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Blythe Gifford is known for medieval tales of characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. Now, for the first time, she sets a story on the Scottish Borders, where the rules of chivalry don’t always apply…
Royal Rogue He is the bastard son of an English prince and a Scotswoman. A rebel without a country, he has darkness in his soul.
Innocent Lady: Daughter of a Scottish border lord, she can recite the laws of chivalry, and knows this man has broken every one. But she’s gripped by desire for him'—could he be the one to unleash the dangerous urges she's hidden until now?
LA RÉVOLTE D'UNE CHÂTELAINE
(The Revolt of the Chatelaine)
Harlequin Les Historiques
For more information, click here
DIE BRAUT des SCHOTTISCHEN RITTERS
(Bride of the Scottish Knight )
For more information, click here
(Bride from the Border Area)
For more information, click here
ΤΑ ΣΥΝΟΡΑ ΤΟΥ ΕΡΩΤΑ
(Borders of Love)
For more information, visit the Harlequin Classic web site
For more information, visit the
Harlequin MIRA web site.
I CONFINI DELLA PASSIONE
(Boundaries of the Passion)
For more information, visit the Harmony Italia web site
HIS BORDER BRIDE
Mills & Boon
Release: June 2011
For more information, visit the Amazon.co.uk web site.
Three Titles in One Volume
IN THE MASTER'S BED
HIS BORDER BRIDE
Mills & Boon
Release: July 2010
For more information, visit the Mills & Boon web site.
For more information, visit the Harlequin eBooks web site and Harlequin Ibérica web site.
Available in Spanish for Kindle.
NEVĔSTA ZE SKOTSKÉHO
(Brides of Scottish Coasts)
For more information, visit the web site.
|READ AN EXCERPT|
From Chapter One
On the Scottish Border, 1356
Morning's warmth had ebbed, and a chilly mist huddled in the valley and obscured the hills, reminding her of the dangers that lurked all around. The Inglis army might be far away, but the Inglis border was not.
That was her last thought before he rose out of the fog, a golden man on a black horse, like a spirit emerging from the mist.
A man without a banner.
A man without allegiance.
The hound barked, once, then growled, as if cowed.
The man's eyes grabbed hers. Blue they were, shading as a sky does in summer from pale to deepest azure. And behind the blue, something hot, like the sun.
Any words she might have said stuck in her throat.
Next to her, Euphemia gasped, then giggled. “Where are you going good sir?”
Clare glared at her. The girl was hopeless. They'd be lucky to get her married before she was with child.
“Anywhere that will have me.” He answered Euphemia, but his eyes touched Clare.
Her cheeks burned.
Beside her, young Angus drew his dagger, the only weapon he was allowed. “I will defend the ladies.”
“I'm sure you will.” The stranger's smile, slow, insolent, was at odds with the intensity in his eyes. “That's a handsome dirk and I'm sure you could wield it well against me, but I would ask that you not to harm my horse.”
His tone was oddly gentle. Where was his own squire? “Who's with you?”
“A dangerous practice.” Did he lie? An army could hide behind him in this mist.
Her fault. She had ridden out alone and unarmed and put them all at risk.
“Don't you know Edward's army still rides?”
He frowned. “Do they?”
His accent confused her. It held the burr of the land closer to the sea, but there was something else about it, difficult to place. Yet over the hill, in the next valley, each family's speech was different. He might be a Robson from the other side of the hill, scouting for one last raid before the spring, or loyal to one of the Teviotdale men who had thrown their lot with Edward.
“You're not an Inglisman, are you?”
“I have blood as Scots as yours.”
“And how do you know how Scots my blood is?”
“By the way you asked the question.”
Did her speech sound so provincial to Alain? She winced. She wanted to impress the visiting French knight, not embarrass him. “What's your name, Scotsman?”
“Gavin.” He paused. “Gavin Fitzjohn.”
