Tag Archives: historical

How a cruel English folk song inspired my latest story

My new release, NEVER TEMPT A WIDOW, took as its starting point a traditional song that originated in the Hampshire area of England.

In “Pretty Polly”, which I first heard sung by Sandy Denny, Polly is taken deep into the woods by her lover, Willie. When she gets frightened “of his ways”, he tells her she’s guessed correctly- he DOES intend to do her harm. He shows her a newly-dug grave, announcing almost proudly that he worked on it most of the previous night. He then stabs her in the heart.

This is a cold-blooded, pre-meditated murder that freezes the blood. But one of the most chilling lines for me is, “He threw a little dirt over her and started for home.” This is a man with no conscience whatsoever, who gets an innocent girl into trouble after promising to marry her, then slaughters her and doesn’t even bother to cover her body properly, leaving her to the mercies of the forest animals.

What, I wondered, would have happened had Polly and her child survived? How would she feel about love after that? What lengths would a ruined woman go to in order to survive?

I renamed Polly Seraphina, made her a duke’s daughter, and had her survive a drowning attempt. The story takes off from that point. Below is a brief overview.

NEVER TEMPT A WIDOW

The Duke of Wolfingham’s scapegrace daughter Seraphina is convinced her lover tried to kill her. Alone, penniless, and desperate, there’s nothing she can do to save the life of her beloved baby daughter, Adelina. Sir Rowland Cavendish offers an escape from her grief, but how can Seraphina ever trust a man again?

Rowland has just lost his wife, and his baby boy needs feeding. The beautiful young widow from the village would make the perfect wet nurse, but the conditions she sets in exchange for her compliance are not at all what he expects.

Seraphina refuses to share her secrets with Rowland, but her past returns to haunt her, threatening her new-found security. Her future hangs on a knife-edge as the game turns deadly, and a web of kidnapping, blackmail, and lies is uncovered.

She loves Rowland deeply, but if she doesn’t leave him, he may lose what he values above all else. His baby son.

If you fancy taking a look at NEVER TEMPT A WIDOW, it is currently at its pre-order discount price of $0.99 for a couple more days, or you can now read it for FREE with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

If you want to find out the full history of this folk song, why not take a look at Paul Slade’s website? It’s fascinating!

It’s been great fun writing these Tudor era romances! Find out what the final one has to offer.

The last book in the Trysts and Treachery series is now up for pre-order, at the advance discount price of just $0.99. It’s set in the time of King Edward VI and is called LORD OF THE MANOR. Read on for more about the story.

To her, he represents authority and power. To him, she spells sedition and danger.

Orphaned at birth, Cecily Neville owes more than her name to the former hospitallers of Temple Roding. She was still a child when the reformation wrenched her home and adopted family from her and now, like the few surviving monks, she lives in fear that her past could take a deadly toll. Her closest friend is her precious peregrine falcon, Charlemagne. Her greatest enemy is Allan Smythe, the new owner of Temple Roding.

Grieving over the loss of both wife and child, Smythe throws his heart and soul into reviving the old hospitaller commandery that he’s bought in partnership with his brother-in-law, Kennett Clark. He can’t risk being distracted by the mysterious but tempting Cecily and her murdering bird. However, when Smythe is forced to save her from his brother-in-law’s lecherous clutches, the unscrupulous Kennett vows to destroy them both.

On a knife-edge, Smythe can’t afford to relax the rents owed by Cecily and her fellow villagers. If he doesn’t demolish her former home for profit, he risks losing everything to Kennett. But when necessity forces him to employ Cecily, there’s more at stake than his future and his battered heart. Something lies hidden in the depths of the hospitaller commandery that could solve all of Smythe’s problems… or threaten his life. 

It all depends on whether he, or the very determined Cecily, finds it first.

You can get your copy here http://mybook.to/lordofthemanor and remember, if you buy it before April 13th, you can get it at a discount!

