Spotlight: Domitian, by S. J. A Turney

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Domitian (2)

The Damned Emperors #3
by S. J. A Turney
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 413
Publisher: Canelo
Format: eBook Worldwide

Raised in chaos. Forced to rule. Abandoned by the gods.

Rome, AD 52. The Julio-Claudian dynasty is in its death throes. Over the next twenty years, chaos descends as Claudius then Nero are killed. The whole empire bucks and heaves with conspiracy, rebellion and civil war.

Out of the ashes and discord, a new imperial family emerges: the Flavians. Vespasian is crowned emperor, with his sons, Titus and Domitian, next in line.

Domitian, still only a teenager, has known only fear, death and treachery for as long as he has been alive. Suspicious of the senate as a breeding ground for treachery, and fiercely protective of his surviving family members, he uses a network of spies to stay one step ahead of any would-be conspirators.

When Titus unexpectedly falls gravely ill, the throne beckons for Domitian, something he never wanted or prepared for. As in all his darkest moments, Domitian’s childhood guardian, Nerva, is the man he turns to with his fears, and his secrets…

An insightful and arresting novel, packed with intrigue and betrayal, perfect for fans of Harry Sidebottom and Conn Iggulden.



Pomegranate Street
Rome, AD 52

It starts with blood. It always does in Rome.

I was finally returning after a two-year sojourn in the provinces. My travelling companion was Titus Flavius Sabinus, a friend of some years, and he was as tired and travel-worn as me. The Flavii and my own family had ties stretching back several generations, and it was no coincidence that Flavius and I had managed to secure a military tribuneship, the first step on the ladder of public offices, in the same province and in the same month as one another.

I had served with relative distinction in the Twentieth Legion under the great governor Ostorius Scapula, slogging through the hills and valleys of western Britannia to bring the light of civilisation to tribes whose idea of culture was different colours of mud. Flavius had served with the Second during the same campaign. He and I had spent many a dreary day together enduring the endless rain, and many a soggy night drinking away our woes with the other tribunes in a warm, clammy campaign tent.

‘Is it not a welcome sight, Marcus?’

I turned to Flavius. ‘I’m not sure. I think I have grown to appreciate the simplicity of the military life. Commands given and carried out, everything working like a machine. As long as every gear turns, the whole thing works. Rome is… complex.’

About the Author:

sja turnerHaving spent much of his childhood visiting historic sites with his grandfather, Simon fell in love with the Roman heritage of the region, beginning with the world famous Hadrian’s Wall. His fascination with the ancient world snowballed with interest in Egypt, Greece and Byzantium, though his focus has remained Rome. A born and bred Yorkshireman with a love of country, history and architecture, Simon spends most of his time visiting historic sites, writing, researching the ancient world and reading.

Simon’s career meandered along an eclectic path from the Ministry of Agriculture to network management before settling back into the ancient world, returning to university to complete an honours degree in classical history. With a rekindled love of all things Roman, he set off on a journey to turn Caesar’s Gallic War diaries into a novel accessible to all. Marius’ Mules was completed in 2003 and has garnered considerable, bestseller status and reviews, spawning numerous sequels.

Now, with in excess of 40 novels available in numerous languages, Simon is a prolific writer, spanning genres and eras and releasing novels both independently and through renowned publishers including Canelo, Head of Zeus, and Orion. Simon’s varied series cover numerous periods of ancient Rome, Medieval and Renaissance Europe, Viking Byzantium, and the Templar Knights. Simon writes full time and is represented by MMB Creative literary agents.

Spotlight & Excerpt: We Do What We Must, by Richard Robbins

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Welcome to the tour for We Do What We Must, a gritty novel based on true events!

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We Do What We Must
by Richard Robbins
Publication Date: October 3rd, 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Mafia (Based on True Events)

An immigrant Sicilian family triumphs over The Mafia in turn of the century New Orleans, just not in the way they’d planned.

This fictionalized tale recounts the story of the true life Giacona family, who emigrated from Sicily to New Orleans in the 1890s. They came to the US to escape the influence of The Mafia, only to be confronted by the same challenges in the New World.

Pietro and Corrado, father and son, do what they must to defend their family and business from the dreaded Black Hand, as well as powerful organized crime families. They proceed the only way they know how, through bravery, guile, and tough choices. Although committed to living as ‘Honest Italians,’ their choices lead them down a perilous path.

