About Us

Discovering Diamonds is now closed. We opened on January 1st 2017 with the aim of helping good indie and self-published authors of historical fiction to get noticed. Good reviews of good books, however they are published, are always welcomed by readers who do not particularly care how a book is produced as long as the reading experience is rewarding, satisfying and entertaining. As long as it's a good book it'll be a good read. 
Our aim was to showcase well-written historical fiction for readers to enjoy. 
Discovering Diamonds closed for submissions on July 30th 2022.

Who We Are (well, were)
Some of us reviewed a lot, some only occasionally. Some of us are readers or editors, some of us are writers - several of us are all these. But all of us are keen to promote good historical fiction.

Founder of #DDRevs

First published in 1994, Helen became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she writes a nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages. She is now branching out into the quick read novella, 'Cosy Mystery' genre with her new venture, the Jan Christopher Murder Mysteries, set in the 1970s, with the first in the series, A Mirror Murder incorporating her, often hilarious, memories of working as a library assistant.

Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales (Amberley Books) and Life of A Smuggler (Pen & Sword).

She lives in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in North Devon and occasionally gets time to write...

Website   Facebook   Twitter @HelenHollick  Amazon Universal

BA(Hons) FRHistS
Senior Reviewer
and admin editor

Annie is a History graduate and an elected member of the Royal Historical Society. She has written four award-winning novels set in Anglo-Saxon England, one of which, To Be A Queen, tells the story of Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians. She has contributed to fiction and nonfiction anthologies and written for various magazines. She is on the EHFA (English Historical Fiction Authors) Editorial team and is senior reviewer at Discovering Diamonds. She was the winner of the inaugural Historical Writers’ Association/Dorothy Dunnett Prize 2017 and is now a judge for that same competition. She has also been a judge for the HNS (Historical Novel Society) Short Story Competition.

Her nonfiction books are published by Amberley Books (Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom) and Pen & Sword Books (Women of Power in Anglo-Saxon England). Annie was shortlisted for the Exeter Story Prize 2021

Website   Facebook   Twitter  @ALWhitehead63 

Senior Reviewer
reviewed from 2012-November 2020

Richard was born in Muswell Hill, London and nearly went to school with the Kinks and Rod Stewart. Starting work at the Ever Ready Company in 1964, he moved on to the Performing Right Society and ended his working life as a Civil Servant, retiring in 2013. He now lives in Lichfield, Staffordshire. He has four children and an equal number of grandchildren. Needless to say, he loved reading as well as Tottenham Hotspur and steam trains.
Richard was a voracious reader. 

Richard's own writing: Scraps and Scribblings

Read his article Through A Reviewer's Eyes HERE

Graphics Designer

Cathy Helms. Graphic Design. Cathy grew up with a healthy interest in anything related to the Arthurian legends – thus the inspiration for naming her design business ‘Avalon Graphics’. She has always been fascinated with British history, the Dark Ages in particular. She regularly attends local Renaissance Festivals in North Carolina where she resides. Cathy offers an array of design services and has particularly geared Avalon Graphics to suit self-published authors and small
businesses in need of quality design while on a tight budget.

She provides full book jacket layouts, marketing materials such as flyers, postcards, bookmarks and web graphics for her clients including Elizabeth Chadwick (social media graphics) and Helen Hollick (website, book covers, book trailers, marketing material).

Cathy lives in North Carolina with her husband, is an avid reader and generously agreed to be our  Cover of the Month / Year judge along with fellow designer, Tamian Wood.

website   Twitter @Avalon_Graphics   Facebook



Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, it never occurred to Alison Morton that women couldn’t serve their country in the armed forces. After six years in a Territorial Army special communications regiment, she left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting things she can’t talk about, even now… Years later, after Alison made a detour to bag an MA in history, the Roma Nova alternate history thrillers with tough heroines are the result. The first three, Inceptio, Perfiditas and Successio are set in the 21st century; Aurelia goes back to the 1960s and Insurrectio to the early 1980s. Awarded the coveted BRAG Medallion, the first four books have now been acquired by Audible.