Some John's bastard, then. Even a bastard bore his father's arms, but this man carried no clue to his birth. No device on his shield, no surcoat. Just that unkempt armor that, without a squire's care, had darkened with rust spots.
No arms, no squire. Not of birth noble enough for true knighthood then.
“Are you a renegade?” On her wrist, Wee One bated, wings flapping wildly. Clare touched her fingers to the bird's soft breast feathers, seeking to calm them both.
His slow smile never wavered. “Just a tired and hungry man who needs a friendly bed.” His eyes traveled over her, as if he were wondering how friendly her bed might be.
“Well, you'll not find one with us.”
“I didn't ask. Yet.”
Did he think she'd offered to be his bedmate? She should not be talking to such a man at all.
“Well, if you do, I'll say you nae.” “I don't ask before I know whether I'm speaking to a friend or an enemy.”
“And I don't answer before I know the same.” Her voice had a wobble she had not intended.
“Are you a woman with enemies?”
“Three kings claim this land. We have more enemies than friends.”
“Aye,” he said, nodding, a frown carving lines in his face. He flexed his hand as if it itched to reach for his sword. “Who are yours?”
Her eyes clashed with his. She should have asked him first. Where was his loyalty? To the Balliol pretender, recently dethroned? To David the Bruce still held for ransom by the Inglis Edward? Perhaps he had lied about his blood and was Edward's man himself.
Next to her, the young girl sighed. “This is Mistress Clare and I'm Euphemia and I have nay enemies.”
“Euphemia!” Was she batting her lashes? Yes, she was. “Do you want us to be killed?”
“He wouldn't do that. A knight is sworn to protect ladies, aren't you?” She fluttered her eyelashes at him, then turned to Clare. “Don't treat him as an unfriend.”
“If I do, it's because I have a brain in my head.”
If she kicked the horse into a gallop, could she outrun the man? Not with Angus and Euphemia in tow and Wee One on her wrist.
She lowered her voice to a whisper. “He looks like a dangerous ruffian, not a knight. He wears no markings and he's wearing dirty armor with rust spots!” The man, if he knew the maxims of chivalry, cared little for them.
Euphemia shrugged and turned to the man. “You're not dangerous and dirty, are you?”
Something darkened his face before a smile waved it away. “Well, that may depend on how you mean the words, but I'd say Mistress Clare has a gift for judging character.”
Excerpt from HIS BORDER BRIDE
Copyright © 2010 by Wendy Blythe Gifford
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A...
|READ THE REVIEWS|
"Using falcons as metaphors, Blythe Gifford has successfully soared with this highland romance."
"HIS BORDER BRIDE is a passionate escape into the past."
"This is a great book especially if you enjoy history along with romance. Blythe Gifford did a wonderful job on her research and the attitudes of the time."
FROM HER FANS
"Gifford has a real knack of making a good story in a short time, with plausible characters and good characterization/dialogue."
|BEHIND THE BOOK|
Harlequin Historical Authors Blog - Blessings from the Cover Goddess
Tarot by Arwen - Tarot reading of hero
RomCon Historical World blog - A Scottish Virgin's Lessons
Fresh Fiction Blog - Bad Boy or Wounded Hero?
The Naked Hero - Bad Boy in Shining Armor
The Season blog - Words, historic and otherwise
Riding with the Top Down blog - Face-to-Beak with the Past
TRAGIC TALES: JOHN OF ELTHAM, EARL OF CORNWALL
This month’s theme, Tragic Tales, summons visions of monumental disasters, but sometimes, history’s tragedies whisper, rather than shout.
Such was the story of John of Eltham, brother of King Edward III of England. He was a man of great promise, who committed bad acts and achieved great victories, died unmarried at twenty, was slandered after, and has since been forgotten.
I discovered him in writing HIS BORDER BRIDE. Because I feature characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket, I needed a plausible parent for my hero. In researching the war between England and Scotland in the early 14th century, I discovered that John played an instrumental military role in the conflict. In fact, he spent many months in Scotland, certainly long enough to father a son.
