Welcome to a slightly different Blog Tour! Every Tuesday during October Helen Hollick has chosen to shine a light on some of the women of her novels – and has invited nine other authors to join her. Needless to say, I am one of her proud companions.
More about the blog hop and its participants later, but for now, I’d like you to settle down and welcome Kit de Guirande. Please don’t clap too hard – this 14th century lady is most reluctant to step out of the shadows, being less than comfortable with such concepts as blog tours, internet or PR in general. The poor thing has never even had tea before – or chocolate…
Kit smiles at this, and settles herself carefully on a chair. She’s in green today – she often is, seeing as she knows just how well it complements her dark red hair. Not that anyone ever sees much of it – ladies of the 14th century rarely go about with their head uncovered.
“Except on our wedding day,” Kit says, and her fingers brush over the deep green of her kirtle. Ah, yes: this is what she wore the first time she met Adam. Well: met and met. Our Kit had been drugged to her eyeballs with poppy-laced wine.
“So as to ensure I did not protest,” she says, nodding gravely. She leans forward. “You see, I had never met Adam de Guirande before – and even worse, they were forcing me to pretend I was someone I wasn’t.” She fixes a rather reproachful look on me. “Your idea.”
Err…Yes, I suppose it was. No, wait: it was that hatchet-faced lady’s idea. Lady Cecily was not about to let something as immaterial as her own daughter’s refusal to marry Adam impinge on her family’s fortunes. And luckily for Lady Cecily, she knew exactly where to find an adequate (and vulnerable) stand-in. Kit, you see, is the bastard daughter of Lady Cecily’s husband – something that definitely does not endear Kit to Lady Cecily.
“Mutual,” Kit says, a gleam of something hard and brittle in her blue eyes. “Most mutual. That woman…Ugh!”
Being forced into marriage might not have been entirely unusual back in the 14th century. (In some parts of the world it is still, sadly, common practice) Being forced to wed under a false name, however, was not all that common. Kit fingers the embroidered girdle that decorates her waist.
“He was fooled,” she says softly. “And that he did not like.”
He being Adam, I might add. Kit’s face softens at his name.
“Adam,” she repeats, and her voice is dark and husky.
“So it was not an entirely negative experience marrying him?” I tease.
“No. But lying to him was. And once he found out I had…” Kit swallows, her hands clasped tight.
Ah, yes. I hand her a goblet of wine. (I am tempted to offer her the comfort of tea, but anachronisms are anachronisms)
Things are not exactly made less complicated by the fact that Adam de Guirande is one of Sir Roger Mortimer’s most trusted captains. So when Mortimer rises in provoked rebellion against his king, late in 1321, Adam has no choice but to ride with him. Kit crosses herself and whispers a hasty prayer, a heartfelt wish that her man ride through the storm unharmed.
“He’s a rebel,” I remind her gently. Generally, rebels end up dangling froma rope – or worse.
Kit nods, casting a look out of the arched window. Beyond, a wintry moon has just risen, denuded trees sparkling with frost. A cold night indeed for all those Mortimer men who have cast their lot with their lord, while over in Cirencester King Edward II amasses a huge host to ride against them. I shiver. How on earth is Adam – and Sir Roger – to make it out of this unscathed?
“I’ll not let him die,” Kit says. Before me, my leading lady straightens her back. Her jaw sets, brows pull together in a determined frown. “I will do anything to keep him safe. Anything.”
I smile. I was sort of counting on that. I was not quite as prepared for just how brave Kit could be when so required. But then women in all times and walks of lives have often had to risk a lot for love.
“Love?” Kit smiles at me. “You think he loves me?”
Sheesh. I roll my eyes at her and leave it at that. Plus, of course, I cross my fingers and send up a little prayer of my own that she does not arrive too late to save her Adam.
Below a little excerpt from In the Shadow of the Storm:
She dared a quick peek from under her lashes, met his appraising look and ducked her head. Her husband! Kit knotted her fingers into the fabric of her skirts.
From somewhere to her right came loud laughter, and the man – her husband, dear God, she had a husband, a man she’d sworn to honour and obey under false pretences – joined in.
“Look,” he said, and she followed his finger to where a jester was prancing about in motley. There was more laughter, at the further end of the hall a fight broke out, and right in front of her danced a girl, accompanied by two musicians.
She felt as if she was drowning. So many unknown people, so much noise, and beside her a man she was now tied to for life. She felt an urge to run, to flee before it was too late. Kit rose, and the man rose as well, his thick fair hair gleaming when it caught the candlelight.
“I…” She sat back down again, giving him a tremulous smile. He just looked at her. “Wine?” she asked. Her husband – Adam – snapped his fingers, and a child rushed over, a heavy pitcher in his hands.
“Not too much, I prefer my bride conscious on our wedding night.” There was an edge to his voice that made Kit quail. He smiled, yet another smile that came nowhere close to touching his eyes. Kit licked her lips; her husband was clearly as unhappy about having to marry her as Kit had been at the notion of marrying him.
“It’s not my fault,” she muttered.
“How do you mean, my lady?”
“It wasn’t me who forced you to marry me, my lord.”
He sat back, looking surprised – and amused. “There’s not a man alive who could force me to wed you,” he said after some moments of silence.
