Shame the Devil
by Donna Scott
Publication Date: May 11, 2020
Paperback & eBook; 420 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
England, 1643. The Civil War has created a great divide between those who support King Charles and those who would rather see his head on the block. Young Scot Colin Blackburne finds himself caught in the middle when he witnesses Parliamentarians murder his mother because of his father’s allegiance to the king. As further punishment, the family is sent to Yorkshire as indentured servants.
Mistreated by his master and tormented by a Parliamentarian soldier, Colin vows to take up arms for the king and seek vengeance against the men who killed his mother. The only bright spot in his life is his unexpected, and forbidden, friendship with his master’s daughter, Emma Hardcastle.
With her father constantly away on campaign and her mother plagued by madness, Emma is drawn to Colin and his brother, Roddy. She introduces them to her troubled neighbor Alston Egerton, who has a clandestine relationship with Stephen Kitts, the soldier out for Colin’s blood.
As they all become entangled in a twisted web of love, jealousy, desire, and betrayal, the war rages on around them. Resentful at being forced into servitude and forbidden from being with the woman he loves, Colin puts his plan for vengeance into motion, though it will have disastrous consequences for all of them.
Secrets are revealed and relationships are torn apart. With the country teetering on the brink of ruin, Emma fights to survive, Alston is forced to confront his demons, and Colin must decide whether his burning desire to fight for justice is worth sacrificing a future with the woman he loves.
Who Do You Believe?
The argument about which news sources are the most fact-filled or truthful is an old one. During the English Civil War, propaganda was used as a valuable tool to sway countrymen to support one side or the other—the Royalists or the Parliamentarians. Various newbooks on both sides were created to stir the pot and evoke fear in readers with the hope that they would understand that fighting the war was absolutely necessary. At the time, where you lived determined which side of news you were going to get. For example, if you lived in London, the midlands, and parts of east England where Parliament held the most influence and power, you would most likely read (if you knew how) and hear propaganda that supported Parliamentarian efforts and beliefs. If you lived in northern or western England or Wales, you were more likely to receive pro-royalist propaganda.
These newsbooks used several different types of tactics—not unlike what we see today—to persuade readers to take sides. For example, graphic images made from woodcuts might depict atrocities committed by one side against the other. Of course, the scenes were highly exaggerated and even satirical at times but nonetheless, they were effective in scaring enough people to align with the source.
Newsbooks also personally attacked either members of Parliament or royalty depending on the paper. Mercurius Britannicus favoured the Parliamentarians and Mercurius Aulicus and Mercurius Pragmaticus favoured the royalists. One of the more popular attacks made by Parliamentarians involved Prince Rupert. They claimed he would enter a town, rape the women, and pillage the homes, leaving chaos and destruction in his wake. They even accused his dog, Boye, of being bewitched and turning invisible so he could spy on enemy troops and report back to his master. Clearly, neither of these claims were true, but they were effective. It’s hard to imagine, but many people believed them.
They also attacked religion, specifically Catholicism. Since the 16th century when King Henry VIII began the English Reformation and pulled away from the Catholic church, England—with a brief intermission during Queen Mary’s reign—remained peacefully Protestant for the most part. The last thing the country wanted to do was once again enter into chaos and violence with a return to Catholicism. When King Charles I took the throne and married a Catholic Queen, many people believed he intended to revert back to the religion. Parliamentarians capitalized on this idea and spread rumours that the king planned to destroy the country in the process.
The first words in the inaugural edition of Mercurius Aulicus were, “The world hath long enough been abused with falsehoods,” a statement directly aimed at Parliamentarian propaganda “cheats” that purported the evils of the crown. The Royalists said “we shall proceed with all truth and candor”, claiming their opposition was lying to the public. Sound familiar? The goal was to provide another side of the story—the king’s side—and one he and his supporters hoped would convince readers to turn away from Parliament and take up arms for the royal cause.
In the end, no one really knew who to believe. In Shame the Devil, Colin gets his hands on a few newsbooks and becomes aware of the conflicting information written inside. Left with too many questions, Colin chooses to follow his heart and vows to take revenge on the Parliamentarians who not only killed his mother but stole his future as a free man.
Mercurius Aulicus, a Royalist newsbook in support of King Charles I.
“A Puritan’s Nightmare” (Parliamentarian propaganda, circa 1643): One half of the figure is a ‘Papist’ and the other half a Cavalier, multiple weapons in hand. The kingdom burns in the background and a man hangs for not aligning with King Charles I and his Catholic wife.
Praise for Shame the Devil
“Scott’s writing is magnificent…The intricately woven secrets and lies against the backdrop of an unprecedented dethroning of the monarchy make Shame the Devil a page-turning experience. Historical fiction and romance fans should not miss out on this book. Highly recommended.” -Chanticleer International Book Reviews
“The references to the situation happening in England during the time of the Civil War are interesting to read about…The struggle between the Parliamentarians and Royalists is fascinating to follow and thought-provoking…and you will follow some lovely characters throughout the book.” -Reedsy Reviews
“Scott’s…gentle manipulation of the material [is] appealing and easy to follow, even for those unfamiliar with the details of the English Civil War…I appreciate how Scott used the history to frame the dramatic events of her story…I enjoyed Colin, Roddy, and Emma well-enough, but I was genuinely attached to Alston…I was captivated by his arc and thought his story the most dynamically compelling. Stephen, repugnant though he is, also deserves a shout out as a fabulously layered antagonist.” –Historical Fiction Reader
About the Author
Donna Scott is an award-winning author of 17th and 18th century historical fiction. Before embarking on a writing career, she spent her time in the world of academia. She earned her BA in English from the University of Miami and her MS and EdD (ABD) from Florida International University. She has two sons and lives in sunny South Florida with her husband. Her first novel, Shame the Devil, received the first place Chaucer Award for historical fiction and a Best Book designation from Chanticleer International Book Reviews. Her newest novel, The London Monster, will be released in January 2021.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, September 14
Review at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, September 16
Guest Post at Book Bustle
Thursday, September 17
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit
Friday, September 18
Guest Post at Coffee and Ink
Tuesday, September 22
Interview at Passages to the Past
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 3 paperback copies of Shame the Devil by Donna Scott! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on September 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.