March 25, 2015

Book Blast - C.W. Gortner's Mademoiselle Chanel {Giveaway}

02_Mademoiselle Chanel CoverPlease join author C.W. Gortner as his latest release, Mademoiselle Chanel, is featured around the blogosphere from March 17-April 3, and enter to win one of three fabulously chic, Chanel-style black and white beaded bracelets!

Publication Date: March 17, 2015
William Morrow/HarperCollins
Formats: Hardover, eBook, Audio Book
Genre: Historical Fiction

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DRAMA, PASSION, TRAGEDY, AND BEAUTY: C.W.’s new novel stunningly imagines the life of Coco Chanel—the iconic fashion designer whose staggering creativity built an empire and made her one of the 20th century’s most influential, and controversial, figures.

Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her sisters are sent to a convent orphanage after their mother’s death. Here, the nuns nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel her into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.

Transforming herself into Coco—a seamstress and sometime torch singer—the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.

Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco’s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. Her little black dress, her signature perfume No. 5; her dramatic friendships, affairs, and rivalries with luminaries of her era increase her wealth and fame. But as the years pass, success cannot save her from heartbreak. And when Paris falls to the Nazis during World War II, Coco finds herself at a dangerous crossroads, forced to make choices that will forever change her. 

An enthralling portrayal of an extraordinary woman who created the life she desired, Mademoiselle Chanel is Coco’s intimate story.

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Praise for Mademoiselle Chanel
“In this deliciously satisfying novel, C.W. Gortner tells the epic, rags-to-riches story of how this brilliant, mercurial, self-created woman became a legend.” (Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train)
“In a novel as brilliant and complicated as Coco Chanel herself, C. W. Gortner’s prose is so electric and luminous it could be a film, and not just any film, but one of the grandest biopics of our time. Divine!” (Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingway's Girl)

“A richly imagined, deftly researched novel, in which the ever fascinating Coco Chanel comes to life in all her woe and splendor, her story unfolding as elegantly as a Chanel gown.” (Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls)

“From her heart-wrenching early years through her decades of struggle and glory, Gabrielle Chanel was fascinating—as is C.W. Gortner’s Mademoiselle Chanel. Coco lives again in this rich tale of brilliance, determination, and fierce self-creation.” (Ania Szado, author of Studio Saint-Ex)

“Gortner brings to life a woman who was as alluring and captivating as her signature scent. ” (Historical Novels Review)

“Gortner brings history to life in a fascinating study of one woman’s unstoppable ambition.” (Booklist) 

“Well-written and historically accurate . . . An homage to a couture icon whose influence is still powerful today.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Buy Mademoiselle Chanel
Amazon 
Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million
iTunes
IndieBound


About the Author
C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding. 

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin's Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015. 

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information visit C.W. Gortner's website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner's Newsletter for updates.

Mademoiselle Chanel Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, March 17
Mina's Bookshelf
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, March 18
Forever Ashley
History From a Woman's Perspective

Thursday, March 19
The Lit Bitch
100 Pages a Day

Friday, March 20
A Literary Vacation
Beth's Book Nook Blog
What Is That Book About

Saturday, March 21
Genre Queen

Sunday, March 22
A Bookish Girl

Monday, March 23
Let them Read Books

Tuesday, March 24
Unshelfish
The True Book Addict

Wednesday, March 25
Historical Fiction Connection
The Never-Ending Book

Thursday, March 26
Broken Teepee

Friday, March 27
The Maiden's Court

Saturday, March 28
Caroline Wilson Writes
Svetlana's Reads and Views

Sunday, March 29
Passages to the Past

Monday, March 30
Flashlight Commentary
To Read, Or Not to Read
I'd So Rather Be Reading

Tuesday, March 31
Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, April 1
Booktalk & More

Thursday, April 2
CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, April 3
Book Nerd Luxury Reading

Giveaway!

Coco-braceletsThree Chanel-style black and white beaded bracelets will up for grabs during this blast, follow along for chances to win! – Giveaway starts on March 17th at 12:01am and ends on April 3rd at 11:59pm EST. – Must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US residents only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. - Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to claim prize, or new winner is chosen.

