Knights of the Gold Cross
Jack Shortman

Knights of the Gold Cross
by Jack Shortman

A Myth that was Lost for Centuries,
Searched for by Generations but never Discovered.

When the Earl of Halfreton finds that a priceless Gold Cross belonging to the family for generations has gone missing, he is set upon by thugs trying to steal the Cross. He calls his brother for help. When the British Secret Service and then the Israeli Secret Service become involved things start to look very serious.

A young woman, an Israeli agent, is abducted by MI5 because she posed a threat to the Earl. The two brothers sail to Malta in pursuit of answers. The story wheels to its conclusion in a scintillating, fast-moving whirl of activity.
Published: Jan 2021
Paperback: 101 pages
Price: £6.99
ISBN: 9-781913-425678

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Jack Shortman was born in 1937 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. His mother died soon after his birth and he was brought up by his uncle and aunt.
At the age of fifteen he left school and took up an apprentice as a bricklayer, until the age of eighteen when he had to enlist as a National Serviceman.
He was posted to Carlisle in the Royal Armoured Corps and was then rebadged to the Royal Horse Guards. He went with his regiment to Cyprus from 1955 to his demob in 1957 and then moved to Oswestry, Shropshire, where he met and married his wife Mary. He worked for a short time on the local railways but in 1960 he re-enlisted with his old regiment and served for two years in Knightsbridge on Her Majesty's duties. He was posted to Windsor and then to Germany until 1966.
In 1969 the regiment amalgamated with the Royal Dragoons and Jack joined the Life Guards, the other household cavalry regiment. He served with them in Windsor and Germany until his final demob in 1978.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Eleanor Harriet Loxley

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Post-War France: Two Familes, Two Secrets, One Tragedy


In 1950, when newly-married Nancy is taken to France by her husband Tom, they find themselves living next door to Monsieur and Madame Aubin, whom Tom knew during the War. Nancy is disconcerted to discover that the Aubins know far more about her new husband than Nancy does. She is homesick for England and after the birth of her first child the Aubins have to come to her aid. Tragedy stalks both families. Deep emotional scars inflicted during the war distort the two families’ responses to misfortune and loss - throughout their lives.
There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel when Nancy’s second daughter, Rosemary, sets out to unravel the mysteries surrounding her parents and the mysterious Aubins. Nothing is certain and the result is unpredictable.
Published: Dec 2020
Paperback: 260 pages
Price: £9.99
ISBN: 9-781913-425524

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Eleanor appeared in Essex, trained as a nurse in Surrey, read Psychology at Bedford College at London University and became a Clinical Psychologist in Birmingham. At some point she acquired a PhD in English Literature. She works part time, writes part time and gardens with gusto. She lives in Shropshire with several Siamese cats. She does not live with her partner because he has the house next door.

Secrets from the Red Phone Box
Philomena Plunkett

Have you ever had unfettered access to people’s private conversations and lives!!
Here is your chance to enjoy fun and light-hearted good humour.
After years of listening to private unedited conversations from people from all walks of life the ‘Spirit’ of the Red Phone Box has a kaleidoscope of stories to tell. It has provided a red cloak of privacy, a safe space for humans to come and communicate with others, often letting their guard down and revealing a bit extra in the privacy of the Red Phone Box. My motto was always “what is said in my box stays in my box” That was up until 2020.
Finally with no holding back the Red Phone Box is spilling the beans to allow you into its world and the private world of its customers over the years.
The stories from telephone conversations that I was given unrestricted access to are amusing, happy, sad, and full of hope.
If you think the level of intrigue is reduced when I am reincarnated as a library, think again.
Published: Dec 2020
Paperback: 67 pages
Price: £5.99
ISBN: 9-781913-425586

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The library lends itself to a shadier side of the human nature, when we think no one is observing we can truly be ourselves and misbehave a little.

Philomena Plunkett was born and brought up in Dublin before embarking on the wider adventures of life. She took a psychology degree at Liverpool University and has roamed the world finally settling in England. She is a practicing psychotherapist, keen photographer, and avid observer of life.

