Blog Book Tour | “Honor Among Thieves” (Book No.1 of the #HopeAndSteelSeries) by J.M. Aucoin

Posted Monday, 21 September, 2015 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Honor Among Thieves” virtual book tour through HFVBT: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author J.M. Aucoin, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

A girl who fancies swashbucklers and pirates:

Who isn’t afraid to admit it to the world that they have a penchant for swashbucklers, rebels, rogues, and pirates? There is something daringly brilliant about these men who dare to defy odds, logic, and societal social norms to expand their livelihoods outside the scope of gentle society. I’ll free admit when I first saw Captain Jack Sparrow take centerstage on Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl a part of my heart started to swoon and I was thusly sitting so close to the edge of my seat in the theater as to nearly fall out of it! I giggled with enthused laughter about his antics, whilst reveling in the pure insanity of his situations! Of course, there is a heap of heart to Captain Jack and a sincerity underneath the levity, but for a girl who needed a balm of humour out of a year of intense sorrow – Captain Jack mastered the art of re-finding your smile!

I have a bit of a history with swashbucklers – it began as a child when I first saw Gabriel Bryne take me off into a pirate of a story via Shipwrecked – a bit of an unknown (or lesser known) motion picture which set the course I would be keen on pirates for the rest of my days! Combine this film with Swiss Family Robinson and a healthy thirst of ‘historical adventures’ was bourne! Lateron I would watch The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask amongst others, leading up to Johnny Depp’s infamous character! The cheekily timed and Steampunked adventure of The Three Musketeers by a predominately European crew in 2013 re-ignited the passion I have for ‘out of the box’ film-making and re-envisioning a classic story! Ooh dear my! The BBC has a serial entitled The Three Musketeers? Say when did that happen!? Hmm. Dare I admit – all of these I’ve seen at least twice, and some of which I’ve seen thrice over a few times? Yes, I watch films in multiple viewings during the score of a year, especially if I’m properly addicted to them!

Mind you – I have yet to complete the original novel (of The Three Musketeers), as part of me was quite bored by all accounts – I picked it up several times in middle school only to feel disappointed somehow? I wonder if other Classic Clubbers have felt this way? It came across a bit droll for me but the re-tellings and re-imaginings of the classic have been fuell to folly as far as my curiosity to seek them out!

Imagine my happy joy in finding out a ChocLit author has composed a ‘pirate’ story of her own? (greetings Ms Malcolm!) And, how revealing it was of me to admit it was true Captain Jack convinced me I’ll forevermore be curious about ‘pirate fiction’ stories! I champion stories of the high seas and their seafaring captains too, which dips into the ‘rebels and rogues’ areas (such as Zana Bell’s Close to the Wind proved!)

As I heard about this particular new story – fresh off the presses – rooted in a section of literature I am clearly under-read, my heart leapt in wicked sweet joy at the possibility to read it! 17th Century France is a section of historical fiction I already have voiced a strong appreciation for numerous times on Jorie Loves A Story, whilst the adventure side of historicals hasn’t quite been as fully fleshed out.

Alas! I haven’t even mentioned my propensity for ‘swords, swordplay, and fencing’!

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A note on the cover art: I wish in some ways I had a side by side view of this cover to share with you dear hearts, as quite cleverly the action shot and sequence on the front is continued on the reverse side! There was a lot of thought put into the cover layout and design – the images are two halves of a whole – a sequence in time to stitch a ‘moment’ out of the novel. The cross swords on the spine hint at a reference point for the series, and even the series itself is thus named after the attributes identifiable of the lead character: Darion Delerue! It nearly looks like a watercolour painting that was digitally remastered to serve as the cover art!

Blog Book Tour | “Honor Among Thieves” (Book No.1 of the #HopeAndSteelSeries) by J.M. AucoinHonor Among Thieves
by J.M. Aucoin
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Graham Sternberg
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

France, March 1609. The French Wars of Religion are over, but forces still conspire against the crown…

Darion Delerue, former soldier turned highwayman, has only two things of value—the hope in his heart and the steel at his side. After a heist on a royal ambassador goes wrong, Darion is thrown into a political plot to undermine the crown, pitting his old life as an honorable soldier against his new life as a thief and bandit. His actions could send France back into civil war.

