Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Thursday, October 29, 2015

New Release: Promise of a Knight!

Happy Thursday! Today is an exciting day! Not only is it the launch day for Kathryn Le Veque's World of De Wolfe Pack, BUT, I got to participate in the launch with my brand new novella, Promise of a Knight.

I'm THRILLED to share with you all an excerpt from the book!

Scottish Court, 1503

English knight, Sir Liam de Wolfe, has been charged with escorting Princess Margaret Tudor from England to the Scottish court where she will marry King James IV of Scotland. The newfound peace between the countries feels foreign, but he is bound by duty to honor the treaty, and his king's wishes. Once on Scottish soil, his attention is caught by a fiery lady--one who intrigues him with her witty banter, her passionate eyes, and admirable resolve. But she is Scottish, born to be his natural enemy. As much as he tries to walk away from her, he finds himself drawn to her beacon of light.

Scottish lady, Alexandra Maxwell, has been sent to the royal court under the guise of serving the new queen. Her parents are against the new treaty bringing peace between Scotland and England, and want her to commit treason, acts which Alex adamantly opposes. But how can she naysay her mother and father? They will toss her into a convent if she refuses, and yet if she's caught certain death awaits her at the end of a hangman's noose. To make matters worse, she seems to be falling for the English knight who has completely captivated her attention, whose kisses are a sweet escape from the torment in her mind. To fall for the enemy would most assuredly mean a fall from grace.

If Liam were to find out why Alex was really at court, he'd not only turn against her, but he'd see her tossed into the dungeon himself.

Can a relationship between English and Scottish go beyond that of battle? Can they trust one another? Love one another? Solve centuries worth of warring? Is it worth the risk?


“They come!” someone shouted.

Beside her, and she dared not look to see who, someone grumbled, “Damned Sassenachs.”

’Twould appear that not everyone was pleased with the king’s choice of bride. Alex didn’t like the English, either. They’d tormented her people, and when she was young, had ruined much of her entertainment. But for now, she mostly disliked them because they would make her false to Scotland. 

Aye, ’twas the bloody English’s fault that she was here and about to commit treason by stealing something from the king’s bride. If only the ninny had stayed in England where she belonged, Alex wouldn’t even be in this position.

“Move over.” The mumbles and shoves started from behind as the crowd shifted, trying to get a closer look.

Alex strained to see above their heads. Tugging her skirts out of the way of her feet when she tried to find her balance. English flags waved from long poles as knights walked and others rode on horseback. The trumpets and drums grew louder.

A gilded litter came into view, the sounds of ladies chirping from atop palfreys. They were dressed in voluminous gowns of satin, lace and velvet. Every color of the rainbow, with jeweled hoods to match, and gloves and boots of the finest leather. Raised on her tiptoes, Alex could barely see beyond the fabric. She desperately wanted to get a look at the woman she was going to rob in the name of retribution for her parents.

Moving with the shifting crowd, she strained to remain upright as well as to see.

And then her eyes locked on the most fearsome sight.

A knight.

He was large. Thick with muscle, and he sat his horse tall. How tall was he? Well over six feet if she had to guess. Plated armor covered his chest, arms, legs, the sun hitting the steel making it glint almost gold. Though his weapons were sheathed, there was no mistaking his deadly force. He wore a helm that covered the entirety of his face, leaving only slits where his eyes were. They had to be black. Black as his fierce heart.

The helmet turned and she could swear he was looking at her. But how could he see her through the crowd?

The shifting of the horde of Scottish aristocrats jerked forward suddenly, throwing Alex off balance and through the front of the crowd. Eyes widened, she stretched out her arms, feeling herself pitching forward.

“Oh!” she cried out. Someone was stepping on the back of her dress, which didn’t help her to gain her footing. And then she was, indeed, pitching forward.

Cold, gauntleted hands caught her just before she fully hit the ground.

Alex stared up into the metal face of the knight who’d been on his horse not a second before. 

Reflexes of a Highland cat, he had. Pretty impressive for an Englishman. How could he move so swiftly in such heavy metal?

She had the sudden irrational desire to see his eyes.

“Thank ye,” she murmured.

He lifted the front plate of his helmet, hazel eyes penetrating hers. “A lady should never have to feel the crush of a crowd or the dust of the road on her face.”

Alex was at a loss for words. How could a knight as fierce as he was speak such lovely words? 

Furthermore, how could a man be so beautiful? High arched cheeks, a strong jaw. A mouth that curled softly into a subtle, teasing smile. Dark tendrils of hair touched his forehead. She could get lost in the way his eyes resembled the moors.

A little flutter turned her belly and, just as quickly, soured it. Disgusting! Her family would have her stoned if they could just see her now. Batting her lashes at a Sassenach!

Alex tried to stand, but her dress was still caught.

“Move,” the knight said, his voice deep and commanding to the lord standing behind her, crushing the precious fabric of her new gown.

The Scot sneered at the English knight and then stepped aside. “Apologies,” he muttered to Alex, but it did not feel at all like an apology.

How was it that her own countryman treated her so rudely?

“Savages,” the knight proclaimed.

