Mary joins us today from her seaside home in Scotland while she's on tour for her medieval romance novel, Rebel of Ross. This wonderful book blog tour is organized by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.
Malcolm MacHeth, one time Earl of Ross, languishes a prisoner in Roxburgh Castle while his sons raise rebellion in his name. Optimistically, the King of Scots promises the earldom of Ross to landless Norman knight, Sir William de Lanson, if he can somehow defeat the infamous MacHeths.
It wasn’t quite how William’s disgraced wife Christian dreamed of coming home. Capture by the strange and ferocious Adam MacHeth was hardly part of her plan either, although she and William quickly become pawns in his.
Adam, warrior and seer, fights for his father’s freedom and for his family’s right to claim the kingdom of the Scots. Plagued by waking dreams which threaten his sanity and his life, he’s learned to use his prophecies to further his family’s goals. But when he abducts his enemy’s lady, his dreams and his desires are suddenly more personal.
Surrounded by intrigue, ambition and betrayal, Christian must choose between loyalty and love in order to keep a fragile peace for her people and for the man she loves beyond all reason.
Publication Date: August 4, 2016 eBook & Paperback; 340 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Romance/Medieval
ENJOY AN EXCERPT FROM
Rebel of Ross
Inside, an upturned cask had become a table between two rough stools. The booth was plunged into gloom as the curtain closed out the sunshine. Setting down her cup, she sat on one stool as if perfectly at ease and lifted her gaze to Adam MacHeth.
He stood just inside the curtain, watching her with a curious, wary expression that told her she’d surprised him.
“I congratulate myself,” she said sardonically. “I understand it isn’t easy to surprise a man with second sight.”
He stirred, walked past her to the back of the booth. “Who told you that?” He reached up to a shelf, taking down a flagon and a cup.
“Is it true?” Christian asked.
“Is what true?” He set down the cup and poured wine from the flagon.
“That you have second sight. Or are you just a berserker like the old Vikings?”
He eased his large body down onto the stool. His knee brushed against her skirts. “A lady of your education knows there’s no such thing as second sight.”
She smiled deprecatingly. “And you despise ladies of such education.”
His eyebrows flew up. “I don’t despise you.”
For some reason, that brought colour seeping into her face. To cover it, she lifted her chin in challenge. “Then you’re a berserker after all?”
“Why should you think that?”
She shivered, seeing again the men she knew cut down by his sword, trampled beneath his merciless boots. “The way you fight.”
His eyebrows twitched. “That.” One dismissive hand seemed to wave her accusation out through the closed curtain. “It’s a mask. Not unlike yours.”
She stared at him, wondering what on earth he’d ever had in his life to hide from on the battlefield. She had to press her lips together to stop herself asking. She hadn’t come in here to discover such things. Giving herself time to regroup, she raised her cup and sipped.
“Why did you let us have Tirebeck?” she asked abruptly.
He stirred. “For my brother.”
“You’d have got your brother back just for me.”
"That’s not what you said at the time. According to you, I wouldn’t have got a chicken for you, never mind the Earl of Ross’s heir.”
“But you didn’t believe me. Why then give us Tirebeck?”
“Tirebeck is yours.”
She set down her cup, meeting his whirlpool gaze. For some reason, that wasn’t so difficult now. “To keep us contented. To keep the king unsuspicious and unaware of whatever it is you truly intend.”
A smile flickered across his face. He didn’t look afraid.
“Galleys,” she said.
Neither of them blinked. Without looking at it, he swirled the wine in his cup. “I apologise for exposing myself. What is it you really want to ask me?”
The heat of embarrassment surged through her body at the memory of his. He had seen her in the boat. But, determined not to back down, she hung on to his dark gaze. “How did the old hall at Tirebeck burn down?”
His gaze dropped to his wine. His hand stilled, then raised the cup to his lips. He drank and lowered the cup before he looked at her again. “Rhuadri burned it. The day you left.”
Her father had burned it himself? She frowned in the effort of memory. After all, she’d only been three years old. “The day we left? Why did we leave?”
“You don’t want to tell me,” Christian discovered.
“You don’t want to know. It wasn’t that fire that injured you.”
Before she could prevent it, her hand flew up to her mask. Old Eta, the fisherman’s wife, had mentioned another fire too.
He said steadily, “You were knocked into the hearth fire during a fight. When you were a baby. More than two years before you left.”
Her ears seemed to sing. All the blood which had rushed into her face drained away. She’d always assumed it was the fire she remembered which had injured her. The memory was associated with such fear and pain. No one had told her otherwise until now. She lifted the cup to her mouth and lowered it again untouched.
“Who?” she whispered. “Who was fighting?”
“Your father and a Norman knight sent by the king to take my father after Stracathro.” Stracathro… The battle by which King David had defeated the rebellious young Earls of Moray and Ross. The Earl of Moray had died in battle, but his brother, Malcolm MacHeth, Earl of Ross, had escaped and eluded capture for another two years. The king had deprived him and his sons of the earldom, outlawed the family, and when Malcolm was finally captured, he was imprisoned in Roxburgh Castle, almost as far away from Ross as you could get without leaving the kingdom.
“So I was injured by my father defending yours,” she said a little shakily. “No wonder my mother never told that story. It wouldn’t have looked good to the King of Scots.”
His eyes fell. He had very long lashes. “It’s past. It shouldn’t affect your future.”
She straightened her shoulders, regarding him with a touch of mockery. “So you do have second sight.”
“That was only common sense.”
She wasn’t sure what made her do it. Mere curiosity, perhaps, or pique. Her gaze lit on his big, scarred hand, abstractly swirling his cup. She reached out and seized his hand as if to still it.
It jerked, slopping the wine over the barrel, but that wasn’t enough to dislodge her fingers, and she hung on.
“You don’t like to be touched, do you?” she said, holding his startled gaze.
“By some.” His stormy eyes darkened further. “I like your touch.”
Which wasn’t quite what she’d intended, although she’d brought it on herself. Flushing, but forcing herself not to snatch her hand back, she asked, “Do you see things?”
His breath rushed out on what might have been a laugh, quite at odds with the burning of his eyes. Without warning, his hand twisted, curling his fingers around hers. “Many things.”
Books & Benches Review for
Rebel of Ross
"A truly endearing love story set during a fascinating time and in a spectacular setting, Rebel of Ross offers readers of medieval romance everything they could possibly want."
MEET THE AUTHOR
Mary Lancaster’s first love was historical fiction. Since then she has grown to love coffee, chocolate, red wine and black and white films – simultaneously where possible. She hates housework.
As a direct consequence of the first love, she studied history at St. Andrews University, after which she worked variously as editorial assistant, researcher and librarian. Although she has always written stories for her own entertainment, she began to make serious efforts toward publication in order to distract herself from a job she disliked. She now writes full time at her seaside home in Scotland, which she shares with her husband and three children.
Mary is the author of three historical novels: An Endless Exile – the story of Hereward, 11th century outlaw hero A World to Win – a Scottish governess finds love in revolutionary Hungary A Prince to be Feared: the love story of Vlad Dracula