New review of ARDENT

Anne Barwell is a good friend of Manifold Press – she’s helped us out with questions of fact and cultural sensitivity issues in the past – but we had absolutely no idea she was planning to review one of our books on her blog!

We love a good historical – which is why we grabbed Heloise West’s ARDENT with both hands when it was offered to us – and apparently Anne does, too:

Ardent is very well researched and it shows. I loved the descriptions of the settings—they were very easy to visualize and made me feel as though I was there watching everything going on as I was reading. I enjoyed learning about the artists’ process, and especially the day to day life of the masters and their apprentices in the workshops of the time. […] I loved the descriptive language and thought it suited the time period of the story well.

This review was a lovely and unexpected treat, and we’d like to thank Anne for her time – and especially for her concluding words:

I’d recommend ARDENT to readers who enjoy a well researched historical with lush descriptions, interesting characters, and a murder mystery.

We’re in total agreement with her about that – and in fact we couldn’t have put it any better ourselves!

New review of SPRING FLOWERING

We did, briefly, wonder whether we were experiencing deja vu when this review came to our notice this morning; the reviewer’s name seemed uncannily familiar. And yes, we checked – Heather Rose Jones has actually reviewed Farah Mendlesohn’s delightful SPRING FLOWERING before. However, on investigation, this turned out to be whole new review in a different venue, six months after the last, although we’re reassured to learn that Heather’s opinion of the book doesn’t seem to have altered in the slightest.

This is a perceptive review, and we especially appreciated this paragraph:

“The most common failure mode of historical romance is to drop modern women into the past and have them react in anachronistic ways. Mendlesohn’s characters are a delightful exception: neither too modern in their self-awareness of their sexuality, nor tormented and angsty about it in a way that only really developed in the 20th century.”

We know that’s what our historical authors are always aiming for, so confirmation that one of them has hit the target is particularly welcome!

The review’s conclusion:

“…a book for those who want their historic romance to be as true to the history as to the romance. I found it a breath of fresh air and hope it will be an inspiration for more stories of this type…”

would make us want to go out and buy the book immediately ourselves, if we didn’t already have a copy or two stashed away. Thank you again, Heather; we really appreciate your good opinion, and are once again grateful to you for sharing it.

New review of A TASTE OF COPPER

We were delighted to see this new review of Elin Gregory’s A TASTE OF COPPER, by reviewer Sammy, which has recently appeared on The Novel Approach Reviews.

For such a short novella, I was thrilled by the lush quality of this author’s writing. From the stark beauty of the countryside to the harsh living conditions that Maheris and Olivier endure while guarding the bridge, I felt fully immersed into this medieval tale. I rarely find many novels in this genre that have both a ripping good storyline as well as such attention to detail. A Taste of Copper managed to both educate and entertain, and that places this historical romance at the top of the genre for me.

Thank you, Sammy, we loved it too – although I suppose that goes without saying! – but you’ve articulated the book’s merits so much better that we ever could have done. It really is a little gem!

New review of SHEEP’S CLOTHING

We’re delighted to say that another new review has crossed our path this morning, this time from reviewer Jules at The Novel Approach who has recently been reading Elin Gregory’s SHEEP’S CLOTHING.

It’s not a long book so Jules has very wisely kept the review short to match – but it does include this wonderful passage:

“I found myself immediately taken in by the cheeky humor of the story and the characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed author Elin Gregory’s easy comedic style and dialogue. […] I loved the originality of this fun little read. Definitely check this one out if you’re in the mood for something different that will make you chuckle!”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, Jules – and thank you for your time and your comments!

New reviews of A TIME TO KEEP, CALL TO ARMS

Once more we’re indebted to our friends over at the Historical Novel Society for some hugely encouraging reviews of our output. HNS reviewer Viviane Crystal has been considering two of our more recent publications, with highly gratifying results:

Speaking of Morgan Cheshire’s A TIME TO KEEP, the reviewer clearly enjoyed the author’s gentle tone:

This story of their love is depicted in serene, peaceful ways, highlighting the normalcy of their relationship

and concludes by calling it “[n]icely crafted historical fiction“, with which we can only concur!