 Mademoiselle Chanel Book Blast Giveaway

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March 23, 2015

Spotlight on Colin Falconer's The School of Night


Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Cool Gus Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 168
Series: The William Shakespeare Detective Agency
Genre: Historical Mystery

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“My name is William Shakespeare. No, not that Shakespeare; and no jests please, I’ve heard them all. I’m the other one, the ne’er do well cousin, the loafer, known to family and friends as the dunce, the one who could not recite Cicero or Horace, who could never be as good as his clever cuz, the one who has just come to Bishopsgate from Stratford with silly dreams in his head and a longing to make something more of himself than just a glover’s handyman.”

What he finds in London is Lady Elizabeth Talbot, who is willing to pass a few shillings to this blundering brawler if he will help her find her husband. Poor William does not realize the trail will lead to the truth behind the death of Shakespeare’s great rival, Christopher Marlowe – or to a lifelong love affair with a woman far above his station.

Each book tells the story of William’s adventures as England’s first gumshoe, set against turbulent Elizabethan politics; of his romantic pursuit of the impossible Elizabeth Talbot; while charting the career of his up and coming dramatist cousin, the bard of Stratford, but just Will to his family.

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About the Author
Born in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.

He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.

He currently lives in Barcelona.

For more information please visit Colin Falconer’s website. You can also find him on Facebook or follow on Twitter.


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March 06, 2015

Michael Schmicker's The Witch of Napoli - Guest Post and {Giveaway}


Séance Table Levitations: Trick or Truth?

Can someone really levitate a table? In my new novel “The Witch of Napoli,” Spiritualist medium Alessandra Poverelli pulls it off. Pure fiction, right? All séance table levitations involved clever trickery, correct? Maybe not.


Italian medium Eusapia Palladino (1854-1918) was the real-life inspiration for my novel’s feisty heroine Alessandra. The permanently controversial Palladino floated tables and conjured up discarnate spirits in dimly-lit séance rooms all across Europe at the end of the 19th century. I fell in love with her while researching my first (non-fiction) book, Best Evidence. She was a social scofflaw – fiery-tempered, erotic, vulgar, confident – in a Victorian age where respectable matrons were insipid saints on a pedestal, stunted socially, sexually, intellectually, economically. She allowed strange men to sit with her in a darkened room holding her hands and knees and legs (“proper” women would have fainted, or thrown themselves off a precipice). She flirted with her male sitters, argued loudly, sparred with aristocrats who insulted her, flew at skeptics who accused her of cheating. She was also extremely kind and generous to those in trouble, loved animals, helped the unfortunate. Her heart was large. She died famous enough to merit an obit in the New York Times. I knew she’d make a hell of a heroine. Besides, I like underdogs.

Scientists today still heatedly debate whether Palladino was genuine or a complete fraud. She was caught cheating multiple times, yet she also produced under extremely strict scientific controls some of the most baffling and impressive feats of psychokinesis ever observed or photographed.


As the default online encyclopedia, Wikipedia owns the bully pulpit on Palladino, but serves up a disappointing, simplistic dismissal of the best evidence for her genuineness, promoting instead a carefully curated collection of predominately skeptical experts and quotes. If there’s an afterlife, you can bet Palladino is fuming, fists raised. Fortunately, if you’re looking for “the other side” to the scrap, you’re in luck. Mediumship researcher and author Michael Tymn has posted on Amazon.com a meaty, extended book review of “The Witch of Napoli” which includes a vigorous defense of Palladino.

My own conclusions, based on my research?

One, Palladino was a serial cheat – it’s indisputable. She was caught red-handed multiple times.

Two, Palladino was a serious flirt. I had fun with that, playing what-if when I was creating “The Witch of Napoli.” But did she do more than merely flirt – bewitching investigators to the point of compromising their judgment? Wikipedia reports as fact the allegation that Palladino slept her way to the top, seducing her most vocal champions. It cites William Kalush and Larry Sloman, co-authors who penned the fascinating book “The Secret Life of Houdini.” In their book, the duo simply declare, sans footnote or elaboration, that “Palladino had no qualms about sleeping with her sitters: among them were the eminent criminologist Lombroso, and the Nobel Prize-winning French physiologist Charles Richet.” Serious charges. Where did they get this potentially libelous information? Unless I missed it, they don’t say. Perhaps from Houdini’s papers? If so, what’s Houdini’s source, other than gossip? Everybody speculated about the outrageous Signora Palladino’s sex life. But until I see the damning documentation, I file that allegation in the “affronted Victorian, put-this woman-in-her place” category.