Alex pushed his cold, metal hands away and rose to her feet. She was not a savage. Even if the servants at Caerlaverock Castle had called her that often enough when she went out to dance in the rain.

Then she noticed that the entire caravan had stopped the moment the knight leapt from his horse. At least a dozen metal-clad men stood at attention.

“I’m no longer in need of yer assistance,” Alex said, raising her chin and hating that all eyes were on her. As a second thought, she added, “And I shouldn’t like to keep His Majesty’s bride waiting.”

The Countess of Home was surely regretting her decision to help Alex now.

The knight bowed, then returned to his horse, his faceplate still up, the way he watched her as he rode on did not go unnoticed by her—or anyone else.

Just as she suspected, a pinch on her arm alerted her to the Countess’ presence. “Stupid, lass, have ye no decorum?”

Alex looked to the ground, hoping to appear meek, but that only made her angry. When she’d left Caerlaverock, she’d left the insults behind. Or so she’d hoped. She jerked her gaze up at the Countess, and said, “I was pushed and not one of my own countrymen came to my aid. Nay, I had to be lifted by a dreaded English knight.

So dreaded that he’d made her belly flutter and left her with thoughts of his lips and the slight curl of a smile she’d seen on them as he’d ridden away.

Want to read more? Buy it here!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

William the Conqueror’s Castles in York By Regan Walker

Welcome back to History Undressed, guest author, Regan Walker! Today we're in for a real treat! Two of my favorite things William the Conqueror and castles! Enjoy!

William the Conqueror’s Castles in York

By Regan Walker

Rogue Knight is set in York in 1069-70. In the course of my research, I learned much about the castles William the Conqueror built in York. He might have conquered the south of England in 1066 but he did not conquer the north until years later. The north drew his attention because the people there, more Anglo-Scandinavian than Saxon, refused to accept his claim to the throne and because York was too important to ignore.

In 1068 William rode north to York and engaged in a skirmish with the “rebels” who did not accept him as their king any more than they had Harold Godwinson of Wessex before him. When the city submitted, as he did almost everywhere else, William built a castle to leave as a lasting reminder to the populace that he was now in charge. And he left his knights.

Motte and Bailey Castle

Like most of the castles William built, this first one in York was a motte and bailey castle.  A simple wooden structure, the tower or keep, was put at the top of a large mound or motte. They looked more like forts than the castles we think of today. It was set on a “ness”, the Viking word for a triangular headland between the
Rivers Ouse and Foss. Today the wooden castle has been replaced by the present-day York Castle, also called “Clifford’s Tower”, constructed of stone. The first, wooden one was built in a hurry, as were many of William’s castles. Some accounts say the first timber castle went up in nine days.

The motte, or mound of dirt on which the tower was constructed, was originally about 200 feet wide at the base. As he did elsewhere, William the Conqueror destroyed an entire section of the city to make way for his castle. At the foot of the motte was an area surrounded by a wooden palisade, a post fence. This was the bailey.

Richard FitzRichard was made castellan of the first York castle and left to guard York with William Malet, the new Sheriff of Yorkshire and the garrison of Norman knights and men-at-arms left behind. This is where Rogue Knight begins.

A year after the first castle was built, the rebels again rose against William killing Richard FitzRichard, the castellan. William brought his army north to subdue them. Once the rebels were sent scurrying off, William built a second castle on the other side of the River Ouse. This second castle was constructed on what is now Baile Hill on the west bank of the Ouse opposite the first castle. It was also a motte and bailey design, probably reached by a bridge and steps cut up the side of the motte. One of William’s friends, Gilbert de Ghent, was made castellan of York’s second castle.

 Medieval York

William probably thought he had Northumbria and York well in hand as he rode south in 1069, however he had not counted upon the fact the rebels were by now joined by some powerful allies: Edgar Ætheling, the young Saxon heir to the throne of England who had been sojourning in Scotland, Maerleswein, former Sheriff of Lincolnshire, Waltheof, Earl of Huntingdon and cousin to King Swein of Denmark, and Cospatric, former Earl of Northumbria. No ordinary rebels these. And William had not counted upon the people of York looking to their allies the Danes.

In late summer of 1069, a Danish fleet of 240 dragon ships sailed up the Humber to the Ouse River and to York. They attacked both castles with the assistance of the Northumbrians. The Normans, in a misguided effort to prevent the rebels from burning the castles, had earlier set fire to surrounding houses. The fire raged out of control and spread through the city, effectively turning it into a burned out shell. The fire also destroyed York Minster. This is what the Danes found when they arrived two days later.

The Danes captured the castles and killed all the Normans (hundreds) save for the nobles they took as captives (including William Malet and his family, and Gilbert de Ghent). They tore down and burned the castles and then sailed their dragon ships back to the mouth of the Humber where they intended to winter.

Likely the Danes did not think William would wage a war in winter. They didn’t do that back then. But William did. He would have his revenge. And he would re-build his two castles. William brought his army north and devastated York and all of Northumbria as far as Durham, killing everyone. He even salted the land to prevent the people from growing food. This is called the “Harrying of the North” and led to the death of 100,000 people.