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Chapter 1 – New Orleans, 1908

Every detail had to be perfect, as if their lives depended upon it. On this night, it just might.

Corrado picked up the pieces of the final place setting, one by one, careful not to scratch the delicate surfaces of the fine silver-plated utensils, the ones brought out for just the most special occasions. He made sure to hold each piece with thumb and forefinger, by their necks, just the way he preferred.

“Here you go, Papa.” He handed the last one to his father, who did not look up from his task.

Corrado watched as his father, Pietro, laid each utensil carefully into place, in perfect formal order, straightening each one after the setting was complete. Always set from left to right, neatly centered, on perfectly folded white linen napkins.
He stood by as patiently as he could, until he could wait no more. “Okay, Papa, it looks good to me.”

When his father failed to reply, he called out, more urgently, “Papa, do you hear me, it’s fine.”

Pietro turned his large, melon shaped head, even larger appearing due to his oversized mustache and shock of unkempt salt and pepper hair. “It is not enough to be good, it must be perfect. We all make choices, and some choose to be good, and others to be perfect. It was my choosing to be perfect that created this business, made it thrive, and bought us this fine home. And I will not choose anything but perfection, especially on this day, which may be the most important day of our lives.”

Corrado suppressed a soft smile. The familiarity of his father’s words momentarily distracted him from thoughts of the evening’s negotiations, thoughts he played over and again while he tossed in bed at night. Distracted him from the fear and excitement, from the anticipation and uncertainty. From the magnitude of his plan, and the possibility of its failure.

He brought himself back into the moment, and addressed his father. “Papa, you speak of choices, and of making good choices.” He paused and twirled the edges of his thin, jet black mustache with his fingers. “But Papa, what if there are no good choices?”
Pietro stopped what he was doing and looked directly into Corrado’s eyes. “There are times when there are no good choices. That’s what happened to me in Palermo, and I made the most of it. Sometimes you don’t get to do what you’d like to do, or what you ought to do. Sometimes you do what you must.”

Corrado paused, signaling respect for his father’s words, then replied in his most considered tone. “Yes, Papa, I know, and we’re grateful for your courage and achievements. Now can you check on the Stigghiola while I go down to the cellar and bring up a case of wine.”

The corner of Pietro’s eyes crinkled as his face pulled itself into a broad smile. “Yes, son, that is indeed a good choice.”

Corrado turned and headed down the steep stairs, taking them two at a time, to the large dusty cellar where they stored their wares. He turned on the electric light, took a moment to admire the brilliant tungsten bulbs they’d just installed, and strolled down the aisles of dusty crates, some covered with fancy labels all in Italian, some with the simple markings of homemade raisin wine, looking for the perfect case.
It must be expensive looking, he thought, but not so expensive as to arouse suspicions. And high enough in alcohol content to achieve its intended effect.

Finally, he settled on a case of Valpolicella. Perfect. Dark, red, and rich tasting. And the highest alcohol content of all the wines.
He hoisted a full case onto his broad shoulder, closed his eyes to let the dust settle around him, headed up the stairs, and placed the case next to the dining room table.
“Papa, I put the wine in the dining room.” He took a moment to catch his breath. “They’ll be here soon, is everything ready?”

“There’s just one thing left,” Pietro replied from the kitchen, then set down the ladle he’d been using to stir the stew, walked into the living room, and opened the doors of the large wooden armoire across from the fireplace. He looked inside for a moment, leaning over and fumbling with some items, moving them from one side to the other, then reached down and picked up something with his right hand, and turned and headed silently back towards the kitchen.

As he passed, Corrado noticed the long, wooden handle of their Winchester repeating rifle in his father’s right hand. Pietro continued into the kitchen, placed the rifle carefully behind the half-opened door, and turned back towards his son.

“There. Now everything is perfect indeed.”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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Amazon Best Selling Author Richard Robbins’ novels explore important moral questions such as the price of fame, the nature of loss and redemption, and the meaning of life, through the lens of family dynamics.  He lives with his wife in New Orleans and New York City, near their adult children, and his work is infused with the flavor of those vibrant and unique cities.

