Abducted by Saxon outlaws, Constance Arnaud comes face-to-face with Aelric, a Saxon boy she once loved. He’s now her enemy, but Constance must reach out to this rebel and persuade him to save her life as she once saved his…
Aelric is determined to seek vengeance on the Normans who destroyed his family. Believing Constance deserted him, he can never trust her again. Yet, as they are thrown together and their longing for each other reignites, will Aelric discover that love is stronger than revenge?
I’ll be honest and say the cover doesn’t show the Aelric I had in my head because he’s a Saxon so really should be much blonder than reddish and with longer hair (he’s been living wild in the forests of Cheshire for years after all). I’d used Tom Hiddleston and Tom Felton as inspiration. Having said that, I love the pose and his brooding intensity. He does look like someone who might seriously consider whether to sacrifice the woman he loved to get his revenge on the man he hates.
The original cover was slightly different and I emailed my editor and asked if the hair colour could be changed and the art department worked their magic. The original and new covers are here for comparison.
It’s a December release so will be alongside Christmas books on the shelves so I think the candles give it a festive touch too.
With less than a week to go until the release of The Blacksmith’s Wife I thought I’d share a snippet. This is the first meeting between Hal and Joanna. Joanna has talked her way into the tournament grounds, hoping to find Sir Roger, the knight she is in love with.
Joanna made her way to the courtyard where makeshift stables and workshops had been assembled. She had given up hope of finding Sir Roger when, through a sudden parting in the crowd, she saw familiar black curls and glimpsed the line of his jaw just as he turned away.
A thrill of anticipation rippled through Joanna as she eased her way towards him. It had been six months since Sir Roger had last been in York. Despite the urge to run to his arms Joanna stood back and watched in admiration.
Sir Roger was facing away from her, sharpening a sword with slow, sure strokes. He had removed his armour and padded woollen tunic, but instead of the customary fitted doublet of fine wool he favoured, he was dressed in britches and a shapeless tunic drawn in at the waist with a thick belt. As Joanna watched he laid the sword on a trestle table, rolled his head from side to side and stretched his arms high.
Intending to surprise him Joanna crept behind him. She reached on tiptoe to whisper in his ear, her lips close enough to brush against his hair.
‘Greetings, my lord, I’ve been searching for you.’
He stiffened and turned to face her. Joanna found herself gazing up into Sir Roger’s eyes.
In the face of a stranger.
Her mouth fell open and she stumbled backwards away from the man, dropping her bag. Explanations and apologies tumbled unintelligibly from her lips.
‘I didn’t know… I thought you were… I mean… I’m sorry!’
The man folded his arms across his broad chest. His lips curled into an amused smile. Joanna took another step back, her mind whirling with confusion and embarrassment. Her voice tailed off. Her heart was pounding so loudly she would swear it must be audible. She covered her face with her hands in an attempt to conceal the blush that was turning her pale complexion scarlet and peered through her fingers.
It was little wonder she had mistaken the man for Sir Roger. From behind they shared the same build and unruly curls. Facing her there was still a resemblance. She noticed for the first time that what she had taken for a belt was a long leather apron tied about his waist. Whoever he was, the stranger was no knight.
‘I beg your forgiveness!’ Joanna said, wincing with embarrassment.
The man ran a hand through the tangle of black curls that fell to just below his ears. He eyed Joanna with an open interest that made her heart thump.
‘No forgiveness needed. I thought Lady Fortune was finally smiling on me but alas it seems not,’ he said with an exaggerated note of regret. ‘It’s been so long since I have had such a greeting that I believe I should be thanking you for the experience! Perhaps I will do as a companion?’ he suggested.
If that has whetted your appetite then the book is available at Amazon, B&N, Kobo and other online retailers. Preorder now
I also have an Amazon giveaway running until May 2nd which is open to readers in the US Enter here
Release date is getting closer so yesterday I paid a visit to Media City in Salford to talk to Becky Want on BBC Radio Manchester about A Wager for the Widow.
I had a case of nerves before I went on air and I’m not sure the coffee helped but I enjoyed sitting in Costa beforehand and trying to work out if the man at the next table was famous.
This is the interview. I haven’t listened to it all as I never like hearing myself but I think it went well. I managed to remember the names of the characters (thanks to a crib sheet) and had a fun time. Becky was a great host.
My friend very kindly (and cleverly because I wouldn’t know where to begin) recorded the interview as an MP3 for me.
I’m excited to reveal the cover for my July release, A Wager for the Widow. Although I’d been not-too-secretly hoping for my gorgeous hero Will (looking like a cross between Alexander Skasgard and Chris Hemsworth) I’m really pleased with the result.
The model’s shade of hair is exactly right for my feisty widow Eleanor. It’s a little redder on the UK cover so that’s the one I’m sharing here. She also gives the impression she isn’t going to be easily tricked into giving the hero what he’s after.
Along with the cover I thought I’d share an excerpt from an early chapter. Will has accepted his wager and is trying to find ways to win a kiss from Eleanor.
‘As Will glanced down his eye fell on the book on Lady Peyton’s lap. Her sleeve obscured the title and he grinned, sensing an opportunity.
‘You read,’ he remarked.
Lady Peyton nodded. ‘Does that surprise you? I could hardly have understood your note if I did not.’