He was four years younger than his brother the king and born in the castle of Eltham, hence his moniker. He was named Earl of Cornwall at the age of 12, the last son of a king to die an earl instead of a duke. Caught in the throes of the war between his father, Edward II, and mother Isabella, his growing years were turbulent. He was passed between his parents and even held in the Tower of London for a time before his brother, at age 17, led a coup against his mother and her lover and assumed the power that went with his kingly title of Edward III.
Information on John is scant, but what we do know suggests he was highly competent, and highly trusted by Edward.
He was named “Guardian of the Realm” when Edward III was out of the country; was asked to open Parliament in Edward’s absence, and was named Warden of the northern Marches, which gave him virtual autonomy in that portion of England.
At 17, he was a key commander in the Battle of Halidon Hill, a devastating defeat for the Scots. Later, he commanded an army in the southwest of Scotland that put down resistance to Edward Bailliol, the Scots king supported by his brother.
But all these “heroic” acts were recorded by historians on the southern side of the border. The Scottish saw him differently. So differently, in fact, that historian Tom Beaumont James writes that the tale of his death “challenges the distinction between history and story.”
To the Scots, he was a ruthless destroyer, who, among other crimes, burned the beautiful Lesmahagow Abbey when it was filled with people who had sought sanctuary from the wrath of the English troops. As Scottish chronicler tells it, this violation of the sacred laws of sanctuary so enraged King Edward that he killed his own brother in fury.
A tragic tale. One that my hero was told about his father. One that made him fear he had inherited the same bad blood.
One that, as near as we can now tell, was not true.
John did die, suddenly, at age 20, probably from a fever. Edward buried his brother with all honors in a beautiful tomb in Westminster Abbey and had masses said for his soul regularly, hardly the act of a man who had killed his brother.
And there was one other fact about John of Eltham, Earl of Cornwall, that peaked my romantic imagination. Half a dozen brides had been proposed for him, including daughters of the king of France and of the king of Castile and Leon, but he never married and died without “legitimate issue.”
Ah! But what about illegitimate issue? History records none, so I was free to create one: a man who must face the terrible truth about his past and learn to make peace with it.
A small tragedy of history that I tried to make right.
Note: This piece originally ran on unusualhistoricals.blogspot.com on August 23, 2010. It has been corrected to note that Edward III’s “coup” was against his appointed regent, not his father.
|HISTORY BLOG POSTS|
Chatting with Anna Kathryn - You Had to Research What?
Romance University blog - Anatomy of the Male Mind: The Code of Chivalry: Manhood in the Middle Ages
History Undressed blog - Behind the Plaid
Unusual Historicals blog--You Take the High Road, I'll Take the Low Road
Donna Grant blog - Beltane
Seduced by History blog - Research left on the Cutting Room Floor
Morgan Mandel blog - Will the Real Gavin Fitzjohn Please Stand Up?
Romance Divas Blog - Interview--May 3, 2010
Book Junkie blog - Interview--May 4, 2010
Romance Junkies blog--Interview--May 4, 2010
Romance Writers Revenge--Interview--May 5, 2010
Unusual Historicals blog - Interview--May 6, 2010
Petit Fours and Hot Tamales - Interview--May 12, 2010
History Hoydens blog-- Interview--May 10, 2010...
Welcome Blythe! HIS BORDER BRIDE is your fifth book set in the fourteenth century, but the first you've set in Scotland. What caused you to cross the border?
A combination of creative and marketing reasons. Confession time: Scotland has never captured my imagination the way it does for so many, yet I know it is an auto-buy for many readers. Reason enough for an author to think seriously about a Scots story, but I refused to choose a setting strictly for mercenary reasons. But my hero in my last book, IN The MASTER’S BED, was from the Borders of northern England. As I learned his history, I became increasingly intrigued by this 'third country,' where the Scots on one side of the line and the 'Inglis' on the other had more in common with each other than either did with the rest of their countrymen. This was a Scotland that called to me, so I followed the muse across the border.