“How fortunate – for you.” She emptied her cup, waved it at the wine-boy. “Not everyone has a choice.”
For those of you who know your history, you’ll be aware that Sir Roger Mortimer did, in fact, survive his failed rebellion in 1321-22, going on to wreak considerable revenge on the king, and his favourite Hugh Despenser, at a later day. Mortimer detested Despenser – a sentiment returned in full – and it is somewhat sad that these two so capable and ambitious men were allowed to tear the kingdom apart. But that’s what happens when the king is weak, and whatever qualities Edward II may have had – and I am sure he had plenty – determined and consistent leadership was not one of them.
In the Shadow of the Storm is the first in my new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, and will be published on November 1st.
Adam de Guirande owes his lord, Sir Roger Mortimer, much more than loyalty. He owes Sir Roger for his life and all his worldly goods, he owes him for his beautiful wife – even if Kit is not quite the woman Sir Roger thinks she is. So when Sir Roger rises in rebellion against the king, Adam has no choice but to ride with him – no matter what the ultimate cost may be.
England in 1321 is a confusing place. Edward II has been forced by his barons to exile his favourite, Hugh Despenser. The barons, led by the powerful Thomas of Lancaster, Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun, have reasons to believe they have finally tamed the king. But Edward is not about to take things lying down, and fate is a fickle mistress, favouring first one, then the other.
Adam fears his lord has over-reached, but at present Adam has other matters to concern him, first and foremost his new wife, Katherine de Monmouth. His bride comes surrounded by rumours concerning her and the baron, and he hates it when his brother snickers and whispers of used goods.
Kit de Courcy has the misfortune of being a perfect double of Katherine de Monmouth – which is why she finds herself coerced into wedding a man under a false name. What will Adam do when he finds out he has been duped?
Domestic matters become irrelevant when the king sets out to punish his rebellious barons. The Welsh Marches explode into war, and soon Sir Roger and his men are fighting for their very lives. When hope splutters and dies, when death seems inevitable, it falls to Kit to save her man – if she can.
Did you like that? Then don’t forget to leave a comment – I am offering a GIVEAWAY (two e-books). Question to answer: if you’d married someone and found out they were someone else, what would you do? (And yes, you have fallen in love by then)
Well that was enough from me, I think. It is now time to turn the full glare of the spotlight on some of the other participants of this blog tour.
First and foremost, we have Helen Hollick. Want to cry your eyes out? Read her emotive portrayal of Harold Godwinson. Want to cry your eyes out some more? Read her trilogy about Arthur and his ladies – a substantially earthier version of Arthur than that portrayed by the chivalric nonsense of Mallory’s La Morte d’Arthur. Want to dream of pirates? Ah, yes: read her Seawitch stories, featuring handsome dare-devil Jesamiah Acorne. Every Sea Captain needs a woman to come home to, but Captain Jesamiah Acorne (ex-pirate) has three to choose from Tiola ( a midwife and a white witch) ‘Cesca, an English woman with a Spanish name (a spy) and Alicia… well, all Alicia wants is Jesamiah’s money…
Helen Hollick lives on a thirteen-acre farm in Devon, England. Born in London, Helen wrote pony stories as a teenager, moved to science-fiction and fantasy, and then discovered historical fiction. Published for over twenty years with her Arthurian Trilogy, and the 1066 era, she became a ‘USA Today’ bestseller with Forever Queen. She also writes the Sea Witch Voyages, pirate-based fantasy adventures. As a supporter of Indie Authors she is Managing Editor for the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews, and inaugurated the HNS Indie Award.
Helen’s post for today can be found here.
And then we have Linda Collison:
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Linda has worked as a registered nurse, a skydiving instructor (yikes!), a volunteer firefighter, a freelance writer, a novelist, and other, more ordinary jobs. Together with her husband Bob Russell, she has sailed thousands of nautical miles, many of them aboard her sailboat Topaz. The three weeks she and her husband spent as voyage crewmembers aboard HM Bark Endeavour, a replica of Captain James Cook’s ship, sparked her interest in maritime history and inspired the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series.
So who is this Patricia person? Well why not pop over and meet Patricia Macpherson – aboard a ship and disguised as Patrick, a surgeon’s mate – but how long will the ruse last? Read more here!
Below follows the entire blog hop – take the time to visit and read, as these ladies and their “ladies” take you on a trip through history.
Helen Hollick Emma of Normandy – take number one
Patricia Bracewell Emma of Normandy – take number two
Inge H. Borg An Egyptian princess and a restless soul
Helen Hollick Harold Godwinson and his various Ediths
Regina Jeffers Even Mr Darcy’s sweetheart had less likeable qualities
Elizabeth Revill Carrie Llewellyn has to grow up fast in the early 20th century
Diana Wilder The genteel Lavinia faces up to the horrors of the American Civil War
Helen Hollick Arthur and his women
Alison Morton A modern Roman warrior woman
Sophie Perinot Margot – a much-maligned princess
Helen Hollick Every Sea Captain nees a woman to come home to – even if he is a pirate
Anna Belfrage Kit – wed under a false name, but determined to keep her husband safe despite the turmoil of the 1320s
Linda Collison Brave Patricia sails under the name of Patrick, a surgeon’s mate
UPDATE! Winners of the giveaway are Teresa and CAR!