Alison is represented by Blake Friedman Literary Agency for overseas and ancillary rights. She now lives in France with her husband and writes, tends her Roman herb garden and drinks wine.
Website   Facebook   Twitter@alison-morton   
Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com


Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exist, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. Presently, Anna is hard at work with The King’s Greatest Enemy, a series set in the 1320s: In the Shadow of the Storm and Days of Sun and Glory.

When Anna is not stuck in the 14th century, chances are she’ll be visiting in the 17th century, more specifically with Alex and Matthew Graham, the protagonists of the acclaimed The Graham Saga. This series is the story of two people who should never have met – not when she was born three centuries after him. All of Anna’s books have been awarded the BRAG Medallion.

Website   Twitter     @abelfrageauthor Facebook   Amazon 


for personal reasons Anne wishes to remain private. Anne especially likes historical adventure and anything Roman Britain or Saxon. She's not too keen on the Victorian era - but says a good read is a good read whatever the period or genre.

Young Adult Senior Reviewer

It is said she was born in the middle of a revolution, and that this was the beginning of the stories she would tell.  Ethel Catharine (Cathy) Smith has worked in the field of education since 1973, teaching all grades from preschool through higher education. She has a Masters in Administration, with an Emphasis in Professional Writing from Northern Arizona University.  Cathy is bilingual in Spanish and English. She has lived in and worked extensively with multicultural communities. Currently, Cathy is full-time faculty with the University of Phoenix. She teaches entry-level English and General Education classes. Cathy is also the managing editor of We Rise, the University of Phoenix's Quarterly Digest.


Cryssa is an historical fiction writer and 17th Century enthusiast, with a particular interest in the English Civil War.  Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, is a romantic tale of adventure set during the English Civil War and was the Medalist winner of the 2017 New Apple Award (historical fiction), a finalist for the 2018 EPIC eBook Awards (historical romance) and the RNA Joan Hessayon Award. Her second novel, Severed Knot, was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society 2018 New Novel Award. Both novels are part of a series of stand-alone adventures spanning from the English Civil War to the Restoration.

Website     Facebook  Twitter @CryssaBazos


Dawn is a recently retired professor of English living in the Charleston, South Carolina area, finally able to enjoy limitless time for reading novels. Her area of specialty in teaching was Gothic Literature, but she enjoys reading all types of fiction. She has done a large number of manuscripts reviews from textbooks to journal articles, to novels and non-fiction.  Dawn has also published two textbooks, book reviews and articles. She now works as a beta reader, reviewer, and editor of manuscripts pending publication. 


Elizabeth St.John spends her time between California, England, and the past. An acclaimed author, historian, and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Lydiard Park and Nottingham Castle to Richmond Palace and the Tower of London to inspire her novels. Although the family sold a few country homes along the way (it's hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth's family still occupy them— in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their legacy. And the occasional ghost. But that's a different story.

Having spent a significant part of her life with her seventeenth-century family while writing The Lydiard Chronicles trilogy and Counterpoint series, Elizabeth St.John is now discovering new family stories with her fifteenth-century namesake Elysabeth St.John Scrope, and her half-sister, Margaret Beaufort.


Retaining his personal information, Anne's 'partner in crime', now retired, likes to sit in the sun, or before the fire, feet up, glass of something nice to hand along with a wedge of Stilton or Brie and a good book to immerse himself in. He also says he wishes he could look as young and good-looking as the anonymous image used here for him!

(author J G Harlond)
now retired from reviewing
thank you Jane for being with us for so long

Secret agents, skulduggery, crime and romance ... Author of page-turning historical crime novels set in the 17th and early 20th centuries, Jane weaves fictional characters into real events. 

Creator of the charismatic Genoese rogue Ludo da Portovenere, and the Bob Robbins Home Front Mystery series, her stories feature wicked wrongdoing and challenging romances. 

Originally from North Devon in the English West Country, Jane has travelled widely and is now settled in rural Andalucía, Spain. She is a member of the British Crime Writers’ Association and Society of Authors.


