24 January 2021

Carnival goes virtual

 


I always eagerly await the new picture of Carnival in Venice, Italy each year.  The costumes are simply breathtaking.  I worried about Covid this year, and yes most of the yearly celebration starting January 30th will be virtual this season.

So check around on social media -- there will he chat room celebrations and more.  And in a way, it is going to open up the world into joining the celebrations.

The broadcasts are scheduled for February 6-7 and February 11-16 at 17:00. Look for information on social networks. Virtual rooms will be created in which you can become a participant in the Virtual Carnival




07 January 2021

Countess Mabel Montgomerie -- a woman head of her times or a monster in men's eyes?

 The first in a series of blogs about ancestors, 

the past and the truth


Ever notice the media tends to be harder on women than men?  They critique their hair, what they wear.  If a women is strong she is portrayed as being hateful, mean or—excuse the slur—a bitch.  Men are not subjected to such criticisms.  You cannot go anywhere that you won’t see this in action: she’s too fat, too short, too skinny, her nose is too long, eyes close together, omg—she wore a pantsuit!  There is Miss America, Miss Universe, Mrs. America, Miss Black America—but where is the Mr. America or Mr. Universe?  Just stop and try to think of a platform that subjects men to those same demoralizing nitpicking.  Tapping my nails on the table, waiting.  Fashion throughout history was a means to see women conform.  Whatever the era the dress, customs, protocols and positions in life, all were dictated by men’s critical eye and control.  Along with the male point of view on the woman’s role in life, they have also managed what we know of how women lived, survived and dealt with their roles in a man’s world. 

Now extend that throughout history. There were a few matriarchal societies through the ages, the belief being you cannot tell a man’s true father at birth, but you knew who the mother was.  Those societies were stamped out, or consumed by male dominance.  This is not a rant of hating men, for I find them endlessly fascinating, only I am humbugged that women’s pasts are increasingly lost to our knowledge due to being relegated to “unknown mother”.  There were women over the centuries that seized life and molded the course of their destiny, their fortunes, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine (my 24th great-grandmother).  Only rarely have historians portrayed these women in the light of admiration.  Randall Wallace, in the screenplay for Braveheart, opens the movie with the line “...history is written by those who have hanged heroes”.  Women had often been portrayed as little more than servants to their husbands, a brood mare to bear heirs, and a piece of property easily discarded, once they have worn themselves out birthing babies one after another.  They were set aside, locked away in some nunnery— or sometimes died in highly suspect circumstances i.e. murdered— to make way for another younger, richer wife. 

 I had to wonder about this slant against women as I looked at my first ancestor in this series of blogs about unusual women:  Mabel Montgomerie.  She has been called many unflattering things, murderess, "l'Empoisonneuse", evil, greedy, wicked—and she paid the price for her deeds—real or rumored slander.  However, with history turning a blind eye to granting women their true recognition, it’s very hard to find the facts to refute these claims.  I can only ponder and try to be impartial in judging my ancestor, especially since some of the writings about her come from Orderic Vitalis, who was only two years old at the time of her death. 


(Countess Mabel Montgomerie's arms)

My 31st great-grandmother on my mother’s side, Mabel Montgomerie was born Mabel Talvas dame de Bellême et d'Alençon in Alençon, Orne, Basse-Normandie, France, sometimes around 1030.  As often the case for females, the exact date was not noted.  Neither was the name of her mother recorded, only singled out as “Hildegard, daughter of Raoul V de Beaumont”.   Even in death, Mabel is not allowed to rest in peace, as her tomb has been destroyed due to the hatred of her.  She was a wealthy Norman noblewoman.  She inherited the lordship of Bellême from her father, Guillaume II "Talvas" de Bellême, seigneur d'Alenço.  Mabel was a loyal woman, but that loyalty cost her when her brother exiled their father for various offences—his cruelty was legendary, they say—including killing their mother for daring to disagree with him on the way to church.  Being a loving daughter, favorite of her father over her brothers, she accompanied him in his exile, thus earning the amenity of everyone, automatically believing she was “cut from the same cloth”. 


Mabel and Guillaume sought the protection of Roger II "The Great" de Montgomerie, 1st earl of Shropshire, earl of Arundel & earl of Shrewsbury.  He was one of William the Conqueror’s counselors, but stayed behind for the 1066 invasion of England, actually left in power to run the whole of Normandy.  For that, William rewarded him with holdings of two powerful positions in England, and immediately he began building the massive Ludlow Castle.  Besides this, he eventually built his honours to number eight-three, over half of England and Normandy.  Small wonder, people called him Roger “The Great”.


