What We’re Reading!

Here's a round up of what the wenches have been reading this month. In the comments, let us know what you've enjoyed. It's a great library builder!


The girl and the sword The Girl and the Sword by Gerald Weaver (UK link) is a historical epic in the true sense of the word. It covers decades and looks a great span of ideas and history. It’s set in the 13th century and tells the story of Pauline de Pamiers who is a young girl from the oppressed Christian sect, the Cathars, and how she refuses to accept subjugation but forms an alliance with one of the most famous crusaders of all, Simon de Montfort. There are big themes in this book – the role of women in medieval society, the establishment of parliamentary democracy, the dominance of religion.

Whilst the character of Pauline is fictitious, Simon de Montfort was, of course, very real and in his author’s note, Gerald Weaver talks about taking an “American” view of a man who has primarily been written about by English historians. It’s fascinating to see the different perspective that he brings to the character and actions of de Montfort, seeing someone who has often been dismissed as an ambitious opportunist as, in fact, a fundamentally good man who was responsible for sowing the seeds of democracy.  Whilst I might not have agreed with his interpretation of some of de Montfort’s actions, I did love the sheer swashbuckling scope of the story. This Simon is a real hero of integrity, courage and action. Pauline is an admirable woman and their relationship is a tender and true love story. My favourite aspect of the book was their dialogue which was funny and clever and very entertaining. So if you are a fan of epic historical novels with feminist heroines and knightly heroes, this could be the book for you.

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Perfume Unmasked

Pat here: As I may have said before, one of the fun parts of writing historical novels is the dive down research bunny holes. I’ve just spent a lovely few hours scrounging around in the insane details of British law, how magistrates were appointed and criminals brought to court, when there was essentially no police force in rural environs. And along with that, I followed a side trail into manorial law, an entire blog by itself. Suffice it to say, my hero, as heir to a manorial estate, is a law unto himself. He doesn’t like it much, though.
(above photo is manor and accompanying village–not quite the one I imagine as I write but pretty anyway. See the manor way in the background?)

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History of Detective Fiction

Rice_TheGoldenPlan_600x900Pat here:

As we all know, my Malcolm/Ives families started out in historical romance, took a wicked right turn at the Victorian Age, and crossed over into the contemporary market. With my new Psychic Solutions  series, they took another zig-zag and ended up in mystery. I’ve done romantic suspense, so it isn’t a total departure. But romance is where my heart and soul have been for so long, that I can’t quite let it go. So, of course, romance wraps its way around the mystery because it makes me feel good.

And I miss my historical research. I probably should have missed it enough to dig into the roots of detective fiction so I had a clue of what genre I was actually writing, but my characters are gonna do what they’re gonna do. So I probably saved myself a step.

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Witch Hunt

Tarot-991041_640After spending decades unable to settle on one period of history or even one country to write about, I have apparently settled into a niche I enjoy (without using the tarot deck there, thank you!). I suppose it makes sense, if I think about it. I’m a character-driven writer. So instead of creating a career in the history of Regency or Victorian England or the American west or whatever, I have apparently taken root in writing about two distinctly different families through the generations and across continents. This way I don’t feel confined by their environment, and I can explore anywhere I like.

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