The Red Button: The Sweet Romance Prequel to A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Keith Eldred – #BookReview – Victorian Historical Romance

Book Blurb:

The Red Button by Keith EldredFind fresh affection for A Christmas Carol with this classic prequel and enjoy the new holiday tradition of the Red Button.

The untold story of the doomed romance. 

Belle Endicott and Ebenezer Scrooge are young, bookish, hardworking Londoners drawn together by button-making. His brand-new factory threatens her family’s tiny shop, yet they fall in love and start planning their future. When personal and business calamities strike, they confront them vigorously side by side, but ultimately something has to give. We know what it is. They do not.

His Review:

Can a person serve two masters? Becoming the richest person in the world or a happily married man are the tasks before Ebenezer Scrooge. He is smitten with the lovely Belle Endicott and she is the daughter of a famous button manufacturer. This is at the dawn of the industrial revolution. Belle and her father have long been one of the finest button manufacturers in the world. Belle learned her craft from her mother and works with her father. Ebenezer wants to mechanize the process. He also has a very deep interest in young Belle.

The Red Button by Keith EldredA red button is at the heart of the story. The button is given to Ebenezer by Belle and he carries it with him everywhere. If the button is not in his pocket it is around his neck. The Endicott family and Scrooge develop a production alliance whereas the Endicott group prepare hand- crafted special order buttons and the factory produces the mass-produced buttons for clothing manufacturers. The Red Button chronicles the mental struggles encountered by Ebenezer.

This is a great read for anyone who wishes to excel in life. The age-old adage of trying to serve two masters is evident. Can the drive for world domination be done concurrently with making a happy life with a spouse? Ebenezer desperately hopes that this is true. However, cornering the clothing fastener market in the British Empire takes much of his time. He does not have the time to court Belle and corner the market.

The give and take of the struggles are well documented by The Red Button. Belle is smitten with her “Ben” and would entertain his proposal, but work always seems to get in the way. This middle school novel paints an interesting picture of who the young Ebenezer Scrooge might have been. It is a fun, fast, and interesting read. 4.5 stars – CE Williams 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author without expectation of a review and these are my unbiased opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Victorian Historical Romance
Publisher: This is RED 
ISBN: 097676461X
ASIN: B08L9MY4F2
Print Length: 250 pages
Publication Date: October 22, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: The Red Button

Add to Goodreads

Keith Eldred- authorThe Author: Keith Eldred created the THIS IS RED project with his wife Janet, a public library director diagnosed with early-stage dementia. With Janet’s condition making every day precious, they decided to make the most of 2020, the year of their 30th anniversary, by publishing 20 books. All profits from these titles go the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library, where Janet works. See more at http://www.thisis.red.

Keith is also helping his granddaughter Brook Johnson (age 8) create a book trilogy about her character The Puppy Queen.

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams

The Castilians: A story of the siege of St Andrews Castle by VEH Masters -#BookReview – Historical Scottish Fiction

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

1546, and Scotland is bludgeoned by Henry VIII, determined to marry his son to the infant Mary, Queen of Scots. A few among the Scottish nobles, for both political and religious reasons, are eager for this alliance too. They kill Cardinal Beaton, who is Mary’s great protector, and take St Andrews Castle, expecting rescue any day from England.

The Castilians by VEH MastersFor a sister and brother, spirited Bethia and rebellious Will, living in St Andrews and caught up on opposite sides, the siege becomes a fight for survival. As the long blockade unravels, it also becomes a test of their loyalties and what’s more important: to save their family, stay true to their beliefs, or to save themselves.

This debut novel closely follows the tumultuous events of the siege of St Andrews Castle, and its dramatic re-taking

‘A clever blend of fact and fiction, with engaging characters, gripping action, tension and drama galore, and a dash of romance. For lovers of Scotland and Scottish history this is a great read.’ Margaret Skea: winner of the Beryl Bainbridge Award.

‘The setting, the history and the characters all come together in a perfect blend. I highly recommend this intriguing novel.’ Jean M Roberts

‘The darker side of St Andrews Castle’s history, written with such delightful detail I could almost taste and smell the medieval streets of the historic town!’ Lynsey Maxwell

‘This book has everything I like – suspense, romance and humour. Beautifully descriptive and left me thinking about the characters even after I finished reading it.’

Finalist, Wishing Shelf Book Awards

His Review:

The Reformation is in its’ infancy! Martin Luther has started a movement that will separate brother from brother, father from son and countries will wage war as a result. The early years in the 1500’s were not a great time to be alive! The control of the family is ruled by a dictatorial father and a society can turn against a family in an instant. The ruling class is only too happy to seize a families’ property and turn them out into the street penniless.

