Nov 20, 2014

Superstitions, wicked intentions, and horrible curses!

A dreadful curse and the casting of the evil eye that will shatter lives, and the dark family secret one woman will risk everything to keep buried. 

An absorbing novel about wicked intentions, medieval superstitions, a curse uttered in envy, undisclosed secrets, unstoppable destinies, and two generations of women and the extraordinary event that will vindicate or destroy them.

Nov 19, 2014

Medieval spousal abuse and the woman who freed herself!

In 10th century Naples, a young woman is on the verge of taking her vows to become a nun. 

She must run into the dark night to flee a ruthless massacre. 

One man becomes her rescuer. 

Another, becomes a deadly enemy and captor. 

She enters into a desperate life and death search to reunite with her one true love.

Nov 18, 2014

Princess of Legends - The enduring romantic life of Pocahontas

The story of the 11 year old native girl who saved the life a famous soldier of fortune

About the Book

A new historical novel from the author of The Sekhmet Bed

The Tidewater

To the nation of Powhatan, it is Tsenacomoco, rightful home of the Real People. To England, it is Virginia Territory, fertile with promise, rich with silver and gold. Against the backdrop of this wild land, the fates of three unforgettable people collide:

John Smith

An outcast among his own, despised for his low birth and his unchecked tongue, his is the only mind capable of solving the deadly puzzle of the wilderness. Smith knows the only hope for Jamestown Colony lies with the Powhatan people. He knows, too, that they would rather see the English starve than yield their homeland to invaders. 


Disgraced and embittered, he sees in the English a chance to restore his reputation. He knows the invaders can be used to expand his brother’s empire and improve the lives of the Real People. He knows, too, that such a tool can turn in the hand, and become a weapon pointed at the heart. 


Though not of royal blood, she dreams of becoming a female chief. When the English build their fort on her father’s land, she finds an opportunity to rise above her lowly station. But she is young, and doesn’t understand the implications of the game she plays. When at last she realizes the English are a force beyond her control, she must choose between power and servitude – between self and sacrifice – for the sake of her people and her land. 

Control of the Tidewater can only rest in one nation’s hands. It is a conflict of desire and hatred, of friendship and fear, of stark ambition and desperate survival. 

Mirella Patzer

For her second novel, author Libbie Hawker recreates the historical details of the life of Pocahontas. Tidewater is a sweeping story, incredibly detailed, wonderfully alive, and a story that at times is joyous, but often dark and heart-wrenching. Just like the lives were of the new settlers and the native people that struggled to accept them. What impresses me most about this novel is the author's talent for drilling deep into the head of the characters, bringing to life their feelings, secrets, and most private thoughts. Truly, this is a beautiful book about a legendary woman whose legend endures to this very day. A raw but honest depiction of this fascinating woman. 

Nov 13, 2014

The Scandal that haunted and ostracized poor Effie Gray

The beautiful virgin who was repulsive to her husband

Effie Gray

Effie Gray was a great beauty. She was born in Scotland, and was raised in the same house where her grandfather committed suicide. Her parents encouraged a marriage with John Ruskin, the son of their long-time friends. 

John Ruskin

But on their wedding night, something went drastically wrong and Ruskin never consummated the marriage? Why? Well, no one knows for certain, but it is rumored because Ruskin was repelled by his young wife’s body, her pubic hair, her menstrual blood. In a letter to her father, Effie wrote:

"He alleged various reasons, hatred to children, religious motives, a desire to preserve my beauty, and, finally this last year he told me his true reason...that he had imagined women were quite different to what he saw I was, and that the reason he did not make me his Wife was because he was disgusted with my person…."

It is no wonder that with such a horrible start to their marriage, it was doomed to deteriorate. Years passed, and Ruskin still had not touched his beautiful wife.  

The couple travelled to Venice where Ruskin was researching a novel he would entitle The Stones of Venice. While Ruskin delved deep into his studies, Effie enjoyed herself and socialized. It was there she met a handsome Lieutenant named Charles Paulizza and a friendship soon blossomed between them. Ruskin even encouraged it, hoping an affair would give him cause to rid himself of her and the marriage they were both trapped in.

When Ruskin and Effie returned to Scotland, she modeled for her husband’s protégé, a Pre-Raphaelite artist named John Everett Millais. 

John Everett Millais

Love soon bloomed and when they returned to London, Effie left Ruskin and returned to Scotland and stayed with her family. She wrote a note to Ruskin, enclosed her wedding ring, and told him she was going to seek an annulment. They had been married for 5 years, and she was still a virgin.

Of course, the court case set tongues a wagging. The annulment was granted and a year later, Effie married John Millais. She bore him eight children, in between acting as a model for her husband who depicted her as an icon of beauty and fertility.

In the meantime, John Ruskin sought to remarry a teenage girl named Rose La Touche. 

Rose LaTouche

However, because of the scandalous allegations in his previous marriage to Effie, Rose’s parents were so concerned, they wrote Effie a letter seeking more details. Effie did not hold back. She described Ruskin as a oppressive husband, and the engagement was called off.

Effie was her new husband’s greatest fan. She supported him in his work, managed his career, raised her children, ran the home, and maintained a very busy social schedule despite the fact that her scandalous annulment from Ruskin excluded her from many social functions. She was banned from being in the presence of Queen Victoria. Being ostracized socially bothered Effie and her husband. Years later, as Millais lay dying, through the Queen’s daughter, he begged the Queen to allow Effie to attend official functions.

Little more than a year after Millais died, Effie also passed away.

