I hope you all enjoyed happy holidays. :-)
Today, I'm introducing my latest historical novel, Dark Deceit, out in late February 2012 from Crooked Cat Publishing, a small ebook publishing company I recently set up with my husband (both published, with extensive experience in reviewing, critiquing, editing, and web design). Dark Deceit is the first in The Anarchy Trilogy, set in 1140s England and Normandy, weaving a tale of murder, changing loyalties, betrayal, and hope.
On his return from battle at Lincoln, Geoffrey de Mortagne, undersheriff of Gloucester and spy for the Empress Matilda, assists a dying knight caught in an ambush. Promising to look after the welfare of the knight’s only daughter, Geoffrey stays at her manor while he investigates the murder. Keen to join the Empress on her progress through England, he is torn between his oath and his duty.
Left to defend her manor following her father’s death, Alleyne de Bellac at first accepts Geoffrey’s support. As she doesn’t trust the taciturn stranger, she asks Will d’Arques, an old friend, for help. But loyalties change. Her life in danger and her inheritance at stake, Alleyne must decide which man to trust.
Discover England and Normandy divided by a brutal civil war, where vows are broken as allegiances waver.
The under-sheriff took a deep draught before he glanced her way. His eyes, transformed into the shade of a stormy winter sea in the flickering torchlight, bore into hers. A deep flush crept into her cheeks as Alleyne realised she was staring. Quickly, she averted her gaze. Her fingers fidgeted, playing with the polished gems on her goblet. Sweet Mary, what was the matter with her? Not even Will d’Arques had such an effect on her senses - and Will was the one man she had expected to offer for her. Guilt flooded her. It must be her mind, tired with concern for her father, that made her head spin. Nothing at all to do with de Mortagne.
She breathed a deep sigh of relief when Roger finally gave the signal for the food to be brought. Servants entered, carrying trays loaded with roast duck and pigeon, baked eels, bowls of stewed vegetables, and the day-old bread that served as trenchers.
‘How are you faring, my lady?’ De Mortagne bent over the arm of his chair. His voice, deep and comforting, was barely audible above the noise of people piling up their trenchers with food and drink-induced merriment.
‘I am well, thank you.’ She smiled, taking a cut of pigeon breast from the bowl in front of them and nibbling at the savoury meat. She normally devoured such delicacies in an instant, but tonight she lacked the taste for it.
A commotion at the door pulled her out of her thoughts. A man rushed past the tables toward hers. She leaped from her chair at the same time as de Mortagne who raised his dagger in a firm grip. Her hands grabbed the edge of the table and her stomach contracted.
Friend or enemy?
The man’s cloak was splattered with mud and dripping, his boots caked with wet soil and his beard flecked with dirt. A messenger. His expression grim, he fell to one knee in front of the dais, and bowed his head.
‘I’m afraid I bring bad tidings, my lady.’ He did not meet her eyes. Instead, he glanced at de Mortagne who regarded him with an inscrutable expression. Did he recognise the man?
Alleyne jerked her attention back to the messenger. ‘Speak!’
‘I’ve come straight from the Benedictines at Worcester.’ His voice cut through the silence that had descended. ‘I’m sorry for being the bearer of such grave news, my lady. The Brother Infirmarian tried everything but it was God’s will. Lord Raymond died this day.’
Dark Deceit will be available from Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble in late February 2012.
I write historical fiction and romantic mystery - a mix that doesn't always fit into a specific box. This makes plotting utter fun. ;-)
A hobby historian, I love researching Scottish history, particularly medieval and Jacobite, and English medieval and Tudor periods. My home library is ever expanding.
My first novel, Highland Arms, a romantic historical adventure set in Scotland in 1720, was published with The Wild Rose Press in July 2011. It has received glowing reviews.
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Highland Arms is available from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon US and UK, Barnes & Noble, and other ebook outlets.