Three, Palladino during her long career produced some genuine telekinetic (though not necessarily supernatural) effects. What do I base my opinion on? Primarily on parapsychological experiments confirming the reality of psychokinesis (the modern term for telekinesis), plus the exhaustive, 283-page, “Feilding Report” published by England’s Society for Psychical Research, documenting ten baffling sittings with Palladino in 1908 in Napoli. Wikipedia whips up a whirlwind of speculation – from armchair critics who weren’t there – as to how Palladino might have cheated; I prefer the conclusion penned by the three veteran investigators who were actually there:

“With great intellectual reluctance, though without much personal doubt as to its justice...we are of opinion that we have witnessed in the presence of Eusapia Palladino the action of some kinetic force, the nature and origin of which we cannot attempt to specify, through which, without the introduction of either accomplices, apparatus, or mere manual dexterity, she is able to produce the movement of ...objects at a distance from her and unconnected to her in any apparent physical manner...”

Somewhere, Eusapia is smiling.

About the book
Publication Date: January 15, 2015
Palladino Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fantasy

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Italy 1899: Fiery-tempered, erotic medium Alessandra Poverelli levitates a table at a Spiritualist séance in Naples. A reporter photographs the miracle, and wealthy, skeptical, Jewish psychiatrist Camillo Lombardi arrives in Naples to investigate. When she materializes the ghost of his dead mother, he risks his reputation and fortune to finance a tour of the Continent, challenging the scientific and academic elite of Europe to test Alessandra’s mysterious powers. She will help him rewrite Science. His fee will help her escape her sadistic husband Pigotti and start a new life in Rome. Newspapers across Europe trumpet her Cinderella story and baffling successes, and the public demands to know – does the “Queen of Spirits” really have supernatural powers?

Nigel Huxley is convinced she’s simply another vulgar, Italian trickster. The icy, aristocratic detective for England’s Society for the Investigation of Mediums launches a plot to trap and expose her. The Vatican is quietly digging up her childhood secrets, desperate to discredit her supernatural powers; her abusive husband Pigotti is coming to kill her; and the tarot cards predict catastrophe.

Praised by Kirkus Reviews as an “enchanting and graceful narrative” that absorbs readers from the very first page, The Witch of Napoli masterfully resurrects the bitter 19th century battle between Science and religion over the possibility of an afterlife.

Praise for The Witch of Napoli
“Impressive…an enchanting, graceful narrative that absorbs readers from the first page.” -Kirkus Reviews


About the Author
Michael Schmicker is an investigative journalist and nationally-known writer on the paranormal. He’s been a featured guest on national broadcast radio talk shows, including twice on Coast to Coast AM (560 stations in North America, with 3 million weekly listeners). He also shares his investigations through popular paranormal webcasts including Skeptiko, hosted by Alex Tsakiris; Speaking of Strange with Joshua Warren; the X-Zone, with Rob McConnell (Canada); and he even spent an hour chatting with spoon-bending celebrity Uri Geller on his program Parascience and Beyond (England). He is the co-author of The Gift, ESP: The Extraordinary Experiences of Ordinary People (St. Martin’s Press). The Witch of Napoli is his debut novel. Michael began his writing career as a crime reporter for a suburban Dow-Jones newspaper in Connecticut, and worked as a freelance reporter in Southeast Asia for three years. He has also worked as a stringer for Forbes magazine, and Op-Ed contributor to The Wall Street Journal Asia. His interest in investigating the paranormal began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand where he first encountered a non-Western culture which readily accepts the reality of ghosts and spirits, reincarnation, psychics, mediums, divination,and other persistently reported phenomena unexplainable by current Science. He lives and writes in Honolulu, Hawaii, on a mountaintop overlooking Waikiki and Diamond Head.

