Coffee Pot Book Tour: The Importance of Pawns


Today we are hosting the very first stop on the Coffee Pot Book Tour for Keira Morgan's The Importance of Pawns. What a gorgeous cover! I can't wait to get tucked into this one. We have a great blub and a tempting excerpt to kick off the tour!

The Details

Book Title: The Importance of Pawns
Series: Chronicles of the House of Valois
Author: Keira J. Morgan
Publication Date: 10th March 2021
Publisher: French Historical Fiction/ Fiction de la renaissance Française (Private self-publishing company)
Page Length: 380 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction


Author Bio:

Keira retired from training and management in the Canadian Public Service to follow a career as an author. She now writes from Mexico where she lives happily with a husband, two cats and two dogs. Her doctoral level studies in Renaissance history underlie her historical fiction. She writes about the turbulent sixteenth-century French Renaissance. Her stories tell of powerful women who challenged tradition to play crucial roles in French affairs. Find out more at KJ Morgan — Writer 

She also maintains a non-fiction website, All About French Renaissance Women, [] where she writes about the lives of Frenchwomen during the era. She plans to collect their biographies into a book.

 Social Media Links: 

Connect with Keira:

Author Website • Website • Twitter • Facebook • Instagram 

The Blurb: 

Based on historical events and characters in sixteenth-century France, this timeless tale pits envy, power and intrigue against loyalty and the strength of women’s friendships. 

Although the French court dazzles on the surface, beneath its glitter, danger lurks for the three women trapped in its coils as power shifts from one regime to the next. The story begins as Queen Anne lies dying and King Louis’s health declines. Their two daughters, Claude and young Renée, heiresses to the rich duchy of Brittany, become pawns in the game of control. 

Countess Louise d’Angoulême is named guardian to both girls. For years she has envied the dying Queen Anne, the girls’ mother. Because of her family’s dire financial problems, she schemes to marry wealthy Claude to her son. This unexpected guardianship presents a golden opportunity, but only if she can remove their protectress Baronne Michelle, who loves the princesses and safeguards their interests.

 As political tensions rise, the futures of Princess Renée and Baronne hang in the balance, threatened by Countess Louise’s plots. 

Will timid Claude untangle the treacherous intrigues Countess Louise is weaving? Will Baronne Michelle and Claude outflank the wily countess to protect young Princess Renée? And can Claude find the courage to defend those she loves? 

Praise for The Importance of Pawns: 

Love, revenge, deceit, valour, struggle and bravery. These are the keystones of Keira Morgan’s fascinating new novel, The Importance of Pawns. Historical fiction at its best.



The Excerpt:

The Importance of Pawns, by Keira Morgan



4 January 1514, Early afternoon

Château de Blois

Countess Louise d’Angoulême

Countess Louise d’Angoulême appraised her reflection in the fine Venetian mirror her son, her marvelous François, had given her for her holy days étrenne. Was it not just like him to give her the costliest gift he could find? And who would pay for it? Putting the problem aside, she turned her head this way and that. Were those gray hairs in among her glossy dark blond locks? Did she have crow’s feet fanning from her wide gray eyes? The perfection of the image from this latest invention was perhaps not an advantage to an older woman. Impatiently she put it down.

When would that Agnez arrive? It was unsuitable that a woman of her rank should be kept waiting by a servant girl. She paced once more around the perimeter of her suite’s presence chamber, running her fingers over the thick Flemish tapestries that absorbed the chill from the stone walls. She reminded herself that she had done very well to parlay King Louis’s favor into this suite of three rooms, despite the overcrowding at the Christmas court. It had taken some effort on her part, but despite Queen Anne’s enmity, she had even charmed the king into furnishing the rooms. When she arrived early in December, she had come accompanied only by her bed and clothes chests.

Louise threw herself into a folding leather chair in front of the hissing fire. The crowned L & A for Louis and Anne emblazoned on the fireplace hood drew her eyes. How the emblem irritated her! Well, there was always some fly in the ointment, she thought. When her son was king, she would order those initials replaced immediately.

A knock rattled the door of her presence chamber. Finally! When her gentleman usher pulled it open, the queen’s maid, Agnez, sidled in. She bobbed a curtsey. “You sent for me, Countess?” She twisted her hands on her apron.

Louise did not rise. “The court is rife with rumors that the queen is sinking and will not last the month. Be it true?”

Agnez’s chapped lips twitched into a knowing smile, and she gave a jerky nod. “The queen be mortal ill. She will be passing right soon.”