What sparked this specific story? Was it a character? An historical event? A scene you just couldn't get out of your head?
I wanted to write a real 'bad boy' hero. Since all my books have featured a character born on the wrong side of the [English] royal blanket, I wanted him to be the son of a really hated member of the royal family. I discovered that John of Eltham, a younger brother of Edward III, spent several months commanding the English troops in a Scottish invasion. He was rumored to have burned a church filled with people who had sought sanctuary there. I thought his son would be well and truly hated on the Scots side of the border, so that was my hero's origin.
Did you have to do any major research for this book? Was it an easy transition?
Yes to the research. Not at all to the easy! It was much more difficult than I anticipated. Not the dates and places, but to learn the Scots mindset. I compare it to learning to write left-handed. I'm a life-long Anglophile, so I was very comfortable with that world view. I didn't know what I didn't know until I got into the story and had to learn the 'back story,' if you will, of a whole country! During this period, and for several hundred years to follow, Scotland was more closely allied with France than with England. That made a difference in their court, their culture, their law – and that's not to mention the Celtic echoes. I'm very grateful to the 'Write Scottish Romance' yahoo group of writers who walked me through so much of it.
So how do you feel about Scotland now? Did you learn to love it?
Actually, yes, I did. The Scots, particularly on the Border, are a stubborn, independent, hard-headed, ornery, freedom loving lot. My kind of folks! In fact, my next book will be set on the Scottish border, too.
What do you like least about this period?
I'm very familiar with the 14th century by now, so again it was the location, not the era that challenged me. In my last few books, I'd incorporated various trappings of educated royalty: art, music, dance, university studies. Life was rough on the Scots Borders. Art and 'culture' were scarce. But that actually lead me to some character development, as my heroine longed for the kind of culture and comfort that she would find, she thought, by marrying a French knight. (Not the hero!)
Did you stumble across anything really interesting that you didn't already know?
I had no idea how pervasive falconry was until I started studying it. Falconry, or hawking, is the sport of hunting with trained birds of prey. Its origins are ancient and despite having written four medieval romances, I had not realized that between the 12th and the 17th centuries, virtually every noble and even some non-noblemen would have hunted as a matter of course.
The sport and the birds became a strong theme in the book, symbolic both of her emotional state and of the developing relationship. And while I began by feeling quite clever for using it as a simile for the love story, I quickly discovered I was not the first to think of it. Much of the art of the period uses the falcon in just this contest. Several centuries later, Shakespeare, in 'The Taming of the Shrew' uses the falconer/falcon analogy for Petruchio and Kate's battle of wills. My story is not a 'taming of the shrew' premise, but it made me feel better to know I had chosen a metaphor that indeed applied to love, as well as sport.
Anything that constrained you or that you had to plot carefully around?
The life cycle of the falcon! Because it was such a thematic arc for the story, I had to know when falcons mated, how long it took for the eggs to hatch, when the chicks first flew and how they were trained to hunt with humans---that cycle set the framework for the story. (The illustration of hawking here dates from the same era as my story.)
Any gaffs or mea culpas you want to fess up to before readers get their hands on the book? I know I always seem to find one after the book has gone to press. *sigh*
Somehow, my idea of Scotland included sprinkling nay and nae randomly throughout the text. (Well, not randomly. I thought I knew what I was doing.) But when the copy editor questioned my usage and my editor pointed out the confusion, I had an eleventh hour fire drill to go through the manuscript and correct or change my various and inconsistent usage. (Please don't email to tell me I missed one!)
Thanks for being with us.
Copyright 2003-11, W. Blythe Gifford
Cover copyright 2010, Harlequin Enterprises
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