William rebuilt the two castles, again constructing them of wood. The bailey at York Castle was enlarged slightly in the process. The buildings believed to have been inside the bailey at this time included halls, kitchens, a chapel, barracks, stores, stables, forges and workshops. By the time Domesday Book was written in 1086, York Castle was also surrounded by a water-filled moat and a large artificial lake called the King's Pool, fed from the river Foss by a dam built for the purpose. Over time the Baile Hill site was abandoned in favor of the first castle site, leaving only the motte, which still exists.

William’s vengeance on the North for the rebellion of 1069 was so horrible that for decades thereafter, the land between York and Durham remained untilled and no village was inhabited. Orderic Vitalis, the English chronicler and Benedictine monk, said of William’s actions, “I dare not commend him. He leveled both the bad and the good in one common ruin by a consuming famine…he was…guilty of wholesale massacre…and barbarous homicide.”

William of Jumièges, a monk and contemporary of William the Conqueror, said that “from the youngest to the oldest” most of the population of York was killed. But William now controlled York, or whatever was left of it, and he had his two re-built castles.

"Mesmerizing medieval romance! A vivid portrayal of love flourishing amidst the turbulence of the years after the Norman Conquest."
-- Kathryn Le Veque, USA Today Bestselling Author

York, England 1069… three years after the Norman Conquest

The North of England seethes with discontent under the heavy hand of William the Conqueror, who unleashes his fury on the rebels who would dare to defy him. Amid the ensuing devastation, love blooms in the heart of a gallant Norman knight for a Yorkshire widow.


Angry at the cruelty she has witnessed at the Normans’ hands, Emma of York is torn between her loyalty to her noble Danish father, a leader of the rebels, and her growing passion for an honorable French knight.

Loyal to King William, Sir Geoffroi de Tournai has no idea Emma hides a secret that could mean death for him and his fellow knights.


War erupts, tearing asunder the tentative love growing between them, leaving each the enemy of the other. Will Sir Geoffroi, convinced Emma has betrayed him, defy his king to save her?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

This Week in History: 10/12 - 10/18

Time for your history lesson!
What happened this week in Tudor History?

October 12, 1537: Queen Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII, gave birth to a son, Prince Edward.  The little prince would one day become king, though his reign and life were short-lived due to an illness.

October 13, 1549: The Royal Council for Edward VI abolished Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset's (and the hero in my novel, My Lady Viper), membership on the council and his protectorship of the king. He'd been named Lord Protector upon the death of Henry VIII.

October 14, 1586: The trial of Mary Queen of Scots, brought about by her cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England (though she did not attend the proceedings), began at Fotheringhay Castle.

October 15, 1537: The infant, Prince Edward was christened. His half-sister, Mary (daughter of Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon) stood as his god-mother. Charles Brandon, Thomas Cranmer and Thomas Howard stood as godfathers. His mother, Jane Seymour, would die of childbed fever just twelve days after giving birth.

October 16, 1555: Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester and Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London were burned at the stake as heretics, the order issued by Queen Mary I of England (eldest living daughter of Henry VIII).

October 17, 1491: Though a three-year truce had been signed between Henry VII of England and James IV of Scotland in 1488, (due to expire on 10/23/1491), relations had deteriorated significantly. On this day, the English parliament passed an act banishing all Scots from the land (who were not land/title holders) within 40 days.

October 18, 1541: Margaret Tudor, sister to Henry VIII and Queen Consort in Scotland and then regent, died at Methven Castle, Perthshire, Scotland.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Thursday, October 8, 2015

This Week in History: 10/5 - 10/11

Time for your weekly history lesson!
What happened this week in Scottish history?

October 5, 1785: Italian aeronaut Vincenzo Lunardi, made a 46-mile balloon flight from from George Heriot's School, Edinburgh to Ceres, Fife.

October 6, 1564: John Knox, a Scottish clergyman, who off and on took issue with Mary Queen of Scots, wrote to Cecil, the advisor of Queen Elizabeth I of England, as well as Dudley, another of Elizabeth's council. He expressed his distress that 9 of 12 of Mary's council were accepting of her wish to marry Darnley, stating Mary was "born to be a plague to this realm" with her "inordinate desires."

October 7, 1782: One of the founders of The Scotsman newspaper, Charles McLaren, was born. He edited the paper for 27 years and also was the editor for the 6th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

October 8, 1515: The birth of Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox. Her grandson, James VI, succeeded Elizabeth I of England, uniting both Scotland and England under the same monarch.

October 9, 1506: The Charter incorporating the Surgeons and Barbers was ratified by King James IV.

October 10, 1802: Geologist and writer, Hugh Miller, was born on the Black Isle (Cromarty). He penned many verses, pamphlets and articles, including geological books, the most famous being The Old Red Sandstone. He was pioneer in researching fossils, and the relationship between different geological ages.

October 11, 1297: A letter written by William Wallace and Andrew Moray to the mayors of Lubeck and Hamburg, after the victory at Stirling Bridge, which stated, "The Kingdom of Scotland has, by God's Grace, recovered by battle from the power of the English".