(Ludlow Castle)

Mabel saw him as a husband worthy of her goals.  The Talvas convinced Roger they were the aggrieved party, and that her brothers were plotting to get rid of her, since Guillaume had named her as his heir.  Well, the brothers were plotting, so we have that much truth.  Her dowry was worth a king's ransom—if they could get his oldest son off their backs.  Mabel came with massive lands, endless wealth and a shrewdness that attracted Roger.  He was as ambitious as Mabel, if not more so, thus they seemed a perfect match.  Theirs was not only a brilliant political bond, it must have been a marriage of love, since she bore him eleven children!  Thus, Mabel became Countess Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Arundel—and eighty other titles—through her marriage to the eminently pious, Roger Montgomerie. Through the ages, Montgomerie men have proved time and again to warm to intelligent wife, relishing the challenge of women willing to step outside of the normal roles afforded females.  Following that tradition, Mabel was given free rein to be an equal partner to Roger.   

(Abbey of St Evroul)

But not in one matter—religion.  Montgomerie supported many churches and abbeys, and even built several abbeys on his different fiefs.  The biggest thorn in her side was the Abbey of St Evroul.  Religious views likely was one their first clashes of wills.  She was determined he curtail the huge fortunes he was placing in the hands of these monks and priests.  Roger was very devout, and the religious sects ran their monastery on his largess, frequently prevailing upon him to give more than the general tithing. Tithing was required in ancient times—everyone was to give ten percent of their income to the church.  Since he inherited control of her lands through the marriage, coin from her holding of Bellême, in northwest France, was going into the hands of these ever-needy monks without a bye your leave.  That didn’t sit well with Mabel. Most of this tale comes from writings of the monks, especially the head of the order—Abbot Thierry.  He was Roger’s confessor, so in spite of Montgomerie’s ever growing greed, the abbot proved adept at bending his lord’s will on concerns of the monastery.  Thierry heard the man’s confessions.  It was reasonable he likely knew Montgomerie’s nature, as well as Mabel’s.  Since the strong-willed Mabel’s attempt to curtail their monies, we have to take their reporting of incidents with a thimble full of salt.


(Abbey of St Evroul)

No matter what, Mabel could not influence her husband on this issue, especially this tug of war with Abbot Thierry.  Being a cunning woman, she devised an end run.  She began visiting the monasteries, with her full entourage.  Castles and the monasteries, in medieval times, were basically required to serve as hotels for traveling lords and ladies. Mabel created a win-win situation.  She would go traveling the countryside on the excuse of checking on her husband’s vast holdings, along with her one hundred knights and ladies, and various servants. These abbeys dare not offer insult to the countess, or run the risk of Roger withdrawing his support. They were forced to open their gates and all Mabel and her retinue in, to stay as long as they liked.  They would have to feed them—and all the horses.  Mabel saved money by not feeding the lot at the Montgomerie honours, and she was draining away the supplies bought with her husband’s monies. 


The Abbot tried to reason with her, that they were a poor monastery (which was not the truth and she knew it) and it would drain them completely to support her entourage.  Mabel was unmoved by his appeals.  When he said feeding one hundred knights, and providing for her “worldly pomp” was simply too much, Mabel said fine, she would leave.  But—she would return the next week with one thousand knights!  Thierry was furious—a mere woman daring to best him.  Likely, he knew he was losing this battle of the wills, so he countered, “Believe me, unless you depart from this wickedness, you will suffer for it!”  Much to no surprise, a few hours later at supper, Mabel suddenly was seized by stomach pains.  She retired for the evening and the queasiness turned to agony.  From this distance, we can assume one of the learned monks put something in her supper, and you can bet the incisively smart Mabel knew it, too.  Ceding the battle for the moment, she took her troops and left the monastery.  The monks were not content with that bit of mischief.  On the way home, Mabel stopped at the holding of Roger Suisnar.  Still feeling ill—according to the Abbot—Mabel demanded Suisnar he give her his infant child to suckle at her breast.  The child drew the poison from Mabel, who instantly recovered.  Only the small child died doing it. Mabel knew the monks had poisoned her, but instead of demanding her husband punish them, she wisely never went to the abbey again.




