Medieval Monday First Encounter

We’re finished with this round of Medieval Monday. A new theme will be along in the new year. I didn’t want to leave you with nothing to read though so I thought I’d share the first encounter between Eleanor and Will from my Midwinter book, A Wager for the Widow

A Wager for the Widow

The ferryman braced his back and rammed his pole into the riverbank. The craft creaked alarmingly as it started to move away from the shore, the great chain that spanned the river pulling taut.

The shrill blast of a hunting horn sounded, ripping apart the peace. A commanding voice shouted, ‘Ferryman, stop!’

Eleanor peered back at the riverbank. A rider on an imposing chestnut-coloured horse was galloping along the road at the edge of the water. He pulled the horse up short.

‘You’re too late, my friend, the current has us now,’ the ferryman called back.

‘Wait, I tell you. I must cross today. I have business to attend to.’ The rider’s voice was deep and urgent, his face hidden beneath the hood of a voluminous burgundy cloak. The ferryman shrugged his shoulders and dug his pole into the river, pushing further away. Keeping one eye on the drama playing out, Eleanor walked carefully around behind the carriage and made her way to the other side of the deck to get a better view.

What happened next had the texture of a dream. The horseman cursed and wheeled his mount around. He galloped away from the water’s edge, then turned back. With a sudden bellow he cracked the reins sharply and sped back towards the river. As the horse reached the edge, the rider spurred it forward. The horse leapt through the air with ease to land on the deck alongside Eleanor. The ferry bucked, the far end almost rising from the water. Hooves clattered on the slippery wood and the animal gave a high-pitched whinny of alarm.

It was not going to stop!

As a cumbersome-looking saddlebag swung towards her Eleanor threw herself out of its way. The railing caught her behind the knees and she stumbled backwards, her ankle turning beneath her with a sickening crunch. Crying out, she flailed her arms helplessly, unable to regain her balance as the river came up to meet her.

She saw the horseman lunge towards her, felt his fingers close about her wrist. She gave a sharp cry as her shoulder jolted painfully and her feet slid on the deck. Cold spray splashed over her face as her head fell back, her free fingers brushing the surface of the water.

‘Take hold of me quickly. I can’t stay like this for ever,’ the rider ordered, tightening his grip on her wrist.

Eleanor raised her head to find herself staring up into a pair of blue eyes half-hidden in the depths of the voluminous hood. The rider was leaning along the length of his horse’s neck, body twisted towards Eleanor at what seemed an impossible angle. She fumbled her free hand to clutch on to his arm and he hauled her back to her feet. As she stood upright a spear of pain shot through Eleanor’s ankle. She gave an involuntary gasp and her knees buckled.

With the same speed as his initial rescue, the rider threw his leg across the saddle and dismounted with a thud. His arms found their way round Eleanor’s waist, catching her tight and clasping her to him before she slipped to the ground.

‘I’ve got you. Don’t wriggle!’

The man’s hood fell back and Eleanor saw him clearly for the first time. He was younger than his voice had suggested. A long scar ran from the outside corner of his eye and across his cheek, disappearing beneath a shaggy growth of beard at his jaw. A second ran parallel from below his eye to his top lip. His corn-coloured hair fell in loose tangles to his shoulder. Close up his eyes were startlingly blue.

Footsteps thundered on the deck as Eleanor’s coachman appeared. It struck Eleanor suddenly that the man was still holding her close, much closer than was necessary, in fact. She became conscious of the rise and fall of his chest, moving rhythmically against her own. Her heart was thumping so heavily she was sure he would be able to feel it through her clothing. As to why it was beating so rapidly she refused to think about.

‘You can let go of me now,’ she muttered.

The horseman’s eyes crinkled. ‘I could,’ he said, ‘though I just saved your life. There must be some benefits to rescuing a beautiful maiden in distress and holding her until she stops shaking is one of them. I suppose a kiss of gratitude is out of the question?’

‘You didn’t save my life. I can swim,’ Eleanor cried indignantly. It was true she was trembling, but now it was from anger. ‘I am most certainly not kissing you!’

The man’s forehead crinkled in disbelief. ‘Even though I saved you from a cold bath?’

Eleanor’s cheeks flamed. ‘It was your fault in the first instance, you reckless fool. You could have capsized us all. Your horse might have missed completely.’

The horseman laughed. ‘Nonsense, it was perfectly safe. Tobias could have cleared twice that distance. If you had stood still none of this would have happened. You panicked.’