Another exclusive peek at the latest Tudor romp!

LORD OF MISTRUST comes out on December 30th, but if I were you, I’d buy it NOW at two thirds discount. Order your copy here for just $0.99.

Here’s a bit about the story. You can also scroll down for an exclusive extract from the book.

Sir Robert Mallory thinks the young woman he encounters, who is dressed as a boy, is a pickpocket and a prostitute. He soon discovers that the delectable Chloe is, in fact, the illegitimate daughter of a man to whom he owes a great deal of money. Things go from bad to worse when she’s kidnapped by traitors to the crown.

Robert is faced with an impossible choice. He’s desperate to save Chloe, but if he follows his heart, the security of the entire realm is at risk.

Here is a exclusive extract from the book.

“How shall we occupy the next hour?”

There was a glint in his eyes that belied his claim of exhaustion. A predatory glint.

She backed toward the door. “I hope you’re not having any lascivious thoughts, sir. I’ve told you time and time again that I’m not what you think.”

He followed her and as she reached for the latch, his hand came over hers. “Pray, don’t decamp just yet, Mistress. You have not yet explained your presence at Mistress Riviere’s, nor why you were dressed as a boy one moment and a charming woman the next. I beg you, indulge me. Fill my empty moments by telling me your story.”

Curse it! He was far too close, his blue eyes alight with mischief. And with promise. She gulped.

“Step back, sir. You’re trying to take advantage of me. If I saved your life tonight, you should be showing me your gratitude, not… not looming over me.” And not looking like he wanted to kiss her, threatening to reawaken all those wicked imaginings she’d had earlier.

“Was I looming? My apologies. So, are you going to tell me what you were doing in that house of ill repute?”

“Certainly not, as it’s none of your business.”

He tipped his head on one side. “If you are a whore, you’re the most reticent I’ve ever encountered.”

Why did his gaze keep sliding toward her mouth? It was most unsettling.

She pushed her shoulders back. “I’ve told you so many times that I am not. You should accept the word of a lady.”

“If you are a lady, then who are your people? Who are your family, and whither are you bound?”

He was looming even more. So close, she could feel his breath on her face. And there was no space for retreat. Placing a hand firmly on his chest, she gave him a push, but he was immovable. Instead, the rogue placed his palm over hers and came even closer.

Time for the knee again? She rather thought it was. But before she could move, he’d wrapped his arms tightly around her, pulling her against him.

“Nothing to say, Madam Mystery?” His lips teased her ear.

She tried to speak, but her voice lodged in her throat. A giddy sensation of excitement washed over her as she stood quivering in his arms, fascinated to discover what he’d do next. The strength and power that emanated from him both comforted and alarmed her. Protection, safety, danger. She wriggled, only to find his arms tightening around her.

He pulled his head back a little, and she was able to focus on his face. His gaze had darkened and a smile played about his lips.

“I find staring death in the face has a way of making one feel gloriously alive—as if one’s continued existence was a gift not to be squandered. As if there isn’t a single moment to lose. Tell me, didn’t besting that blackguard stir your blood, just a little?”

She shook her head. It had been terrifying. Particularly when he’d pointed his weapon back at her.

“But you were magnificent.” Even though Sir Robert was holding her less tightly now, her limbs had turned to water, and she couldn’t have escaped had she wanted to. Did she still want to escape?

He twined a curl of hair behind her ear and stroked her cheek. Suddenly, she remembered she was wearing only her thin summer nightgown. Far too little to shield her body from his. He must be able to feel her breasts pushing up against him—it would incite him, would it not?

What else had her mother taught her about evading the attentions of a lustful man? Frantically, she searched her memory, struggling to pull together her scattered thoughts. Sir Robert, meanwhile, was gazing at her mouth again, a hungry smile on his lips.

Go limp. That was it. Go limp and slide down, out of the grasp of your over-amorous suitor.