Thee Castilians by VEH MastersA man is being burned at the stake for preaching the gospel in opposition to the Catholic Church. Elspeth’s brother Will is outraged as are many of the people in the city. Will and a group of reformers calling themselves The Castilians take over the castle of the local Cardinal Beaton who has exacted large “tithes” from the local population. The Cardinal is living in splendor in Castle St. Andrews. The Castle was the former home of a Queen of Scotland. The storehouse is filled with all kinds of excellent foods and drinks while food is scarce for the population.

Occupying the castle is the central theme of the story. I found the accompanying theme of Elspeth trying to save her brother even more compelling. She is a strong lass who often ignores her father in attempts to aid and save her brothers’ life. The description of the castle and its’ surrounds paint a vivid scene of life during that time period.

Unaccompanied young females are looked upon with avarice and wonton lust! Elspeth’s endeavors to get food and other necessities to her brother put her in danger of rape, although she does have some young men in the community who look after and protect her from some of these miscreants. Meanwhile her father is looking for a convenient marriage for his daughter. This will keep him in the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed. Family alliances are critical to maintaining this good lifestyle.

International trade and pilgrimage are part of the charm of the town. Elspeth becomes very interested in one of these pilgrims who came to pray at the local St. Andrews Cathedral. She is torn between obeying her father, helping her brother, and avoiding being paired with a local fat but affluent man. He is called “Fat Norman.” He is solicitous towards Elspeth and seems a gentle soul. She could do worse!

Overall, the flavor of this narrative is both engaging and enlightening. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in historical environs and strong protagonists. 5 stars-C.E. Williams

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author through direct request. This in no way swayed my opinion and these are my unbiased thoughts. 

Book Details:

Genre: Historical British & Irish Literature, Historical Scottish Fiction, Scottish Historical Romance
Publisher: Nydie Books

  • ASIN : B08NYSLN9Z

Print Length: 239 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: The Castilians
Also find the book on Barnes and Noble

Add to Goodreads

 

VEH Masters - authorThe Author: VEH Masters was born and grew up on a farm just outside of St. Andrews in Scotland. She’s been fascinated by the siege of St Andrews Castle ever since her history teacher took the class on a visit, which included going down the siege tunnel dug out of rock and peering into the bottle dungeon where Cardinal Beaton’s body is said to have been kept, pickled in salt, for over a year.

She’s lived for most of her life nearby and St Andrews is one of her two favourite places in the world. She now lives between Penicuik and Peebles, which are both pretty amazing towns too.

The Castilians is her debut novel and she’s currently working on a sequel. Find her on Twitter and her Website.

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams

Beyond the Moon: A Haunting Debut Novel of Time Travel and WW1 by Catherine Taylor – A #BookReview #timetravel

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars Five Stars

The CE read this one and loved it.

Book Blurb:

Beyond the Moon by Catherine TaylorOutlander meets Birdsong in this haunting literary timeslip novel, where a strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War with a young woman living in modern-day England a century later.

*A debut novel shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Write Your Own Love Story Prize 2018/19

Part WW1 historical fiction, part timeslip love story – and at the same time a meditation on the themes of war, mental illness, identity and art. An intelligent, captivating read, perfect for book clubs.

His Review:

Louisa Casson has had too much to drink! She is mourning the death of her beloved grandmother and is near a sea cliff. She passes out and wakes up in a dark rainstorm disoriented. The cliff she is near starts to crumble and she goes down with the slide. She is discovered partway down the cliff on a shelf and the doctors determine she must have been attempting suicide.

Beyond the Moon by Catherine TaylorA mental hospital is a place to avoid, but she is placed there for her own safety. She cannot convince the medical staff that she did not commit suicide and is committed. The staff is less than helpful and is all overworked, unsympathetic and working in a place they should never be.

Medicines are administered though not necessary. The results are disorientation and further medications are administered to counter the effects of the first. The setting of the mental institution is horrific and part of the building scheduled for demolishing. The year is 2017.

Smoking is a diversion and she befriends a patient who shows her how to escape the smoking area. She wanders through the older part of the building and hears a voice. “Please help me!” She follows the sound and is transported one hundred years in the past to the building in its prime.

The voice belongs to Lieutenant Robert Lovett who has been injured in WW1 and is afflicted with hysterical blindness. Louisa helps him back into bed and stays and comforts him. A friendship and then love develops. The story is very well constructed and slips between time periods of 1916 and 2017. Louisa seems to be transported through a time loop. 2017 is not a particularly good time period for our heroine.

