Wednesday 10 February 2021

FREE eBooks for Valentine's Day fun!

 Hello from a presently very snowy part of Scotland!

Well, actually right now most of Scotland is under some degree of snow cover as the ‘Beast from The East Mark 2’ is blasting us with intermittent levels of snow-pelt.

It’s not unusual in my part of Aberdeenshire to get snow at this point close to mid-February. When I was a teacher the pupils loved the odd ‘snow day’ off school when transport wasn’t possible for the ‘country’ kids to attend, and some staff weren't able to get to school. Since I lived within 30 metres of the school building, a snow day for me just meant no direct teaching of pupils, I still had to do other admin or preparation work instead.

However,  a snowy day does mean it’s a time to ‘coorie doon’ under a warm blanket, or snuggle beside a roaring fire –  if you still have one – and read something entertaining and enjoyable.

Also, being the 10th of February 2021 as I write this, it’s getting closer to Valentine’s Day and a time to pamper yourself, or someone you love - either by gifting them an eBook, or buying one for yourself. It’s probably too late to get a paperback version posted, Covid 19 pandemic not helping with slow postal services, so gifting an eBook is possible.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I am offering two of my Romantic Comedies eBooks #FREE  during the next few days across the Amazon network. I've recently been re-doing the book page information for all of my books on Amazon and... here's a look at the brand new blurbs for Take Me Now and Monogamy Twist. 

Take Me Now is #FREE from Amazon on 11th, 12th and 13th of Feb. 2021.

Click HERE for a kindle copy :

Take Me Now: A Fast-Flying Corporate Sabotage…Romantic Comedy Mystery

 "…With beautiful description, it feels like you're travelling the globe with handsome Nairn and feisty, capable Aela, and the sub plot of sabotage, will keep you reading till the end."

 Conclusions jumped at too soon. Sabotage and attempted murder? Hilarious predicaments.

Patience isn’t Nairn Malcolm’s strong point when someone sabotages his business. It gets much worse when he, too,  is under attack. He needs someone who can transport him from his Scottish island castle base to destinations across the globe and also help him keep his business interests running smoothly. Who could be all that, and available to him 24/7?

Aela Cameron’s skills are perfect for Nairn’s current predicament. Transporting him across the globe is a pushover. Dangerous situations don’t faze her, in fact they make her more determined to solve the mystery of Nairn’s saboteur. She’s not into passing flings – yet how can she resist her new boss as time runs out on her temporary contract?

Is Nairn seeking the impossible? Can Aela find a compromise?

“Take Me Now is a fun contemporary romance set in Scotland, a swift-paced story with humorous moments that will leave the reader laughing and sighing.”

Take Me Now would be perfect for someone who likes a story that’s humorous, swift-paced and entertaining. A deliciously fun read.


Monogamy Twist is #FREE from Amazon on 12th, 13th and 14th of February 2021.  

Click HERE for a kindle copy

Monogamy Twist: A Romantic Comedy Mystery bursting with Ancestral and Dickensian Quirks

“Steeped in history, with rich description, this book is a fun, romantic read that will leave you intrigued till the very end.” Lizzie Koch, Author

Bizarre inheritance conditions. Ancestral enigmas. Heartrending choices.

When Luke Salieri inherits a dilapidated estate in Yorkshire, England, from an old woman he's never heard of, it’s a mystery he wants resolved immediately. But there’s more than one catch. The rules of inheritance are downright Dickensian – a bind he doesn’t want – yet how can he walk away and let the house rot? He needs the help of a very special woman though exactly how far will he need to go to persuade her?

Rhia Ashton wants the job of researching Greywood Hall and all of its fantastic contents, but can she live with gorgeous Luke Salieri for a whole year and retain her sanity? Rhia has her own ideas about what will make it worth her while to bargain with Luke.

How long can a year be…since neither expect more than friendly relations!

“A wonderful story packed with intrigue and romantic tension. I was immediately drawn to the mystery surrounding the house and its tangled secrets and enjoyed the way they were revealed.”

Readers who are ancestry enthusiasts, or those who enjoy a good dash of history in a contemporary novel, will love the Georgette Heyer ‘feel’ of Monogamy Twist. 

If you enjoy the fun stories, it would be lovely to hear your thoughts on them. Please leave a review, a few lines are fine, on Amazon. Or leave a comment below. Feedback is always appreciated.