Richard was named Louisiana Independent Author of the Year for 2020, and his works have won numerous awards, including Feathered Quill Book Awards and Readers’ Favorite Book Awards.

Richard Robbins

Book Tour Organized By:

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Audio Spotlight & Author Interview: Tomboy + Giveaway


Join Us For This Tour from Oct 3 to Oct 21, 2022

Book Title:  Tomboy: A Jane Benjamin Novel

by Shelley Blanton-Stroud
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+), 308 pages
Genre:  Historical Thriller
Publisher:  She Writes Press
Release dates:   June 2022
Content Rating: PG-13 + M. The F word appears exactly once in the book. There is a completely non-explicit sex scene. There is a suicide.​


Book Description:

It’s 1939. Jane Benjamon’s got five days at sea to solve the murder of a Wimbledon champion’s coach and submit a gossip column that tells the truth. If not the facts.

On the brink of World War II, Jane wants to have it all. By day she hustles as a scruffy, tomboy cub reporter. By night she secretly struggles to raise her toddler sister, Elsie, and protect her from their mother.

But Jane’s got a plan: she’ll become the San Francisco Prospect’s first gossip columnist and make enough money to care for Elsie.

Jane finagles her way to the women’s championship at Wimbledon, starring her hometown’s tennis phenom and cover girl Tommie O’Rourke. Jane plans to write her first column there. But then she witnesses Edith “Coach” Carlson, Tommie’s closest companion, drop dead in the stands of apparent heart attack, and her plan is blown.

​Sailing home on the RMS Queen Mary, Jane veers between competing instincts: Should she write a social bombshell column, personally damaging her new friend Tommie’s persona and career? Or should she work to uncover the truth of Coach’s death and its connection to a larger conspiracy involving US participation in the coming war?

Putting away her menswear and donning first-class ballgowns, Jane discovers what upper-class status hides, protects, and destroys. Ultimately—like nations around the globe in 1939—she must choose what she’ll give up in order to do what’s right.

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How did you do research for your book?

Half of my novel takes place on the RMS Queen Mary, sailing from England to New York in 1939. Another portion takes place on trains from San Francisco to New York to get to the ship’s harbor in New York. I expected I would be replicating these trips on my own before writing Tomboy. At the very least, I expected to visit the original RMS Queen Mary at its dock in Long Beach, California.

Because the pandemic hit right as I began writing this novel, I wasn’t able to do any of that first person research. So my research all took place via online interviews and through books ordered online. Though I was disappointed not to get the dreamed-of real world experience, I was warmed by the willingness of experts to help me at a distance.

For instance, I reached out to Chris Rockwell, Librarian at the California State Railroad Museum Library & Archives, who forwarded my questions to volunteer researchers Jeff Asay and John Privara. They sent a nineteen-page, single- spaced document outlining how to “get Jane to New York.” They described every detail of that route, including ticket prices, upholstery quality, and sandwich options. I will always remember their thoughtful generosity. In fact, I included so much of what they shared that I wound up needing to edit it down hard. That cutting of historic details was painful.

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?

The easiest character to write was Sandy. I am nothing like her. She is stylish, efficient, capable and sassy. She’s so confident in her own way, within the conventions of her day—she’s very, very girly. Even though I am not like her, I just really loved writing her and she poured from my keyboard with hardly any effort.

My hardest character to write was Helen, who suffers deeply from anxiety, caused partly by her own pathology and partly by her innate intelligence and accurate skepticism. It was important to me to get her right. She arrives at many strange conclusions and some of them are correct. I wanted to honor the intelligence within her pathology. It was difficult for me to do this because I always worried about not being sympathetic enough.

In your book you make a reference to an old Irish tune sung by crewmen in the Pig ’N Whistle, the pub for staff of the RMS Queen Mary. How did you come up with this music?

The Pig ’N Whistle really existed on that ship. I was taken by the raucous celebration that would have occurred there, outside of the view of the passengers. I wanted to feature a group of Irish men playing a traditional tune in that space.

What a rabbit hole of music-listening that was! I fell in love with an old Irish song called Wild Rover. I wanted to include its lyrics in the scene but it has been recently recorded by many groups, including the Dubliners. It’s also regularly played at Irish soccer games. I thought I’d better avoid intellectual property issues, so I made up my own lyrics, to be sung to the tune of Wild Rover. Here’s my version:

I’ve run with the wild herd,
since I was a lad,
I’ve lost all that I earned,
spent good after bad.
But now, I’m a changed man,
with money to share,
I’ll never again
leave my pretty young mare.