The writer has developed a keen insight into WW1 and the offsetting culture of 2017. The contrast between the two time periods is masterfully developed and a pleasure to witness. Louisa would like to stay and be with the Lieutenant. How can this be accomplished? As you enjoy the book you develop an affinity for the characters and hope the best for them. Louisa is enormously empathetic, her soldier as much so.

This page-turner will keep you on the edge of your seat. Schedule some time to read, you will not want to put it down. This was an author request, the digital download in anticipation of a review. This is my honest opinion. 5 stars CE Williams

(Amazon: *NB This novel contains graphic descriptions of war violence and injuries, as well as profanity and mild sex.)

Book Details:

Genre: Time Travel Romance, World War I Historical Fiction, British Historical Literature
Publisher: The Cameo Press Ltd.
Print Length: 496 pages
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Beyond the Moon (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble

+Add to Goodreads

Catherine Taylor - authorThe Author: [Catherine Taylor] I was born and grew up on the small island of Guernsey, one of the British Channel Islands in the English Channel.

I’ve been obsessed with words and books since the day I first learned to read, and grew up on classic children’s authors like Enid Blyton and Edith Nesbit. As I got older I began to gravitate towards love stories with gripping plots, devouring novels like Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Katharine, Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice, about clever, independent women caught up in passionate affairs with complex, Byronic men. And equally I loved sweeping epics like The Thorn Birds and Gone With The Wind. I was a keen writer myself from an early age, and am one of those people who’s known since childhood that she wanted to be an author one day.

I’ve been obsessed with history, and particularly with WW1 for a long time – in fact I date my fascination with WW1 to the moment I first read Wilfred Owen’s poem “Strange Meeting” as a child. The literature of the First World War is the most moving I’ve ever read, and I defy anyone to read Vera Brittain’s A Testament Of Youth and not be moved to tears. As well as being a history obsessive, I’ve also always been a hopeless romantic. And I always knew that the novel I one day intended to write would be a historical love story, set during the First World War – one that would be intelligent, well-researched and have a big, emotional heart. Not only that, I always wanted my novel to have a touch of the fantastical about it too. As I child I loved to read books with magic in them, especially timeslips, and as I got older, I wondered why it was that most novels with elements of the paranormal in them were exclusively for children.

And then one night, after reading some WW1 poetry before bed, I had a dream where I wandered into some forgotten room in our house, and came across a young man, who told me that he was a soldier in the Great War. And the idea for Beyond The Moon was born. I often wonder if I dreamt about that soldier because, on some subconscious level, I longed to be able to transport myself back in time to the lost world of 1914-1918.

Of course, it’s not something – sadly – that I could ever do. But a young woman in a slightly different modern-day world could; a world where magic and fate were more powerful than in our own. A sensitive, intelligent and courageous young woman (for she’d need all those qualities), with faith in destiny, a great capacity for love, and a willingness to sacrifice everything for it…

The topic of mental health is one that has always held a huge fascination for me, and from the very beginning I knew that Beyond The Moon would be set partly in a psychiatric hospital. As I began to research people’s experiences in mental hospitals I was shocked to find just how common it is for patients to suffer neglect and abuse in such places. I can understand that modern-day Coldbrook Hall might seem far-fetched to some readers, but I assure you, you don’t have to look far on the internet to find some appalling stories. Just recently the following articles appeared in UK newspapers: ‘Firms cash in on psychiatric care crisis’ in The Times, and ‘Care Quality Commission [the UK regulator] places two Priory Group hospitals in special measures’ in The Guardian. They make shocking and depressing reading. If I, in my very small way through Beyond The Moon, can help shine a light on this modern-day scandal, then I am very glad.

I hope you enjoy Beyond The Moon as much as I loved writing it. I love to hear from readers, so please do get in touch at catherine@catherinetaylor.net. I’m currently working on a second novel set in 1900s Vienna, when the “imperial city” – as it was known – was at the heart of the enormous, cosmopolitan Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s another smart historical love story, and I’m very excited about it. I can’t wait to try to conjure up that fabulous, forgotten world.

My website is at http://www.catherinetaylor.net, and you can sign up for my mailing list there. I have an author page on Goodreads, too, and you can also follow me on Instagram at @catherine_taylor_author. You can also find me (a bit less often!) on Twitter and Facebook.

I live in West London with my husband, two children, and two very cheeky chinchillas.

©2020 V Williams V Williams