Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review, Interview, Guest Post & Giveaway: Snow in July by Kim Iverson Headlee



TITLE – Snow in July 

AUTHOR – Kim Iverson Headlee 

GENRE – Young Adult Paranormal Historical Romance 


LENTH (Pages/# Words) – 386 pages/94K words 

PUBLISHER – Pendragon Cove Press 

COVER DESIGNER – Natasha Brown





Snow in July - Book Cover BOOK SYNOPSIS

Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre has been granted what every man wants: a rich English estate in exchange for his valiant service at the Battle of Hastings. To claim this reward, the Norman knight must wed the estate's Saxon heiress. Most men would leap at such an opportunity, but for Alain, who broke his vow to his dying mother by failing to protect his youngest brother in battle, it means facing more easily broken vows. But when rumors of rampant thievery, dangerous beasts, and sorcery plaguing a neighboring estate reach his ears, nothing will make him shirk duty to king and country when people's lives stand at risk. He assumes the guise of a squire to scout the land, its problems, and its lady.

Lady Kendra of Edgarburh has been granted what no woman wants: a forced marriage to an enemy who may be kith or kin to the man who murdered her beloved brother. Compounding her anguish is her failure to awaken the miraculous healing gift bequeathed by their late mother in time to save his life. Although with his dying breath, he made her promise to seek happiness above all, Kendra vows that she shall find neither comfort nor love in the arms of a Norman…unless it snows in July.

Alain is smitten by Lady Kendra from the first moment of their meeting; Kendra feels the forbidden allure of the handsome and courtly Norman "squire." But a growing evil overshadows everyone, invoking dark forces and ensnaring Kendra in a plot to overthrow the king Alain is oath-bound to serve. Kendra and Alain face a battle unlike any other as their honor, their love, their lives, and even their very souls lie in the balance.








  Snow In July - Full Sleeve  





FIFTEEN THOUSAND MEN and horses writhed across the valley below, appearing as toys in a children’s game.

Many might consider war a game, but Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre, knight of Normandy bound to the service of Duke William and commander of a unit in the cavalry reserves, did not number among their ranks.

Edward the Confessor, King of England via his Saxon father but Norman by his mother, was dead. This battle, raging near the coastal hamlet called Hastings, would decide the right of one man to wear the English crown: William the Norman, acknowledged by Pope Alexander to be Edward’s lawful successor; or Harold the Saxon, brother of Edward’s wife, the man alleged to be Edward’s deathbed choice.

Stroking his war horse’s glossy charcoal neck to calm her, Alain pondered Harold’s claim. It had to be true. This many men would not sacrifice their lives for a lie. Yet the vast majority of Harold’s supporters were Saxons harboring no wish to bear the Norman yoke. Perhaps such men might be desperate enough to fight for a lie that promised to restore Saxon rule.

A trumpet blared. He signaled his men forward, couched his lance, and spurred Chou to send her careening into the melee.

Harold’s shield wall, which had seemed impregnable, began to crumble under the onslaught of Alain’s unit, hastened by the desertion of men who no doubt decided they weren’t quite so willing to die. Their lord stood exposed just long enough for a Norman archer to sight his mark. Harold fell, screaming and clutching an arrow that protruded from one eye.

Harold’s supporters closed ranks around him, blocking Alain’s view and giving him more than enough to do as the Saxons redoubled their efforts to guard their lord’s body.

A familiar whirl of colors caught Alain’s attention. The saffron leopard prowling on a green field—Étienne! A Saxon knight, with a blue arm and fist blazing defiance across his gray shield, bore down upon Étienne with leveled lance. Étienne tumbled from his horse. He scrambled to his feet and retrieved his sword, putting it to good use on the Saxons surrounding him, although the knight who’d unhorsed him had already ridden in search of other targets.

Lance long since discarded and sword now rising and falling with fatal precision, Alain surged to reach his brother’s side. Protection of her youngest son had been their dying mother’s wish, and he had sworn on his own life to keep Étienne safe.

Before he could close the distance, another Saxon knight fought past Étienne’s guard to thrust a war-knife into his throat. Through the visor the knight’s eyes gleamed with startling, fathomless malice. Alain could only watch in stunned disbelief as he laid his hand upon Étienne’s chest for a few moments. Uttering a soul-freezing howl, the Saxon yanked out his seax and disappeared into the press with Étienne’s shield, denying Alain vengeance.

Shame and grief rent his heart asunder.

He had failed the two he loved most; failed them so utterly that he could never beg their forgiveness in this lifetime.

