- TITLE – Snow in July
- AUTHOR – Kim Iverson Headlee
- GENRE – Young Adult Paranormal Historical Romance
- PUBLICATION DATE – July 2014
- LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 386 pages/94K words
- PUBLISHER – Pendragon Cove Press
- COVER DESIGNER – Natasha Brown
REVIEW FOR SNOW IN JULY
by MC Simon
A direct descendent of 20th century Russian nobility and married with a descendent of the 7th-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia… my mind was hooked by Kim Iverson Headlee, long before reading her first book.
When I had the chance to read Snow in July, the hook became a powerful harpoon. I felt this from the very first moment and while starting to read the book, I realized that it would unfold deeper and deeper. The author possesses the gift to keep you locked in with her book in your hands, while your eyes move inside its pages, left to right, up and down from the first page to the last one; all along Kim Iverson Headlee gives your heart an adrenaline boost.
The book starts describing the two main characters, Alain and Kendra who, for political reasons, were meant to marry each other. Before their first meeting, both of them had their fears and reasons to reject the marriage, but were incapable to refuse the King’s order.
Alain was thinking, “Marriage meant making more vows… vows to love and honor and protect. Vows too easily broken”.
Kendra promised to herself that she will find happiness “but it would never be in the arms of a man whose race was responsible for her brother’s death”.
I have to admit that the author succeeded to give me a bundle of feelings to cross, while reading Snow in July, from cover to cover.
I started admiring Alain’s reasons and my heart ached for any experience that he had, which made him think the way he did. At the same time, seeing Kendra’s reason, I almost hated her anticipating that all the conflict in this book will be based on her promise.
And… yes… it was in this way… many times I was against Kendra but that was not all. The author possess the ability to play with the reader’s mind, so I found myself so hooked by the book, almost fascinated by the way in which the events were advancing. The second I relaxed thinking I was reading a calm portion of the story, the next moment something unexpected would arise and my heart would start to race again.
I recommend this book to any reader who wants to feel something while reading. The bucket of feelings you find yourself trapped in, makes the reading act with curiosity. For not even one moment was I wearied. The plot, the characters, the twisted situations, everything succeeded to make me read without a break.
The fact that Kendra was “wishing yet again for the gift their mother was rumored to have possessed, the ability to heal with a simple touch”, made the action even more interesting for me. Being passionate of this aspect of life, called by some people “paranormal”, made me pay special attention to the moments when the author described and included this kind of action. Not giving all the details about such a healing procedure, the author managed to hook the reader even further. But… who needs details when one’s heart will anyhow understand what it is all about? This, only for the reason that Kim Iverson Headlee, really knows to dose any information; she knows how, when, what and how much to give, so it make things attractive but without giving it all away.
A scene that greatly involved my brain and heart in the action was the one in which Alain is saving Kendra after her abduction. I knew that he was supposed to succeed but… my heart raced a great deal while Kendra herself tried to escape, being afraid that she will mess up everything.
However, what I loved even more inside Snow in July, were in fact the secondary characters. I am that kind of reader who usually finds herself attached to the protagonists, but the author made me love many other characters here. I will mention only a few: Ruaud, Alain’s friend for so many reasons which can’t be counted here; Alain’s and Kendra’s brothers, who were gone in other worlds since the beginning of the action, but still so very present until the last act; Snake, Kendra’s predator who succeeded to melt my heart even if he was one of the bad guys in the book. I will stop the list here, adding only that because of these secondary characters, Snow in July is that kind of book which I want to read twice, being sure that not even than will I be able to grasp all the details behind the words.
My eyes were full of tears and joy, I was smiling and I was sad, my heart raced a lot while following the action step by step. The author really knows how to play with your adrenaline level. I even hated the author when she left me in deep frustration on Alain’s and Kendra’s first kiss. I liked what was described so much, that when it stopped I had the feeling that I was robbed by something that never happened and I didn’t even know what it could be.
To make things short, because I am sure the reader will enjoy reading the book more than my words here, I will conclude by saying that…
I totally recommend the book to anyone who wants to dig inside a medieval romance, placed in a moment in time when many twisted events happen, where the protagonists and secondary characters provide you contradictory feelings, using any phase between a good laugh and a deep cry, all being described with a mix of old and new English, French and Saxon words.
I recommend this book for all these reasons and maybe for others more.
The book left me with a huge desire to find all about the Glastonbury thorn’s secret. The moment after I turned over the last page, I was running to discover the secret behind the words “to heal the pain, you must endure the thorn”. Whether you can find or not what I was talking about… I will let the reader in you discover it, after Kim Iverson Headlee’s words will have touched your heart.
Book Review written by M.C. Simon
Direct Link – http://youtu.be/vXBxenKv7Xo
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 – Excerpt
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.
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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.
SNOW IN JULY: Inspiration behind the story
Snow in July began in 1999 as a collaboration with my writer-friend Patricia Duffy Novak, who had intended to write Alain’s viewpoint while I wrote Kendra’s. But life events prevented her from continuing the project, and she gave me her blessing to finish it.
