Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Death at Wentwater Court reissued

Minotaur has just reissued my first Daisy Dalrymple mystery (of 22) in trade paperback, with a great new cover.

http://www.amazon.com/Death-Wentwater-Court-Dalrymple-Mysteries/dp/1250060796/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426530103&sr=1-1&keywords=death+at+wentwater+court

The series is set in the 1920s in England. Daisy has just achieved an assignment to write a magazine article about an earl's mansion, Wentwater Court, so she has joined a family and guest house-party.

Excerpt:

In the morning, Daisy rose with the sun, which, as Wilfred
had pointed out, was not particularly early at the beginning of
January. Skipping the cold bath and postponing the outdoor
exercise, she dressed warmly and went down to the breakfast
parlour, a pleasantly sunny east-facing room. James, Fenella,and Sir Hugh were there before her. Sir Hugh lowered his Financial Times momentarily to wish her a good morning before retreating once more behind that bastion.

She helped herself to kedgeree from the buffet on the
sideboard and joined them at the table.

"Will you skate with us this morning, Daisy?" Fenella asked.
"I know you're frightfully busy but this weather may not last and
we don't get such spiffing freezes very often."

"Yes, I'd like to, if I can borrow skates?"

"We have a cupboardful," James assured her. "There's bound
to be something to fit you."

"Jolly good. I'll finish off the roll of film in the camera
down at the lake, and spend the rest of the morning developing my
pictures."

Sir Hugh, emerging from his newspaper, told her he owned
shares in the Eastman Kodak company and asked about the
developing and printing process. Daisy explained as she ate.
James and Fenella lingered over their coffee until she had
finished her breakfast, then took her to look for a pair of
skates.

Outside, the air was crisp and still. Daisy couldn't resist
leaving a footprint or two in the glistening untrodden snow
beside the path. It crunched underfoot.

James carried the skating boots down the hill for her as she
was laden with camera and tripod. While she set them up, he and
Fenella sat on the bench and put on their skates. They circled
slowly at the near end of the lake, waiting for her.

"Go ahead," she called, already chilled fingers fumbling
at the stiff catch that attached the camera to the tripod. "I'll
be with you in half a mo."

Waving to her, they joined hands and whizzed off towards the
bridge. As they reached it, James yelled, "Stop!"

They swerved to a halt beneath the arch. James moved
cautiously forward into the black shadow cast by the low sun.
And then Fenella screamed.

Support an indie bookstore at Seattle Mystery Bookshop or Mysterious Galaxy

or order from Amazon

Monday, 9 February 2015

'Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive' on Amazon & Other Sellers

Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive

Medieval Captives 1

Linday Townsend

OUT NOW FROM AMAZON AND OTHER SELLERS

AMAZON COM 

AMAZON UK

BARNES & NOBLE 

KOBO

APPLE



He takes her for hate. Will he keep her for love?

Sebastian, lord of the tower in the northern high lands, is a proud, bitter man with a dark past. An alchemist and a warrior, he has had lovers but knows he is ugly—experience and betrayal have taught him that. When Melissa, the beautiful, neglected daughter of two old enemies, falls into his possessive hands he is determined to hold her. Why?


As one of the detested and defeated Felix family, Melissa must cling to her courage when she is claimed as a war-prize by the tall, grim Sebastian. Expecting torture and ravishment, she finds instead a peace and sanctuary that she has never known. Treated with kindness for the first time in her life, Melissa begins to blossom.


But there are secrets and old betrayals between them. Sebastian’s abiding jealousy is not easily quelled, especially when someone at the tower seeks to destroy his growing love with Melissa…


A BookStrand Mainstream Romance.


STORY EXCERPT:

Sebastian settled back in his chair. He still had many petitions to read and tomorrow he would fight a duel, with mace and daggers, but for the rest of the evening…Yes, he could grant himself the time, the indulgence. Ignoring the dull ache in his lower back, he stretched his long arms above his head.


“Robert.” He spoke quietly to the gangling chestnut-headed squire patrolling by the door. “Send the girl to me. Then get some rest before you fall over.” The youth had only lately recovered from a fever and even in the firelight looked as pale as the falling snow outside.


