To any authors/publishers/ tour companies that are looking for the reviews that I signed up for please know this is very hard to do. I will be stopping reviews temporarily. My husband passed away February 1st and my new normal is a bit scary right now and I am unable to concentrate on a book to do justice to the book and authors. I will still do spotlight posts if you wish it is just the reviews at this time. I apologize for this, but it isn't fair to you if I signed up to do a review and haven't been able to because I can't concentrate on any books. Thank you for your understanding during this difficult time. I appreciate all of you. Kathleen Kelly April 2nd 2024

28 April 2022

The Douglas Bastard (A sequel to The Black Douglas Trilogy) By J R Tomlin #BookTour! @JRTomlinAuthor @maryanneyarde @coffeepotbookclub #HistoricalFiction #Scotland


Book Title: The Douglas Bastard

Series: (A sequel to The Black Douglas Trilogy)

Author: J R Tomlin

Publication Date: 26th April 2022

Publisher: Albannach Publishing

Genre: Historical Fiction

The Black Douglas is dead. With Scotland's greatest knight no more, the throne is up for grabs as enemies try to devour the kingdom.

An orphaned youth returning from exile, Archibald, the Black Douglas's bastard son, fights for a land being torn apart from within and without. If Archibald is to survive, he must learn to sleep with a claymore in his hand and one eye open because even his closest friend might betray him...

This is an adventure set in the bloody Second Scottish War of Independence when Scotland's very survival is in question.

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At first light the next morning, we rode out. The wind rattled in the green-clothed branches and tossed flowering heather and gorse bushes, but even early, the day was warm. The French force was joined in the long column by a hundred of Sir William's men who had awaited his return. I rode just behind him and Sir Arnaud, who led the way. I threw off my cloak and bent my head back to bathe in the sunshine. The horse between my legs might only be my palfrey, Broiefort, but I rode with knights, and we were going to war. 

Soon we followed the edge of the River Edam, where reeds along its edge bowed beneath the breeze. The sun had just gained its noonday height when we sighted Cupar Castle. The English-held fortress stood atop a small hill, its honey-colored walls drenched in the yellow sunlight. 

The fields around the castle town had been plowed, but no one worked them as we rode by. A burned orchard of apple trees stood like blackened tombstones, a reminder of a past battle or siege. Wisps of smoke drifted from the smoke holes in some of the thatched roofs, but nothing moved in the street. Not even a dog barked or a hen scratched as we passed. The bell in the church belfry was silent. 

"Leave it be," Sir William commanded the men. "We are after bigger game.”

"It is not an impressive castle," Sir Arnoul said. "Surely, it has no more than fifty men.”

"Not impressive but strong enough. A burn flows nearby to keep the moat deep, and the walls are thick. It has a well, so plenty of water for a siege." Sir William bared his teeth in a wolfish smile. "But I expect them to surrender.”

Guards in armor moved behind the merlons on the ramparts. Above them, at the top of the keep streamed a long white standard with England's cross of Saint George. 

John de Bracy, a French squire, and William Fraser led the way, splashing through the shallow flow of a narrow stream carrying the banners. The rest of the column followed close behind us.

"Where should we camp?" Fraser asked.

"There." Sir William pointed. "Blocking the road to the castle gate. Have someone help Archie set up my tent at the top. Fraser, you plant my banner." He motioned to the side. "Baggage there and horse lines behind. Let us wait to unload our baggage to see how long this will take.”

Gorse dotted the brae where we sat ahorse, and a hawk slanted away from us, gliding toward the charred remains of the orchard.

"We should post pickets," the French commander said.

"Aye. I dinnae expect an attack, but then we didnae expect one at Dupplin Moor, so we will set them out. Have them set up a barrier on the road with guards behind it. Then let us give the commander some time to consider the fact that no help will be coming.”

"You know the man?" 

Sir William swung from the saddle. "I ken him—William Bullock is his name. He is a cleric who likes fighting more than praying. He's nae fool, I promise you.”

Joaquim of Kinbuck slapped me on the shoulder and showed me how to set up the central pole and tie off the guy ropes for the round tent. It did not take long. The banners were planted and flapped listlessly in the slight breeze. Just a few clouds scudded over the summer sky.

