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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

*[Blog Tour Review] The Bitter Trade by Piers Alexander

The Bitter Trade
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The Bitter Trade is a historical adventure set during the Glorious Revolution: Rebellious silk trader Calumny Spinks must become a coffee racketeer and join the conspiracy against the King to save his father’s life.

In 1688, torn by rebellions, England lives under the threat of a Dutch invasion. Redheaded Calumny Spinks is the lowliest man in an Essex backwater: half-French and still unapprenticed at seventeen, yet he dreams of wealth and title.

When his father’s violent past resurfaces, Cal’s desperation leads him to become a coffee racketeer. He has just three months to pay off a blackmailer and save his father’s life - but his ambition and talent for mimicry pull him into a conspiracy against the King himself.

Cal’s journey takes him from the tough life of Huguenot silk weavers to the vicious intrigues at Court. As the illicit trader Benjamin de Corvis and his controlling daughter Emilia pull him into their plots, and his lover Violet Fintry is threatened by impending war, Cal is forced to choose between his conscience and his dream of becoming Mister Calumny Spinks.
Summary & Cover taken from
Length: 448 pages (Paperback)
Source: Review Copy
Available Sources: Print/E-book
Publication Date: June 26th 2014 by Tenderfoot (first published April 3rd 2014)
I'm kind of ashamed to say that the majority of historical fiction novels I have read have women as the main characters, I think this is because I've always been interested in how women lived and love seeing how they're represented in historical context. Every once in awhile though I get the urge to read a good old fashioned adventure story about a male character trying to make his way in the world and that is exactly what Calumny Spinks represents to me.
I enjoyed reading The Bitter Trade so much because I enjoyed reading a novel about a regular guy. He wasn't a lord, or anything really noble, just a poor man's son who wants to be apprenticed into a trade and eventually earn the title of "Mister" and secure his place in society. These are big dreams for our 17 year old protagonist but he's got a cunning mind and he's actually one of those characters who reveals his true self, in terms of strengths and weaknesses in layers. I liked that Calumny was a character I saw evolve in the story.  I have to say though, that I wasn't the biggest fan of Calumny for a good chunk of the book. His feeling sorry for himself and whiney was starting to get to me, but like I said I saw him change and grow so I applaud the author for giving the character some realistic qualities by not making him an easy guy to like.
The story was a thrilling one. There was mystery, political intrigue, betrayal and treason a foot with young Calumny Spinks in the center of it all due to some long kept family secrets held by his father Peter (who was a curmudgeon, but an interesting character). As well as a very wide variety of other criminals both high and lowborn alike. I never knew where the story was headed and I enjoyed the thrill of trying to figure it out even though I would often be surprised where it actually went. London in the 1600s on the brink of a revolution was a dangerous place to be and the way Piers Alexander depicted it was brilliant. The sights, sounds and smells (lets face it London didn't smell great then) all came alive for me in the reading of this extremely well written debut. I wait to see how the story continues.
I'd recommend this novel for all those who enjoy historical fiction but want to really delve into the London underbelly of the 1600s with a great cast of characters, and a fascinating story that is both easy to follow and enthralling.
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my free and honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are 100% my own.
Really Liked It!

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03_Piers AlexanderAuthor Bio:

Piers Alexander is an author and serial entrepreneur. After a successful career as CEO of media and events companies he became a Co-Founder and Chairman of three start-up businesses. In 2013 he was awarded the PEN Factor Prize for The Bitter Trade. He is currently working on the sequel, Scatterwood, set in Jamaica in 1692.




  1. The book looks like a fine read. Thats great you enjoyed it so much

  2. I hadn't really thought about it but the majority of characters I read about in any kind of fiction are female. I like the idea of getting a look at the life of a regular man during this time period. Thanks for sharing!


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