The next big black mark history sees against Mabel was endlessly hunger for more land—and vengeance against those who had opposed her, her father and her husband. Arnold de Echauffour, the son of Lord William Giroie, presented himself to Roger, seeking his aid.  William was an old enemy of Mabel’s father, and there was a long running blood feud between the Montgomeries and the Giroies.  Arnold was making his way back from Italy, and stopped to present himself to Earl Roger, hoping to gain favor.  Arnold sought to barter a truce between his family and the Montgomeries.  He even presented a fine fur cloak to Roger as a gift.  He wanted Roger to throw his might behind him, so he could see his ancestral lands restored to his father.  As Roger’s holdings were so widespread, he was always in the need of loyal knights, so having one less enemy was worth putting aside old grievances. Arnold swore homage to Roger, who gave him a writ for Arnold and his father to travel across Montgomerie lands without bother, and agreed the Giroies lands in Montgomerie’s hands would be returned to them.

It is reported that Mabel was less than happy with this turn of events.  She decided to avenge her father on her own, so it is written.  Here is where it’s murky, more rumors than fact, but history seemed determined to paint Mabel as a monster.  Tales say she prepared a celebratory drink to seal the pact, and had one of her prettiest ladies take the potion to him, before he left the holding.  Whatever the circumstances, Arnold did not trust the daughter of his old enemy, and refused her kindness.  Unfortunately, Gilbert Montgomerie, Roger’s only brother, was showing off, grabbed the goblet and gulped it down.  Gilbert was some miles away, when he fell ill.  Three days later he died in anguish.  Roger’s brother had been a valiant knight, and was much loved by all.  Roger adored his brother and grieved deeply.  

Some time later, Arnold did fall gravely ill.  Rumors swirled Mabel had poisoned him by sending some “special” refreshments to him.  It seems rather unlikely, if Arnold did not trust her, and proved that by refusing the drink she offered before, why would he accept another such beverage sent from her? Arnold, Lord Grioie, and his chamberlain, Roger Goulafre, all fell ill, and had to be carried back to their castle.  Both Goulafre and Lord Grioie recovered with good care.  Arnold did not.  He died on the first of January 1064.  The lands he sought to claim stayed with Roger Montgomerie's possession.  After those events, the Giroie family fell on hard times.  Arnold’s infant children were sent to live as poor relations within the households of various lords across Normandy.  His wife sought refuge with her wealthy brother, Eudo, steward to the Duke of Normandy.  The Giroie family would never be powerful again.  Who poisoned Arnold?  There were several possibilities, but all fault fell on Mabel’s shoulders.  Few point at Roger Montgomerie, who gained as much as she did.  It’s just too easy to blame a female—just like they blame Helen of Troy for causing the Trojan War.

Roger held great influence with the duke of Normandy, who was paranoid about his vassals rebelling.  When Roger hinted this his neighbors were planning just this thing, the duke listened, and was only too happy to have Roger put down the so-called rebellion by striking first and seizing the lands of Eodolph de Toni, Hugh de Grant-Mesnil and Arnold d’Eschafuour, amongst many others.  So it was clear, Roger was as devious as Mabel, maybe more so.  When Mabel’s brother died in 1070, she finally seized control of that part of the lands of her father.  Between Roger and Mabel, they owned so many honours in three countries, that he was as powerful and wealthy as any king. 

That sort of influence, and sway with the kings of two nations, naturally fermented jealousy and enemies. Hugh Brunel de la roche was one of the knights who lost everything to Roger and Mabel.  Unable to accept the humiliation of losing his ancestral holding, he plotted to take his revenge.  During the long night of December 2, 1079, Hugh led his three brothers to force their way into Mabel’s quarters at Château at Bures-sur-Dives.  Mabel was relaxing in her chamber, enjoying a bath, when Hugh and his brothers burst in.  Before she could raise a cry, Hugh lopped off Mabel’s head with his great sword.  Her son, Hugh de Montgomerie gave chase to the murdering brothers; they evaded pursuers by destroying a bridge, knowing those following could not cross the small river due to wintertide flooding.  They left Normandy, never to return.

Mabel’s decapitated body was buried three days later at Troarn Abbey.  Her tomb was marked by an epitaph.

Sprung from the noble and the brave,
Here Mabel finds a narrow grave.
But, above all woman’s glory,
Fills a page in famous story.
Commanding, eloquent, and wise,
And prompt to daring enterprise;
Though slight her form, her soul was great,
And, proudly swelling in her state,
Rich dress, and pomp, and retinue,
Lent it their grace and honours due.
The border’s guard, the country’s shield,
Both love and fear her might revealed,
Till Hugh, revengeful, gained her bower,
In dark December’s midnight hour.
Then saw the Dive’s o’erflowing stream
The ruthless murderer’s poignard gleam.
Now friends, some moments kindly spare,
For her soul’s rest to breathe a prayer.


Mabel’s tomb survived into the early 18th century, but by 1752 it no longer existed.  No one knows what became of her body.

