910AD, a convent in Mercia in 'England'
Someone pounded on her cell door. “Wake up, Lady Eadlin! Wake up!”
Eadlin shook her head to clear her sleep-befuddled mind. “Cenric! What’s wrong?” Dread balled in her stomach.
She tugged her habit over her shift and wrenched the door open.
Cenric burst in. He held a sword and small knife. His face was grim, set into harsh furrows.
“Raiders, Lady Eadlin. You must flee at once. They’re in the village and heading this way.”
Now Eadlin could hear distant screams and shouting. The acrid smell of smoke floated on the night air.
Fingers of fear crept amongst her guts like ice spreading across a pond in winter. “I can’t leave the sisters. Can we defend ourselves?”
His jaw dropped. “Not against armed raiders.”
“Are they Vikings?” Her words were high-pitched and breathless.
“Probably.” His voice was severe.
Her heart pounded in terror. Oh God, not that! Eadlin pulled on her veil and boots then upended her reed mattress and took an ancient engraved dagger from beneath it.
The old warrior gestured at her with his sword. “You would prefer to die defending them?”
He grimaced in distaste. “Then get them into the chapel. It’s the strongest building.”
Eadlin ran out to beat on the doors of the nuns’ rooms yelling, “Vikings! Go to the chapel!”
The abbess, veil askew, joined her in shepherding the sisters into the stone building adjacent to their sleeping quarters. A few squat candles burnt on the altar, casting ghoulish shadows across the walls.
Fear haunted the abbess’ eyes, but her voice held its usual calm and commanding tone.
Cenric secured the door and stood ready with his sword. As he waited he pleaded, “Flee, Lady Eadlin, flee! There’s still time! It’s what your father would want you to do. Go while you can!”
Blood pounded loud in her ears. He was asking her to abandon these gentle women who took her in, to leave them defenceless. “I can’t, Cenric. There’s nowhere to go. This is my home, and this is my family now.”
Sounds of timber splintering and pottery breaking shattered the air. A dozen nuns huddled on their knees before the altar.
The abbess led them in prayer, “Domine, libera nos a furore normannorum….” Lord, save us from the fury of the northmen, but most, Eadlin saw, were distracted by the screaming and shouting coming from the village across the river and the noise outside the chapel door.
Some sobbed, and Sister Ælthgifu held a trembling novice in her arms.
The door to the chapel reverberated with the force of a shoulder or foot against it.
“Open the door or die!” yelled the attacker in English, his voice harsh and authoritative.
Surprised, Eadlin exchanged a glance with Cenric across the doorway.
Who were these attackers who spoke their language?
Were they the king’s men, come for her, or were they Vikings as Cenric had thought?
Neither she nor Cenric moved. Either way, danger stood beyond the door and would be in the chapel soon enough without their aiding it.
In seconds the cleaved door hung tattered from its hinges, and their attacker towered before them.
He was tall. Very tall.
His form filled the doorway.
Smoke and the sweet tang of blood clung to him. An iron helmet with nosepiece and a ragged blond beard hid all but his cold blue eyes, harsh cheeks, and bitter mouth.
Eadlin knew then-
#romance, #historicalromance, #Viking, #HistoricalFiction, #historical
A couple of years ago I strayed into the English Civil Wars era to write this novella. It's set it in The New Forest -my favourite place in the UK.
Here's the blurb:
“In a nation divided, two enemies are united.”
Widowed during the Battle of Worcester, Puritan woman Charity Goodwyn, dares to dream of an independent life, living with her aunt, unbeholden to men. Sir Edward Lovelace, a Royalist, gravely wounded in the same battle, wants to live to serve his king again. Charity’s only way to safely reach her aunt is to take the Cavalier with her, disguised as her husband, and helping him escape the Parliamentarian forces. What happens when Sir Edward unexpectedly recovers, surprises and endangers them both.
Charity's Cavalier is available now for pre-order prior to its release on 29 July.
Here's an excerpt from the third short story in Forbidden Valentines - 'George'.
I've posted excerpts from the first two stories on Facebook already see; https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaHargreavesBooks/.
“Stop tidying, George, and get to bed.”
“Oui, my lord.”
“Don’t ‘my lord me’. Come here.”
George banged around in the dressing room a little longer, closing wardrobe doors, before exiting to respond to James’s order. “Yes, my lord? Is there something more I can do for you this evening?” George raised an eyebrow.
James’s heart beat strongly in his chest. “Come here, I said.”
George stepped to him and waited with a look of enquiry.
“There is something you can do for me.” James tugged on the black stock at George’s neck. It fell open on the shirt.
George glanced down at the material then raised dark eyes to James with a questioning look and a half smile.
James pushed the black coat from George’s narrow shoulders. It fell unhindered to the floor. “Not going to pick that up, George?” he taunted.
“Non.” George watched him intently.
In the spotlight today is Queensland-based author Susanne Bellamy whose latest novel Engaging the Enemy was released yesterday.
Tell us about yourself, Susanne.