 As soon as the tent was set up, Sir William called me to help him out of his armor. As I unbuckled his greaves, Fraser stuck his head through the open door and said that there was a rider coming carrying a flag of truce. Apparently, Bullock wanted to talk. "And that means he will surrender.”

"It does?" I asked.

My lord unsheathed his sword and held it up to examine its edge. “Aye."

The next day we met Bullock halfway between the camp and the castle. Sir William and Sir Arnoul brought Fraser to witness the negotiation. Over thirty, wide-faced and burly, William Bullock rode ahead of two of his own men. When we all dismounted, I gathered the reins and tied their mounts to the limbs of a dead tree, then went back to listen.

"Sir William Douglas, I ken, but you, sir, I do not.”

The Frenchman raised his chin slightly, looking down his nose. “Sir Arnoul d’Andeneham.”

Bullock sniffed. "Am I supposed to be impressed that the French have come to your aid, Douglas?”

"It might do well to be," Sir Arnoul said in a hard voice.

"I am not the one who needs aid, Bullock. John de Strivelyn broke the siege on Cupar last year, but he is now with King Edward in the Low Country. So, where will your aid come from? Not from Perth. It is besieged. How well are you provisioned for a long siege?”

"Well enough to wait until the English arrive." He thrust his chin toward the empty fields. "How well-provisioned are you, Douglas? How long can you wait for food from those fields?”

"It was not only men that I brought back with me from France. I have gold enough to buy what we need here or from France if need be." Sir William’s smile was grim, and he gave his scrip a pat that made it clink with coin. "And how long has it been since you and your men were paid?" 

"You think I can be bought?”

 "I think that you would rather fight for the son of Robert the Bruce than the son of the coward John Toom Tabard. But mayhap you need persuasion to realize it.”

Bullock shrugged. "Balliol is a weakling like his father was before him, mayhap even worse. But is the son of the Bruce any better, a child hiding in France? Why should I fight for him?”

"King David will be back in Scotland soon enough. I saw him . . . talked to him only a week ago. I tell you, he will be a real king, not an old man with a limp cock. He has grown into a man and a fighter. He is good with a sword and has already ridden to battle with King Philip." 

I smiled to myself at the description of David.

Sir William continued, "Forbye, I can use that French gold to pay the wages of men who want to help us take Perth. I also control an estate in Lothian that might be a reward for someone who realizes he wants to fight for our true king.”

Bullock had a thoughtful look on his face. "So you really believe young David will return soon.”

"He will," Sir Arnoul said. "My King has agreed to give him ships to return with armor and weapons and more aid later if he needs it. Give him another year, two at the most, and he will be back in Scotland.”

Bullock rubbed his hand over his chin. He turned to look behind him at Cupar Castle and back again at Sir William. Finally, he said, "I want a full year’s pay as castellan of Cupar and six months' pay for the men who agree to follow me. Moreover, I have an idea for taking Perth that will make me worth it.”

They haggled a bit over the price, but within an hour, a deal was struck. We mounted and rode back. I wondered if it would always be so easy.

Back in Sir William’s tent, they talked, and he said it was not just the Scottish and French forces in front of the castle and some promises that persuaded him. Other Scots fought across Scotland, pushing out the English, ravaging the land north of the Forth, so there was no food for English armies nor for their strongholds. They had fallen one by one. Now Sir William, Sir Arnoul, and Bullock debated how many men to leave holding the castle, what provisions it still held, and when to leave for the last English stronghold north of the Forth—the walled and moated city of Perth.

J. R. Tomlin is the author of nineteen historical novels.


She has close ties with Scotland since her father was a native Scot, and she spent substantial time in Edinburgh while growing up. Her historical novels are set for the most part in Scotland. Her love of that nation is traced from the stories of Robert the Bruce and the Good Sir James her grandmother read to her when she was small, to hillwalking through the Cairngorms where the granite hills have a gorgeous red glow under the setting sun. Later, her writing was influenced by Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo, Nigel Tranter, and Sir Walter Scott.


When JR isn't writing, she enjoys hiking, playing with her Westie, and killing monsters in computer games. In addition to spending time in Scotland, she has traveled in the US, Europe, and the Pacific Rim. She now lives in Oregon.



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  1. Thank you so much for hosting the blog tour for The Douglas Bastard.

    All the best,
    Mary Anne
    The Coffee Pot Book Club

  2. Thanks for posting the excerpt!

  3. Thanks for posting the excerpt!



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