Another one from an author i really enjoy.
Snow in July by Kim Iverson Headlee is a Medieval Paranormal Romance.
Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre has been granted what every man
wants: a rich English estate in exchange for his valiant service at the Battle
of Hastings. To claim this reward, the Norman knight must wed the estate’s
Saxon heiress. Most men would leap at such an opportunity, but for Alain, who
broke his vow to his dying mother by failing to protect his youngest brother in
battle, it means facing more easily broken vows. But when rumors of rampant
thievery, dangerous beasts, and sorcery plaguing a neighboring estate reach his
ears, nothing will make him shirk duty to king and country when people’s lives
stand at risk. He assumes the guise of a squire to scout the land, its
problems, and its lady.
Lady Kendra of Edgarburh has been granted what no woman wants: a forced marriage to an enemy who may be kith or kin to the man who murdered her beloved brother. Compounding her anguish is her failure to awaken the miraculous healing gift bequeathed by their late mother in time to save his life. Although with his dying breath, he made her promise to seek happiness above all, Kendra vows that she shall find neither comfort nor love in the arms of a Norman… unless it snows in July.
Alain is smitten by Lady Kendra from the first moment of their meeting; Kendra feels the forbidden allure of the handsome and courtly Norman “squire.” But a growing evil overshadows everyone, invoking dark forces and ensnaring Kendra in a plot to overthrow the king Alain is oath-bound to serve. Kendra and Alain face a battle unlike any other as their honor, their love, their lives, and even their very souls lie in the balance.
Thank you for being with us today, Sir Robert. Could you tell us about yourself, please.
I am the second son of Comte Hugh FitzWalter, by his second wife, Comtesse Margaret. Formally I am called Sir Robert, but my kin and closest friends call me Alain. The “de Bellencombre” choice of surname refers to the village in which I was born, Bellencombre, in Normandy. My sword is pledged to the service of Duke William of Normandy, now styled King William of England by God’s grace through his victory at the Battle of Hastings. I fought in this battle too, as did my younger brother Étienne—though it shames me to admit that I was unable to save him from death at the hands of a ruthless Saxon foe.
What inner doubt causes you the most difficulty?
In failing to protect Étienne, I failed our mother too, for I had sworn upon my own life that I would guard his. Now I face a royally commanded marriage, when all I would rather do is live and die by the sword, and I fear that I shall not be able to protect my bride either. As a means of dealing with my doubts, I have assumed the guise of a squire to scout the lady, her lands… and the mysterious reports of hellish beasts and sorcerous acts that the king’s regent has ordered me to investigate.
Tell us about your significant other, that person who makes living worthwhile.
The moment my eyes beheld my bride, her sweet angelic beauty made me forget all my fears and doubts. And yet she seems to harbor grief and secrets—and perhaps even doubts and fears—of her own. As a scout, I am accustomed to ferreting out secrets, and so I shall learn hers, for I want nothing more than to kiss away her grief and transform her tears into joy.
What would that person say about you?
Lady Kendra would say that I am far too bold for a “squire,” for when I am in her presence I am sorely tempted to act outside propriety’s bounds. Thus far, I have restrained myself to offering her the gift of a single red rose, but I fear even that was too brash a gesture, for it caused her to flee my presence. I shudder to think how she will react when I confess my deception, but as God is my witness, I shall do whatever it takes to make amends and earn her forgiveness.
If someone from your past showed up, who would you NOT want it to be, and why?
My older half brother, Philippe FitzHugh, has ever feared that I covet the title and lands he inherited from our father. Nothing could be farther from the truth, but he has never believed my assurances, and he has undercut me at every opportunity—even to the point of luring my first fiancée into his bed. If I ever see either Philippe or Marie in this lifetime, it shall be far too soon.
Why are you happy (or not happy) with the way your story ended?
Ah, fair reader, that is for you to discover. I shall not spoil it for you except to say that Kendra and I are both happy with our story’s ending… though it did not come without terrible peril to our honor, our lives, and even our very souls.
Ruaud joined him, and they headed for the stables. The outlaws’ horses were gone, even the animals the dead men had ridden, leaving a morass of the imprints of boots and hooves in the dew-dampened dirt. Alain studied the swath of tracks leading toward the crossroads and released a sigh.
“Any idea where they might have gone?” Ruaud asked.
“I cannot be certain. On the road’s hard-packed surface, they can ride anywhere without fear of being followed. But I do have a reasonable guess.” Ruaud cocked his head as if inviting Alain to continue. “West. Back to Glastonbury.”
Staring westward, Ruaud let out a low whistle. “For once, I hope you are wrong. I would not like the implications if you are proven right.”
The implications that someone in Sarum knew who they were and the nature of their mission, perhaps having been warned by a traitor in the regent’s employ… Alain couldn’t agree more.
As he turned, an odd print caught his attention. He stooped to trace it.
“Did you find something?” Ruaud asked.
“The innkeeper must have a dog.” An extremely large dog, he surmised, though he couldn’t recall having seen such an animal on the premises. A howl pierced the gloom from afar. Alain stood and gazed in the direction of the eerie sound. “Or perhaps a wolf passed through.”
“And the mere sight of us convinced it to keep going, eh?” Ruaud’s grin looked wan in the moonlight.
Hellish beasts… Alain shrugged.
They warily resumed their course toward the stables and discovered one of the outlaws inside, lying facedown in a puddle of blood. Alain kicked him in the side. The man didn’t move. With his foot he righted the body.
Ecgfrith. Eyes bulging, his throat bore wide, jagged slashes as if he’d been cut with a dull blade.
Or a predator’s teeth.
About the Author
Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family,
cats, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, and assorted wildlife. People and
creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins–the
latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-twentieth century–seem to
be sticking around for a while yet.
Kim has been a published novelist since 1999 with the first edition of Dawnflight (Sonnet Books, Simon & Schuster) and has been studying the Arthurian legends for nigh on half a century.
- $20 Amazon
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