The Lands of de Gressier – Book 1 of the de Gressier Quartet
C. S. Bunker

The Lands of de Gressier
Book 1 of the de Gressier Quartet


When Penrose Dovingdon, a wealthy young officer, and his sister Juliette, a nurse and former debutante, arrive in France at the start of World War I, they have no idea that a notorious national scandal will drive their family apart.
The demands of war-torn France are a long way from high-society London, but brother and sister learn fast. World War 1 creates a series of moral and ethical dilemmas which they must navigate, as must the family of Étienne Guégan, Juliette’s future husband.
Should one man be shot to save one million? Can corruption be justied when it is for a good cause? Should you forsake marrying the man you love in order to protect your brother’s life? Should the law be broken to keep the family business alive and their community in jobs? Is there ever a good reason to become best friends with your husband’s mistress?
Published: January 2021
Paperback: 520 pages
Price: £15.99
ISBN: 9-781913-425326

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Set against the battlefields of the western front and the vineyards of Bordeaux, this is a story of love, passion, betrayal, human resilience and endeavour as those involved struggle to come to terms with the hurt caused by events outside their control.

C.S. Bunker is a former international corporate financier. Using over thirty years of business experience and a lifelong interest in history and politics, Bunker started to write because he had a series of truth-based stories he wanted to tell. Inspired by three very personal songs and places he knew, his first four interconnected books took over twelve years to plan and research, followed by seven years of dedicated crafting and writing. He lives in England.

The Mortimer Affair – Joan de Joinville’s Story
Alice Mitchell

Joan de Joinville is favoured by fortune when she inherits her grandfather’s lands instead of being sent to a nunnery. But then her marriage is arranged to Roger Mortimer, the young son of a powerful Marcher family. Her marriage turns into a love match nevertheless and she will bear him twelve children.
Roger becomes experienced in warfare and is valuable to the young King Edward II and his notorious favourite Piers Gaveston. But when Piers is unexpectedly murdered, the King adopts a new favourite - Hugh Despenser the Younger - and he is Roger’s sworn enemy. Roger leads an unsuccessful rebellion against the King and is imprisoned in the Tower. This means Joan is also imprisoned and suffers great hardships. So begins her journal.
When she learns of Roger’s escape from the Tower, and his subsequent return to England at the head of a conquering Army, she believes her troubles will be over. Yet they are only just beginning as she watches her husband’s descent into avarice and cruelty.
Published: Aug 2020
Extent: 364 pages
Paperback: £12.99
ISBN: 9-781913-425241

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He belongs to Queen Isabella now and rules for her, through her underage son. Joan must find the strength to endure dreadful humiliation for the sake of her family. Finally, history will condemn her husband for regicide - Only Joan knows the truth.

Alice Mitchell won a Betty Trask award in 1985 with her first novel, Instead of Eden, which was published by WH Allen in 1986.
For most of her working life, she has been a medical practitioner but is now retired and has returned to writing. After many years living in Merseyside and North Wales, she has moved back to Keighley in West Yorkshire where she was born.
Reader Reviews...

Norma Benathan, Secretary of the Yorkshire Branch of the Richard III Society
Fed up with Covid 19 and lockdown? Well, I’ve got a cure - read The Mortimer Affair – Joan de Joinville’s Story!
Joan was the wife of that Roger Mortimer, lover of Queen Isabella, the wife of Edward II.
There are two helpful family trees – that of the Mortimers and of the English Royal Family of the time plus a list of Barons and Earls. This is especially useful to any reader unfamiliar with the 13th and 14th centuries as there are a few Edwards, Edmunds and Rogers! The book is incidentally and rather touchingly dedicated to the author’s late husband: - “her own Roger”.

The story is written in three parts.