Well, it might work with the clientele at Mistress Riviere’s when they overstepped the mark, but they didn’t have the reflexes of Sir Robert Mallory. The instant she relaxed, he scooped her up and held her across his body.

“You’re not about to swoon on me, are you? Mayhap you’d better lie down.” He carried her to the bed and laid her atop the cover.

Nay! If she lay down, she’d be completely at his mercy. But when she struggled to sit up, he pressed her shoulders back against the mattress, then lowered his head and touched his lips to hers.

It was the briefest of touches, but it calmed her fears and, at the same time, ignited a curiosity within her. Her treacherous body demanded more.

“Sweet as sugared rose petals. I would taste you again.” His voice was as soft as the caress of his lips.

She should turn her head aside, or fight—or even scream. But she did none of these things. She merely gazed into his admiring eyes and wondered what was to follow.

“No complaint, Mistress?” He brushed her lips with the tip of his tongue, and they tingled in response.

Nothing to complain of as yet.

Don’t forget- if you buy the book now, it’ll only cost you $0.99! Here’s the link- http://mybook.to/mistrust

An exclusive peek at the latest Tudor romp!

LORD OF MISTRUST comes out on December 30th, but if I were you, I’d buy it NOW at two thirds discount. Order your copy here for just $0.99.

Here’s a bit about the story. You can also scroll down for an exclusive extract from the book.

Headstrong Chloe dresses as a boy and runs away to her birth mother to escape a horrendous marriage. She’s shocked to discover that her parent owns a bawdy house, and is in no position to help- nor will she reveal the identity of Chloe’s father. When a street accident throws Chloe into the lap of the tempting Robert Mallory, he offers distraction and adventure, but his stubborn refusal to trust her endangers them both.

Hot-headed Robert Mallory is battling to protect his sister, his livelihood, and his honor. He’s a spy who can’t follow the rules and distrusts everyone, particularly the delectable young woman from the bordello. Having endangered her, then rescued her from a nest of traitors, he learns that Chloe is the natural daughter of the one man he can’t afford to upset, Sir Mortimer Fowler. Offering marriage to save Chloe’s reputation is out of the question, as Fowler needs her for bait in a deadly trap.

Robert is faced with an impossible choice. He’s desperate to save Chloe, but if he follows his heart, the security of the entire realm is at risk.

Here is a exclusive extract from the book.

The hero, Sir Robert Mallory, has just offered to marry Mistress Chloe Emmerson in order to save her reputation. He doesn’t get quite the response he’d anticipated…

“He could tell from the glint in her eyes that she was becoming angrier by the minute. Mayhap he should excuse himself until she calmed down. Ye gods, if this was how she behaved when he offered to save her reputation, how would she react if she knew he’d drugged and searched her?

“If I swear not to mention your name to my father, will you tell me where he is?”

“I dare not.” He spread his hands in a gesture of helplessness.

“Will you not tell me the nature of your dealings with him, then?”

“I cannot.” Robert felt wretched. He’d just made the biggest mistake of his life and was about to reap the consequences.

“Then, get out of this chamber, sir.”

“I can’t go. Not until we’ve resolved this.”

“Go. I never want to set eyes on you again.”

“Chloe.” He straightened his spine. “You’re being unreasonable.”

There was a sudden flurry of movement, and before he could react, she’d taken one of the dags from his luggage and was pointing it at him with a trembling hand.

“Wrong. Now, I’m being unreasonable. Get you gone. Send someone else to collect your chest. Be sure not to follow me to London—or ever again repeat your insulting suggestion that we be wed.”

Was she holding the gun that was still primed, or the one that wasn’t? He dared not take the risk. Flinging up his hands, he bowed his head.

“As you wish. Though I have to say I wish things were otherwise.”

“Go.” She waved the gun.

He went. He could see no other choice.”

* A “dag” is a Tudor handheld gun, as featured in the first Trysts and Treachery book, LORD OF DECEPTION.