Tag: historical romance

Jana Begovic talks about POISONOUS WHISPERS

If you’ve followed my site for very long, you know I love books and authors. And I’m especially fond of fantasy.

Although POISONOUS WHISPERS isn’t a traditional fantasy romance, it does have fantastical elements.

Today, I’ve invited author Jana Begovic to talk to you about her debut novel.


Jana, thanks for coming today. Reincarnation plays an important part in POISONOUS WHISPERS. How did you become interested in this idea?

Thank you, Sharon for your excellent questions and willingness to feature my novel. The first time I found myself mesmerized by the concept of reincarnation was when my uncle, who is a psychiatrist, told a story about a patient whom he’d hypnotized, and who under hypnosis started speaking in a language he couldn’t recognize. He recorded her and later discovered she was speaking ancient Greek even though she never studied any foreign language and had never visited Greece. My interest in the topic continued through my reading of books on Buddhism, but it culminated with my discovery of Dr. Brian Weiss’ books on past life regression therapy. His work was the main inspiration for Poisonous Whispers.

Jana, you are from Europe and this novel takes place in several European countries. Have you visited all the places in your novel?

The only place mentioned in my novel that I have not visited is Ireland. I have always felt drawn to that country, to its music, dance and lore, and it is an attraction I simply cannot explain.  It is a seductive thought to think I may have lived there in one of my past lives.

Your settings are quite real. Readers want to know: is it difficult to translate the culture and ambiance of a place onto the page?

It is difficult to translate the culture and ambiance into fiction if you have not lived in that place. I believe the portrayal may stay somewhat superficial as there is so much invisible culture, which is difficult to convey unless it is a part of who we are.

When we first talked about your novel, you said it didn’t fit neatly into the romance genre. What would you say to compel readers of traditional romances to try out your novel?

 I would say that most readers would agree that the universal themes of love, romance, loss, heartbreak, suffering etc. cannot and should not be confined within the rigidly defined boundaries of any genre. Readers want quality books, novels that will give them reading pleasure and perhaps, teach them something new, or make them reflect on their own life and experiences.

By breaking out of the traditional romance parameters my novel aims to offer a multi-layered story, with characters that are flawed, like we all are, characters that make bad and morally dubious choices, suffer profound heartbreak as consequence, and become better versions of themselves along the way.

I also believe very few readers are strictly devoted to one genre exclusively, and are willing to venture out and try something different. In short, I’d tell them, please give it a try, and I promise you will not be disappointed. Like ice cream, romance comes in many flavours, from commercial to literary, traditional to less traditional.

I decided to feature you here because I see this novel as a fantasy/paranormal romance (and I’m more about fantasy than romance around here). What elements of fantasy are present in this story? How would you interest fantasy readers in your novel?

 Fantasy elements in Poisonous Whispers are the supernatural forces, or malevolent gods who play with the heroine’s fate across several incarnations. She hears their voices in her dreams and in a state of wakefulness and wonders if we humans are the objects gods use for their own amusement. In one of her past incarnations, the heroine also has special powers she uses to protect herself. Readers who are mostly interested in fantasy may not find enough of it in Poisonous Whispers, unless they consider reincarnation as part of fantasy.

You have an academic background. What inspired you to write a fiction novel?

I’ve always been intoxicated with the written word, and I’ve always been an avid reader. My decision to pursue literary studies was an easy and natural one. My writing attempts began in elementary school. I wrote a Western story, then a collection of poems and fables. I always wanted to write a novel, but never trusted my ability to write one.

My inspiration for writing novels comes mostly from the stories friends and acquaintances tell me. I am fascinated both by storytelling and human stories. For that reason, my novel is full of sub-plots.

There are many historical elements in your novel. Did you do research on those time periods? Why did you choose the times you did?

 I researched the historical periods trying to reflect them as credibly as I could. For example, I researched witch trials in Ireland and opera in Italy. Because the novel describes past life incarnations, I selected the times in which the heroine could have lived before her current incarnation. I selected Ireland and England because I find both countries highly alluring, and I chose Italy because I’ve visited it many times and could never get enough of it. I’d like to mention that most of my research was spent on the psychology of adultery, which is one of the main themes of the book.

Now that you’ve published a novel, what’s next for your writing career? Any hints about what you’re working on now?

I have written two short stories and am writing a third one. I have started a sequel to Poisonous Whispers, in which I plan to show what happened from the perspective of other characters. Most of us have heard about the Rashomon effect, that is, everyone’ perception is subjective. In Poisonous Whispers the reader sees the events through the eyes of Leandra, the heroine. In the sequel, the male protagonists will give their account of the same events. I also plan to write another scholarly article based on a project I have been leading as part of my regular job.

Thanks so much, Jana.

Readers, do you have questions for Jana?

Be sure to check out the giveaway for a $10 gift card. All the purchase links for Poisonous Whispers can be found here.

Stolen Empire Series

The Stolen Empire series by Sherry D. Ficklin is classified as Teen and Young Adult historical romance. I picked up the first book free (and it is still available free on eBook) many months ago.

Even though I enjoyed the first book (see Goodreads review here), it didn’t really compel me to continue on with the series.

I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction. The fact the first book does not have a happy ending (sorry, not trying to spoil anything for you here) didn’t help things.

In fact, the series doesn’t have a happy ending.

If you’re familiar with Russian history at all, this shouldn’t surprise you.

