VOICES IN THE MIST by Susanne Dunlap - Loyalty and Betrayal
A gripping story of loyalty and betrayal, set amidst the violence and peril of the Albigensian Crusades. Enjoy an excerpt from Susanne Dunlap's Voices in the Mist.
Voices in the Mist
Marry a Catholic stranger, or flee the only world she’s ever known: Headstrong Bruna de Gansard must choose one or the other to protect her Cathar family from the inquisitors.
Toulouse, 1229. The inquisitors have arrived to rid the city of Cathar heretics once and for all, and are putting all unmarried girls over the age of 12 to the question. After an incident in the town calls unwanted attention to 14-year-old Bruna, a young Catholic stranger who is sympathetic to the heretics warns her family about the looming danger, and volunteers to marry their daughter to save her from being questioned.
But Bruna doesn’t want to be forced into marriage, so she chooses flight—which lands her unexpectedly in the midst of a Catholic pilgrimage to Compostela, thrusting her into a life of deceit.
When her beauty and her voice bring her to the attention of the powerful Baron de Belascon, who owes fealty to the king of France, Bruna earns the enmity of the baron’s bitter and imperious mother and finds herself caught between her allegiance to her own people and the dangerous secret of her origins—a secret that can be revealed at any time after the arrival of a French knight who recognizes her.
The Orphans of Tolosa Trilogy comes to a dramatic end in this gripping story of loyalty and betrayal, set amidst the violence and peril of the Albigensian Crusades.
Enjoy an Excerpt from
Voices in the Mist
When I reached the top of the gentle slope, though, I came to a crossroads I had never seen before. There were indeed merchants on the corners here, but as they sold leather and armor, we never had any reason to go to that part of town. Our beliefs forbade us to wear the skins of animals except for our shoes, which my father fashioned from the hides of our own livestock when they had outlived their ability to provide fleece. Besides, only knights were entitled to wear armor for any purpose. On that hill, at that crossroads, a crowd of unfamiliar men and boys loitered in that way peculiar to them, untroubled, confident, yet wary. My heart began to pound.
One rough older man called out using a word I had never heard before, but which made the other men laugh. My cheeks warmed, and I turned in a circle, trying quickly to spy a way I could go that would get me away from that place without having to pass too close by the throng of strangers. I stepped toward an alleyway I could see just beyond them, intending to calmly walk past as though I was not frightened. But two of the bigger fellows sauntered in front of me and stood, arms folded, legs spread wide. I would have had to ask them to move out of the way, or turn and take a path I was certain would lead me astray. I stood rooted there, about an arm’s length in front of them, panic flooding my body.
“Eh, une jolye petite fille! C’est pour moy.”
The man’s accent was so thick I couldn’t understand what he said. One word sounded very like filha, daughter, but the look he had in his eye was in no manner fatherly. I cast my eyes around and noted another alley that led between two buildings and calculated how long it would take me to dash toward it and run away.
No sooner had I turned in that direction, though, than another man moved to block my path.
“Elle ne porte pas un bliau. Elle est hérétique!”
“No!” I exclaimed, “Je ne suis pas hérétique! I am a true believer!” Those were the words my parents had taught me to say if ever I was accused in just such a way, a phrase that could contradict the accusation without being an outright lie. Although I did not understand all their words, “heretic” was plain enough.
Rather than discourage the men, my outburst drew even more attention to me, and others joined them and closed in upon me until I could smell their sweat and their wine-soaked breath. Some of them smiled with an expression I did not like, running their eyes up and down my body so freely that it felt like spiders under my clothes. Tears formed in the corners of my eyes, but something told me it would be a mistake to cry, and so I forced them back, a pain like a knife in my throat as I did.
Just as the biggest of the men reached out to take hold of my arm, my knees started to buckle, and the world began to spin. A moment later, a broad blade caught the sun as it flashed in front of me, smashing away the man’s arm. The group of men around me dispersed like the fluff of a blown flower. The man whose arm had received the blow clutched it and grimaced, glaring at me as if he would murder me if he could. I was so stunned that at first, I hardly noticed who had intervened.
End of Excerpt.
Excerpt Copyright © Susanne Dunlap. Shared with permission.
Susanne Dunlap is the author of nine works of historical fiction. A graduate of Smith College with a PhD in Music History from Yale University, Susanne grew up in Buffalo, New York and has lived in London, Brooklyn and Northampton, MA. She now lives in Northampton with her long-time partner, Charles, has two grown daughters, three granddaughters, a grandson, a stepson and a stepdaughter, five step-grandsons and one step-granddaughter—that’s a total of four children and eleven grandchildren!
In her spare time, she cycles in the beautiful Pioneer Valley.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bellastoria Press
Series: The Orphans of Tolosa, Book 3
Release: September 21, 2021
Content Rating: PG
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