History, written by men, painted her as a monster, a poisoner.  But you have to wonder how much was really her machinations, and how much was blamed on her because she was an easy target.  She was beautiful, smart, aggressive, and dared to take a place in a man’s world.  I have to wonder if she is guilty more of those thoughts, than the supposed deeds attributed to her.


Her son carried the mantle of her animosity.  Robert de Belême de Montgomerie, comte de Phonthieu, 3rd earl Shrewsbury and Arundel, was known as "Robert the Devil."

Thank you for taking time to stop by and learn about Mabel, a woman ahead of her times.  I hope you will continue to join me on the second Saturday of each month, to learn of another colorful ancestor.













02 January 2021

Echoes of the Past and Inspiration

 


The past two years has been a struggle for me, with losing my husband to pancreatic cancer, the grieving, then my own surgery to remove a tumor growing inside my jawbone, and the post-op healing.  Not surprisingly, it flattened out the creative process inside me.  Only, my writing comes in circles.  The muse benefits from a downtime, yes, but I can only keep it stifled for a spell before the magic rises again and I must let her take wing.  So with this New Year upon us, I am feeling that power swell, and the need to get back to writing full time.

When people learn I am an author, one of the invariable questions I am asked is “Where does your inspiration come from?”  In many cases, it’s from the past, and from two grandfathers, who loved the ages gone, revered them, and passed that passion on to me.  While instilling that hunger for the ancient times, they also taught me ability to empathize with those distant people, to seek out history, to embrace it—the good and the bad—but never forget these were real people, who fought, loved and forged lives, that they were no different from our day-to-day existence.  My storytelling craft finds its roots in that oral tradition, harkening back to old bards at fireside, spinning and weaving tales of ladies and knights, legend and lore.  

To this aim, I am starting a series of blogs for Prairie Rose Publications that deal with that magical inspiration, and how a writer can find a wealth of material hidden in the distant past—your ancestors.  They are not just names and dates, but people with varied and colorful lives that rival any tales made up by an author.  I will be sharing a peak at my own family trees, and the amazing men and women I descend from, this shall cover the famous and the infamous, and from kings to pirates!  It seems that at  every big event in the world’s timeline, there were my ancestors smack in the middle of the turmoil—and sometimes on both sides!  Recently, I was doing a family tree for a dear friend, and she laughed, “Your ancestor kicked mine out of Scotland!”  I laughed that they had done worse to each other—burning them at the stake or hanging them for being witches, beheadings, back stabbings, and even drowned in a vat of wine (yes, I am kin to that George, Duke of Clarence!).  Unlike George, the more fortune of my family used the events to turn matters to their favor, for the rest, it cost them their fortunes, lands and titles — and on several instances — their lives.  

When one starts on this journey through time, you will notice a trend by historians to focus on the men—their battles, their marriages, their lands, their sons.  I have found branches of family going back to the year one thousand —and beyond, but yet was saddened and dismayed to discover frequently women are barely more than a footnote to a husband or son, listed not by a name, but by daughter of, mother of or wife of labels.  So while I will be visiting some of my illustrious male great grandfathers and great-great uncles, I will be paying extra attention to the valiant women who seized the day, worked hard to control their destinies and fortunes, only to be largely forgotten.  They deserve more than just a Mrs. in place of their names.

In keeping with reveling in these ancient ancestors, I will also visit customs about deaths, funerals and how people dealt with the passing of their loved ones—or their enemies.  I will show you my adventures with Ancestry.com and other websites that can aid you gaining information that you need to trace your own family lines — some of the things to consider in trying to track down your 24th great-grandfathers.  I will touch on unusual names for the periods, the aggravation of naming sons and daughters after their names, over and over for generation!  Seriously?  I have so many Roberts, Williams, James, Iains, Seans and Patricks in my tree that it’s mind-boggling.  It gets dizzying with the effort to sort them all out.

So I hope you will join me in this adventure in ancestor stalking, and maybe it will inspire you to research your own family.  You might be very surprised what you find.


So I hope you will join me on my personal journey of discovery, maybe the adventure will inspire you to see out of the marvel people who forged that tree who created you.

So join me the Second Saturday of each month are Prairie Rose Publication blog

Happy New Year Blessing to you all.




30 December 2020

Happy Hogmanay -- New Years Scottish Style




Ever heard of Hogmanay?  Well, it is Scotland's New Years celebration.  The celebrating runs longer and has many traditions that find their roots in ancient times.  They echo back to the Twelve Days of Christmas, where you held Christmas Eve, Christmas and Boxing Day, and celebrated through Twelfth Night.