With an irritated snort Eleanor pushed herself from the man’s grip, contriving to elbow him sharply in the stomach as she did so. She heard a satisfying grunt as she turned her back. She headed to the carriage, but her ankle gave a sharp stab of pain. She stopped, balling her fists in irritation. The horseman leaned round beside her. ‘Allow me,’ he said and before Eleanor could object he had lifted her into his arms and strode the three paces to the carriage. With one hand on the door handle he cocked his head. ‘Still no kiss? Ah, well, it’s a cruel day!’

‘There are no circumstances under which I would kiss you!’ Eleanor said haughtily, sweeping her gaze up and down him.

His face darkened and Eleanor took the opportunity to wriggle from his arms. Biting her lip to distract herself from the throbbing in her ankle, she swung the door open herself and climbed inside, slamming it loudly behind her.

 

Blurb: ‘I SUPPOSE A KISS OF GRATITUDE IS OUT OF THE QUESTION?’

Widowed Lady Eleanor Peyton has chosen a life of independence. Living alone on her rocky coastal outcrop, she’s cut herself off from the world of men – until William Rudhale saves her life and demands a kiss!

As steward to Lady Eleanor’s father, Will knows the desire he burns with is futile – but he’ll still wager he can claim Eleanor’s kiss by midwinter! Yet when the tide turns Will realises vulnerable Eleanor is far too precious to gamble with. Can he win his lady before it’s too late?

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The book came out in July 2015 so you’re unlikely to get a print copy but the ebook is available here:

Amazon: viewBook.at/WagerforWidow

Harper Collins: https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9781474006071/a-wager-for-the-widow

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-wager-for-the-widow-elisabeth-hobbes/1121093242

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781460384640_a-wager-for-the-widow.html

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: AN INTERVIEW WITH ELISABETH HOBBES

Rakes And Rascals

Elisabeth Hobbes Interview - author photo

I’m delighted to welcome Harlequin Historical Romance Author ELISABETH HOBBES to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you for inviting me onto the blog.  It’s great to be here.

~~~~~~~


R&R:

Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?

Elisabeth:
I was born and grew up in York.  It was such an interesting place to live and my love of history definitely comes from being surrounded by medieval walls, Roman remains, Viking archaeological sites, Regency crescents and ghost stories.  York is also famous for having over 360 pubs and a lively music scene so as an older teen it was a fun place to hang out with friends and see which of us looked old enough to get served (better not show this to my mum)!

As well as being close to the town we were lucky enough to…

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Medieval Monday – final excerpt

It’s the final week of our ‘first encounter’ excerpts.  Hopefully you’ve been reading this blog each week to discover who I’ve been hosting and where you can find Roger and Lucy’s story.  I’m ending the theme with a final excerpt from Redeeming the Rogue Knight.

‘Give me more wine, Lucy Carew,’ the injured man demanded, reaching for the bottle. Lucy picked it up, then paused before handing it over and took a sip herself. It did little to calm her nerves. The man drained the bottle, spilling a good measure down his face and neck. Lucy wrinkled her nose in disgust. Her mattress would reek of wine—though if it survived without blood being spilled on it that would be a wonder in itself. Gripping the dagger, she bent over the bed to do as she had been bidden. Her hands trembled and she hesitated, drawing her hand back from the cloth.

‘Have you never undressed a man before?’ the man asked with a leer.

‘Never with a knife,’ Lucy answered curtly.

He laughed.

‘I thought a pretty dove who can kiss like you did must know her way around a bed.’

His voice was mocking and Lucy flushed with anger. Voices of condemnation pressed down on her, whispering names that set her cheeks aflame with shame. The voices were right though, weren’t they? Otherwise why would her body have responded in the basest way possible to the uninvited touch of his lips?

She held his gaze, noticing his eyes were increasingly unfocused and the colour was leaving his cheeks once more. He would most likely pass out again, if not from his injury then from the wine he had drunk. She bent over to widen the hole around the arrow at the front and back. The evil-looking tip was crusted with blood, as was his clothing, and her stomach heaved.

The cloak was thick, but the dagger blade was sharp and it came away without too much work. She dropped it down between the bed and wall. Beneath the cloak the man wore a sleeveless padded jerkin, laced at the front. By some fortune the arrow had missed this, piercing his flesh where arm joined body, and the garment was intact. The jerkin was the colour of oak and the cloak was of good quality. Lucy wondered for the first time who he was. She unlaced the jerkin, aware all the time of the man’s eyes upon her.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed the excerpts.  If you want to find out what happens next you can buy a copy here.