Sunday, 9 November 2014

New Release from Jen Black : ABDUCTION OF THE SCOTS QUEEN

Henry Tudor demands the Scots Queen be brought south, by force if necessary, to marry his son. Young Englishman Matho Spirston accepts the challenge only to fall foul of the king's niece, bold beauty Meg Douglas.
She has her own problems with ambitious Lord Lennox. Her trickery forces Matho to use his wits and all his courage to survive in the brutal world of 16th century Scottish politics.
Observing them all is Marie de Guise, the Dowager Queen with a loyalty to France, struggling to protect her daughter's birthright amongst headstrong lords who think any one of them could rule the country better than a mere woman.

A bright, sparkling story with both drama and humour set in sixteenth century Scotland when life was an uncertain thing and death never far away.

Excerpt 1:
‘Spirston, you’ve dealt with forays of Scots across the fells to steal a few cattle and sheep. You know men don’t always return from a raid or a trod. This persuades me the pair of you may have a chance of success. But don’t take this task lightly, either of you.’ He cast a warning glance at his son. ‘It could cost you your lives.’
   ‘Aye.’ On a wave of confidence, Matho flicked his fingers against Harry’s green velvet sleeve. ‘You’d best get out of those fancy duds, Harry. They’ll give you away in a trice. Splurge some money on a less gaudy set of clothes, man.’
   ‘Quite.’ Humour lit Wharton’s eyes. ‘I dare say Harry will be loath to shed his favourite boots. He is ever light-hearted about too many things, Spirston. I’m relying on you to talk sense into him.’
   Matho’s glance fell to the boots in question. While he had never begrudged Harry his expensive clothes, his time at court nor his chantry school education, he stared at the fine brown leather boots with red, turn-down cuffs embossed with tiny gold flowers, and promised himself he would own a similar pair before the year turned. Either that or he wouldn’t be worrying about boots at all.

Excerpt 2:
Meg Douglas braced her palms on the cold stone windowsill high in the north-west tower and stared out to sea. A mile away, Bass Rock heaved its white, guano-smeared sides out of the indigo water and the usual coronet of seabirds circled its cliffs. Her gaze moved to hills of Fife on the far side of the Forth estuary, where waves hitting the shore threw up a faint haze and hid the beaches from sight.
With a hiss of exasperation, Meg banged the shutter closed and turned back into the small chamber. Father’s summons to this ancient Douglas stronghold had been unwelcome and badly timed. He must know Henry of England had married for the sixth time in July, and a budding court jostled round his new queen. By the time Meg rode south again, the plum positions would have gone and she would face the simpering smiles of the favoured ladies-in-waiting. She would have only King Henry’s erratic generosity to rely upon for the coming year.
Father would not care. Thanks to King Henry’s gold, Father was happily ensconced twenty-five miles from Edinburgh, and as busy as a bee in clover encouraging the populace of Scotland to accept the marriage of their infant Queen to England’s young Prince Edward. He could do it and welcome. She would be polite, even charming, do his bidding and get back to London as soon as possible. Scotland held nothing for her.
‘Margaret? Are ye ready? Daughter?’ Father’s bellow echoed up the spiral stairs from three floors below.
On the long, uncomfortable ride north she had received the unwelcome news that her father had re-married. At fifty-three, for God’s sake, he had wed a girl of eighteen. No doubt the new Countess of Angus would be waiting beyond the curve of the stair.

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