Honor Among Thieves is a gripping tale of daring sword-play and political intrigue, with superb historical detail of 17th Century France that will have readers wanting to draw their swords and fight for glory!

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, Swashbuckler Fiction

Places to find the book:

Published by Sword & Cape Press

on 30th June 2015

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 330

Published by: Sword & Cape Press

Converse via: #HopeAndSteelSeries + #HistoricalAdventure

(a bit surprised no one started #HistAdv to simplify it?)

About J.M. Aucoin

J.M. Aucoin

Author. Fencer. Sometimes actor. Full-time nerd. J.M. AUCOIN is the product of when a five-year-old boy who fell in love with reruns of Guy William’s Zorro grows into a mostly functional adult. He now spends his time writing swashbucklers and historical adventure stories, and has an (un)healthy obsession with The Three Musketeers.

When not writing, he practices historical fencing, crafts historical outfits, and covers the Boston Bruins for the award-winning blog Days of Y’Orr. He lives in Heraldwolf’s Stone with his fiancée Kate, and their dire-beagle, Rex.

Photography Credit: Vander Photography

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The Highwayman by Lorenna McKennitt

Whilst reading this novel, I couldn’t help but think about a favourite song of mine by McKennitt whose enchanting vocals and lyrics have always left me spellbound inside her worlds. You can listen to a sample of the song via Ms McKennitt’s official website on this page. The song is part of “The Book of Secrets” which was the album which introduced me to her music originally.

My Review of Honor Among Thieves:

A somber entrance into Darion Delerue’s life, as we entreat on a bit of a melancholic mood of his, as he turns memory over a flame when Honor Among Thieves introduces us to him. You can draw a bit of a line of familiarity with his character’s traits, even if you haven’t previously read a swashbuckling adventure – keenly a nod to Aucoin whose research and real-life swordplay were in full merit of aiding his historical authenticity whilst writing this story.

Aucoin has captured the setting of the story quite well, especially in regards to period specific details such as the differences in apparel between the classes and the joy of a well-adorned cloak tucking out the fiercely cold wind whilst warming the wearer! I must admit, Winter dress has held more appeal to me than Summer – a chokehold of humidity is nobody’s friend, but the brisk purified renewal of air by the winds of Winter. Surely nothing can top that? I appreciated how we fell in step with Darion – I instantly was reminded of Lorenna McKennitt’s soulful song about Highwaymen when I began to read this novel. When I was not inclined to remember why I love the differing variants of The Three Musketeers!

The intrigue surrounding why Darion’s Uncle was being protected by the King’s Guard and the insistent urgency of Darion’s Highwaymen Captain in need of something from his Uncle laid down the framework of the developing suspense. Darion himself was not the easiest of characters to warm too – he held secrets from his own men (fellow Highwaymen; including the use of a moniker) and those secrets are upturnt against him now – whilst truth of his past is about to upset his future.

The undercut to the action is this deepening history lesson about the civil wars of which Darion was familiar (due to his family’s involvement) gave shape to understanding why he had turnt away from traditional employ and settled on the uncertainty of the trade he was in. He was inspired by procuring his passage overseas – a feat which took a bit of wealth to acquire and by thieving he felt this was the quickest route towards that end.

Chapter Five by far was my favourite – as it was writ with a bit of a remorseful look back into the past, whilst Darion had to accept certain things could not become revisited as time waits for no man’s return. It gave us a different perception into what drew him forward and what curated his desires – his introspective musings returnt and a different side of his personality was happily in full sight. I even enjoyed the delight of the tavern from the firelight to the simplicity of it’s orientations between where the lodgers ate to where they slept. Ran by a father and his young daughter, adding to the whole of its appeal; even if to Darion it was a future he had not foreseen. Part of his progression forward is to let go of what he cannot change – I found his heart was betwixt accepting this and hardening against the outside world.

Counterpoint to the center of focus on Darion and the other Highwaymen were the Crown and Court – taking their cues and entrances as ready as everyone else. France was on shaky ground, still at odds with Spain and whose time of peace was as fragile as eggshells on glass. What kept me interested was what was happening at Court vs what was happening on the outside – there were two sides of the coin to this novel, where the highwaymen were not all as they appeared and the people at Court were dealing with their own issues at the same time. Lots of power realignments happening whilst some innocents were getting lost in the fray of where honourable men and the dishonesty of lust for control and power were blinding the logic of where man could intercede on duty.