Jeffrey is an American born and raised in Flyover Country. A retired military officer, he flew big bombers, served in Bosnia, and ran a State Department program in Baghdad. He’s been shelled, rocketed and sniped by various groups, all with bad aim. Inexplicably, he managed to get degrees from Tulane, Syracuse, Georgetown, and Harvard—plus a year at St. Andrews where he met his wife. An attorney and professor, he’s taught legal history, law of war, criminal law, and international law. He lives in Virginia, his house sitting on the old royal governor’s plantation. Mostly he sits around and makes up stories now.

Website: jeffreykwalker.com   Blog: https://jeffreykwalker.com/blog/
Goodreads Author Profile: 


Jeffrey Manton’s father was a Royal Naval officer who broke speed records in the 1950s and his mother was a German refugee. He began his career marketing people and blazed the trail for today’s spin doctors. He worked and lived in Paris, Madrid, New York, Dallas and Boston and ghost-wrote articles for newspapers and periodicals that included the Financial Times, the Boston Globe, El Pais and Le Figaro.

Novel writing started after Jeffrey was tutored by Orange Prize nominee Liz Jenson at the Arvon Creative Writing Foundation and he was then mentored by Pulitzer Prize runner-up Dick Vaughan as well as Booker long-listed John Murray (creative writing teacher at Madingly Hall, Cambridge) who said: ‘he has an assured and admirable talent.’ Jeffrey’s second novel The Splendour of Anna Stern was a bestseller on Youwriteon.com.

A voracious reader of fiction at the rate of a book a week, Jeffrey’s tastes range from Dorothy Whipple and Elizabeth Taylor to Sidney Sheldon and Victoria Hislop. He is a member of the Author’s Society and is an avid and delighted online chatterer on anything to do with books. Jeffrey was a former member of The Copyright Tribunal, a former probation board member and a presiding magistrate.


Jen Black did one year of history at university, changed courses and then graduated in English language and literature. She always wanted to write, worked in libraries of various kinds all her working life, finally began to write and achieved publication a decade ago. Her novels are divided into serious historical novels such as The Banners of Alba, Abduction of the Scots Queen and Queen’s Courier, and the historical romances: The Craigsmuir Affair and The Gybford Affair. There are also the Viking stories – Far After Gold, Magician’s Bride and Dark Pool. She is currently working hard on her next book, The Matfen Affair, which will hopefully be published on Kindle before Christmas 2016.

She has been reviewing for the last couple of years, and lives in the beautiful Tyne Valley with her husband and one large dog.

Website    Twitter  @JenBlackNCL  Amazon: The Gybford Affair  The Craigsmuir Affair


Jessica wishes her details to remain private. A former academic and multi-published novelist, she is an avid reader of all genres particularly historical. Her specialist areas are the ancient world and the European theatre of the Second World War.


JJ Toner writes WW2 spy thrillers amongst other things. He lives in Ireland.
Bitten by the writing bug in his early teens, he finally started writing again in 1996 after half a lifetime of procrastination. Not that he was ever short of good excuses. For 35 years he worked with computers, first as a petroleum geophysicist, then with medical and veterinarian scientists, accountants, engineers, and in a variety of industries. His work took him all over Europe, and yet he found the time to marry, build a home, father three kids, and get his golf handicap down to single figures.
JJ has been a full-time writer since 2007.

A history graduate, turned teacher and now self-published author, Joan's writing encompasses both historical fiction, contemporary women’s fiction, non-fiction and more recently crime fiction. Born in Dumfries, Scotland, she has been living in Spain for the last twenty-three years. Many of her novels are set there, particularly the historical ones which focus on two distinct periods in the country’s history, the Spanish Civil War and Moorish Spain. To date she has written and published seventeen books, including the Al-Andalus trilogy, The City of Dreams trilogy, Spanish Lavender and The Only Blue Door. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Alliance of Independent Authors.


Juhi Ray lives in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. She is originally from southern India and works in the medical field. Besides spending time with her daughter, she enjoys cooking, ballroom dancing, and writing. It was only by chance that she stumbled upon the story that led her to write her debut novel "The Final Puzzle".  She is currently working on a collection of short stories set in rural India.


