Highlighting Historical Romance Ruth Kaufman shares her research and her passion.
Years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to England and Wales and explore some amazing castle ruins and stay in two castles (Amberley and Thornbury). I knew I had to visit Castle Rising, in the village of Castle Rising in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, because it was the setting of my, at the time, nearly-finished first medieval.
I’d chosen Castle Rising as the heroine’s home because it’s smaller and more intimate than many extant castles, so it was easier for me to imagine what it might be like to live and work there. I also liked the name, and used it as the working title. I named my heroine, Amice, after a woman who did live there, and made her a descendant of the actual baron who built it.
Seeing images online or in books is helpful, but you just can’t beat an in person visit. I experienced the sense of proportion when walking up the steep staircase underneath the high stone arch. I can’t describe the feeling of standing in the Great Hall and some of the rooms where lords, ladies and servants stood hundreds of years ago. I got the perspective of the landscape, how long it took and what it’s like to cross the moat and walk within the raised circle around the inner bailey and the path on the hill all around the castle. I also visited ruins of a church in the bailey, which became their chapel in my book. Another benefit of being there is the availability of brochures or booklets containing juicy details and facts you can’t get anywhere else.
And, I was able to feature one of the pictures I’d taken on the book cover, in the upper left corner. I love having such a personal touch for my first book.
Could she defy her king for love?
England 1453: King Henry VI sends Sir Nicholas Gray to protect the recently widowed Lady Amice Winfield from undesirable suitors. Though Nicholas intrigues her, she yearns to run Castle Rising without a man’s control.
Nicholas has no interest in marriage, but can’t deny he’s attracted to Amice. A kiss sparks desire neither can ignore, yet serving opposing factions seeking to govern England threatens to pull them apart.
At court, the king and queen reject Amice’s pleas and choose a highly-ranked lord who’ll provide connections and coin for the king’s depleted coffers that Nicholas cannot. How can she follow the king’s command when she’s a scribe for his rival? How can she marry another man when she’s falling in love with Nicholas?
Sir Nicholas Grey’s scout leaned forward in his saddle, holding up two fingers to let the others know two horses approached. Nicholas heard only the slight jangling of harnesses blended with wind rattling through the trees, but relied on his scout’s uncanny ability to hear what no one else could.
He and his eight men sat alert, deep enough in the forest to avoid being seen while maintaining a clear view of the road through leafless branches. Nine armed men could frighten travelers. ‘Twas best to let them pass.
Each man watched, each horse sinking deeper into chilling mire as a mud-covered, black palfrey plodded over the rise in the road, its long mane whipping in the frigid winds.
“No rider,” Martin, the scout, murmured.
“Look again,” Nicholas replied. At first he too had thought the horse was riderless. Now he could see a woman collapsed on the animal’s back. Her dark hair draped down its flank, mingling with the horse’s mane. The palfrey placed each step as if trying not to jostle its burden.
Another horse, this one a brown rouncey ridden by a thin, balding man, galloped after the palfrey. A look of triumph brightened the man’s face as he spotted the horse ahead of him. He bent forward, extending his hand. Fingers like talons grasped the woman’s tangled hair.
“Mine!” he cried.
Amice Winfield jerked awake. Agony forced her head back, allowing her to see the man who gripped her hair as though he’d perish if he let go.
She screamed. Arrows of fear pierced her as she clawed at his fingers. Her horse bolted, leaving her dangling from Harry’s hand by a small clump of hair. The long strands held for a few seconds, then tore from her head.
Pain seared her scalp. She dropped into a puddle. Stunned by her fall and her stinging head, Amice could only stare at her tormentor while freezing water soaked her clothes. How she hated him. How she regretted her desperate flight from home. But what other choice did she have?
Harry gaped at the dark tresses hanging from his hand. He threw them to the ground as she struggled to rise. Panic gripped her as his hostile glare changed to a slow, confident smile.
“There’s nowhere to run. I’ll catch you if it’s the last thing I do,” he vowed. He leapt off his horse.
About the Author
Ruth Kaufman is the author of MY ONCE AND FUTURE LOVE and the Wars of the Roses Brides trilogy, AT HIS COMMAND, FOLLOW YOUR HEART and THE BRIDE TOURNAMENT. Accolades include 2016 Booksellers’ Best Historical and Best First Book award winner and Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® winner.
An actor and storyteller with an M.S. and J.D, Ruth has had roles in independent features, web series, pilots, national TV commercials and hundreds of voiceover projects. She enjoys chocolate peanut butter milkshakes and singing in a symphony chorus. Learn more at www.ruthkaufman.com and www.ruthtalks.com.
Blog: Gainfully Unemployed www.rjkaufman.blogspot.com
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