“I will sleep when you do, my lord.” Robert gave a brief, jerky bow and slipped from the stone chamber, his rapid footsteps fading in the vastness of the tower. Sebastian returned to his reading, making notes on the parchment, listening to the spit of the flames, and waiting. What will she be like? He had only caught a glimpse yesterday, when he had claimed her as his prize. The child of an old enemy and my first, unrequited love. What have her people told her about me?


The door swung open, slowly at first and then in a rush, as if whoever was entering was determined not to be cowed. Headstrong, just like her mother. Amused, Sebastian rested the tip of his writing quill on the tabletop to watch an energetic, vivid figure hasten into the chamber.


“Idonotcarewhatyoudotome, butdonothurtmypeople…”


Sebastian raised the quill and the spate of words instantly stopped. “Closer,” he commanded, when the creature remained still, glancing behind her at the closing door. “Look at me, girl.”


She took a step forward this time, halting exactly in the shadows cast between the torches and firelight so that her face and form remained hidden. Arrogant and stubborn, just like her father. A whip of irritation cracked down his spine.


“Artos, guard,” he ordered the black wolf he had saved as a cub from a hunter’s trap. Artos yawned, stretched himself up from the rug by the fire, and trotted to the threshold. With widening eyes the girl studied the wolf as it began a steady pacing back and forth before the entrance.


“He is not my familiar, if that is what you are thinking.”


“Your shadow, then.” The girl swung round to face him. Her voice was low, cracking a little from nerves or disuse. “He is handsome.”Unlike you. The unspoken words filled the chamber like the apple-wood smoke.


Sebastian pushed back his chair and strode toward his captive, circling his prize as she stood stiffly at attention, her head held perfectly straight, her hands clenched by her sides, half-hidden in her once gaudy, now tattered, green and gold robes. In the shifting alliances of these lush and rugged highlands her kindred had backed the wrong overlord and lost. In the scramble afterward between the northern princelings for booty and lands, Sebastian had been able to take the girl, claim her by right of revenge. Revenge. What a monster she must think me, this dainty youngster, to make her pay for ancient hurts her father wreaked on me, for the old betrayals of her mother. Does she even know that pitiful tale?


He circled her again, sensing her quiver as he loomed. She was a brunette, but there all similarity between them ended. Where he was tall and lean and intense, large-jointed and craggy, precise from years of deliberate, often hard-won control, this tiny girl shimmered like a flame. Where his hair was black, dull and fine as silk, hanging straight to his broad shoulders, hers was the color of brimstone and treacle, long, heavy ropes of shining curling waves, sunset brown shot through with chestnut. Her father’s coloring, and wasn’t Baldwin always aware of his good looks? As for her mother in her—Sebastian halted before the girl and, with a long finger, tipped up her chin, glimpsing a pair of bright brown eyes in a freckled, delicate face. The child shifted, lowering her head in a gesture of apparent submission. The shape of her eyes are the same as Rosemond’s, but not the color. Her mother had blue eyes and gold hair and smiled like a Madonna, all the better to beguile men.


“Like but not like,” Sebastian murmured, releasing his grip and continuing his prowl. The girl was easily a head shorter than himself, small and thin, where Rosemond had been tall and stately. “How old are you?”


“Eighteen.” The bright eyes fixed on his and a spark of heat tingled from his chest to his groin in response. He saw her blush and wondered if she had also sensed the spark. “Eighteen, Sir Sebastian.”


He scowled at her address, disliking the arrogant assumption behind it that only knights had value. Just like her father. “I am no knight, girl, remember that,” he barked. She trembled and he could not decide if that was due to fear or revulsion. Watching the pretty glow drop from her face like a fallen ribbon, he decided it was both.