Pain slammed into his shoulder, toppling him from the saddle. Étienne’s body broke his fall. He tried to roll clear, but a spear through his chest pinned him to Étienne. His gut convulsed, and bile burned his throat. Blinding agony killed his struggle to free himself. Death’s stench invaded his nostrils.

He closed his eyes and waited for his final journey to begin.

Character Bios

Robert Alain de Bellencombre
Preferring the name Alain for use by close family and friends, he is a Norman knight in the service of William the Conqueror and a court favorite. Being the second son of Count Hugh FitzWalter and Countess Margaret has prevented Alain from inheriting his father’s title and lands, which caused his first fiancée to jilt him in favor of Alain’s older half brother Philippe. 

Alain is the older brother of Étienne de Bellencombre, and Alain’s failure to protect Étienne at the Battle of Hastings becomes a major source of grief that Alain must learn to vanquish. The device on Alain’s shield represents the Norman town Bellencombre, his birthplace: a white rose nestled in tangle of greenery, on saffron yellow.

Kendra Waldronsdotter
Lady Kendra is the heiress to her father’s estate of Edgarburh, near London. King William the Bastard has decreed that she marry one of his knights...perhaps even the very man who had ambushed her brother and dealt him his mortal wound. Though Kendra cannot bear to imagine what the king will do to her father or her people if she disobeys this command, she vows that she will never marry a Norman unless it snows in July. The name Kendra is the female form of Kendrick, meaning “keen power,” and in fact the Lady Kendra is heiress, through her mother, to a powerful healing gift that she must learn how to wield in order to save those she loves.


 Review - 4 Stars!

I don't normally read many historically set novels, although I will on occasion if I love the author, or if it catches my attention.  The title and cover captured my attention first.  The blurb piqued my interest next.  I'm super-duper glad I decided to pick up this tour and a chance to review for it.  

The story concept itself is a nice one.  Enemies forced into marriage.  I know, it's not unique for historical romance, but add in the bit of sorcery and it's a  recipe for a magical story.  I love enemies turned lovers theme.  I love adding magic.  I love the setting with knights and maidens.  Nice!

As for the characters, I empathized with Kendra (despite the fact she is from another time) and liked her immensely.  I loved Alain for her, too.  This was a clean read, so the romance was sweet with a hint of attraction, but nothing too heated.  Which is fine, it didn't need more.  You could tell Kendra and Alain really felt for each other and that was enough for the story.

As for the story itself, it was fast-paced enough to keep my attention for almost the entire novel, with only a few places I felt was dragging.  The weren't major plot holes or horrible areas where drama or a situation was thrown into the story just for the sake of torturing the characters and no other reason.  Everything fit into it quite well and seemed to be there for a reason, so I didn't want to throw something at the screen.  ^_^

As for the writing, sometimes I felt the story was written a tad too formally, but it fit the time period enough it wasn't a terrible turn off.  The dialog was fairly well done and didn't make me wince - and its one of my peeves - so I was happy there!  

Overall, it's a great read with an excellent story.  I will definitely read more by this author!  4 stars!


Snow in July - Book Spine

Top 10:  Authors

As with all my top 10s, this is list is given in the order that they have occurred to me. All have inspired my writing in one way or another.

1. William Shakespeare
2. Mary Stewart
3. Parke Godwin
4. Anne McCaffrey
5. Mark Twain
6. Stanislaw Lem
7. Sir Thomas Malory
8. Kate Welsh
9. Alys Clare
10. Tad Williams

 This or That

Coffee or Soda? 
Coffee, usually, unless it’s really hot out.

TV or Books? 
Depends on whether I need escape (usually TV), or research (usually books).

Chocolate or Carrot Sticks? 
What’s a “carrot stick”? LOL!

Cats or Dogs?  
Cats for their independence and being generally low maintenance, though I currently have two lovely Great Pyrenees who guard our goats, and I have had dogs throughout much of my life.

Scarier: Spiders or Snakes?
Since we have plenty of both on our farm, and I have never minded either (unless they are a poisonous species), I will have to go with spiders for their annoying ability to drop in unannounced.  Plus we have one species that winters in our kitty litter in the basement. If only I can train them with itty bitty scoops...!

Beer or Wine? 
Wine; specifically, mead. But Crabbie’s Ginger Beer runs a very close second.

Preferred Friends: Male or Female?
Female, because it’s easier to relate—though I’ve always considered my husband as a friend too.

Alpha or Beta? 
Alpha all the way. I can run the world too, if you’ll let me. :D

Funny or Emotional? 
Usually, funny. Emotional when I am trying to evoke something for my writing.



