Saturday, February 19, 2022

The Dragon Tree by Julia Ibbotson - Book Tour

The Dragon Tree  (Dr DuLac series Book 2)

A haunting medieval time-slip

Echoes of the past resonate through time and disturb medievalist Dr DuLac as she struggles with misfortune in the present. She and Rev Rory have escaped to the island of Madeira on a secondment from their posts, yet they are not to find peace – until they can solve the mystery of the shard of azulejo and the ancient ammonite. Viv’s search brings her into contact with two troubled women: a noblewoman shipwrecked on the island in the 14th century and a rebellious nun at the island convent in the 16th century. As Viv reaches out across the centuries, their lives become intertwined, and she must uncover the secrets of the ominous Dragon Tree in order to locate lost artefacts that can shape the future.

For fans of Barbara Erskine, Pamela Hartshorne, Susanna Kearsley, Christina Courtenay.

(for A Shape on the Air) “In the best Barbara Erskine tradition …I would highly recommend this novel” -Historical Novel Society

(for the series) “Julia does an incredible job of setting up the idea of time-shift so that it’s believable and makes sense” – book tour reviewer

“The idea of being able to ‘feel’ what happened in the past is enticing … The sense of the island is really wonderful … Julia brings it to life evocatively”  Joanna Barnden

“an engaging and original time-slip novel that keeps the reader turning the pages…the characters are authentic and the mystery is neatly woven between the centuries … seamless time transitions” – Melissa Morgan

Purchase Link -

The Dragon Tree is the story of Viv and Rory’s escape to the island of Madeira on a secondment from their posts, after a tragedy. Yet they are not to find peace – until they can solve the mystery of strange artefacts. Viv’s search brings her into contact with two troubled women from the island’s history: a noblewoman shipwrecked on the island in the 14th century and a rebellious nun from the 16th century. As Viv reaches out across the centuries, their lives become intertwined, and she must uncover the secrets of the ominous Dragon Tree in order to locate lost artefacts that can shape the future.

This extract from my book The Dragon Tree is from the second chapter where Dr Viv and Rev Rory (the ‘hot priest’) have just arrived on the island of Madeira where they’re on secondment from their jobs, and they’ve found the church where Rory will work for the next year …

“Well, it’s good that you could make it,” said John, one of the two church wardens who had sent the taxi to the airport to pick them up and had met them at the church. He sounded less than enthusiastic, but he seemed courteous, albeit serious and unsmiling, and perhaps a little agitated as his fingernails tapped the railing at the side of the steps that led up to the apartment above the church meeting rooms.

Viv was surprised to see that John was wearing a dark formal suit, shirt and tie, despite the heat, and carried a large tan briefcase that bulged with documents. Perhaps he was off back to work after greeting them. She noticed his fair, slightly ginger buzz cut, merging into the rough skin of his face, English paleness reddened by the sun. She wondered idly how long he had lived here, and what he did for a living: a bank clerk maybe, or an office manager?

John coughed, a rather nervous high-pitched bark, which made Viv glance quickly at him, as he directed the local taxi driver with an imperious wave of the hand to carry their luggage up to the apartment.

Viv turned to the other church warden in the ‘welcome party’. She was a tall slim woman not much older than herself, but elegant and graceful in her tight white jeans and prettily draping dusky-pink top. She introduced herself as Georgina, “church warden by default”, as she shook hands with Viv and gave her a rueful, intimate smile. She guessed she was English, but the coverage of her smooth light tan suggested a long residency on Madeira. Viv took in her skilfully applied make-up and glossy smooth blonde bob, and felt herself sticky and unkempt by comparison, stale from the journey, curly auburn-brown hair pulled carelessly back into a ponytail. She couldn’t help but notice Georgina’s beautifully manicured nails, polished with perfect red gel.

She also noticed the swift appreciative glance Georgina sent in Rory’s direction. She was only too aware that women never failed to flutter at his athletic body and sexy lop-sided smile. She turned away, raising her eyebrows and grimacing to herself. She knew she should be used to it by now.

“Well, the church certainly looks imposing,” Viv said as she looked across the lawns  at the building standing four-square before her in the glaring sunshine, its pairs of Doric-style columns on the steps either side of the great wooden doors. She could make out a dome rising from the roof and thought it was rather an austere façade.

She must have sounded critical because John frowned, and Georgina raised a quizzical eyebrow. Rory glanced over at her and shook his head.

“But the garden is …” She breathed in the scent and serenity of the extensive tropical gardens around them, the bright bougainvillea spreading across the walls at the entrance to the drive, the pretty hibiscus, tall thin fragrant eucalyptus, and the jacaranda trees. She couldn’t help but feel the peace of this place, the sunshine warming her back, her limbs, and, in time, she hoped, maybe even her heart, “… like an oasis, hiding a tropical mystery.”

John stared at her for a moment with a curious expression, then turned sharply away, ushering Rory up the steps to the apartment. “Come, come.”

Viv turned to Georgina. “It’s lovely,” she added, although she could hear the flatness of her voice. John and Rory were already deep in conversation. She didn’t think that John was the kind of man to include the clergy wives in serious matters of church affairs. Probably thought they were only good for providing parish tea and cake. She frowned. Oh God, since when had she become so cynical? Since always, Rory would say of course.

“I do hope you like it here, Viv,” said Georgina, catching Viv’s expression. “I’m sure that the heat and humidity will take a bit of getting used to after an English winter. The island’s nearer to Africa than Portugal of course, off the west coast of Africa in fact, but it’s not really too hot and at least with the Atlantic breezes the nights are comfortable. And of course, you’ve got decent air-con in the apartment,” Georgina smiled, hooking her arm into Viv’s and gesturing Viv towards the steps up to the apartment which would be their home for the next year. “I’m so pleased to have a young couple here. To be honest, Viv,” Georgina leaned in and whispered as they walked, “I’m not exactly what you might call church warden material, but we’ve been having a few … er … ‘issues’ here, so I’m lending a hand.” She waggled her fingers to indicate the inverted commas. She wrinkled her nose. “Tell you about them over a gin later.” She stopped a moment on the steps, glanced up at Rory’s retreating back, and squeezed Viv’s arm. “I do hope you stay. The others didn’t last long.”

Author Bio –

Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and the concept of time. She sees her author brand as a historical fiction writer of romantic mysteries that are evocative of time and place, well-researched and uplifting page-turners. Her current series focuses on early medieval time-slip/dual-time mysteries. Julia read English at Keele University, England, specialising in medieval language/ literature/ history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. After a turbulent time in Ghana, West Africa, she became a school teacher, then a university academic and researcher. Her break as an author came soon after she joined the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme in 2015, with a three-book deal from Lume Books (Endeavour) for a trilogy (Drumbeats) set in Ghana in the 1960s. She has published five other books, including A Shape on the Air, an Anglo-Saxon timeslip mystery, and its two sequels The Dragon Tree and The Rune Stone. Her work in progress is the first of a new series of Anglo-Saxon mysteries (Daughter of Mercia) where echoes of the past resonate across the centuries. Her books will appeal to fans of Barbara Erskine, Pamela Hartshorne, Susanna Kearsley, and Christina Courtenay. Her readers say: ‘Julia’s books captured my imagination’, ‘beautiful story-telling’, ‘evocative and well-paced storylines’, ‘brilliant and fascinating’ and ‘I just couldn’t put it down’.


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  1. Many thanks for featuring the second book in my Dr DuLac series, The Dragon Tree, on your blog today! Much appreciated, Jasmine.


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