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Weaving 11th century historical fiction, fantasy, and adventure into a tapestry revealing the power of women.

from Library Titan

The Secret Journey, co-authored by Brian Barnes and Judith Briles, delves into the tumultuous life of Lisa, the sole daughter of a port commander in Marseilles, France. This young adult historical fiction paints a vivid picture of Lisa’s complex familial dynamics, highlighting her estrangement from her mother and brother in contrast to the adoration of her father, Alexander. Alexander, recognizing Lisa’s acute understanding of human intentions, is a pillar of support in her life.


However, the narrative takes a dark turn with his untimely death, attributed to poisoning by Lisa’s mother. In the wake of this tragedy, Lisa’s life undergoes a drastic transformation. She flees her opulent life, taking on the disguise of a teenage boy named Nichol, and sets out for Paris, pursued by unseen threats. This journey is a flight for survival and a quest for a greater purpose, shadowed by the need to address past injustices.


The narrative captivates from the start, with a rhythm that dynamically shifts to reflect the varying phases of Lisa’s journey. This variance in pacing adds a unique flavor to the story, especially in the rapid development of Lisa’s romance with Robert. This brisk unfolding introduces an element of surprise and spontaneity, which can be particularly appealing to readers who enjoy unexpected turns and engagement to an already captivating tale.


from Rox Burkey

Authors Barnes and Briles introduce a new layer of intrigue to the Harmonie Series with Book 2, The Secret Hamlet. The narrative delves into 11th-century France with meticulous detail as Nichol and her extended family escape the threats of Paris. Guided by The Lady, Nichol embarks on a perilous journey across the country, her infant daughter’s safety her utmost priority. Including supernatural elements, such as the hawk protector and The Lady’s guidance, adds a thrilling undercurrent of tension to the story.

These authors paint the journey’s delicate flavors and complex textures with endearing multi-dimensional characters, essential to the twists and turns of the story. Ezra continues the merchant training Nichol began with her papa. His wife Helene embraces Nichol like a daughter. Looking for a place to settle and grow, the travelers add to the number, each with a need to begin anew without hate or fear.


A solid female lead entering this story, Nichol’s character gains additional strength as she becomes a mother and moves into the leadership role of the extended family she brings together. Her honesty, simple truth, and honor make her a unique individual readers can embrace. When Nichol gains a heart sister, Emma, she learns of a possible ally in her brother, the Duke. Nicol’s wolf-dog protector, Shadow, a favorite character, sticks close to Nichol or the children, attuned to every subtle command.


The layers of evil, religious alliances, slavery, magic, love, and long-range goals add to the exciting threads of the journey to The Secret Hamlet. It was inspiring to see Individual characters use untapped strengths that Nichol sees to make a difference in the direction of their lives. Readers of medieval history with touches of fantasy will enjoy this captivating tale. Enjoy this outstanding stand-alone tale, but it is highly recommended as better if you read The Secret Journey, Book 1 in the Harmonie Series. It is essential to call out the stunning cover by Rebecca Finkel.

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