Connect with Michael Schmicker on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


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Follow the instructions on the Gleam form below to enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of The Witch of Napoli by Michael Schmicker! (Open to U.S., UK and Australia only)

Witch of Napoli Giveaway

February 26, 2015

Spotlight on Jerome Charyn's I Am Abraham


PB Publication Date: February 9, 2015
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Paperback; 480p
Genre: Historical Fiction



Narrated in Lincoln’s own voice, the tragicomic I Am Abraham promises to be the masterwork of Jerome Charyn’s remarkable career.

Since publishing his first novel in 1964, Jerome Charyn has established himself as one of the most inventive and prolific literary chroniclers of the American landscape. Here in I Am Abraham, Charyn returns with an unforgettable portrait of Lincoln and the Civil War. Narrated boldly in the first person, I Am Abraham effortlessly mixes humor with Shakespearean-like tragedy, in the process creating an achingly human portrait of our sixteenth President.

Tracing the historic arc of Lincoln’s life from his picaresque days as a gangly young lawyer in Sangamon County, Illinois, through his improbable marriage to Kentucky belle Mary Todd, to his 1865 visit to war-shattered Richmond only days before his assassination, I Am Abraham hews closely to the familiar Lincoln saga. Charyn seamlessly braids historical figures such as Mrs. Keckley—the former slave, who became the First Lady’s dressmaker and confidante—and the swaggering and almost treasonous General McClellan with a parade of fictional extras: wise-cracking knaves, conniving hangers-on, speculators, scheming Senators, and even patriotic whores.

We encounter the renegade Rebel soldiers who flanked the District in tattered uniforms and cardboard shoes, living in a no-man’s-land between North and South; as well as the Northern deserters, young men all, with sunken, hollowed faces, sitting in the punishing sun, waiting for their rendezvous with the firing squad; and the black recruits, whom Lincoln’s own generals wanted to discard, but who play a pivotal role in winning the Civil War. At the center of this grand pageant is always Lincoln himself, clad in a green shawl, pacing the White House halls in the darkest hours of America’s bloodiest war.

Using biblically cadenced prose, cornpone nineteenth-century humor, and Lincoln’s own letters and speeches, Charyn concocts a profoundly moral but troubled commander in chief, whose relationship with his Ophelia-like wife and sons—Robert, Willie, and Tad—is explored with penetrating psychological insight and the utmost compassion. Seized by melancholy and imbued with an unfaltering sense of human worth, Charyn’s President Lincoln comes to vibrant, three-dimensional life in a haunting portrait we have rarely seen in historical fiction.

Praise for I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War
“Thoughtful, observant and droll.” — Richard Brookhiser, New York Times Book Review

“Not only the best novel about President Lincoln since Gore Vidal’s Lincoln in 1984, but it is also twice as good to read.” — Gabor Boritt, author of The Lincoln Enigma and recipient of the National Humanities Medal

“Jerome Charyn [is] a fearless writer… Brave and brazen… The book is daringly imagined, written with exuberance, and with a remarkable command of historical detail. It gives us a human Lincoln besieged by vividly drawn enemies and allies… Placing Lincoln within the web ordinary and sometimes petty human relations is no small achievement.” — Andrew Delbanco, New York Review of Books

“Audacious as ever, Jerome Charyn now casts his novelist’s gimlet eye on sad-souled Abraham Lincoln, a man of many parts, who controls events and people—wife, sons, a splintering nation—even though they often are, as they must be, beyond his compassion or power. Brooding, dreamlike, resonant, and studded with strutting characters, I Am Abraham is as wide and deep and morally sure as its wonderful subjects.” 
— Brenda Wineapple, author of Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compassion: 1848-1877

“If all historians—or any historian—could write with the magnetic charm and authoritative verve of Jerome Charyn, American readers would be fighting over the privilege of learning about their past. They can learn much from this book—an audacious, first-person novel that makes Lincoln the most irresistible figure of a compelling story singed with equal doses of comedy, tragedy, and moral grandeur. Here is something beyond history and approaching art.” — Harold Holzer, chairman, Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation
“Jerome Charyn is one of the most important writers in American literature.” — Michael Chabon