Interestingly, if the vulgarity had been softened quite a heap and a mass reduction in the strength of which of the words were chosen to be used – I might have felt more connected to the story outright. I still had trouble finding my footing at the halfway mark or rather just shy of the halfway mark because of how intense the vulgarity began to entreat on the historical narrative. I was much more concerned with Darion’s journey towards wielding out the truth of what was behind the attack on his Uncle’s coach and of course, any novel that involves the Court has it’s own set of truths and consequences as power struggles befit suspense if only to subject us to the interior motives of men who wish to supersede their authority.

In the 17th Century, power was rife with intrigue because everyone was attempting to place their marker and bet on who or whom would leverage them forward to a career or position that would allow the most yield of return. It was a trying time for France and it was a period of distrust as a whole, because no one was quite whom they appeared to be if the price was right for them to forgo their honour.

Sadly I had to stop reading this novel because if I had to read one more sequence of paragraphs with hardened language I was going to lose the joy of what I had read and the passages which connected with me the most.

Fly in the Ointment:

I was a bit puzzled by how we were taken out of the Romanticism of the 17th Century in two short clicks of a typewriter, when I spied words on pages 11 and 12 which did not feel compulsory to telling the story? (they continued unfortunately past those pages, too!) For this era of historicals I’ve seen words like “blasted” oft used to ensnare anger and a strong point of action; or others akin to it. I would have preferred one of the other proffered words in lieu of the strongest of strong!

Vulgarity for me has a time and a place, but my main bone of contention in this particular story, is why take the time to orchestrate a turn of phrase as explicitly direct as a brass word only to darken the pages with vulgar words rather than to continue with the poetic prose? It’s odd to me. There are even instances where Darion is muttering curses under his breath out of view of the reader, yet turns about-face and says them to us? You cannot have it both ways – either you’re writing a vulgar historical account of 17th Century France or your writing a keenly insightful historical novel without the brass words in tact.

I found this to be the most disconcerting of all, because in the rash heat of a fight, the tongues are loosened and words inch outward that could have been left out. It truly jolted me in and out of the pacing for the novel, because Aucoin was switching his narrative voices – Darion is counter-productive as a character because he cannot be vulgarly exclusive and then evasive at the same time. I would have preferred him the way the opening sequencing produced him; introspective and a bit cunning perhaps, but without the lack of tact. This story had it’s own soul – the lifeblood of the novel was stitched into the opening passages, even shifting forward past the tousle on the highway with Darion’s Uncle – yet to muddle it with vulgarity seems out of step for how it began.

I continued to read the story because of the novel’s heart – it truly was writ quite well, even if my eyes flickered with disdain for certain word choices, the scope of the narrative was solid. You can tell how much time Aucoin took in choosing how to tell this story, and it was in this dedication that I let go of my annoyance of the flickering words in and out of passages here or there by different characters. Except to say my patience with his vulgarity usage was wavering and growing thin before the middle part of the novel! It all felt so very unnecessary to the background and pace of the established tone of the novel.

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

{ click-through to follow the tour & find more reader’s impressions! }

This review is posting off-tour due to lightning storms which caused a variety of technical issues which left me offline for the greater portion of late August through mid September. I am posting it as soon as I returnt online and could ferret out the rest of my feelings on behalf of the portion of the novel I read. I felt sharing my thoughts as they were might help other readers know what was both positive and negative for me as I read the novel. The hardest part was choosing to stop reading it.

Honor Among Thieves Blog Tour via HFVBTs

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I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments on behalf of this review. Especially if you read the novel or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same novel to read on a blog tour.

Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Honor Among Thieves”, book synopsis, author photograph of J.M. Aucoin and the tour badge were all provided by HFVBTs (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Comment Box banner created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

I am a social reader | I tweet as I read:


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 21 September, 2015 by jorielov in 17th Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Book Cover | Original Illustration & Design, Bookish Discussions, Crime Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, France, French Literature, Heroic Bloodshed, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Pirates and Swashbucklers, Suspense, Vulgarity in Literature

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