‘For pleasure, I mean.’ Will settled back into his chair. He stretched his legs out until they were almost touching the folds of her skirts. ‘I’ll wager I can guess what you have been reading,’ he suggested. ‘Not the title, but the subject at least.’
‘What would the stake be?’ Lady Peyton asked suspiciously. She leant back against the wall and folded her arms across her body, hugging the book to her chest. Will tried not to stare too noticeably at the soft mounds of her breasts, pushed up and just visible over the edge of the volume.
‘The same thing I asked for before.’ Will grinned. ‘A single kiss.’
Lady Peyton rolled her eyes to the ceiling and huffed. The gesture was so unexpected from a high-born lady that Will burst out laughing. She glared at him.
‘I decline your terms,’ she said. ‘Why are you so insistent?’
‘Because you are beautiful and I’d like to kiss you. Why does the thought scare you?’ Will countered.
Lady Peyton sat upright. She kept the title hidden, Will noticed with delight. ‘It doesn’t scare me,’ she said firmly.
Will leant forward. So close that he could see the flecks of green that danced in her eyes.
‘Then accept the wager,’ he breathed.
He lifted his cup, holding her gaze, and took a deep draught of wine. He waited, letting silence sit between them. Lady Peyton frowned and bit her bottom lip. Will pictured himself slowly tasting it and his heart quickened.
‘Not for that prize. Name another, Master Rudhale,’ Lady Peyton insisted.
‘I see you no longer have your crutch so I judge your ankle must be healing. For a dance then,’ Will said. ‘If I win, you promise the first dance at the midwinter feast will be with me. And call me by my name,’ he added on impulse.
‘Very well. And if I win, you will not ask me again to kiss you,’ Lady Peyton replied.
A ripple of triumph stirred in Will’s belly. A dance invariably led to so much more. He nodded and raised his cup in salute to her. She did the same and they both drank, eyes meeting over the top of their cups.
‘You were reading poetry,’ he announced. ‘Some tale of love and trials of knighthood. Of advances spurned and hearts broken. All women love poetry and I have yet to meet one who can resist the prospect of love triumphant.’
Lady Peyton’s face froze. ‘All the women you have known?’ she asked icily.
‘Very few,’ Will assured her hastily. And fewer still who mattered. The thought took him by surprise. He held his hand out. ‘The book, if you please.’
Without speaking, Lady Peyton held the book towards him obediently. He opened the hidebound volume and read the title aloud.
‘Geoffrey of Monmouth. Historia Regum Britanniae.’
‘Not all women have time for foolish love stories, Master Rudhale,’ Lady Peyton said softly.
Will laughed gently through his disappointment. ‘I shall leave you to your kings, my lady,’ he said, handing the book back. He bowed, picked up his bag and left the hall. Lady Peyton had appeared pleased to see him and his spirits were high even though he had lost the wager.
Will knew nothing of Sir Baldwin, but the man must have been a very paragon of manhood for his widow to be grieving so deeply still, but surely by now she must be craving another man’s touch. He had promised not to ask her for a kiss, but what did that matter? There were so many ways of asking that did not require words after all.’
If that has whetted your appetite, A Wager for the Widow is available for pre-order in ebook and paperback and will be released on July 1st
Yesterday I was gloomy owing to my day job. Today I’m not so I want to share the title for my next book.
It’s the story of Eleanor and Will and is called A Wager for the Widow which I think has a great alliterative ring to it. It comes out in July (just in time for my 40th birthday so that should take the sting out a bit) and it’s being released electronically and mass market paperback in North America and the UK and as a paperback duo in Australia.
Here’s the 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 realizes vulnerable Eleanor is far too precious to gamble with. Can he win his lady before it’s too late?
I don’t have a cover yet as I’ve got all the fun of describing characters and settings still to come, but I’ll be sharing that as soon as I do. In the meantime, if anyone wants to be super organised and order it the link is here.
Back long before I ever thought I’d get published I made a Facebook page for the book and amused myself by deciding who I would like to play the parts. For a bit of a distraction on a wet, gloomy Sunday afternoon here is the album. Hugh alternates between being Richard Armitage and Tom Ellis depending on my mood. Henry Cavill was always the bad guy though, I think it’s that stare that does it.
If you’ve read the book I’d be interested to see what you think of the choices. Who else did you have in mind when you read it? I’d love to hear!
It’s that time of year again where every waking moment becomes one long round of writing, revisions, grasping for the perfect turn of phrase or most appropriate euphemism, more writing and finally handing in the finished project to be read and hopefully passed off (without any typos or spelling mistakes). The deadline looms and as always I’m determined to get in there before it actually arrives if at all possible.
Nope, not the editor and book number 2, but the headteacher and my end of year reports.
I don’t know what the overall word count is and I doubt it comes anywhere close to a novel but handing them in gives me the same sense of relief as getting the revised manuscript sent back. Finishing a book has nothing on these babies! I’m usually pretty good at tying up loose ends and spotting plot holes, though the eventual readers are a lot more demanding than I imagine my readers will be, having more of a vested interest in the hero or heroine of the document. I can’t get away with sketchy research, nor can I pad it out with a sword fight (parents of six year olds tend to get upset about that sort of thing).
So for the time being it’s heads down, focus on the glass of wine that awaits me next weekend and try to squeeze in a bit of the ‘other’ job if I’m still conscious by 10pm.
If round about chapter thirteen my hero suddenly starts to express his opinion on the heroine’s ability to recall number bonds you’ll know why.