Author Interview

What made you decide to start becoming a published author?
My husband, because he couldn’t wrap his head around my spending so much time writing and not getting paid for it. My revenge is drafting him to read my early drafts and help me spot errors in my plot logic and battle descriptions. It’s a good partnership. :D

How many unpublished stories do you have?

I have several works that exist in various stages of development, including the other six installments of my planned eight­book series called The Dragon’s Cove Chronicles, two sequels to my soon­to­be released 2 (1st Edition was published under the pseudonym Kimberly Iverson by HQN Books, 2006), a novelization of the screenplay I wrote as a sequel to King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court, and a stand­alone novel about a very early Viking in my husband’s genealogy. My literary cup runneth over!

What are you working on at this moment?

Currently I am working on the following projects:  
The updated print edition layout of Morning’s Journey (The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles, volume 2)
Liberty, 2 formats
Reviewing and approving illustrations and print layout files for the hardcover edition of King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court
Listening to and approving audio files for the audiobook edition of King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court
Writing the first draft of Raging Sea (The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles, volume 3)

What is your favorite type of heroine/protagonist to write? Feisty women? Strong women? Weak women? Flighty women?

My work features independent women, regardless of their level of physical strength. Even my gladiatrix­slave heroine of Liberty, whose situation is controlled by the will and whims of her masters, possesses a spirit that cannot be conquered. I see too many women defining themselves in terms of the men in their lives, which leads to a multitude of problems. If any of my novels can inspire even one woman to redefine herself in terms of what she would like life, rather than what everyone else expects of her, then I will consider my literary mission accomplished.

Do you get the dreaded writer's block and how do you combat it?

Of course I do. The worst case of it I have ever contracted and beaten—which lasted for three years—is described in a special bio I wrote for King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court. If writer’s block has a dictionary entry, there is where you will find my photo. I am pleased to report that I am much better now!

How many proofreaders/editors do you use before publishing your work?

Nobody ever sees a first draft of mine. After that, I usually get my husband to look over my work, and sometimes one or two very close writer­ friends. Then I send it to my marvelous editor, Deb Taber, for at least one and sometimes two paid passes, depending on the story’s needs.

Do you have input in your covers? Who designs them?

My current cover designer is the wonderful Natasha Brown, and we have developed an excellent working relationship for all my current ebook and full-wrap covers.

Coffee or Tea?

Depends on my mood and needs. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a nice soothing cup of Celestial Seasonings “Tension Tamer” tea, but I need coffee to wake up, pretty much every day.

How do you take your coffee?

On the weak side (Starbucks brews their coffee twice as strong as I prefer), with a variety of International Delight creamer, my number one favorite being White Chocolate Raspberry. Other varieties in my fridge today include Almond Joy, Cinnabon, and Irish Crème. If the truth be told, I drink coffee more for the creamer than anything else—and the fact that caffeine is not an illegal drug. :D

How many cats do you own?

I don’t “own” any cats, but I serve the needs of one outdoor cat and seven indoor cats. Yes, we have a healthy perspective of where we all fit in our universe.

As a Trekkie, do you go to conventions? Perhaps speak Klingon? Or simply just love the Star Trek universe?

I have never considered myself a Trekkie, though one of my favorite TV shows of all time, of any genre, is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for its brilliant writing and character interplay. I know the Klingon words for “victory” and “blood” (and what does that say about me? LOL). I do attend conventions once in a while, usually Farpoint (February) and Shore Leave (August), both held in Hunt Valley, Maryland. But quite often I schedule a spa day for myself while my husband attends panels and helps his cousin, who is one of the organizers, and our daughter has been a volunteer for so many years that she is now officially on the Farpoint staff. It looks like I will be one of the author­ guests at Farpoint in 2015, and I’ve kind­of­sort­of received confirmation of this, but they have a new author liaison and she hasn’t given me the official nod yet. I am pleased to announce that I have been confirmed as an author­guest at Mysticon 2015 (Feb 27­ Mar 1; Roanoke, Virginia), which is not strictly a Trek convention, but darn close!

Do you write about military men and women because it is something you're very familiar with as an Air Force vet, kind of like the old adage, write what you know? Or you just REALLY like the military men and women?

To clarify, I am not an Armed Forces veteran—I attended the US Air Force Academy for only two years, which excused me from a service commitment— but my husband retired as a lieutenant colonel after twenty years in the Air Force. I was told growing up that there are a lot of officers in my ancestry, mainly among the Russian nobility of my family tree. My two years at the Academy, brief as they were, certainly did leave an indelible mark that shall influence my fiction for the rest of my life, not only in terms of the military lifestyle, but the even more important aspect of the warrior’s code of ethics and honor.