“Jerome Charyn is merely one of our finest writers with a polymorphous imagination and crack comic timing. Whatever milieu he chooses to inhabit, his characters sizzle with life, and his sentences are pure vernacular music, his voice unmistakable.” — Jonathan Lethem

“Charyn, like Nabokov, is that most fiendish sort of writer—so seductive as to beg imitation, so singular as to make imitation impossible.” — Tom Bissell

“One of our most intriguing fiction writers takes on the story of Honest Abe, narrating the tale in Lincoln’s voice and offering a revealing portrait of a man as flawed as he was great.” — Abbe Wright, O, The Oprah Magazine

“Jerome Charyn, like Daniel Day-Lewis in Steven Spielberg’s superb 2012 movie, manages a feat of ventriloquism to be admired… Most of all, Lincoln comes across as human and not some remote giant… With that, Jerome Charyn has given Lincoln a most appropriate present for what would have been his 205th birthday this month: rebirth not as a marble memorial but as a three-dimensional human who overcame much to save his nation.” — Erik Spanberg, Christian Science Monitor

“Daring… Memorable… Charyn’s richly textured portrait captures the pragmatism, cunning, despair, and moral strength of a man who could have empathy for his bitterest foes, and who ‘had never outgrown the forest and a dirt floor.’” — The New Yorker

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About the Author
Jerome Charyn is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.” New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,”and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.” Since the 1964 release of Charyn’s first novel, Once Upon a Droshky, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture. Charyn was Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at the American University of Paris until he left teaching in 2009. In addition to his writing and teaching, Charyn is a tournament table tennis player, once ranked in the top 10 percent of players in France. Noted novelist Don DeLillo called Charyn’s book on table tennis, Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins, “The Sun Also Rises of ping-pong.” Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.

For more information please visit Jerome Charyn’s website. You can also find him on Twitter and Goodreads.



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February 24, 2015

Caddy Rowland - Making History, Bohemian Style (Part 14)

Please welcome back historical fiction author and artist, Caddy Rowland, our monthly contributor here at Historical Fiction Connection.


The nineteenth century in Paris was certainly a strange time. Several themed nightclubs opened up during this century, and a few continued into the early twentieth century. Being from the Twin Cities, MN I am used to seeing themed cafes and bars, since the Mall of America is located here. We’ve had rain forests with live parrots, an African Savanna, a volcano erupting, and Atlantis all featured in cafes with various results.

For the next few guest posts I’m going to share some of the weird-themed establishments in Paris/Montmartre. The first one we will “visit” was named Cabaret du Néant (Tavern of the Dead). Authorities objected to the name, so it was then called Cabaret of Nothingness. Visitors followed a “monk” down a dark hall to enter.

The tables were wooden coffins and were decorated with imitation human skulls. Arranged haphazardly, the room appeared to have been the location of a catastrophe which had only recently occurred. Walls featured guillotines in action, battle images, skulls and bones, skeletons, and mottos about death.


Pallbearers took drink orders and cried out the drinks by calling them names of diseases and ailments. Paintings dissolved before the patron’s eyes, changing figures to skeletons.

Then, while a funeral march played and bells solemnly tolled, the patrons were taken to a second chamber. A volunteer from the audience would step onstage and enter a standing casket. After being wrapped in a white shroud, the crowd was stunned as the volunteer dissolved into a skeleton. Then she/he returned back to their original state. In a third chamber an optical effect showed a spirit walking around yet another random volunteer as they sat at a table onstage.


This particular cabaret and show existed in the 1890’s. There was also one in New York City, I believe at the same time. Not a lot more is known about this cabaret, but I thought it was bizarre enough to share what I do know about it with you.

Who said people were uptight and morally superior in past times? Those who say it haven’t studied history much! In next month’s blog we’ll be traveling to yet another unusually themed cabaret in Montmartre. I’m not going to tell you exactly where we’re going, but I’ll give you a clue: You better dress cool because the place we’re going won’t ever freeze over.

Historical Fiction by Caddy Rowland: 




Contact and Social Media Info. For Caddy Rowland:

Author Email: caddyauthor@gmail.com
Twitter: @caddyorpims