Sunday 7 February 2021

Beathan The Brigante is a 4**** Discovering Diamond!

Happy Sunday to you! 

I'm totally delighted to announce that Beathan the Brigante (Celtic Fervour series Book 5) has received a 4 **** Discovering Diamond review from the much-coveted Discovering Diamond review site. run by Helen Hollick.

Here's what Discovering Diamonds had to say about Beathan The Brigante:

This story centres on the journey of a young adolescent boy who is held captive by the Roman general, Agricola. Beathan of Garrigill is a young Brigante whose parents are Celtic nobles and after the Brigante tribe’s defeat at the hands of the Roman invaders, Beathan is taken hostage and treated as a slave.

Beathan’s story covers four years of his life, from the age of thirteen to seventeen, and sees him grow from boy to man. It begins as he is being tortured by a sadistic centurion who has no qualms about beating Beathan to find out who he is and whether he is an important hostage or a slave. He meets and befriends other important hostages: Gillean, a Caledonian, an old friend Taexali, and a friend whom he thought was dead, Derwi. The hostages are dragged in chains to Rome, when General Agricola’s career and life are threatened. When Beathan saves the life of the general and his wife, Agricola’s heart softens and he frees the hostages in thanks for their help.

 Beathan is a strong personality in this tale. Defiant and proud, he must learn to curb his defiance in order to survive. But while outwardly he is subservient, inside, his anger is seething, and the flame of his vengeance burns.

 I was a little confused by the cover of the book which shows the face of a grown man with a full beard which was not what I expected a thirteen- to seventeen-year-old lad to look like even back then. I think this might confuse some readers. I have not read any of the other books in this series of five. It has a Young Adult feel to it although both adults and teens would be happy reading this.

The Discovering Diamonds reviewer makes a valid point about being a little confused about the cover design which shows the profile of a young man with a full dark-brown beard. It was very difficult to acquire a suitable image of a young man of 17, and I settled on the one chosen because he looked  perfect for my own concept of my character. In fact, the young man in the photo, acquired from 'www dot 123rf dot com'  image site, resembles a young lad from my village, one that I taught when he was 11/12 years old. 

When he left my class at 12 years old, the lad in question was very dark-haired, was already around 5 ft 10 in, and was likely to grow even taller, during his next five years at the local Academy. I spoke to him years later when he was seventeen. By then he was well over 6 ft. and had long flowing hair, not exactly fashionable, but it suited his quirky style. He had not long since left school to go to university and his beard was full and very thick. He told me that he couldn't wait to keep his whiskers, because shaving every day to go to school when he was 15 and 16 had been a 'a pain in the arse'. Not quite his words, they were a tad more colourful. 

I remembered that incident when I was creating my Beathan The Brigante character! 

When the review came in last Friday, I realised that Agricola's Bane (Book 4 of the Celtic Fervour Series) had not been reviewed, so I'll need to put in a request for that one. I'm likely to now get confused since Book 1, The Beltane Choice, is a 4* Discovering Diamond, Books 2 & 3 are 5* Discovered Diamonds, and now Book 5 is a 4* Discovering Diamond. 

Back to more Sunday promotion and more new writing for my prequel to the Celtic Fervour Series. 

Happy Sunday indeed!


Thursday 4 February 2021

The demise of Emperor Septimius Severus 4th Feb AD 211

February 4th marked the end of Emperor Septimius Severus.

Emperor Septimius Severus

The Ancient Roman Emperor Severus had been ailing for some time before he died on Feb 4th AD 211. It was documented that he had been carried in a litter while on campaign in Caledonia when he went north to subdue those nasty Caledonian rebels. The cause of his ailment may have been akin to gout, but whatever it was, Severus seemed to have found it difficult to ride and had to be carried. His health deteriorated further and he went back to Eboracum (York) probably in late AD 210. He died there on Feb 4th AD 211.

Severus had arrived in Britannia in AD 208, in a bid to quell the unrest in the north of the province. The governor of the time, possibly G. Postumianus (governorship dates are uncertain), had sent missives stating that rebels from Caledonia  (Scotland) were difficult to contain behind Hadrian's Wall. There had been many incursions of the barbarians into Roman Britain (i.e. south of the wall) and not enough soldiers to man the area properly. A good portion of the Britannic forces had been deployed in Germania in the late AD 190s and many had not returned, which left the remaining Britannic legions seriously undermanned. 

