By Allison Knight (Guest Blogger)
“One night, while the Earl of Sandwich was playing cards, he got hungry...” So began another dinnertime tale about people to whom my father swore we were related.
With every story Dad told, he instilled a love of history in all of us. For example my sister has become a genealogist. I wonder if it isn't inherited for I have a granddaughter following in my sister's footsteps.
But Dad wasn’t the only one. My grandfather, a great story teller, would delight in gathering his grandchildren around him and telling us about his life. He described how the snow came through the cracks of their one room log cabin on the night he was born, why he never got further in school than third grade, although by all standards he was a very successful man. Of course there was the tale about our great grandmother who had been capture by the Sioux and released in a trade in Detroit.
And believe it or not, that story was true. Although I'm not so sure about the Earl of Sandwich being related to us.
Mother also had stories to tell. Her tales also centered around an antique left to her by a distant relative who journeyed to the US from Germany, Holland, even a bride from Spain who was supposed to have been a purchased bride. I even have a rose bush that has traveled around the US with us which supposedly came with one of the relatives from Holland nearly two hundred years ago. Notice -- I said supposedly. Unfortunately, it
must not like the southern climes for it has only given me one rose in three years.
Is it any wonder I turned out to be a historical romance writer? Not only do I like to visit the past but I also have to have a happy ending to my stories. Yah, I really like those fairy tales which have 'and they lived happily ever after' endings. And I find the past intriguing.
I also love delving into facts, researching a book. I can get lost in research. Finding an old book, a reference to an unknown fact on the 'net', get fascinating information from a site mean hours delving into the past, sometimes long past. I spent hours and hours researching the care of King Edward I of England's forests. I also found some of the most interest facts about those forests and the kind of trees that grew there.
However, some facts have a nasty habit of alluding an author, no matter how many attempts are made to discover the truth. So, as an author, I get to imagine how it would have been. After all, it’s called fiction for a reason.
Injured, Edward's spy is recued by an abused, but stubborn woman, unwilling to trust a man but with a heart ready for true love.
Arvel Ap Brynn Ffrydd has served as Edward' sspy long enough and will complete this last mission for the wife and estate promised him. Discovered by his enemy he must conceal his identity and find a way to deliver his message. His efforts force him to care for a widow, a beautiful, bossy and stubborn woman, then drag her with him, only to find she has grown to mean more than the King's reward.
Catherine de Berford Javier, physically and emotionally abused by her first husband, refuses to trust men. Another marriage is the last thing she wants, but the injured man who claims to be in Edward's service makes her heart flutter. However, she believes she means nothing to him until he offers his love but will sacrifice his happiness to keep her secret. Fate, in the form of traitor, gives them a future together.
Lovesong By Allison Knight
Catherine de Berford Javier swayed in her palfrey’s saddle. Worry grew. Anguish had her gripping the reins tighter and biting her bottom lip with each step her mount took. As the horse fought the pull of the straps, she tried to reassure herself.
‘Tis a beautiful day, I’m away from the manor house and despite the objections of Sir Robert, I want to enjoy market day at Bakewell. Still, bitterness sat heavy on her heart.
She could not forget that her father would soon return from London, bearing the name of the man he selected as her second husband. Marry again? Never. She could not. Her father did not know of the cruelty of Ronald Javier, the pain, the bruises, and the contempt whenever her husband spoke to her. If she was honest, she wondered if her father even cared. Mayhap he would care, if he knew her secret...
“Halt!” The shout came from Sir Robert Deemer, her father’s favorite man-at-arms.
She jerked the palfrey to a stop, almost unseating herself as she watched a man stumble from a clump of brush and into their path.
“Oh, nay,” she whispered. She threw herself from her mount.
He staggered toward them, blood dripping slowly from his head and holding his left arm close to his body as if it too was injured. His kirtle had been torn, and hung from one shoulder. Bare hands and no head covering told her thieves had waylaid him and left him for dead.
The dirt-encrusted embroidery of gold and silver oak leaves adorning his garment marked him as noble. Could this be a wealthy man of some importance? Aye, for hadn’t she seen enough of them during her marriage to Baron Javier?
“Nay,” Robert shouted at her as she moved toward the injured man, but for once his considerable bulk worked to her advantage. She was close to the victim before Robert managed to leave his saddle.
As she approached the man, matted dark brown hair hung to his shoulders and although his face was bruised and swollen, he was a handsome man. He was certainly a big man, taller than most and carrying several stones more, as well.
It had to have taken an army of men to bring him to this condition.
Just as she reached him, Robert caught up to her.
“Nay, you must not,” he yelled and grabbed at her.
She spun around and yanked her arm from his hold.
“Do not tell me what I must do. This man is injured. We will see to him.”
“Nay, my lady,” he muttered.
“This is my father’s land. It is our duty.”
She turned back to the man before her who had sunk to his knees. Turning to the second man-at arms, Jankin, she said, “Hurry to the manor house, and bring a litter to bear him there.” She turned to her maid, now at her side, “Laura, we will need hot water, linen to bind his wounds and my herbs. Go, go, both of you.”
Sir Robert shouted, “M’lady, they cannot leave you. I forbid...“
“London,” the man at her feet whispered. “The king. Must get to Edward...” His voice was a stark contrast to his condition. It was deep, melodic, but full of pain.
“Sir, you are injured. I must see to your wounds.”
He attempted to stand and groaned.
“You are too weak to continue. Rest here for a time while my people bring aid.”
He gazed up at her and a shot of desperation struck her. ‘Twas obvious this man was an agent of their king. Was he an important man?
“Your name, sir,” she asked, her voice nearly a whisper as she knelt at his side.
“The king. Must get to Edward.” Now his voice carried a strained note. What pain he must be suffering.
He blinked, blood oozing into one of his eyes. She pulled the edge of her bliaud from under her knee and wiped his brow.
He had taken a blow to the head hard enough to break the skin, mayhap the bone itself. Had he suffered a head injury severe enough to destroy his chance to survive? She shivered. Wounds to the head such as this were often a death knell. More than once, someone who suffered such an injury died in her arms.
He stared up at her, his wide brown eyes glazed with pain.
What strength he had deserted him and he fell forward into her arms. While she cradled him in her arms, holding this man and having to watch him die sent a ragged stab of pain slicing through her. Nay, he would not die. She would see to it.
I began my career like many other authors when I read a book I didn't like. My children scoffed when I announced I was going to write a book, but, after lots of rewrites and the support of the world's greatest husband, I garnered a three book contract for my first historical romances. And from a big New York publisher at that.
Today, with my husband's continued support and to the delight of my children, I write the genres I love to read, musing about my writing life on my own blog or as a guest blogger and eagerly praising the growing digital market and the convenience of an e-reader. In fact many nights, my husband and I spend the time in our recliners, listening to music and reading from our readers.
LOVESONG is the last of the series about a Welsh family caught up in Edward I's attempts to conquer all of Wales and Scotland. It is an independent romance set in the turmoil of the period. It will be available in May of 2014 from Champagne Books.