The reviewer was also impressed with our Second World War anthology CALL TO ARMS, singling out some stories for individual mention – such as Megan Reddaway’s ‘The Man Who Loved Pigs’ and Julie Bozza’s ‘We Live Without A Future’ – before concluding that the book as a whole is “An interesting […] and memorably inspiring body of historical fiction.

Coming from someone who presumably by definition reads a great deal of historical fiction, this is quite an accolade – and one we’re immensely pleased with.

Thank you so much, Viviane Crystal and the HNS! We’re thrilled that you enjoyed our books so much, and grateful that you took the time to let us know!

New review of THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS

A reviewer rather splendidly named Optimist King’s Wench, over at Boy Meets Boy Reviews, has been enjoying her first encounter with Elin Gregory’s writing through reading her highly-praised THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS.

Among other very welcome comments there is this delightful paragraph:

“This is my first experience with this author and even though there weren’t a lot of bells and whistles that I typically enjoy in my reads what I realized somewhere along the way was a growing familiarity with these characters that snuck up on me. It’s a quiet story that packs a punch, a sneaky, ninja punch, but still.”

Since we definitely know Elin to be a sneaky ninja, we’d have to agree with this assessment…

Thank you, Optimist, we’re glad you enjoyed the book, and hope you and other readers will be intrigued enough to follow up on some of Elin’s other titles as well!

New reviews of SPRING FLOWERING, A TIME TO KEEP

Actually, as we don’t always get notified when new reviews appear, these are a few weeks old by now – the festive season having intervened. Nevertheless we’re always delighted when reviewers take the time to comment on our work!

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On 25 November 2017 Dee England at Love Bytes Reviews gave this assessment of Farah Mendlesohn’s debut novel SPRING FLOWERING:

This wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t for me. If you enjoy historical lesbian fiction with an extremely languid pace, and a sex scene or two to spice it up, this could be just the ticket.

Disappointing as this is, we do understand that it’s not possible to hit the bullseye every time – and we’re also aware that many readers consider the book’s leisurely construction one of its greatest assets – so we’ll thank the reviewer for their time and politely agree to disagree on this one, we think!

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Also at Love Bytes Reviews, Becca – in a review published on December 13 – delivered an emotional response to Morgan Cheshire’s Rainbow Award winning A TIME TO KEEP.

This book was exceptional. It depicts the life of two very young lovers as they start their journey and live their lives. […] The story weaves you on a path full of love, hope and loss in a very … almost poetic way.

Having witnessed the writing process at close quarters we know this review will mean a great deal to the author, so on Morgan’s behalf we’d like to thank the reviewer for her most encouraging words.

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It’s not impossible that there are more reviews, of these and other MANIFOLD PRESS titles, which haven’t reached us yet at Megaheadquarters. If you know of one that we haven’t mentioned, on a substantive review site or blog, please don’t assume we’ve seen it and ignored it; the day-to-day practicalities of keeping the Press going often mean that things get missed accidentally, and we’re always grateful for a timely reminder!

Scholarly review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES

We were delighted to see a very thorough review by Marie Ramsland of our Great War charity anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES in the ISAA Review volume 15 number 2 of 2016. This came about because the anthology’s editor, Julie Bozza, is still a member of the Independent Scholars Association of Australia (ISAA) despite her years of living in the UK.

We felt the review was worth sharing with you in full, though please be warned that some of the following remarks about story arcs are spoilers.


Review by Marie Ramsland

For a long time, homosexuality was heavily punished. Often withdrawal from society was the only safeguard. Yet male camaraderie during the war was encouraged by military authorities, encouraging male bonding. Most of the time this was platonic; sometimes more intimate relationships were experienced. Silence or denial is generally no longer needed for such emotions. Therefore, with the centenary of the Great War well underway, this special anthology is a welcome contribution. The stories deal with the impact of war not only in the battle arenas, but also at home, for women and men, parents, siblings and friends. The hurdles the protagonists have to overcome to realise ‘happiness’ or even some sort of individual fulfilment are set up by contemporary social mores supported strongly by religious beliefs. Credibility is enhanced by real locations and lived experience.