I shall always be grateful to Patricia for her suggestions regarding the story line, and for her contributions in its research. Being a professor at Auburn University gives her access to that library’s resources, which in our case yielded such gems as a map of medieval Winchester, England. The paragraph describing Alain’s route from St. Mary’s Church to the tavern was adapted straight off that map.
The basic story line of the romance was Patricia’s idea: a Norman knight being ordered by King William to marry a Saxon noblewoman. Historically, William did employ this policy to stabilize England… with varying degrees of success. And he did, as described in the text, invent the office of sheriff. Bishop Odo de Bayeux really was William’s half brother, regent, and confidante—and there exists evidence to suggest that he commissioned the Bayeux Tapestry, but probably several years after the events described in Snow in July, which is why I never mention this famous scrap of cloth in my text.
Longtime fans of my work know that I love playing with legends, and in that regard Snow in July is no different. In addition to mentioning the local tradition that associates King Arthur with Glastonbury—though his alleged grave would not be discovered at the abbey for another century beyond the lifetimes of Kendra and Alain—I adapt the legend that the wounded King Harold Godwinson survived the Battle of Hastings and lived out his remaining days as a monk.
Thank you very much for your interest in and support of my work!
Direct Link – http://youtu.be/DV5iKrEIROk
Kim Headlee, author of the award-winning, critically acclaimed Arthurian novel DAWNFLIGHT and its forthcoming sequel, MORNING’S JOURNEY, chats with Jessica Gibson, host of the Release Day Diva blog, about her novels, her writing origins, the incident that nearly ended it all, and her lifelong fascination with spiders.
How did a Competitive Swimmer became a Prolific Writer?
My 13-year competitive swimming career, culminating in being recruited to swim as an intercollegiate athlete for the US Air Force Academy in 1977, had a direct impact on my creative writing.
As the stresses of competition and academics mounted, it became more crucial for me to invent a means to escape. Other activities—diving, snow skiing, track, and so forth—may have given my body a break, but not my mind. I needed to create worlds I could control; worlds wherein bad things still happened to good characters, but they possessed the courage and wisdom to overcome their obstacles and enemies.
Even at the Academy, with its rigorous military demands piled on top of the academics and athletics, I made it a point to keep pounding away at my stories.
Going on forty years later, the primal theme of bad things happening to good characters is what I’m still writing about.
Thanks for this question; I had never considered it in this fashion before.
TOP TEN TV SHOWS
This list is given in the order in which they came to me. As a writer in general and a budding screenwriter in particular, I tend to favor shows that feature great writing and characters.
Remington Steele (NBC, 10/1/82 – 4/17/87). It’s unfortunate that the premise of this show—a woman trying to make a name for herself in a male-dominated profession, so she invents a fictional boss—won’t “play” to today’s audiences. But as a woman who was recruited in 1977 to attend the previously all-male Air Force Academy, this show resonated with me from its very first episode. And oh, my goodness, Pierce Brosnan was so very easy on the eyes!
Eureka (SyFy, 7/18/06 – 7/16/12). The classic “fish out of water” story with a brilliant, geeky spin, it featured a sheriff of above-average IQ but great street smarts being thrust into a think-tank town populated by adorable geniuses who excelled at getting themselves and their world into all sorts of fascinating trouble. Lordy, I wish such a town existed; I’d move there in a heartbeat. The fact that it was situated in my beloved Pacific Northwest was pure gravy.
Big Bang Theory (CBS, 9/24/07 – present). My sister-in-law, of all people, pointed me to this show during its third season, amazed that I wasn’t already watching it, given my preference for geeky shows. My husband (who also enjoys geeky shows) & I were deep in the throes of his football coaching at the time—I was statistician for the varsity, JV, and middle school teams while he coached and scouted—but boy, are we both glad she brought it to our attention. There are times when it’s so funny, I almost forget to breathe!
Elementary (CBS, 9/27/12 – present). Ever since I read my first book at the age of 3, I’ve been fascinated with tales that present new spins on old stories—and this fascination translates into every novel I write—so it was almost guaranteed that I would love this show. I say “almost” because they could have blown it with poor writing and characters. I am so very glad that they didn’t.
Hawaii 5-0 (CBS reboot, 9/20/10 – present). Although the original show was cutting-edge for its day, and its episode runtime was 10 minutes longer than today’s version, probably eight of those 10 minutes each week featured scenes of McGarrett running to his car. Seriously. Look it up on Netflix, and tell me I’m wrong about that! For the record, some of the episodes in the new series are damn hard for me to watch—foster parents from hell, and that sort of thing—but the main-character interactions are a treat to watch, and the scenery is always gorgeous. The islands look great too. 😉
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Paramount, 1/3/93 – 6/2/99). This is my favorite of all the Star Trek series incarnations, including the original series, which I remember watching with my parents when I was a kid. The reason DS9 doesn’t sit well with most fans is a large reason why I love the show: it is not a collection of instantly forgettable “Planet/Species du Jour” episodes. On Deep Space 9, the villains weren’t always villainous, and the heroes weren’t always heroic—in short, it was a very realistic portrayal of what life might be like in the crucible of the most cross-cultural situation imaginable.