Louise nodded. It was as she thought. Queen Anne was dying, and much sooner than anyone had expected — if Agnez’s words proved true. Though there was no reason to doubt her. On past occasions she had earned her pay. But it was too irritating. Queen Anne’s illness was just another difficulty! She still had not approved her daughter’s marriage to Louise’s son. They had been betrothed for years and would be married already, but for Queen Anne’s unrelenting opposition. Not that plain, fat Princess Claude with her ugly limp and mousy hair was the match Louise would have chosen for her magnificent François, but what choice did she have? King Louis was her son’s guardian, and he insisted upon the marriage. Too bad he couldn’t control his stubborn wife — or did not choose to. At least Claude was wealthy, and soon would be richer since she was heiress to the duchy of Brittany when the queen died, and it was just one of Claude’s dower lands.

“Baronne Michelle was with the queen all morning.” Agnez brought a finger to her lips, muffling her words. “She will not last but days.”

It took Louise a few seconds to understand Agnez’s mumbled words. When they finally sank in, Louise barely concealed her worry. There would be no wedding if the court was in mourning. “You are certain?”

Agnez’s chin bobbed. “Oh, yes. I was scrubbing the floor, so I heard the whole.” She frowned. “There was more.”


“She said—”

“Who said?”

“Mme. la Reine said—” The girl fell silent.

“Tell me, child. I will not bite.”

“She’d not leave Brittany to the Princess Claude. Goin t’leave it to the Princess Renée.”

“By the shoes of the Blessed Virgin!”

Agnez fell to her knees. “I’m s-s-sorry.”

The countess realized she was glaring at the girl. “There, there, wench, calm yourself, you surprised me. That is all. Stand up.” Louise forced herself to speak coolly. She pointed to the ale, “Pour yourself a tankard. Now, what else did the queen say?”

After she took a swallow, Agnez snuffled through her nose. Hands gripping the mug, she said, “You be not angry, be you, Mme. Louise?”

“Not with you, girl. You have been useful and the more you tell me, the better I will reward you.” That should open her lips. Hopefully, it did not encourage her to embellish her tale.

“You’ll not like it, Mme. Louise.”

Louise’s gray eyes snapped. “I do not blame you for the words of others, girl.”

Agnez pushed wisps of greasy hair back under her cap. She spoke in a singsong as if quoting: “The queen said, ‘The Countess d’Angoulême is no more pleased about the marriage than me. She don’t like my daughter and agrees to it only to please the king since he’s pow’rful and rich… ‘cause she’s greedy. Let ‘er find out that Brittany won’t go to Claude and see how fast she ends the ‘trothal.’” Agnez slowed to a stop.

 Louise did not doubt that Agnez had repeated the queen’s words. Though Louise’s face burned, she controlled herself. “Was there more?” 

The girl shook her mob-capped head.

 Louise stood. “You have done me good service, Agnez. Continue, and there will be more like this.” She tossed her a bag of small coins.

 Catching it, Agnez scrambled into a curtsey. “Thank ‘ee Mme. Louise.” She almost ran from the room.

 Louise paced the parquet floor for some time before regaining her temper. That the queen was correct about her opinion of Claude and the marriage was irrelevant. That the Queen called Louise avaricious was insulting but unimportant — another example of a rich woman despising a clever one for her lesser means and greater talents. That the queen planned to disinherit Claude of Brittany was unacceptable.

 As Louise moved about her rooms, she stopped to caress the soft Flemish tapestries, the glowing frames on the paintings by Botticelli and Raphael, and the tooled leather covers on the books she had taken from the great library. Was Claude worth marrying without Brittany? Her dowry also included Milan — the single richest state in the West. She was the best dowered heiress in Europe. But King Louis had lost Milan, and who knew if he would recover it — or be able to hold it. So, what was it worth? Yet her son valued it more than all Claude’s other domains and was determined to regain her birthright. It was an obsession of his. To Louise it was a chimera, but she would do anything for her son. What made men so eager to fight, to become storied warriors, wasting their wealth and risking maiming and death?


Louise shook her head to rid it of these unwelcome thoughts. As she passed Botticelli’s painting again, she paused to gaze at it. Venus floated to shore on a scallop shell while three Graces danced on the grass nearby. Its perfection usually restored her sense of order. Today it did not work its magic. Why could not the actual world be so orderly? Brittany was too great a prize to permit the queen to bequeath it away from Princess Claude.


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Check out my fantastic book shelf crammed with historical fiction, including The Importance of Pawns!

Be sure to check out all the stops on the book tour for the wonderful book. There's lots more to come!





  1. Such a wonderful excerpt!

    Thank you so much for hosting today's blog tour stop.

  2. Thank you so much for hosting my first stop on the tour, Jean. If anyone has questions, ask me more at my website


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