Monday, 17 August 2020

Favourite historical fiction by J.G. Harlond

In 2014 I read The Chosen Man by J.G. Harlond. I really loved the book and was looking forward to a continuation. Time passes and it was just when I read Deborah Swift's blogpost about a new book by Harlond, that I checked if there was a follow up to The Chosen Man. To my delight, I found that the one book had developed into a trilogy, with A Turning Wind and By Force of Circumstance. 

The 17th century is a very interesting century in many ways. The powers of Europe fighting for religion, new worlds, money, silks, spices, and more. Seafaring is big business, luxury commodities from the east are imported to Europe to please the upper classes. Not to talk about diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and other precious stones. In the center of activity stands Italian businessman and adventurer Ludovico da Portovenere, "one-time corsair, sometime merchant, secret agent of monarchs, servant of none".  

With Portovenere, J.G. Harlond has created an exciting character, not without faults, but always with a charming twist to his actions. Alina, a one-time runaway young lady, rescued by Portovenere, and Spanish wine merchant Marcos Alonzo Almendro are his brothers in arms. 

A Turning Wind


"From the trading colony of Goa to the royal courts of England and Spain, Ludo da Portovenere completes difficult and dangerous secret commissions on his own terms and for his own reasons. But, as these tasks bring him closer to success, Ludo is forced to confront dangerous secrets of his own. While Ludo pursues a delicate mission for the English queen in the Spanish royal court, Alina, Baroness Metherall, faces new challenges and dangers while trying to come to terms with what it means to be married to one person and love another.

Ultimately, Ludo and Alina must decide who they really are, and to what extent their shared past should influence their future."

By Force of Circumstance

""For sale: the English Crown Jewels"
Ludo da Portovenere, now a settled merchant is thrust back into his former profiteering ways when the Queen of England commissions him to sell priceless gems to raise money for the Royalist cause during the Civil War.
Will Ludo keep, or sell on the English Crown Jewels? There are many who would like to prevent him from doing either by removing him permanently from the stage.
Ludo plans to make a very significant profit - mostly for himself - but these plans are set awry when Alina, Baroness Metherall, becomes involved. Meanwhile, Marcos Alonso Almendro now a successful merchant in Plymouth is charged with acquiring the jewels to prevent them being sold at all. What none of them know is that the evil-minded Vatican agent Rogelio, who is pursuing a personal vendetta against Ludo, has been commissioned to acquire the very same jewels by the Vatican. Events move into perilous territory as it comes time for old scores to be settled, one way or the other.
Caught up in the violence of conflicts not of their own choosing, Ludo, Alina and Marcos have to decide where their loyalties lie, where they want to be, and ultimately, with whom."
All three books are very well researched. Harlond knows her history and even venture into little known events. She is doing a marvelous job of incorporating her fictional characters into real-life events. It is an exciting time in Europe and East India. With Ludo, Alina, and Marcos she has created unforgettable characters, who take us from the courts of England to the courts of France, Spain, and Portugal, to exciting harbours, dark alleys, and mysterious avengers, as well as 17th-century sea-trade. It is exciting, thrilling, and packed with action from beginning to end. Historical fiction does not get better than this. 

If you are interested,  J.G. Harlond's web-site provides you with interesting background information about her books and her research. It also makes for exciting reading. 

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Paris in July 2020 - coming to an end

All things come to an end, and Paris in July 2020 has finished. Host Tamara at Thyme for Tea,  lets us linger a little bit more though. Time to wrap up. I have enjoyed all the various posts about Paris and France. Learnt a lot, been inspired, got hungry, extended my to-read list, and even managed to put up a few posts myself.

As usual, my plans went 'out the window' (as we say in Swedish), meaning that very few of my intended posts were written. Other inspiration came in their place. I read books by my two favourite thriller writers; The Poison Will Remain by Fred Vargas and  Time is a Killer by Michel Bussi. A few favourite French movies went into the pot, as well as some unfinished posts from last year(!) about magical rooms; Gertrude Stein and Natalie Clifford Barney and Adrienne Monnier and Sylvia Beach. At the very end of July, I received a book from author and blogger Paulita Kincher for a review, Falling for Provence. That was a wonderful novel for wrapping up everything French. 

Thank you Tamara for hosting the event. I understand it is not only me who really enjoys the month of July, due to Paris but many other bloggers as well. Happy seeing old friends, make new acquaintances, and having had an enjoyable time. See you next year for Paris in July, but hope to run into you during the waiting time.