(I'd like to take the time here to say thanks for your service to our country!! I sincerely support our military and have the utmost respect for anyone who can survive serving (and I don't mean death in war and such, I mean the actual training, because I am a super wimp).)

On behalf of my husband and our friends in the Armed Forces, thank you very much!

Lastly, how do your life experiences show up in your stories?

Since most of my stories are set many centuries in the past, it is difficult to apply much of my life experiences in a direct way, but one specific example—a part of the survival training I received at the Academy—found its way into Morning’s Journey (The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles, volume 2) in that I was able to describe a similar experience for one of my major characters as a rite-­of-passage event for him.

­­­­­Give us your stalker links!

My pleasure! I run a contest every month on my blog for anyone who has followed me on Google+ or Twitter, subscribed to my newsletter or YouTube channel, or commented on any of my blog posts during the month, regardless of whether they are following me anywhere else.

As a special deal for your terrific audience, I invite them to do the “like” or “follow” thing on any of the social media sites below, and then leave a comment on my blog to report their “like” number, and so forth. Each action, including the blog comment, is good for an entry in this month’s contest, which will be for an ebook copy of Snow in July—or any of my other novels! I use the web site to make my selection.

Find Kim Headlee on:

Amazon Authors Central:­Headlee/e/B001KE2LK2
Video Interview:
YouTube Channel:

Thank you very much for this opportunity to connect with your blog’s readers! 

Sorry for the late post!  Blog issues led to this being left in blog limbo!

GUEST POST by Kim Iverson Headlee

Today’s Chicken and Egg Question: Do my real­life experiences mirror my novels?

Although I write historical fiction—centering upon ancient history—there do arise occasions when experiences in real life mirror events in my books. Two such experiences, both occurring on separate visits to the British Isles, leap to mind today.

After my first novel, Dawnflight, was purchased by Sonnet Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, in 1997, my husband and I used a portion of the advance to take a trip to Scotland. The trip was part celebration and all research as we visited the sites of the heroine’s home fortress (Ardoca Roman Camp, Perthshire), as well as the villain’s (Dunadd hill fort on the Kintyre Peninsula).  Ardoca is on private land, so we had to content ourselves with what we could view from the road of the remaining ridges of the fortifications and so forth, but the trip to Dunadd proved quite special indeed. The very idea of finding the well, the foundations of the gate tower, two roads to the summit of different widths, and the replica symbol­stones that adorned the site where my story’s villain called home sent literal chills down my spine. The fact that the fortress was being buffeted by 70 mph winds that day, it being a fine brisk afternoon in January, had nothing at all to do with those chills, I assure you!

A few years later, my husband was dispatched to London on business and I was able to accompany him. While he was attending a meeting on our last morning, I decided to visit a prayer service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I had been scrambling around, trying to get packed, and I almost didn’t go, but something told me I needed to make this trek. I arrived at the church feeling harried and breathless, but the instant I stepped within those sacred walls and the choir’s music enveloped me, I felt all of that melt away as fast as if it had never been. It didn’t occur to me until well into the service that this experience was very much akin to a scene I described the heroine as having experienced inside her first church in Dawnflight, which had been published for nearly three years by this time.

I tend to vote most often for the Chicken, but I’ve learned there are times when the Egg does indeed come first.



Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, and assorted wildlife. People & creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins -- the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-20th century -- seem to be sticking around for a while yet.


Kim is a Seattle native (when she used to live in the Metro DC area, she loved telling people she was from "the other Washington") and a direct descendent of 20th-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim's novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband's ancestor, the 7th-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.


For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, and other novels under her new imprint, Pendragon Cove Press. She also writes romantic historical fiction under the pseudonym "Kimberly Iverson."








• 10 eBook Copies of Snow in July • 10 Snow in July Notecards from the Author




• 10 Autographed copies (US residents only) of the print edition via Goodreads (scheduled to run October 1-October 30)




  Tour Hosted & Organized By 1-MINIBUTTON


  1. What a great post thanks so much for sharing author Kim Headlee and her book Snow in July on your blog - Tonya

  2. Thank you for your fantastic review of SNOW IN JULY -- it was well worth waiting for! I'm glad you enjoyed the story, and I hope your readers will too. :)
    All my very best wishes,
    Kim Headlee
    Stories make us greater.

    1. I'm soooo sorry it took so long, had moving blog issues. Oi. I didn't even realize it was missing until yesterday. So disorganized. And completely unused to Blogger - if my formating issues weren't obvious up there. I ended up giving up around midnight as I was wasting time configuring it when it wasn't listening to me.

      I think Blogger hates me.

      In any case, I did love the story and honestly, I'm looking into other stories by you. ^_^;