#BlogTour #BookReview Wicked by Design by Katy Moran @HoZ_Books @KatyjaMoran

Wicked by Design Blog Tour Poster
I’m thrilled to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for Wicked by Design by Katy Moran, the follow-up to Hester and Crow (previously published as False Lights).  My thanks to Vicky at Head of Zeus for inviting me to join the tour and for my proof copy.

Wicked by DesignAbout the Book

1819, Cornwall. Four women sit in the candlelit drawing-room at Nansmornow, an ancient Cornish manor house. The air is thick with unspoken suspicion and secret malice. As Hester Lamorna pours tea for her three guests, she has no idea one of them is about to rock her new marriage to its very foundations.

St. Petersburg. Half a world away, Hester’s impossible and charismatic husband, Jack ‘Crow’ Crowlas, will be caught up in a chess game of sexual manipulation, played out across the sumptuous ballrooms of St. Petersburg. All Hester and Crow hold most dear will be tested to the limit and beyond: their love for each other and their child, and for Crow, the loyalty of his only brother.

Format: Hardcover (464 pp.)                     Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication date: 5th September 2019   Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Kobo | iBooks | Hive
*link provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Wicked by Design on Goodreads

My Review

I really enjoyed False Lights, the book that first introduced me to Lord Lamorna, aka Jack ‘Crow’ Crowlas, and the then Hester Harewood. You can read my review here. (The book has since been republished under the title Hester and Crow.) I was thrilled to learn there was to be a follow-up and opened the book with high expectations; I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. Although Wicked By Design can be read as a standalone, give yourself a treat and start with the first book in order to experience every sizzling moment of the development of Crow’s and Hester’s relationship.

Hester – spirited, resourceful, fearless – and Crow – troubled, brooding, sultry – make an ideal hero and heroine. There’s constant crackling sexual tension between them and who can be surprised when the book includes references to Crow’s ‘illustrated expanse of lean torso’ or his precise knowledge of how to leave a woman ‘in his power and wanting more’. (Excuse me a moment while I go and cool down.)

Continuing the alternate history premise first introduced in False Lights – that Wellington lost not won the Battle of Waterloo – Wicked By Design sees Crow’s loyalty to the government of England doubted despite his pivotal role in freeing the country from French occupation. Crow has made himself some dangerous and powerful enemies and it soon becomes clear they will stop at nothing to exact revenge. Across the Channel, Napoleon Bonaparte is still a force to be reckoned with and no-one knows quite where the sympathies of Tsarist Russia lie.

Transporting the reader from the rugged coastline of Cornwall (ideal for those pining the absence of Ross and Demelza Poldark from their lives) to the salons of St. Petersburg, Wicked By Design races along like a golden Turkoman mare galloping across the steppes. Along the way there are twists and turns, vividly depicted action scenes and unexpected revelations. I loved every suspenseful, breathless minute of it, especially the riveting final chapters and that ending which I’ll confess left me a little blurry-eyed. Please, please tell me this is not the end of Hester’s and Crow’s adventures?

If you like your historical fiction to come with leading characters you really care about (flaws and all), an intriguing period backdrop, a storyline that encompasses deception, personal and political intrigue, betrayal and revenge plus a generous helping of spice, then Wicked By Design is the book for you.

In three words: Enthralling, spirited, passionate

Try something similar: Fled by Meg Keneally or The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau (click on title to read my review)

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Katy MoranAbout the Author

Katy Moran is a Carnegie nominated author who writes high-octane Regency romance which include muskets, gunpowder, Cornwall and Russia. She writes that when she is inspired by a new place ‘Regency England, Cornwall, Russia, the ancient palace of Fontainebleau – I want to actually be there. I want to take you there too, in the company of complex characters that you will fall a little (or a lot)in love with on the way.’

Connect with Katy

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Blog Tour/Book Review: Aurelia (Roma Nova #4) by Alison Morton

Aurelia Blog Tour Poster

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Aurelia (Roma Nova #4) by Alison Morton. The fourth in the ‘Roma Nova’ thriller series but the first book in the ‘Aurelia’ trilogy, Aurelia is the perfect place to start for readers (like me) who are new to the series.  Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the author for my review copy.