If you’ve heard of Catherine the Great, empress of Russia, you might be shaking your finger at me saying, “Why would you expect a happy ending from that story?”

Why indeed.

Queen of Someday

QueenofSomedayThe first book opens with Sophie fending off an attack on her carriage. It’s traveling across the barren, snow-covered Russian landscape. Not unguarded, but the guards were surprised by the attack.

From this first scene, I loved this ferocious girl who knew how to protect herself. I also knew to expect more threats against her life. The German princess traveling to Russia wasn’t heading to a safe haven.

This story shows her interactions with the empress Elizabeth, the heir apparent, Peter and a number of courtesans. Sophie struggles to learn the language and proper etiquette. She befriends one of her ladies’ in waiting and attempts to fall in love with her intended groom, Peter.

Instead, she falls for one of his best friends.

We know the relationship is doomed. Still, we press through more attempts on her life, hoping they will find a way to be together.

This book ends with her taking the name Catherine at her induction into the Russian Orthodox Church. She is going to leave foolish Sophie behind and become indomitable Catherine.

The star-crossed lover theme is well-played. Tension is high throughout the book. It was difficult to put down.

However, it wasn’t a happy story. No matter how well-written and engaging, I find it impossible to give five stars to anything that doesn’t leave me feeling better when I finish it.

Queen of Tomorrow

Queen of TomorrowThe second two books I read recently when the three titles were offered by the publisher in a boxed set for a buck. You know me and my passion for buck books.

This picks up a year after the first book and reads like an adult novel. I’m surprised that this series has been successfully marketed to teenagers. The library journal specifies it is for ninth grade and above, but I found much of the content – especially in the third book – more appropriate for an adult audience.

Also, Catherine is married with a lover, facing no situations that a relatable to a teenager in our era. Not that the story is bad, because I think this might have been the best of the three books, but it just felt wrong in the YA genre.

In this story, we see the politics of the times enter into Catherine’s life as she struggles to cement her place in the ruling hierarchy by producing an heir. Will she choose to side with Prussia, her former homeland, or truly sell out to the Russian populace, who desperately need a ruler to care for them?

It holds court intrigue and manipulations on every level. Again, a page-turner. The end will get your eyebrows raised.

I was glad to be able to continue reading the saga in the final book of the trilogy.

Queen of Always

QueenofAlwaysThis finishes Catherine’s journey from the unloved wife of the crazy Peter, Emperor of Russia (for a short time) to Empress.

Having read the first two books, the reader comes to expect death threats and attempts on Catherine’s life. And wonders – at least I did – why no one is trying to kill crazy Peter. Why are they happy to let him rule?

Because a careless puppet is easier to control than a strong-willed queen.

The romantic element in this final book pushes beyond what I would consider acceptable for anyone under eighteen. It toes the line between spicy and erotic, with the implications leaving little to the imagination. Or maybe inciting the imagination beyond the realm acceptable for unmarried, possibly sexually inexperienced teenagers.

Again, there is no true happy ending. Even though Catherine accomplishes what she sets out to do: secure the throne of Russia for her son.

What I enjoyed most about this series is the evolution from the idealistic girl into the realistic woman. Although I disagreed with many most of her choices, they made sense and built reasonably upon each other.

It is hard not to see her as a hardened murderess by the end of the book. After all the pain she’s suffered, she had to adapt to survive.

Would I have been able to choose differently and ascend to the same heights? Perhaps. But the author couldn’t rewrite history (although she freely admits that the time-lines in the book aren’t accurate to real life, even if the historical events are correct.)

In the end, it made me thankful NOT to be a queen or in a place where I had the power to make life-and-death decisions for everyone around me. I wanted to hug my sons and whisper how much I love them, and give thanks for the caring (not-at-all-psychotic) husband I’m have.

Sometimes, reading makes you appreciate the life you have all the more.

Thank you Ms. Ficklin for writing such a series as this, making me grateful to be the queen of nothing but my little house on the corner.

How does a free book sound?

Roane Publishing is giving away THREE eARCs of Love’s Revenge!

Love’s Revenge

Means of Mercy #2
Sweet, Historical Romance
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Release Date: January 26, 2015

Embittered by betrayal, Anne MacKay flees London for America, where she learns she’s pregnant with her abusive husband’s longed-for heir. In a society that doesn’t protect, or afford a well-to-do wife’s desire for divorce, Anne decides there is one way to exact revenge: deny the father any knowledge of his child.
Sought after by her husband’s henchmen, Anne travels by rail and horseback, far from civilization where silk and stays are worn, let alone thought of. Lies and deceit protect her identity for a time, allowing her to birth—and grow to love—the child who was supposed to be her vengeance.
With the help of her loyal and protective business partner, Jude Connagher, and the ranch hands in their Montana Territory valley, Anne attempts to rebuild her life under the shadow of her husband’s wrath.
One unwise decision lands Anne in her pursuers’ clutches, tearing her from the ranch, her child, and her growing love for the one man who could redeem her from bitterness. She’s left with no choice but to finally face her husband, knowing her freedom and life hang in the balance.


The second in the Means of Mercy series, this historical romance has been likened to Downtown Abby.


And Roane Publishing is giving away THREE eARC copies to three lucky winners!

You don’t even have to be a blogger.

If you are willing to leave an honest review between the dates of January 26th – February 6th, you are eligible to enter.

How? Simply fill out the form!
You have until Midnight of January 3rd when three winners will be chosen by random drawing.