Irritated and a little ashamed with his behavior, he closed his eyes, desperately trying to entomb his own past within himself. “Who would care for such a lanky thing as you?” His mother had first told him that. “Sallow, dark, possessive,” a previous lover or two had complained, before each one had parted with him due to his jealousy. “An ugly, crook-nosed brute...” Sebastian remembered that description only too clearly, the taunts “ugly” and “crook-nose” following him throughout his service as a page, then squire, before he had turned his back on the cruel, glittering world of chivalry. And who had first called him ugly and crook-nosed? Baldwin of course, this girl’s father, jibing and taunting, bullying and tormenting, setting on him with his friends and cronies, four, five, six against one. Sebastian had stomached that but then worse followed—he had heard Rosemond agreeing with Baldwin, the pair laughing together, laughing at him. After all I did for her and tried to do for her, after I helped her, after I told her I loved her.


Strange after all these years that it should still ache so much, as if an anvil had been hurled into his chest. Fighting the despair, Sebastian growled like Artos and shook his head to clear it. Here he was, aged three and thirty, still re-fighting old battles, old hurts. I am pathetic.


He opened his eyes, relaxing his grip on the quill before he shattered it.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Medieval Curses and More - Lindsay Townsend

Medieval people believed in magic, both good and bad. Spells and charms cast with evil intent were called curses and several have survived from that time. The Anglo-Saxons believed in both charms and curses, including a curse chanted against a wen or boil. The little wen is told to go away, to become smaller and vanish into nothing (Her ne scealt thu timbrien, it says - “Here not build your timbered house.”)

The Vikings also believed in the power of words and words for magic and curses. In one saga a witch called Busla issues a curse against King Hring, who has captured and threatened to kill Busla’s foster son. The curse is chanted at night (a good time for such dark matters) and Busla’s magical threats are made manifest.  In lines of poetry, the witch claims that her curse will cause Hring to go deaf, make his eyes to the leave their sockets,  make his bed like burning straw and make him impotent. In addition, any horse he rode would take him to trolls– and more.
“Shall trolls and elves and tricking witches,
shall dwarfs and etins (giants) burn down thy mead-hall…”
 The king is still reluctant and  Busla chants the strongest part of her curse, magic so dark that she does not utter it at night but which will cause Hring to be torn into pieces and flung into hell.  Faced with these gruesome outcomes, the king swears an oath to release his captives. The witch then stops the curse.

Curses could be used both as items to propel malice and as a curious form of protection. Curses were often attached to medieval and Anglo-Saxon wills, mostly to ensure the last wishes were observed, or for more day to day purposes.  The will of Siflaed (composed between 1066-68, soon after  the Norman conquest of England, which may explain the strength of the curse)  states “Whoever alters this, may God turn his face away from him on the day of judgment.”   The Will of Wulfgyth, dated 1046, promises that anyone who detracts from his will shall be denied all human comfort and joy and be delivered into hell “and there suffer with God’s adversaries without end and never trouble my heirs.”  

This form of invoking God by means of a curse to protect others remained popular throughout the Middle Ages.  In 1407, the Will of Thomas of Tyldeslegh gives a hundred shillings of silver to a John Boys to make him an apprentice in a trade and “If anyone hinder this, may God’s curse be upon him.”
                                                 
Curses could be used by medieval people everywhere and in all circumstances. When a monk  in 1420 discovered that the monastery cat had peed  on the manuscript he had been copying, the monk cursed the cat and recorded his curse—with a small drawing, showing pointing hands toward the cat pee—

Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.

Which translates as:

Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.


Curses as medieval swear words can be found in this article here:

The ultimate curse could be considered to be excommunication, where a person and a person’s soul is cut off from God and the comforts and body of the church. This was feared as a terrible punishment but was not seen as being permanent, since a person could make amends and have the excommunication lifted.  Bishops and popes used excommunication as a political weapon and means of control.

 Objects could also be used in a malicious way. An amulet containing such vile materials as human waste, a splinter of wood from a gibbet or menstrual blood might be hidden under a bed to cause anything from impotence to sickness. Corpses of dead animals, such as black mice, were sometimes wrapped in cloth and buried under a threshold to create trouble for the inhabitants. Sympathetic magic, where a witch would ‘milk’ a knife stuck in the wall of her cottage, would enable her to steal milk from a cow. In Lucerne in 1486 2 women were accused of making hail by pouring well water over their heads. In Coventry in the 14th century a sorcerer created a wax figure of his neighbor, then drove a spike into the figure’s head and then heart. The neighbor died. In the 1130s the Jews of Trier were accused of making a wax figure of the archbishop and melting it in a fire to cause his death.

