Book Extract: Shadows in the Ashes by Christina Courtenay

Please join me in welcoming Christina Courtenay to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, Shadows In The Ashes.

Brimming with romance, adventure and vivid historical detail, Christina Courtenay’s gripping dual-time novel travels from the present day to the fires of ancient Pompeii.

The sunlight caught her gold bracelet, sending a flash that almost blinded her.

She closed her eyes, but jumped when the earth started shaking and there was an almighty boom behind her.

Present Day

Finally escaping an abusive marriage, Caterina Rossi takes her three-year-old daughter and flees to Italy. There she’s drawn to research scientist Connor, who needs her translation help for his work on volcanology. Together they visit the ruins of Pompeii and, standing where Mount Vesuvius unleashed its fire on the city centuries before, Cat begins to see startling visions. Visions that appear to come from the antique bracelet handed down through her family’s generations…

AD 79
Sold by his half-brother and enslaved as a gladiator in Roman Pompeii, Raedwald dreams only of surviving each fight, making the coin needed to return to his homeland and taking his revenge. That is, until he is hired to guard beautiful Aemilia. As their forbidden love grows, Raedwald’s dreams shift like the ever more violent tremors of the earth beneath his feet.

The present starts eerily to mirror the past as Cat must fight to protect her safety, and to forge a new path from the ashes of her old life…


Christina has shared an extract with us today. We hope you enjoy. 


*****beginning of extract*****



Pompeii, 79 AD

The ground was trembling, as if a giant was walking past, making everything around her quake. The walls shook, large cracks appearing, and items on shelves rained down, crashing to the floor. Plaster from the ceiling fell in chunks, spreading a cloud of dust throughout the room. She coughed and pulled her palla across the lower half of her face, trying not to choke on the particles.

The small child clinging to her whimpered, and she wanted to do the same, but for her daughter’s sake she had to pretend to be brave. It was a good thing everything around them was moving, as this disguised her quivering limbs.

‘Shh, sweetheart, it will be over soon. We just have to wait. Someone will come and help us.’ But she knew the likelihood of that was very small. Probably non- existent.

They’d been left here all night, locked in, and while everyone else was running away as fast as they could, she and her daughter were stuck. She’d tried to force her way out. Had hoped the crumbling walls would open up a large enough gap for them to crawl through, but it was not to be. This would likely be their grave.

She had but one regret – she’d never see him again.


*****end of extract*****



About Christina Courtenay – 

Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK.

Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings.

Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association, now a Vice President, and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014) and the RNA Fantasy Romantic Novel of the year 2021 with Echoes of the Runes. 

Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).

Say hello to Christina via her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Her latest novel, Shadows in the Ashes, (dual time/timeslip romance) was published by Headline Review 18th January 2024. Click to buy on Amazon UK, Amazon US and Waterstones


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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