For a comprehensive, fictionalized account of Effie's life and famous husbands, Duckworth Publishers presents:

The Scottish beauty Effie Gray is the heroine of a great Victorian love story. Married at 19 to John Ruskin, she found herself trapped in an unconsummated union. She would fall in love with her husband's protege, John Everett Millais, and inspire some of his most memorable art, but controversy and tragedy continued to stalk her. Suzanne Fagence Cooper has gained exclusive access to Effie's family letters and diaries to show the rise and fall of the Pre-Raphaelite circle from a new perspective, through the eyes of a woman whose charm and ambition helped to shape the careers of both her husbands. Effie Gray is a compelling portrait of the extraordinary woman behind some of the greatest paintings of the Victorian era.

In the biography, The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, author Suzanne Fagence Cooper takes us into Victorian England, Venice, Italy, Scotland, and into the heart of the scandal that haunted poor Effie her entire life.

Based upon a treasure of preserved letters, Cooper has recreated Effie’s life in great detail. The book is a comprehensive commentary on the life of this fascinating young woman who had been so shamed and berated because of her first husband’s neglect. I liked the fact that three possible reasons came to light regarding Ruskin’s strange behavior towards his beautiful wife. And I found the plight of Effie’s sister, Sophy, regarding her mental madness and anorexia very interesting.

Numerous photographs are included in the book. My only disappointment was in the physical paperback version I was provided, the typesetting and fonts were so incredibly tiny, it made reading extremely fatiguing and trying. This knocked me out of the story. As I received an advance reading copy, I hope that the publisher has rectified this problem. Or I recommend purchasing the book in e-book format avoid eye strain.

This was a terrific story and definitely worth reading. It is so good it has been made into a movie, which only adds to my belief that this is definitely a book worth reading. An incredibly fascinating tale about a very courageous woman!

Nov 11, 2014

The Scandalous Secrets of Dorothy Richardson

A Victorian era bi-sexual cougar! 

Dorothy Richardson

Some people are born under an unlucky star, and this can be said about author Dorothy Richardson. She was born in Abingdon England in 1873 and by the time she was ten years old, her family moved to London. Her father began to experience a financial crisis, so Dorothy was forced to find work as a governess and then a teacher. Family troubles pulled her away from her independent life and she was forced to quit her job and return home to care for her deeply depressed mother. Despite Dorothy's efforts, her mother committed suicide and her father had to declare bankruptcy.

Dorothy found work as a secretary in a dental office. She began to hang out with writers and radicals, and that is when she met H.G. Wells, aka Bertie. Wells had married Jane, one of Dorothy's school chums. 

H.G. Wells

As hard as she tried to ignore him, a strong sexual attraction with Bertie resulted in their having an affair which ultimately led to Dorothy becoming pregnant. The pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage. 

During this turbulent time, guilt ridden over cheating with her best friend's husband, Dorothy met and married Veronica Leslie-Jones, who was also having an affair with a married man. This united the two friends and they soon fell into a lesbian affair. Their affair lasted only as long as Veronica to meet Ben Grad, a good friend of Dorothy's. The two fell in love and married, though rumors abounded that they both loved Dorothy more than they loved each other. 

Dorothy found solace in writing, and published her first novel, Pointed Roofs. She later started working as a freelance journalist and published two book about the Quakers.

With her two scandalous relationships behind her, she met a tall lanky artist named Alan Odle. He was fifteen years younger than she was. 

They married and she supported her husband. They were content together, but sadly Odle died in 1948. 

Alone, Dorothy moved into a nursing home in 1954. Three years later, she died. 

Although her work never made her rich. Her entire life, she struggled to scrape out a living, to make ends meet. And although she never gained the respect she deserved as a writer, today Dorothy is considered an important feminist writer. Her work lives on because of its focus on female issues. 

Richardson remains the most forgotten of the early and innovative practitioners of the stream-of-consciousness method of writing.

Dorothy Richardson's fascinating life is recreated in The Lodger, a novel by Louisa Treger.

Back Cover Blurb 

Dorothy Richardson is existing just above the poverty line, doing secretarial work at a dentist's office and living in a seedy boarding house in Bloomsbury, when she is invited to spend the weekend with a childhood friend. Jane has recently married a writer who is hovering on the brink of fame. His name is H.G. Wells, or Bertie, as they call him.

Bertie appears unremarkable at first. But then Dorothy notices his grey-blue eyes taking her in, openly signaling approval. He tells her he and Jane have an agreement which allows them the freedom to take lovers, although Dorothy can tell her friend would not be happy with that arrangement.

Not wanting to betray Jane, yet unable to draw back, Dorothy free-falls into an affair with Bertie. Then a new boarder arrives at the house—beautiful Veronica Leslie-Jones—and Dorothy finds herself caught between Veronica and Bertie. Amidst the personal dramas and wreckage of a militant suffragette march, Dorothy finds her voice as a writer.

Louisa Treger's The Lodger is a beautifully intimate novel that is at once an introduction to one of the most important writers of the 20th century and a compelling story of one woman tormented by unconventional desires.


Dorothy's life is full of trials and tribulations, and author Louisa Treger successfully recreates it in this fresh and evocative story. From the stringent societal norms of the Victorian era, to the passion of the suffragette movement, to the first World War, Dorothy's life grows ever more challenging. This powerful tale is about how Dorothy found her own identity and voice in a time where women were of little notice or importance. 

I enjoyed the secret love affairs Dorothy entered into, and how she paid an awful price for having gone through them. The scenes about the seedier side of London were also sleekly well written about. More importantly, when one reads between the storylines, we are exposed to the trials of women alone in the world during the Victorian era, and how courage, perseverence, and fear ruled their daily lives in order women to survive. And the author gives us beautiful insight into all such details. I highly recommend this biographical novel to all readers and writers interested in women's history.