Babylon 5, seasons 2-4 (PTEN/TNT 2/22/93 – 11/25/98). I exclude season 1 because this show took most of that time to find its footing, though it contained enough brilliance in terms of the characters and their situations to keep me watching. The writing of season 5 suffered from having received a very late go-ahead by TNT, so the primary arc had to be wrapped up in season 4. It’s too bad that creator J. Michael Straczynski doesn’t have George Lucas’s proclivity (or ability) to rework previously released material; I would have loved to see JMS’s original vision for the main story arc.
Monk (USA, 7/12/02 – 12/4/09). My husband and son cannot stand this show; my daughter and I love it. I cannot speak for her reasons, but for me, I enjoyed watching someone who is so very dysfunctional summon the courage to overcome his foibles and fears to get the job done. It is a process we struggle with every day, if we take the time to be honest with ourselves.
Numb3rs (CBS, 1/23/05 – 3/12/10). Frankly, I’m amazed that this show lasted as long as it did. Intelligent shows (unless they’re outrageously funny too) tend to get lost in all the other blather with which the viewing public is bombarded 24-7. Numb3rs is another show, like Hawaii 5-0, that has a few episodes I will not rewatch, but it’s on my Top Ten because of its great wit and poignant heart.
Home Improvement (ABC, 9/17/91 – 5/25/99). I came to this series midway through its run, for reasons I cannot recall other than the fact that I was a young mother at the time, in addition to being a career woman and writer, and was probably too busy to remember to turn it on every week. Once I started, though, I felt as if I had indeed come home, and it remains one of my go-to shows when I need comedy to take my mind off the day’s troubles. They just don’t make them like that anymore.
Thank you for this opportunity to share these classic broadcast favorites with your blog readers today!
10 MAGICAL POWERS KIM WOULD LIKE TO POSSESS
To clarify, these are listed not in order of preference but as they came to me!
1. Invisibility… because I cannot count the number of times when I’ve thought to myself, “I would love to be a fly on the wall to observe this!”
2. Talk to animals… and of course by this I mean Dr. Doolittle style, not the pseudo-conversations that I conduct often with my cats, dogs, and goats, which leaves me thinking, “What did I really say to them?”
3. Teleportation… because I love traveling to destinations worldwide, but the “getting there” part of the process isn’t always the most fun.
4. Time travel… because being a history buff gives me loads of time periods that I would love to investigate in person as it happened!
5. Make myself look glamorous… just because. 🙂
6. Become a mermaid… because my 13 years as a competitive swimmer, including as a Division I collegiate recruit, have gifted me with the ability to feel much more comfortable in the water than out of it. Just call me “Ariel in reverse.” While I’m at it, of course I’ll be a glamorous mermaid. 😉
7. Clone myself… because even with as much practice I’ve had with regard to multitasking, as a computer systems engineer as well as a mother, I still experience times when there just isn’t enough hours in the day—especially in regard to preparing two books for release at the same time!
8. Heal with a touch… because what mother wouldn’t want the ability to “kiss it and make it better” for real??
9. Flying… because I always have loved the “magic carpet ride” scene in Disney’s Aladdin.
10. Lead to gold… because I can’t think of a single reason why that wouldn’t be handy!
THIS OR THAT
- Ocean, because it’s vast and terrifying and beautiful.
2. Desert or Jungle?
- Jungle, because I can’t stand being thirsty. Oh, wait, poisonous frogs, disease-bearing mosquitoes, spiders that will carry off your young… Is this a trick question? 😀
3. Flying or Swimming?
- Flying. It took me a =long= time to get back into swimming after leaving the competition pool, though I do now love to snorkel. In the vast, terrifying, beautiful ocean.
4. Childhood or Adulthood?
- I’ll be a childlike adult, because I never want to lose my sense of wonder.
5. Coffee or Tea?
- Chocolate-flavored creamer, preferably white chocolate raspberry. Whether it’s in coffee or tea is immaterial, though coffee tends to be my morning go-juice.
6. Time travel… Past or Future?
- Past, definitely. I have glimpsed the future on occasion, and it is not for the faint hearted.
7. In or Out?
- In love; but thinking out of the box. So both, really. And, on a bad day, neither. Say, does that make me a cat? 😀
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.”
AUTHOR FOLLOW LINKS
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE – http://www.amazon.com/Kim-Headlee/e/B001KE2LK2
WEBSITE / BLOG – http://kimiversonheadlee.blogspot.com/
FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/KimIversonHeadlee
TWITTER – https://twitter.com/KimHeadlee
PINTEREST – http://www.pinterest.com/kimheadlee/
SHELFARI – http://www.shelfari.com/o1514267737
LINKEDIN – http://www.linkedin.com/in/kimheadlee/
YOUTUBE CHANNEL – http://www.youtube.com/user/gyanhumara