Part 1 –The Wheel Turns – is mainly about the youth of the couple, Roger and Joan’s marriage being a business arrangement between the two families - as was common amongst the upper classes. From the age of 6 until 9, Alice has imagined Joan living with her grandfather at his castle of Trim in Ireland. Her family also owned Ludlow, so she was a good marriage prospect, being her grandfather’s sole heiress, her two sisters having been dedicated to the church. Joan and Roger were married in 1301 at the ages of 15 and 14. The story is written as a journal by Joan herself with her also recounting what she was told by Roger and others at the events where she was absent, and this works well. The marriage seems to have become a love match – they had 12 children and she often accompanied Roger on his various journeys. This reminded me of the marriage of Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville. Part 1 also covers part of the reign of Edward I.
Part 2 – The new King – brings in the reign of Edward II and his favourite, Piers Gaveston. Alice writes sympathetically about Piers and I can see why. Sadly, after his death along come the Despensers. Hugh Despenser the Younger is a sworn enemy of Roger’s because the Mortimer grandfather had killed the Despenser grandfather.
Part 3 – The Gathering of the Kites – covers the years 1325 until Joan’s death in 1356. As we know, the Despensers ruled the country with Edward II totally in their thrall and these were not good years for the Mortimers. Joan was imprisoned when Roger and several other Earls and Lords rebelled against the Despensers rather than Edward himself. She is treated very badly to begin with but later moves to Skipton Castle before her release some years later. Roger had given himself up and was lodged in the Tower but escaped to France. Here he met up with the Queen and subsequently returned at her side to rule the country until the teenage Edward III decided he had had enough, and we all know what happened then. For hundreds of years, historians have told us of the gruesome death of Edward II. However, others dispute this story. To discover the version Alice Mitchell uses, you must read the book. She admits to some poetic licence at the very end but is careful to tell us what is fact and what is fiction in her Historical Notes.

I have already read Alice’s book twice with equal pleasure and will be reading it again before the end of the year. If you want a good historical novel, do get The Mortimer Affair. I do not think you will be disappointed. I much preferred it to Philippa Gregory’s : The Kingmaker’s Daughter which is also “written” by the woman concerned.

Giles Mercer, reader
I greatly enjoyed it, a remarkably good historical novel. I admired many things about it, such as the ease with which you kept the pace moving along well and kept a large cast of characters and wide range of places within a clear framework; not easy. It was an inspired idea to look at events and relationships through the eyes of Joan de Joinville. Thank you for all that, and for re-igniting my interest in that period.

Joan Bartholomew. Retired English Lecturer , University of Chester.
I have read the book. I am amazed at how the author managed to keep such a large number of characters in mind. I particularly enjoyed the marriage and fading away of the relationship. It was totally believable. Forensic detail. What a woman, and such cruel treatment. It was a marvellous book.

Isolde, Lady de Audley: The Mortimer Myth
Fran Norton

Against a backdrop of wars and dissension, Isolde, faces a challenge that no child should have to face. Barely out of childhood, she is to marry a man old enough to be her grand-sire. Dismayed and defiant, she realizes she has no other option but to obey, and thus begins her journey from childhood.
However, Isolde's elderly husband dies not long after the wedding but that is not the end of her troubles. She successfully defies her brother-in-law, who tries to seize control of the household and claims her rights as a widow, aided by her loyal companion Ela. The following year, Isolde marries Hugh de Audley, the youngest son of James de Audley and Ela Longespé. She believes her circumstances to be much improved but her hopes are dashed. She soon discovers that Hugh is a spoilt, selfish young man and her dreams of a loving marriage founder. Disappointed and despairing, she meets her new brother-in-law, Nicolas - and at last finds a man whom she both trusts and admires. Her emotions threaten to rule her head.
Published:September 2018
Paperback:188 pages
Price:£9.99
ISBN:9-781912-419500


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In Fran Norton's new book, we return to an age when knights rode into tournaments and wars bedecked in colourful plumes on prancing, powerful destriers, and ladies in magnificent gowns fought their own, more subtle, battles. We follow Isolde’s eventful life, through the trials and tribulations of marriage and motherhood, and watch as her husband claims his place as a loyal and respected member of the royal court through his valiant actions in Scotland. Finally we witness how, for the sake of her children, Isolde buries her pride when she discovers her husband’s infidelity.


Books by Fran Norton...
The Twisted Legacy of Maud de Braose

Isolde, Lady de Audley: The Mortimer Myth

The Secret, The Sword and the Seal


Reader Reviews...

Dr Alison Harrop
Fran Norton knows her period intimately, so we are in safe hands here.
Isolde is a bastard child who is nonetheless brought up by Lady Maud Mortimer, the subject of Ms Norton’s (stand-alone) earlier book: The Twisted Legacy of Maud de Braose. She has inherited the strength and quick temper of her baronial father and consequently has lessons to learn to master herself. She might have become unlikeable as a result, but we are skilfully led to understand her struggles. Like most mediaeval gentlewomen, she must accept loveless marriages but still manages to assert herself to survive.
The book is set against a background of war and authentic Scottish politics but never loses sight of its human aspect and strong central character. An enjoyable read with the hint of another tale to come as Eve is introduced in its final chapters. So I suspect we may look forward to a third book with keen anticipation!



