's portico. Focused on their conversation, they seemed oblivious to anyone behind them.

Glancing to his right, Kurt saw his man in gray scurrying toward the cross street. He stepped onto the sidewalk and crept along a good twenty paces behind. When his quarry slowed at the corner and looked back over his shoulder, Kurt stepped into the shadow of a doorway behind the taxi stand and waited. If this guy didn't want to make contact, he wouldn't appreciate being followed.
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About the Author: I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself or himself, "Let's pretend."

I reside in the Houston area with my sweet husband and a German Shorthaired pointer who thinks she's a little girl.

Favorite quote regarding my professional passion:  "History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire
Social Media & Buy Links:
Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel from Soul Mate Publishing
Confederado do Norte from Soul Mate Publishing
When War Came Home from Real Cypress Press
Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn from The Wild Rose Press August 28
Twitter:  @LindaPennell
Buy link for Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel:  http://amzn.to/16qq3k5
Buy link for Confederado do Norte:  http://amzn.com/B00LMN5OMI
Buy link for When War Came Home:  http://amzn.com/B010RXNZRO

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cover Reveal: Kiss of the Virgin Queen by Sharon Buchbinder

 Coming soon from the Wild Rose Press!
Homeland Security Special Agent Eliana Solomon is on a mission to prevent terrorist attacks. Hard enough to do when the threats are human, almost impossible when it's an evil, shape shifting jinni. Eliana needs help so she calls the sexy and beguiling psychiatrist, Arta Shahani. However, no matter how good he is at his job, the man is on her blacklist. On their last case together, the guy left her for dead.

Arta is stunned when he receives Eliana’s call. Forced to abandon the woman he loves, he now fears she won’t accept his shape-shifting skills as a Persian Lion. Eliana, in the meantime discovers she is a direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba with special powers of her own. But will her skill and Arta's be enough to defeat the jinni, or will they lose the love history decreed for them as well as their lives in this battle of good versus evil?

This full length novel is the second in my new Kiss of the Jinni Hunter series. Edgy and suspenseful, this paranormal romance series explores diverse cultures and an array of supernatural beings. Join the Special Agents of the Anomaly Defense Division as they race to save humanity—and the people they love.