Some people were believed to have the power in themselves of cursing others, particularly if members of their family had been accused of sorcery. In 1454 at Lucerne a woman called Dorothea  was widely believed to be an ill-wisher—her mother had been burned as a witch and Dorothea, being unpopular, was accused in her turn.

Certain things were considered to be inherently cursed or evil in the Middle Ages. The wood of the elder tree was believed to be unlucky (it was said Judas had hung himself from an elder tree)and it was also thought to be a witches’ tree. Elder wood can easily splinter, so strictures against its use were in some ways sensible.  Juniper was another plant with a mixed reputation. Although a sprig of juniper was believed to protect the wearer from curses, to dream of juniper was said to foretell bad luck or a death.

What could protect against curses? Rowan was said to be a strong protector. The rowan tree, taken from the Norse “runa” meaning charm, was often planted close to houses to protect the household  against evil. Around Easter time medieval people would make small crosses from rowan wood to give further safety to the house.

Illness, famine, flood, plague and all manner of misfortunes in the Middle Ages were believed to be either due to God’s anger (as with the Black Death) or the result of a curse. Given the state of knowledge about the natural world at that time, the idea of deliberate evil by a person (or in some cases an animal) makes a strange kind of sense. Moreover people were comforted when they could use prayers, amulets, witch bottles and, in extreme cases, the law to protect themselves against the occult forces.

Belief in magic was strong in the Middle Ages. I write about curses and have characters use, or fight against them, in Dark Maiden, The Snow Bride and A Summer Bewitchment . I touch on the idea of God's anger and the Black Death in To Touch the Knight and belief in magical creatures in The Virgin, the Knight and the Unicorn 

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Monsoon Mists - historical romance



Monsoon Mists is the final part of my Kinross trilogy and follows the adventures of Jamie Kinross, younger son of the couple in Trade Winds (book 1) and brother of Brice from Highland Storms (book 2).  Here is the blurb and a short excerpt:-

Sometimes the most precious things cannot be bought …

It’s 1759 and Jamie Kinross has travelled far to escape his troubled existence – from the pine forests of Sweden to the bustling streets of India.

Jamie starts a new life as a gem trader, but when his mentor’s family are kidnapped as part of a criminal plot, he vows to save them and embarks on a dangerous mission to the city of Surat, carrying the stolen talisman of an Indian Rajah.

There he encounters Zarmina Miller. She is rich and beautiful, but her infamous haughtiness has earned her a nickname: “The Ice Widow”.  Jamie is instantly tempted by the challenge she presents.

When it becomes clear that Zarmina’s step-son is involved in the plot Jamie begins to see another side to her – a dark past to rival his own and a heart just waiting to be thawed. But is it too late?

