I am proud to announce that my novel historical novel Tangled Hearts, set in the reign of Queen Anne, will soon be available in bookshops. It is now available from my publisher, www.enspirenpress.com, Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
Hoping you enjoy the extract.
When the outwardly Protestant Charles II died in 1685, he left a country torn by religious controversy but no legitimate children. The throne passed to his Catholic brother James.
It was an anxious time for the people, whose fears increased when James II, became so unpopular that he was forced into exile. In 1688, James’s Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange, became the new king and queen of England.
Some English Protestants, who had sworn allegiance to James II, refused to take a new oath of allegiance to William and Mary and joined him in France.
When James’s younger daughter, Anne, inherited the throne in 1702, many Protestant exiles returned to England. Others declared themselves Jacobites and supporters of James II son, James III, by his second wife, Mary of Modena, and stayed abroad. They believed James III should be king.
Richelda Shaw stood silent in her nursery while thunder pealed outside the ancient manor house and an even fiercer storm raged deep within. She pressed her hands to her ears and, eyes closed, remained as motionless as the marble statues in the orangery.
‘Nine years old and you’ve not yet learned to be neat!’ Elsie, her mother’s personal maid, pulled Richelda’s hands from her ears. ‘Come, your father’s waiting for you.’
Richelda’s hands trembled. What was wrong? Until now Father’s short visits from France meant gifts and laughter. This one made Mother cry while the servants spoke in hushed tones.
Followed by Elsie, Richelda hurried down the broad oak stairs. For a moment, she paused to admire the lilies of the valley in a Delft bowl. Only yesterday, she picked the flowers to welcome Father home. After she had arranged them with tender care, she placed them on a chest, which stood beneath a pair of crossed broadswords on the wall above.
Elsie opened the massive door of the great hall where Father stood to one side of the enormous hearth. Richelda’s eyes searched for her mother before she spread her skirts wide and knelt before him.
Father strode forward and placed his right hand on her bent head. ‘Bless you, daughter, may God keep you safe.’ He smiled. ‘Upon my word, sweetheart, I vow the colour of your hair reminds me of a golden rose. How glad I am to see roses bloom in these troubled times.’
Richelda chewed her lower lip again. She did not know him well and dared not speak. Therefore, when he sat and beckoned to her, she hesitated.
Putting an arm round her waist, he drew her to him. ‘Come, do not be nervous of your father, child. Now, my daughter, do you know King James II now holds court in France and that his daughter, Mary, and William, his son-in-law, seized his throne?’
‘Yes, Mother told me we are well rid of King James and his Papist wife,’ she piped up, proud of her knowledge.
With a sigh, Father lifted her onto his knees and held her close. ‘Richelda, I must follow His Majesty for I swore an oath of allegiance to him. Tell me, Richelda, while the king lives how can I with honor swear allegiance to his disloyal daughter and her husband?’
Unable to think of a reply, she lowered her head.
Father held her closer. ‘Your mother pleads with me to declare myself for William and Mary and begs me not to return to France, but I am obliged to serve King James. Do you understand, Richelda?’
She nodded. Her cheek brushed against the softness of his velvet coat and she breathed in his spicy perfume.
‘If you remain in England, you will be safe. Bellemont is part of your mother’s dowry and I doubt the Crown will confiscate her estate.’
If she remained in England! Startled, she stared at him.
Smiling, he popped her onto her feet and stood. ‘Come, we shall ride. I have something to show you.’
Before long, they rode away from the house and estate. They drew rein on the brow of a hill. At its foot lay Field House, their ancestral home seized by the Roundheads soon after poor King Charles I execution.
He pointed at the Elizabethan manor house. ‘Richelda, I promised my father to do all in my power to regain the property.’ Grey-faced, he pressed his hand to his chest. ‘Alas, so far I failed to keep my oath and now I cannot,’ he wheezed.
Richelda yearned to help him keep his promise to her grandfather. She also yearned to find the gold and jewels legend said her buccaneer ancestor, Sir Nicholas, hid.
After her father breathed easy, she ventured. ‘If we found the treasure trove you could buy Field House.’
‘Ah,’ he teased, ‘You believe Sir Nicholas did not give all his plunder to Good Queen Bess.’
‘Elsie told me legend says he hid some of his booty in Field House,’ Richelda said, excited by the thought of pearls and rubies, diamonds and emeralds, gold and silver bars and coins. Less shy of him, she asked. ‘In his old age, when Sir Nicholas retired from seafaring, did he put his ship’s …’ she broke off for a moment in an attempt to remember the word and continued triumphantly, ‘…his ship’s figurehead, Lady Luck, in the great hall?’
‘Yes, for all I know she is still above a mighty fireplace carved with pomegranates, our family’s device.’
‘I want to find the treasure.’
He chuckled and wheeled his thoroughbred mare round. ‘Come, time to ride back to Bellemont.’
‘Do you know our family motto, Richelda?’
‘Fortune favours the brave.’
‘Are you brave, my little lady? Will you swear on the Bible to do all in your power to regain Field House?’
To please him, she nodded.
All the best,
Tangled Hearts available from www.enspirenpress.com, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and soon in bookshops.
Tangled Hearts is set in the reign of the last Stuart monarch,Queen Anne (1702-1714)and has received five star reviews.