Emperor Severus decided to take on the job of whipping the Caledonian barbarians into shape and brought his two sons with him to give them a taste of action on the front line (Caracalla and Geta). It's mentioned in ancient sources that the emperor's sons were not as well-brought up as they should have been. Essentially they were both delinquents, nasty late-teenagers who seemed to hate everybody (including each other) and needed to be brought to heel. The thinking seems to have been that they would become more self-controlled, and better citizens after a spot of engagement with the Caledonian natives.


The nickname Caracalla seemed to have come from the elder son's preference for a particular style of cloak. He had a very long official title. Lucius Septimius Bassianus was his birth name. This was added to when Severus named his elder son as his co-emperor in AD 208, when the boy was only 10. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was the new designation. After Severus' death he officially became Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus. It's much easier to call him Caracalla! 


Geta had a much easier name to remember. Given the birth name of Publius Septimius Geta (Geta coming from his mother's family, I believe), Severus raised him to the status of Caesar (heir emperor) in 198 when the boy was only 9. The title of Augustus was later added in 209 when Severus also made Geta a joint emperor. After the death of Severus, his title was Imperator Publius Septimius Geta Augustus. 

Emperor Severus came to Britannia in AD 208 with a massive retinue. This included his wife Julia Domna, his sons and numerous officials - the amount required to effectively run the Empire from afar. He marched northwards to Eboracum (York) and made it his base. 

An immediate Caledonian campaign was not advisable after Severus arrived in AD 208, so Severus set about making huge improvements to the forts and facilities in the Hadrian's Wall area. He allocated the troops necessary to carry out this fort reconstruction - which was, in some cases, considerable. 

By AD 210, Severus was said to have left Eboracum to campaign in Caledonia with forces numbering some 50,000 men. That number is disputed by some scholars, but the archaeological evidence from Roman campaign encampments in Scotland indicates a force in excess of 30,000. There's also some conjecture about the invasion of troops into the part of Scotland north of the Antonine Wall - some believe that may have happened in AD 209 with Roman troops possibly flooding the areas twice. No written documentation states these things precisely and it may be that Severus led a first incursion and Caracalla the later one- or Caracalla may have led invasion in both AD 209 and AD 210.  Soil sampling and other pollen data suggests there may have been a punitive, genocidal slash and burn policy to destroy all the tribes north of the Forth and Clyde stretch across Scotland- i.e. north of the Antonine Wall. 

Sometime prior to Severus becoming emperor in AD 193, it appears some form of treaties had been agreed with the tribes north of Hadrian's Wall which was then considered to be the Roman Empire western boundary. The treaties obviously had deteriorated for unknown reasons and by the time Severus was ready to campaign against the tribes north of Hadrian's Wall, the local tribes had formed large alliances. Termed the Maeatae, they were a formidable force. 

Golden aureus - Julia Domna; Caracalla and Geta

Severan troops went as far north as the Moray Firth, according to encampment size estimates and designs. However, it's not known if Severus, in person, actually got that far. 

Eventually by some late point of AD 210, Severus returned to York a very ill man. There's some speculation that his death was maybe hurried on a little by intervention ordered by his elder son Caracalla. Whether or not there is any truth in this, Severus died on February 4th AD 211 in Eboracum. 

It's not clear what happened immediately after Severus' death, but Caracalla, Geta, and their very capable and managing mother Julia Domna returned to Rome soon after - along with Severus' ashes.

The sons of Severus reigned as joint emperors after their father's demise.  However, their total dislike of each other continued...but only for a short while because Geta was killed on Dec 26th AD 211 by Praetorian Guards. Probably at the bequest of Caracalla. It's not clear whose side Julia Domna was on. After Geta's death the policy of damning everything about his person happened (Damnatio Memoriae) and few images remain of him. 

The Severan Tondo
At one time there were four figures but 
it's thought the scratched out face was poor Geta. 

Caracalla then ruled alone till he, in turn, was assassinated a few years later in AD 217.

The reign of Severus needs a lot of blog posts since he was a busy man and his legacy lives on in the ruined edifices across the Empire that were created during his tenure as emperor.