Monsoon Mists, excerpt:-

The smile Mr Kinross sent her this time was nothing short of dazzling. Zar was glad she was sitting down as it definitely did something strange to her innards. Then a teasing glint flashed in his eyes.
            ‘So have you thought any more about my proposition?’ he asked.
            ‘Which proposition would that be?’ Zar frowned, caught off-guard by his question.
            ‘To, er … amuse you if you’re in need of a diversion.’
            Zar couldn’t stop her mouth from falling open, but shut it quickly again as she sent him her most quelling glance. ‘Really, Mr Kinross, I don’t know to what you are referring.’
            ‘Oh, I think you do.’
            He was still smiling and Zar felt unaccountably hot all of a sudden. But she was also outraged. She would make it clear to him she was not that kind of woman.
            ‘I’ll have you know I’m a respectable widow. Neither you, nor anyone else, will ever set foot in my bedroom and I’d thank you not to refer to such things again.’
            She turned to stare out the window while she tried to force her breathing to return to normal. For some reason she was having trouble inhaling enough air and it was making her chest heave unbecomingly.
            ‘Now that sounds distinctly like a challenge to me. Would you like to bet on it?’
            ‘What?’ Zar swivelled round and stared at Kinross. The effrontery of the man.
            ‘I’ll wager one hundred rupees that I will. Set foot in your bedroom, that is.’ He raised his eyebrows at her, as if daring her to accept. ‘Say, within the next two weeks?’ he added, a teasing note in his voice.
            ‘I don’t believe I’m hearing―’
            ‘Very well, two hundred rupees. Deal?’
            ‘Now see here, Mr Kinross―’
            ‘You drive a hard bargain, Mrs Miller. Three hundred it is.’
            Zar almost stamped her foot in frustration, but managed to restrain herself at the last minute. ‘I’m not making a wager with you!’
            ‘Ah, you’re afraid you’ll lose. I thought so.’
            His smug expression made Zar see red. She clenched her fists by her side and scowled at him. ‘I am not.’
            ‘Well, then, you almost certainly stand to gain three hundred rupees. That can’t be bad, can it?’
            Zar took a deep breath and tried to think, but Kinross’s quicksilver gaze held hers and jumbled her thought processes. He was right. It would be the easiest money she’d ever earned. But then why was he even proposing such a thing? There must be a catch … For the life of her, she couldn’t think of one though. ‘Oh, very well, I accept your wager. But I’m not meeting you anywhere private for you to hand over my winnings, is that clear?’
            ‘Perfectly.’ He bowed. ‘I will allow you to decide entirely. If you win, of course.’

Buy links:-


Happy New Year everyone!
Christina x

 


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Regency comedy GOOSED! OR A FOWL CHRISTMAS is Here!



Goosed! or A Fowl Christmas, the first in my Regency The Feather Fables series, is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo and Apple.

BLURB:

The Feather Fables--where birds twitter and chirp and bring romance.

Ah, Christmas, what a glorious season. Decorations, friends, good will to all, a time of magic and miracles.

But not for Miss Julia Shaw. She is new to the area, her farm desperately needs upkeep, and the pittance she earns from her artwork doesn’t pay the bills. And then her pet goose escapes. Making matters worse, when she first meets the devastatingly attractive Lord Tyndall, the abominable man insults her as he returns her goose. No peace and good will for her this Christmas.

Exhausted from a year of business travel, Robert, Baron Tyndall, returns to London only to fall prey to his mother’s matchmaking attempts. Escaping to his country estate, he finds solace with the birds in his aviary. Except that a plague of a goose that belongs to his new neighbor, Miss Shaw, has somehow entered his aviary and wreaked havoc. That disagreeable lady had better keep her misbegotten bird to herself. Too bad she is so lovely. What a horrendous Christmas this season has become.

But even in the blackest depths, a spark of light can glimmer. For at this wondrous time of Christmas, miracles and magic can and do happen.

A sweet, traditional Regency romance with fantasy elements. 61,000 words.

EXCERPT:
What was that infernal din? Catching up her shawl, Julia dashed down the stairs and then out through the front door. Winding her shawl around her, she rounded the house and almost slammed into an unfamiliar gig.

The vehicle blocked her view of the goose pen, from which the honking emanated. But no one was there—her pet goose had run off. She ran around the conveyance and stopped dead.

Her pet had returned! Flapping, honking and biting, the flying goose—He could fly? She had never before seen him do so—attacked a large, stylishly dressed gentleman.

The man, his arms high to protect his head, flailed at the goose. His back was to her, his upended hat lay in the dirt and white feathers covered his black greatcoat. He swore. Loudly.

Julia’s ears burned. “Do not hurt my goose, sir!”

The man batted at the goose again and turned toward her.

Julia gasped. He was the man on the road a few days ago. His dark eyes blazed, his brown hair was mussed, and his sharp cheekbones had flushed from the effort of warding off the goose.

Her pulse raced. He had looked handsome at a distance. Up close, he was magnificent. Tingles raced over her skin.

“This spawn of Satan is your property, madam?” He jerked his head back from the goose’s open bill as the bird dove in for a bite.

“He is, sir, and you will not harm him!” She jumped between the man and the goose.

The goose, breathing heavily, plopped to the ground. Eyes afire, he angled his head around her. He hissed at the man.

“Gracious, what is the matter?” She stroked the goose’s head.