Lorraine Swoboda works in her office on a mezzanine directly under the roof. There was at first no way to access this space, so her husband built a staircase for her. Whether this was in her interests or his own is debatable.

She is a writer, a blogger about matters writerly and grammatical, and an editor.

She has a joint honours degree in English and American Literature and has worked as a TV news researcher and copy-writer, a school library administrator, and an online advice columnist.
She and her husband moved to France in 2004, first to the Vienne, which was too hot and too cold, and later to Brittany. They find it’s a gentler climate in the north, though a good pair of wellies and an acceptance of mud are essential.

Her first Regency novel, Mrs Calcott’s Army, is now published

Twitter: @LorSwob


Louise is an experienced reviewer, but would rather keep her details private.


Lucy is the pen-name of an established author, 
who wishes to  remain anonymous

Not content with two careers as a research scientist and an educator, Marian L Thorpe decided to go back to what she’d always wanted to do and be a writer. Author of the alternative world medieval trilogy Empire’s Legacy, Marian also has published short stories and poetry. Her life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history informs her novels, while her avocations of landscape archaeology and birding provide background to her settings. As well as writing and editing professionally, Marian oversees Arboretum Press, a small publishing imprint run as a collective.  
website: https://marianlthorpe.com/
twitter @marianlthorpe


Mary lives in Devon but wishes to remain private. She is an avid reader and likes to curl up before the fire with her dog and two cats.


The only thing Nicky ever got in trouble for at school was reading under the desk during Physics class. It was probably a Sharon Penman… Once it became clear that Life (and excess height) was determined to prevent her from becoming a ballerina, after dabbling in the world of motorsport, she returned to her other loves – history and books. A graduate of History, medieval with a bit of pre-historic archaeology thrown in for fun, the Normans and Domesday Book are her specialism, Edward III her passion and the bits in between her essay content. 

When not writing her own brand of fiction, for publication when she overcomes her shyness, Nicky loves to work with other authors to beta read, proof and offer a helping hand with research. She wants to promote great plots, authentic settings, superb characters, but her obsession is accuracy, both historical and grammatical. The image is of Nicky practising for battle at Crecy...

Follow Nicky on Twitter @sicestverum. 


My hunger for the stories hidden behind well-known historical events was ignited by a much-loved History teacher. She had us read Josephine Tey’s ‘Daughter of Time’, about who really killed the Princes in the Tower. The underlying premise? The stories we learn are those told by the victors – and might not be true. Some years later, life tumbled me into a nearly 30-year career as an international time management specialist and keynote speaker. During that time, my writing dream become reality, with many hundreds of articles and regular columns in diverse publications, plus eight books on time and productivity-related topics. In 2018/19 I completely updated all those books and transferred them to digital platforms. (Some were best-sellers in Australia and New Zealand.) Through all those busy years, the hidden stories of long ago continued to nag at the corners of my mind. And so a new career began. It’s been fuelled by an incredible resource of letters, journals and other artifacts written by 18th and 19th century ancestors and saved by far-sighted family members. 

What drove people to leave their known worlds and brave incredible hazards in the search for freedom? For those who travelled to new countries at the bottom of the world, what were the motivations that crammed them into small wooden ships  for months, sailing through dangerous seas with no guarantee of arrival?  So many amazing stories, not just of my ancestors, but also of many others - almost all driven by the dream of a better life.


Susan has two books traditionally published and seven ebooks spanning the centuries. Two of her books have won Indie B.R.A.G Medallions and one has won a Chill with a Book Award. At the present time, she is working on a series of short stories about the Wittelsbachs, a German ruling family who have fascinated her since she met them during research for an earlier book. Susan was born in Yorkshire, England, which is where she learned to love English history. She now lives in Ontario for six months of the year with kids and grandkids and Mexico for the other six months with sun and sea and margaritas on the beach.


(graphics designer)

Tamian Wood has generously agreed to be our joint Cover of the Month / Year judge along with Cathy Helms of www.avalongraphics. Tamian is a Graphic Designer, who founded Beyond Design International.

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My thanks to all the volunteers 
who give up their time to support good authors 
by reviewing their novels.