The Secret, the Sword and the Seal
Fran Norton

On a bleak November day in the year of Our Lord, 1307, Eve de Clavering rode away from the Staffordshire Castle of Heleigh into an uncertain future. Wracked by grief at losing her young husband, Thomas de Audley, Eve carries a guilty secret, one which will affect the rest of her life. When she arrives back in Essex, the home of her dominating father, Sir John de Clavering, Eve discovers her future has already been decided. No time for grief, Eve reluctantly meets Sir Thomas de Ufford, the second son of a kinsman to the Earl of Suffolk. Infuriated by her father's insensitive behaviour, it sparks a rift between father and daughter which will never be resolved. However, against all odds, Eve discovers an ally in her second husband but will the chance of happiness be overshadowed by her secret? Meantime, Thomas introduces her to court life where she meets the powerful and colourful characters surrounding the Edward II and his queen Isabella of France, but Eve hates the hypocrisy and underlying tensions. In 1314, Thomas joins the knights and earls of the king to face the Scots at the fateful Battle of Bannockburn where the English suffer an ignominious defeat and where the king even loses the Great Seal of State.
Published:September 2020
Paperback:227 pages
Price:£9.99
ISBN:9781913425487


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Once again Eve finds herself a widow but this time, she has three young sons to protect. A proposal of marriage from James de Audley throws her into a quandary, beset by guilt, Eve refuses. How will she overcome her emotions and will she now seize the chance to marry her girlhood love? When her brother-in-law, Hugh de Audley escapes from Nottingham Castle, Eve finds herself in danger as the king's treacherous favourite, Hugh Despenser the Younger, sends troops to search her home at Stratton. Set against the dysfunctional reign of Edward II, Eve's destiny unfolds against a backdrop of civil wars, through a time of desperate poverty and the unending struggle with the Scots, in a period of history which is filled with treachery, intrigue, and controversy. Come, let us accompany Eve through the years of her eventful life; meet the four men who play a intrinsic role in her destiny and watch, as the terrible fate of a king's favourites unfolds. These are the years of 'The Secret, the Sword and the Seal'.

Books by Fran Norton...
The Twisted Legacy of Maud de Braose

Isolde, Lady de Audley: The Mortimer Myth

The Secret, The Sword and the Seal


Reader Reviews...





The Twisted Legacy of Maud de Braose
Fran Norton

9781911175360 In 1230 William de Braose , Lord of Abergavenny, is hanged on the orders of Llywelyn ap Iowerth, Prince of Wales for adultery with his wife. William’s widow, Eva Marshal, daughter of the legendary knight, William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, decides to keep the true facts of his death from his favourite daughter, Maud. Nonetheless, the little girl finds her life has changed forever, due to the sin of her father. Subsequently she inherits the twisted legacy of pride and shame; a legacy from which there is no escape. As Maud grows towards adulthood she falls in love, but her forbidden love only complicates her efforts to fulfil her family duty as she faces the fact she is expected to marry the young Roger Mortimer, heir to the Marcher barony of Wigmore.
Published:September 2016
Paperback:432 pages
Price:£13.99
ISBN:9-781911-175360


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Maud, feisty, fearless and shrewd, plays a unique role in the history of England during the disastrous reign of Henry III: a period, riven by wars and dissent. Troubles in Wales and Gascony, and eventually civil war, see the nation fall into poverty and unrest. The loyalties of the magnates are tested when the charismatic leader of the Barons’ party, Simon de Montfort, challenges the authority of the king. It is a time when friends become enemies and families are divided by their loyalties, as warring factions fight for democracy. Roger Mortimer is immortalised for slaying de Montfort on the bloody field at Evesham, a place where honour and friendships are sacrificed and where the future king, Edward Plantagenet, gives the fateful order of ‘no quarter’, heralding death to anyone who dares oppose him. Edward orders de Montfort’s head to be sent to Maud at Wigmore Castle in recognition of her part in his victory. Factual events are woven with fiction to bring the eventful life of this extraordinary woman to the reader. Now let us step back into the thirteenth century and meet Lady Maud de Braose, daughter of the March.

Books by Fran Norton...
The Twisted Legacy of Maud de Braose

Isolde, Lady de Audley: The Mortimer Myth

The Secret, The Sword and the Seal


Reader Reviews...