The bird went limp, as if he had been pumped full of air and all the gas suddenly escaped.

She tipped her head back to glare up at the man. Good gracious, he was tall. “He has never acted this way before. What have you done to him?”

The man’s jaw dropped. “I? This feathered blackguard has tried to bite me ever since I saw him. And just now he attacked me.” He scowled at the goose. “If he is your property, you are welcome to him.”



Available at





Also available at the other Amazon stores

Barnes and Noble


Smashwords (note, all formats are available on Smashwords)


Kobo

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thank you all,
Linda
Linda Banche
Welcome to My world of Historical Hilarity!
http://www.lindabanche.com


Sunday, 9 November 2014

New Release from Jen Black : ABDUCTION OF THE SCOTS QUEEN

Blurb:
Henry Tudor demands the Scots Queen be brought south, by force if necessary, to marry his son. Young Englishman Matho Spirston accepts the challenge only to fall foul of the king's niece, bold beauty Meg Douglas.
She has her own problems with ambitious Lord Lennox. Her trickery forces Matho to use his wits and all his courage to survive in the brutal world of 16th century Scottish politics.
Observing them all is Marie de Guise, the Dowager Queen with a loyalty to France, struggling to protect her daughter's birthright amongst headstrong lords who think any one of them could rule the country better than a mere woman.

A bright, sparkling story with both drama and humour set in sixteenth century Scotland when life was an uncertain thing and death never far away.

Excerpt 1:
‘Spirston, you’ve dealt with forays of Scots across the fells to steal a few cattle and sheep. You know men don’t always return from a raid or a trod. This persuades me the pair of you may have a chance of success. But don’t take this task lightly, either of you.’ He cast a warning glance at his son. ‘It could cost you your lives.’
   ‘Aye.’ On a wave of confidence, Matho flicked his fingers against Harry’s green velvet sleeve. ‘You’d best get out of those fancy duds, Harry. They’ll give you away in a trice. Splurge some money on a less gaudy set of clothes, man.’
   ‘Quite.’ Humour lit Wharton’s eyes. ‘I dare say Harry will be loath to shed his favourite boots. He is ever light-hearted about too many things, Spirston. I’m relying on you to talk sense into him.’
   Matho’s glance fell to the boots in question. While he had never begrudged Harry his expensive clothes, his time at court nor his chantry school education, he stared at the fine brown leather boots with red, turn-down cuffs embossed with tiny gold flowers, and promised himself he would own a similar pair before the year turned. Either that or he wouldn’t be worrying about boots at all.


Excerpt 2:
Meg Douglas braced her palms on the cold stone windowsill high in the north-west tower and stared out to sea. A mile away, Bass Rock heaved its white, guano-smeared sides out of the indigo water and the usual coronet of seabirds circled its cliffs. Her gaze moved to hills of Fife on the far side of the Forth estuary, where waves hitting the shore threw up a faint haze and hid the beaches from sight.
With a hiss of exasperation, Meg banged the shutter closed and turned back into the small chamber. Father’s summons to this ancient Douglas stronghold had been unwelcome and badly timed. He must know Henry of England had married for the sixth time in July, and a budding court jostled round his new queen. By the time Meg rode south again, the plum positions would have gone and she would face the simpering smiles of the favoured ladies-in-waiting. She would have only King Henry’s erratic generosity to rely upon for the coming year.
Father would not care. Thanks to King Henry’s gold, Father was happily ensconced twenty-five miles from Edinburgh, and as busy as a bee in clover encouraging the populace of Scotland to accept the marriage of their infant Queen to England’s young Prince Edward. He could do it and welcome. She would be polite, even charming, do his bidding and get back to London as soon as possible. Scotland held nothing for her.
‘Margaret? Are ye ready? Daughter?’ Father’s bellow echoed up the spiral stairs from three floors below.
On the long, uncomfortable ride north she had received the unwelcome news that her father had re-married. At fifty-three, for God’s sake, he had wed a girl of eighteen. No doubt the new Countess of Angus would be waiting beyond the curve of the stair.

or http://amzn.to/1wQTs7F for the UK link