Francine Howarth


A painting, wind whispering through trees, droplet of rain, snowflake on eyelashes: all can stir my imagination!

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Smashwords book reviews by Francine Howarth

  • Lady Gwendolyn on July 25, 2013

    Vivid imagery with words set the scene and pace for this mediaeval portrayal of abduction, extreme gallantry of knights, and the sheer bravery of one woman who masquerades as the titled Lady Gwendolyn. For when the titled lady’s caravan comes under merciless attack en route betwixt England and Scotland, she makes good on her chance at escape. Nonetheless, faced with unknown perils and uncertainty of reaching a safe haven she battles onward ever fearful the enemy are close at hand. Whilst men at arms rally in the hunt to find the Lady Gwendolyn, flirtatious encounters in the past and attractions along the way tell the story of hearts lost and regained. And even a captive wench is not entirely immune to her captor’s attentions. This is not so much a tale of right and wrong and that of black and white situations as might be expected of a Knightly Campaign, for Ms Belle explores the dilemmas of trust, loyalty and romance and ventures to grey areas in the giving of a heart in unexpected circumstance. Meanwhile, the other expected HEAs indeed run true to legends of romance and chivalry, which renders Lady Gwendolyn as a thoroughly delightful read. If you’re unfamiliar with mediaeval jargon the footnotes provided will enlighten.
  • The Prince of Prigs on Dec. 21, 2015

    With a good mix of fictional elements, amusing, and sometimes callous dialogue, two Royalist officers-turned-highwaymen (post English Civil Wars) are again riding the highways and byways of England. Their rebel rousing thus committed during the years of The Interregnum (Cromwell’s reign) 1649 -1658 is revealed by way of individual scenarios and cameos, which eventually bring the two highwaymen into contact with one another. What transpires from the crossing of their paths makes the Prince of Prigs a thoroughly enjoyable and discomfiting read – latterly in respect of a heinous crime. But when a novel is based on true accounts, grit and grime cannot be glossed over to render all highwaymen as heroes, because some were indeed villains of the worst kind. Nonetheless, Capt James Hind, the son of a saddler, no doubt had a greater understanding for those less endowed financially, and he duly became a bit of a latter-day Robin Hood. The author admirably presents James Hind, the young man born in a Cotswold township of Chipping Norton, as a true gentleman Royalist rogue. For throughout his quest to relieve supporters of the ruling Parliamentarian cause of gold, silver and any item of substantial value, Capt J. Hind never killed a soul, albeit he humiliated and ridiculed one or two. On the other hand, Capt Zachary Howard (Royalist), once a man of considerable means amounting to an estate that averaged an income of 1,400 pounds a year in Gloucester, is sorely vexed at having had his property sequestered by Parliament. He therefore determines to not only enact revenge against the regicides for the death of his king, he’s equally determined to exact personal scores against those whom stole his property and lands for self or as payment in kind to other Parliamentarian officers. It could be said Howard had a far larger axe to grind against the Parliamentarian generals than did Capt James Hind. Indeed, Capt Zachary Howard not only committed foul deeds he carried out a most heinous sexual crime, one that would eventually bring about his downfall in the very same year Capt James Hind was betrayed and taken into custody. That part of their stories I shall leave the author to enlighten upon at a later date— no doubt within a follow-up novel!