Hi, I’m Reggi Allder an author of romantic suspense and contemporary novels.
Today I’m pleased to welcome medieval romance author Anna Markland a writer of novels of love, passion, and adventure.Hi Anna.
Thanks for having me as a guest, Reggi. It’s always nice to guest with someone I actually know personally!
You’re welcome. I’m please you could stop by. Why don’t you tell people a little about yourself?
I was born and educated in England, but I’ve lived most of my life in Canada. I was an educator for 25 years. It was a rewarding career, financially, spiritually and emotionally.
After that I worked with my husband in the management of his businesses. He’s a born entrepreneur who likes to boast he’s never had a job!
My final “career” was as Director of Administration of a global disaster relief organization.
Not content to fade away into retirement gracefully, I embarked upon writing a romance, essentially for my own satisfaction. I chose the medieval period mainly because that genre of historical romance is one I enjoy reading.
I have a keen interest in genealogy. This hobby has had a tremendous influence on my stories. My medieval romances are about family honor, ancestry, and roots. As an amateur genealogist, I cherished a dream (as do many) of tracing my own English roots back to the Norman Conquest—an impossibility since I am not descended from nobility! So I made up a family and my stories follow its members through successive generations.
One of the things I enjoy most about writing historical romance is the in-depth research necessary to provide readers with an authentic medieval experience.
My latest release, Fatal Truths, is the long awaited story of Alexandre de Montbryce, grandson of the hero of my first novel, Conquering Passion. He is a rich and powerful Norman Count haunted by a troubled past.
Elayne arrives from Scotland masquerading as nursemaid to her own children, handed over as good faith hostages by King David. Neither she nor her twins are who they purport to be. Only lies can keep them alive.
The exchange of hostages as tokens of good faith was common practice in medieval times. Children were considered to be a royal house’s most valuable asset and were often chosen.
Here’s an excerpt.
Montbryce Castle, Normandie, August 1136 AD
“Remind me,” Alex said to his brother, “what are the hostages’ names?”
Romain rolled his eyes. “Henry and Claricia.”
Both doors to the Hall creaked open. Steward Bonhomme ushered in the hostages, grandchildren of King David of Scotland. They’d been handed over to Comte Geoffrey of Anjou and his wife, the former Holy Roman Empress Maud as a token of good faith to guarantee David’s support. Maud had requested they be kept at Montbryce.
Alex had known they were children, but hadn’t expected a boy and a girl so alike in appearance they could be twins.
A murmur of delight rippled through the Hall at the sight of the fair-haired enfants, but it ceased gradually as the clink and drag of chains echoed off the stone floor. Alex had been led to believe the hostages were at least fifteen years of age. Henry and Claricia Dunkeld couldn’t be more than seven or eight. They’d been chained together, wrists manacled, ankles shackled.
Anger surged up his throat. He leapt to his feet. “Why in the name of all the saints are they in irons? Remove their bonds at once.”
Murmurs of agreement with his fury rippled through the crowd of onlookers.
A soldier wearing the devise of Comte Geoffrey shuffled forward, a large key in hand. Alex struggled to control the urge to strangle him with his bare hands as the chains clunked to the floor and the man gathered them up. “How long have these children been manacled?”
“Only since they arrived in your land, milord.”
Caught off guard by the undisguised resentment in the speaker’s words, he glanced up sharply and for the first time noticed the young woman who now gripped the hand of each twin. Though her head was covered with a chequered shawl of brown and grey, curls of flame-red hair framed her face. Freckles dotted her nose. High cheekbones and a proud chin added nobility to a woman in servant’s garb. Her fresh beauty stunned him. He’d never journeyed to Scotland, but easily conjured a vision of her galloping across wild moorlands on a white horse, her hair a ribbon of red whipped by the wind.
She stared at him defiantly for long moments, rendering him speechless, though he doubted she would reach his shoulder if they stood side by side. Inexplicably, that was an appealing notion.
At her nod the royal infants made their bow to Alex. It was a commendable effort considering their age and condition, though the woman kept hold of their hands, providing an anchor. They flushed at the barely discernible smile she bestowed when they glanced up for her approval.
Alex had a peculiar urge to bask in the glow of her smile, but it quickly disappeared when she looked back at him. Though he understood it, he was strangely distressed by the hatred evident in her gaze. She was nursemaid to hostages and thus deprived of freedom. Geoffrey had cruelly ordered her small charges manacled for some ridiculous reason. She was far from her homeland, and probably not by choice. She was a servant—yet hadn’t offered the courtesy of a bow.
At a score and twelve years of age, Alex had become used to his bachelor life. He had remained celibate throughout the half year of intrigue and conflict that had swept Normandie as King Stephen and Empress Maud vied for the throne of England after King Henry’s death. It hadn’t been a hardship.
Now, astonishingly, a discourteous servant in drab clothing, albeit a stunningly beautiful redhead, had caused his body to respond in a way he’d not experienced in many a year.
She was a servant, who, seemingly without much effort, had taken control of this gathering that should have seen her quaking with fear.
The nursemaid bent to whisper something to the child in a language he supposed was Gaelic. The shawl slipped off her head, revealing a glorious cascade of thick red hair. His breath caught in his throat.
The woman quickly covered her head, her blush the first chink in the armored mantle of composure.
Alex licked his dry lips, unsure what had happened. Suddenly all he could think of was taking her to his bed.
She stiffened her spine, eyes flashing defiance. “The prince and princess have had a long journey. May I take them to their chambers? And perhaps a salve could be fetched for the lacerations on their wrists.”
Alex dragged his eyes from her full breasts to her face. The gall of the woman, reminding him of his obligation as their host. “I am their guardian now, Mistress Elayne. You need not instruct me as to my responsibilities.”
She stared back. “Guardian, or jailer,” she muttered.
She’d spoken softly, yet it was evident from the indrawn breaths around him, she’d been heard. Anxious faces awaited his reaction.
Romain’s loud cough slowed his headlong rush to reprimand the woman again. He clenched his fists in an effort to slow his breathing. Her lack of deference had done nothing to discourage his arousal. He summoned Bonhomme. “Show our guests to their chambers.”
Romain stepped forward. “I’ll accompany them.”
Elayne thrust her chin in the air, picked up Claricia and followed Romain and Bonhomme, Henry in tow.
Low murmurs of conversation began again.
At the door, Claricia lifted her head from the nursemaid’s shoulder and curled her little fingers into a wave of farewell, smiling at Alex. A soul deep longing pierced his heart, a pain he’d long since thought dead and buried—a yearning for a child of his own.
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