And I’ll run with ’em no more,
No never, no more,
Will I run with the wild herd, No never, no more.

What made you write a book about Jane’s trying to be a columnist?

This is the second in a trilogy featuring Jane Benjamin. One of the core things I wanted to do in this novel was to explore Jane’s ambition and her idea about what she should and could be as a woman in 1939. Jane is just beginning at 19 to explore her sexuality and she’s not having the best luck. This is partly because she’s gender fluid. This obviously was not a term or a concept that would have been familiar to her at that time.

And yet, the real heart of my interest was the question of what it would take for a young woman to develop a successful career at that moment in time. What she’d have to give up to get what she aims at. Can she be a good-enough caregiver for her toddler sister Elsie if she’s also aiming to be a successful columnist? That push-pull is at the root of Jane’s character development.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

I am inspired by fascinating historical figures like Dorothea Lange, Alice Marble, Henry J. Kaiser, and more. I like to start with some facets of their history but then fictionalize them with new names. That way I can make them as dastardly as I dare.

But I only began writing these books at all as a result of listening to my family’s stories at holidays and other gatherings. My father is one of ten children, dustbowl Okies who traveled from Texas to California to find work. They lived in tents and Hoovervilles for quite a while. The children joined their parents in picking cotton and other crops in the morning before school and after school too. They told sad stories and also a lot of funny ones about those times. My first novel begins by remaking a story my father always told about the terrifying experience he had as a boy. The mother in the tent next door to his family tent told him to get rid of her husband. To drive him down the road (at twelve years old) and dump him out. My father always says that experience defined him. And it began this series, by looking at what might happen to people who have extremely difficult childhoods.

Meet the Narrator:

April Doty is a classically trained actress with a BFA from Syracuse University. She is a voice actor and the narrator of 26 books. Born in Virginia, educated in New York, seasoned in London and settled in Spain, April Doty brings the sound of a rich and varied life experience to her narration. The character of Jane came to life in her home studio on the Costa del Sol.

connect with the narrator:  website twitter linkedIn ~ soundcloud


Meet the Author:

Shelley grew up in California’s Central Valley, the daughter of Dust Bowl immigrants who made good on their ambition to get out of the field. She recently retired from teaching writing at Sacramento State University and still consults with writers in the energy industry. She co-directs Stories on Stage Sacramento, where actors perform the stories of established and emerging authors, and serves on the advisory board of 916 Ink, an arts-based creative writing nonprofit for children, as well as on the board of the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies at Claremont McKenna College. Copy Boy is her first Jane Benjamin Novel. Tomboy is her second. The third, Working Girl, will come out in November 2023. Her writing has been a finalist in the Sarton Book Awards, IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards, Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion Award, the American Fiction Awards, and the National Indie Excellence Awards. She and her husband live in Sacramento with many photos of their out-of-town sons and their wonderful partners.

Connect with the author:   website  ~  twitter  ~  facebook  ~ instagram ~bookbub ~ goodreads

Tour Schedule:

Oct 3 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – audiobook review / guest post / giveaway
Oct 3 – Literary Flits – book review / giveaway
Oct 4 – Olio By Marilyn – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 4 – Olio By Marilyn – book review / giveaway
Oct 5 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 6 – Books are a Blessing – book review / giveaway
Oct 7 – Leanne bookstagram – book review
Oct 11 – Amy’s Booket List – audiobook review / giveaway
Oct 11 – FUONLYKNEW – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 12 – Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 12 – PuzzlePaws Blog – book review / giveaway
Oct 13 – JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 13 – Stephanie Jane – book review / giveaway
Oct 14 – Splashes of Joy – audiobook review / guest post / giveaway
Oct 17 – StoreyBook Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 18 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
Oct 18 – Sadie’s Spotlight – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 19 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Oct 19 – Gina Rae Mitchell – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 20 – Deborah-Zenha Adams – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 21 – Faith and Books – audiobook review / author interview / giveaway
Oct 21 – Books for Books – audiobook review

Enter the Giveaway:

TOM BOY (a Jane Benjamin novel) Book Tour Giveaway


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