Each story offers something special, revealing human weaknesses and strengths that unite us all, creating equilibrium from dichotomy. They reveal aspects of not belonging to the conventionally accepted norm indicated by the anthology’s titles. Three stories stand out for their depth of characterisation: ‘Inside’ by Eleanor Musgrove; ‘A Rooted Sorrow’ by Adam Fitzroy; and Barry Brennessel’s ‘Anh Sang’.

Readers are taken ‘Inside’ Alexandra Palace in north London set up as an internment camp for Germans, Austrians and Hungarians on British soil, citizens and visitors. Life is hard for all, more for the homosexual: ‘… you have to snatch your tender moments when you can … I hope, after the war, things will be easier’.

Fitzroy’s story is set in an English village where attitudes are imbedded in daily life, but love proves stronger than convention. It deals with strong relationships – mother/son, lovers – and the healing power of memory. The powerful narrative, enriched by including several contemporary issues, compels the reader’s attention.

Set in Indochina, ‘Anh Sang’ shows how the French colonisers treated their subjects daily. Fifty thousand Indochinese served in France with heavy casualties. The protagonist avoids enlistment, while his lover is imprisoned but freed during an uprising. They stay together – in hiding, hoping for a better future.

Continue reading “Scholarly review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES”

What people think about UNDER LEADEN SKIES

UNDER LEADEN SKIES by Sandra Lindsey is a solid wartime novel, mixing the best of realism with a turn-the-page approach to story-telling.

How have people responded to it … ?

UNDER LEADEN SKIES received an Honourable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2016, and was a Finalist in the Gay Historical fiction category. Among other things, the judges said:

It was a pretty good story. It kept me curious as to what would come next.

Stevie at The Good, the Bad and the Unread rated it Grade A, and concluded:

I loved this book, both for the story told within it and for the style in which it is told – addressing the reader throughout, as Teddy passes his story on to an individual whose identity only becomes clear at the very end. There’s a lot of scope for sequels – and possibly a prequel – so I hope this isn’t the only visit we pay to the characters and their world.

Dan at Love Bytes LGBTQ Book Reviews gave it four stars, and said:

This was one of those books I finished reading and then sat there gazing at my Kindle…reflecting on the story I had just read…and the book hangover it left me with. Did I like it? Yes, very much. Did I like it all? No, to be honest…there were parts I didn’t like, but only because they tugged at my heartstrings. […] Is the book complete as it is? Yes. But I enjoyed the story and would like more, darn it!

Freya at Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews gave it four stars, and concluded:

Under Leaden Skies is a delightful, engaging tale that took me into a world far from my own. There is death, dealing with life in difficult circumstances, injury, drama, loving from a distance and making the best of the hand one is dealt. This would be a lovely story to lose oneself in during that sunny afternoon, lay in a hammock under a shady tree, with a cup of Earl Grey at your side.

Our readers are loving it, too! On Amazon, Andyj9511 gave it five stars and said:

A cracking good read … This is a fantastic story of “forbidden love” in difficult times. It is well written and gives a good insight in to the struggles of two young men coping not only with their love but of a Country at war.

While Stephen H gave it four stars and said:

Very good! … My wife and I included this book in our bedtime reading-to-each-other hour. We were both excited about a book that had LGBTQ characters. We enjoyed it very much. Our only complaint is that we wanted the story to be longer! 🙂


Indeed! We love it when the readers are left wanting more – though we have to admit it does also make us feel a tad cruel. But this is obviously a marvellous book to read alone or with the partner(s) of your choice … The people that read together stay together!

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including UNDER LEADEN SKIES – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

Happy reading!

New review of SPRING FLOWERING

Reviewers are still enjoying Farah Mendlesohn’s debut novel SPRING FLOWERING, with the most recent comments being from respected author, editor and academic Ali Williams on her own blog.

“This is a novel that highlights how female friendship in the Regency era provided opportunity for closeness, and gives our heroine an independent happy ever after with her perfect woman, untinged with sorrow or familial disapproval. Gorgeous.”

Thank you, Ali, we couldn’t have put it better ourselves, and – as the Northern Hemisphere winter gets its icy teeth into us – we’re grateful for the reminder that Spring itself exists: so, if you’re in need of something to brighten up your long dark evenings, you may find that SPRING FLOWERING could very well be it!