I love travel—new places, new faces, different cultures and endless possibilities. I’ve cruised from Australia to Britain and back through the Suez Canal when I was a child, trekked in Nepal and Vietnam, lived briefly in Noumea, visited western Europe and west coast America among other places. Let me repeat—I love travel! And history.
People’s stories fascinate me. Past and present lives and relationships and the mysterious ways Fate works. Even how I met my husband—Fate. Wonderful and mysterious.
And so my stories explore people engaging with the mate that Fate created for them. And the wonderful and mysterious ways in which they meet. I should probably thank the flat-mate who locked me out of my new house years ago which led directly to
meeting my husband. But that’s another story!
Check out my story boards on Pinterest for White Ginger, One Night in Sorrento and Engaging the Enemy as well as works in progress, including the Emerald Quest for Entangled Publishing. See what else you can find!
What's your latest book Engaging the Enemy about?
Andie and Matt both need the same building in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.
Matt wants it to atone for his past and Andie’s future is tied up with the fate of the old pink granite home. Their differences should keep them apart but the building brings them together in ways neither could have foreseen.
What do you think reader will enjoy most about it?
It’s a Romeo and Juliet story but with a happy ending. Bright passion wars with conflicting needs and serious chemistry. I hope readers enjoy the tension and the sizzle!
Who/what was the inspiration for this book?
An abandoned red-brick building I spotted during my first tram ride in Melbourne. It looked like it needed some TLC and what better than to have not one, but two people itching to renovate it! Perhaps there was also a touch of the ugly swan story in the building. My protagonists were able to look beneath the city grime surface to discover the beauty within. I love that idea of what’s on the inside counting for more than the façade we present to the world.
What qualities do you instil in your heroes and heroines?
I adore heroes and heroines with sense of humour, intelligence, passion and a sense of social justice. Engaging the Enemy’s hero Matt is Irish with ideas about justice shaped by his Irish background. Family is paramount to him; he would do
anything for those he loves, as would Andie. These qualities are responsible for their choices and contribute to the central
Our personal histories shape who we are but our choices determine who we become. Willingness to change and grow as a person is essential, as is accepting challenges in life and forging our own path. We have the luxury of a peaceful country that allows us scope to set our own challenges. Within this broader context, Andie and Matt do learn to love and to live.
What was the hardest part about writing this novel?
Funnily enough, it was not getting caught up in a secondary character’s love life! Lexie Hamilton-Smythe is Andie’s best friend and has two men interested in her. There were times when I wanted to explore her story, even while loving writing Andie and Matt’s story.
Where to next?
A Season to Remember is a Christmas anthology of four short stories written by four south-east Queensland authors. We write in a variety of genres and this free gift collection will reflect our diversity. There is a sea theme running through each story but I can’t give too much away just yet. However, it will be available in late November. Check out my Facebook page and website then to receive your gift!
And 2015 will see the release of the Emerald Quest series through Entangled Publishing. Five authors and a two hundred year search for a fabulous emerald and diamond necklace. Mine is the fourth book in the series. Set in Hawaii in 1960, it is the story of Evangeline Abbott, English heiress, and Lucien Martineau, an Island plantation owner. It’s a delicious story. After White Ginger, my debut novel, I absolutely loved revisiting Hawaii for this one.
Congratulations on your latest book Susanne! Thank you for joining me to talk about it.
Thanks for hosting me, Isabella. I’ve enjoyed my visit so much.
One building, two would-be owners and a family feud that spans several generations: all relationships have their problems.
Andrea de Villiers can’t lie to save herself. But when developer, Matt Mahoney, buys the building she and a friend have established as a safe house in the Melbourne CBD, she decides that protecting The Shelter is more important than her aching heart.
She will confront Mr Mahoney, and she will emerge victorious. There are no other options.
But Matt has other plans for Andie, and she soon finds herself ensnared in a web of well-meaning lies and benevolent deceit. To protect the building and the families that depend on her, Andie agrees to play the part of Matt’s fiancée, and play it convincingly.
But lies soon bleed into truth, and what was once a deception starts to feel all too real. Can Andie accomplish her goals and protect The Shelter, without losing her heart to the charming Irish developer?
You can find Susanne at the following sites:
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9780857991768
Excerpt From Engaging the Enemy:
Andrea de Villiers couldn’t have orchestrated the accident better if she’d planned for a year instead of just one night.
Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were almost finished as she edged closer to the group of Melbourne’s wealthy charity patrons and supporters and lined up her tray of drinks with Matt Mahoney’s chest.
One second to launch.
She took a deep, steadying breath and stepped forward.
His blonde companion’s arms drew a giant circle in the air, collided with the edge of her tray and Mr. Mahoney, corporate developer and all round jerk, was instantly wearing expensive champagne as an accessory to his Armani dinner jacket.
Round one to Andie.
Served him right for refusing to meet her. He brushed futilely at his shiny lapels and a thrill raced through her.
I did it.
Andie-never-puts-a-foot-wrong-de Villiers had done the unthinkable. If only she could tell him who she was, her triumph would have been complete.
Thanks for joining me Susanne to talk about Engaging the Enemy. I can't wait to read it!