I used a bit of authorial license when writing The Taexali Game- my time travel historical novel. I have both Severus and Caracalla engaging with the Taexali natives of north-east Scotland, though I have no proof they were ever there together, or even separately. However their legions and auxiliary troops surely were!

Long live the emperor! 


Monday 1 February 2021

Happy Imbolc! Unedited draft exclusive!

Good Morning and welcome to February, the 1st of February being the Festival of Imbolc.

In the ancient Celtic calendar, Imbolc was one of the four main festivals of the year and heralded the end of winter and the beginning of spring. For me in my part of Scotland, my winter is rarely over at this time and the signs of spring can pop up around me at vary variable stages, depending on what the winter has been like.

We often get snow around mid-February, and indeed may well have some snow during the coming days of early February this year of 2021 - according to th latest weather reports. At present it's a frosty morning, one of a series of hard frosts, but the day is yet young. 

I've not been blogging during January but I have been doing some writing; lots of research reading; and I've been helping to home-school my grandkids during our current Covid 19 lockdown situation in Scotland. Their home-schooling is set to continue for some weeks, presently with no time given for a return to the classroom so my writing time is very flexible. 

I've been addressing the issue of the lack of historical background in The Beltane Choice, a few reviewers saying that they'd rather have had a better, more firm, Roman Britain context for Book 1 of the series.  My prequel is coming along - though it's not a technique I've tried before -  and is slowly developing. Since I wrote book 1 of the series more than a decade ago, the final version and first publication being in 2012, I have to keep referring back to ensure I'm not repeating what happens in Book 1 but that the events created happen before Book 1 action! 

it is fortuitous that the beginning of Lorcan's story happens at the Festival of Imbolc. (Nara's will also be included in the new prequel)  What you can read below is a draft version, unedited and as yet not yet read by anybody! 

It's AD 71 and the events in Brigantia are beginning to change with the new arrival of the Ancient Roman General Cerialis, who is the new Governor of Britannia.  

“Lorcan of Garrigill!” Cynwrig declared as he sped down the room in welcome. “It has been a while since we spoke together…” The chief broke off his greetings.

Lorcan absorbed Cynwrig’s stare of assessment but also watched the man’s attempt to suppress a mystified expression.

“I can see your journey here has had its moments, but since you are still standing on your own two feet, you can explain your disorder later.”

Lorcan absorbed the hearty clasps at his shoulders, knowing they were genuine ones, but winced when a new bruise was inadvertently thumped. His attempt to return the easy grins of Cynwrig – a man he was more than happy to name as a good contact – was stiff and awkward, his cheeks frozen with cold and other traces he did not care to acknowledge.

“Your timing is not the greatest, my friend, since we have already eaten the best of our feast but my hearth is yours for as long as you need it to be,” the chief declared before he accepted the snow-clad spear Lorcan held forth in front of him, the tip purposely pointing towards the roof timbers and not in any way a threat.

Also accepting Lorcan’s sword in its leather sheath, Cynwrig plopped the weapons into the half-empty iron rack, at the side of the door. Lorcan then felt himself being urged away from the doorway.

“With the conditions sent to us today, by the god Ambisagrus, and whatever else has befallen you, your stay might need to be longer than you planned.”

“Aye. Time will tell about that.” Lorcan was slow to slide free the pin of the circular brooch that held his cloak together at his shoulder, his fingers so chilled he could feel almost nothing. “I thanked your local god Ialonus, many times, that he had seen fit to allow me to almost reach you before this snow started dumping down in earnest.”

He stopped speaking to swing the white-encrusted wool off his shoulders, taking care to keep it from showering onto his host. “Thankfully, Ialonus also kept at bay squally winds, otherwise my arrival might have been completely thwarted.”

A raucous bellow from Cynwrig agreed. “My favoured god favours you, then. You must indeed have good news to share that I need to hear. Are you come to tell me that those Romans have yet another new emperor?”

“Nay.” The smile that broke free was a painful one for Lorcan. “I am not at all sure that would be good news.”

Cynwrig’s soft fist to his shoulder was predictable. “Ah! You disappoint me, my Brigante friend. That would at least be more amusing than the real news.”

I hope you enjoyed this tiny glimpse into Lorcan before 'The Beltane Choice'. 

Happy Imbolc!