Aurelia Series

AureliaAbout the Book

1960s Roma Nova. Retrained as an undercover agent, ex-Praetorian officer Aurelia Mitela is sent to Berlin to investigate silver smuggling, but barely escapes a near-lethal trap. Her lifelong nemesis, Caius Tellus, is determined to eliminate her. When Aurelia is closing in on him, he strikes at her most vulnerable point – her young daughter.

A former military commander, Aurelia is one of Roma Nova’s strong women, but she doubts in her heart and mind that she can overcome her implacable enemy. And what part does the mysterious and attractive Miklós play – a smuggler who knows too much?

Format: Paperback, ebook (286 pp.)    Publisher: Pulcheria Press
Published: 22nd January 2019 [2015] Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk  ǀ  Amazon.com
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Aurelia (Roma Nova #4) on Goodreads

My Review

I was aware of Alison Morton’s ‘Roma Nova’ series and its premise piqued my interest but I’d never had the opportunity to read any of the books….up until now.  As mentioned above, Aurelia is the fourth book in the ‘Roma Nova’ series but the first book of the ‘Aurelia’ trilogy and takes place before the events of the first three books.  So it’s the perfect place for readers new to the ‘Roma Nova’ series to start.

I went into the book expecting the alternate history element to be a strong focus of the book – as indeed it is – but I was perhaps unprepared for how much the book has the pace and feel of a modern day thriller.  The book pitches the reader right into the imagined world of Roma Nova the author has created.  There is a helpful historical note for readers who want to learn more about the background to the alternate history of the Roman Empire imagined by the author.

I really enjoyed the mixture of ancient and modern.  There are things readers may be familiar with from Roman history: imperial structures; military organisation and weaponry; celebration of festivals, such as Saturnalia; and customs, such as funeral rites and curse tablets.   Alongside these though there is cutting edge technology in the fields of forensics, communications and surveillance.

Roma Nova is a female-dominated society where it’s the men who carry the bags.  There are some nice touches of humour on that theme. For example, when Aurelia mentions the prospect of a new computer system to her boss, Plico, he responds, “The gods forbid! That’s what we have typists for.  What in Hades would we do with all the spare young men who sit in the typing pool?”

Aurelia is one tough lady who, thanks to her military training, can look after herself when the need arises.  She certainly does in this book because she’s up against a cunning, cruel and ruthless enemy in Caius Tellus, who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.  Along the way, Aurelia faces attempted kidnap, false imprisonment, personal loss and is presented with difficult choices between following her heart, protecting her family and doing her duty.  Luckily she has some capable female allies, including lawyer, Galba, and second-in-command, Fabia.  And, as head of one of the Twelve Families of Roma Nova, Aurelia also has the ear of the Empress Justina. Useful.

The action moves from Roma Nova to Berlin and Vienna (with a pit-stop for some romance: cue hunky smuggler, Miklós) as Aurelia and Caius do battle – literal and intellectual.  The author’s previous military career is evident in the dramatic action scenes whether on operational manoeuvres on a snowy mountainside, in dark side streets or closer to home.  Building to a tense and gripping climax, it’s clear that even if you’ve won the battle, you’ve not necessarily won the war.

The author describes her books as being for readers who enjoy ‘mystery books for women with plenty of twists and a female protagonist driving the action’.  I have to agree.  I found the combination of alternate history, strong female characters and the pace of a thriller a compelling one.  I shall look forward to reading more of Aurelia’s adventures in Insurrectio and Retalio.

I received a review copy courtesy of Random Things Tours and the author.

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In three words: Action-packed, pacy, imaginative

Try something similar…False Lights by K. J. Whittaker (read my review here)

Alison Morton Author PicAbout the Author

Alison Morton writes the Roma Nova thriller series featuring modern Praetorian heroines. This springs from a deep love of Roman history, six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, adventure and thriller fiction.

All six full-length novels have received the BRAG Medallion. Successio, Aurelia and Insurrectio were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices. Aurelia was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. Successio featured as Editor’s Choice in The Bookseller.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, Alison has misspent decades clambering over Roman sites throughout Europe. She holds an MA History, blogs about Romans, social media and writing. Oh, and she gives talks. She continues writing, cultivates a Roman herb garden and drinks wine in France with her husband. To get the latest news, subscribe to her free newsletter.

Connect with Alison

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