My family kept Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for family only.  On Boxing Day, we would get out the sleighs (used to be more snow back then!) and go visiting.  We took gifts to neighbors and friends.  I thought this day more fun.  Riding in the old-fashioned sleighs, and being welcomed into homes for eggnog or warmed cider to shake off the chill, were such wonderful memories.  Sadly, the sleighs haven’t been used for years, as we see fewer and fewer White Christmases.  Also, the family has scattered and finds it harder to come together like we used to.


With the end of Christmas, the celebrations in America basically slow.  Decorations are taken down and stored for another year.  On the other side of the Pond, amazing Hogmanay parties in Scotland are just getting underway, and in some instances lasting over several days.



The Hogmanay name first showed in written records around the early 1600s, but many of the traditions come from a time much older.  Some suggest the name stems from be old Norman French of hoguinan (New Years gift).  Since the Auld Alliance saw France and Scotland sharing trade and cultures it seems reasonable.  A more likely explanation is it could be a variation of Scots Gaelic og maidne (young morning).  Still, the Flemish hoog min dag (great love day) might also be the source.  Whichever, it shows perhaps several cultures developed the holiday along the same lines, and that it wasn't just confined to Scotland.  One has no stronger provable claim to the name than another.
There are many celebrations or simple street festivals, but also you can discover the great, awe-inspiring fire-festivals—of interest to people who love history, but also eye-opening to those unfamiliar with the ancient traditions.  These festivals still practice rites and rituals that go back to Pagan times, maybe thousands of years.  It’s not hard to find concerts, parties, fireworks and balefires, as well offer a wide range of Scottish fare to satisfy your culinary tastes.



First Footing is one of the customs I always enjoyed.  It was considered very unlucky for a redheaded man or women to cross the threshold after the final stroke of midnight.  Not wanting to start the year off on the wrong foot, it was hoped a tall, black-haired, handsome man would arrive at the stroke of twelve.  This leads to a wee bit of mischief, such as picking a likely lad who fits the bill, handing him a bottle of Single Malt, and sticking him outside, to cross back over at the appointed time.  After all, who wouldn't want a tall, handsome, black-haired man to come a calling on the stroke of New Years?

Redding the House is a tradition of a “clean sweep”.  It is easy to understand where this one aims—sweeping the house clear of influence of the departing year, and giving you a fresh start.  You sweep out the house and clean the fireplaces.  Taking out the ashes can see the practice of a scrying skill of Reading the Ashes, foretelling the future much in the manner of reading tea leaves.  You are sweeping away all the negative influences that have held sway through the departing year.  Once that is done, all brooms and brushes are taken outside and burnt.  Keeping old ones invites the negative back in, so you start the year with new hair bushes, mops, small sweeps and brooms.  Once that is done, you use lavender, cedar and juniper branches to purify the house, dragging these over windows and doors to protect the house and seal it away from evil spirits.  Then, you burn them in the fireplace, the final step to purify the chimney.  Thus, you start the New Years all anew.



The bonfires and fire-festival are rooted in Pagan Pictish, Celtic or Norse origins.  As reflected in the burning of the lavender, cedar and juniper clearing the air of negative influences, these fire-festivals are a purifying of the land.  When the fires died and the ashes cooled, they were spread on farmland.  In truth, this potash a fertilizer that helps keep the land arable, promoting good root growth and higher crop production.  As with many ancient Pagan traditions, there is a rite, but also a logical purpose behind it.  A newer celebration, but gaining more and more attention worldwide—is Up Helly Aa in the Shetland Isles.  What an amazing festival!  There is nothing like it!  However, you can still find fire festivals at Stonehaven, Comrie and Biggar, and even Edinburgh has added this element in their Hogmanay celebrations.


Do you sing Auld Lang Syne at New Years without truly understanding the tradition is Scottish?  All over the world every year people sing Robert Burns’ version of the traditional Scottish Air In Edinburg’s Hogmanay, people join hands for what is reputed to be the world's biggest Auld Lang Syne singing.



Another odd tradition is the Saining of the House.  You find this mostly in rural areas, a tradition that involved blessing the house and livestock with holy water from a local stream.  After nearly dying out, you are seeing a revival in recent years.  Not surprising since Annis, the goddess of wells and streams is one of the oldest Pagan deities in Scotland.  You still see her Clootie Wells dotting the landscape, wells dedicated to her honor (where wishing wells come from).  After the house, land and stock are blessed, the females of the house, once more, perform a purifying ritual, of carrying burning juniper branches inside to fill the house with the cleansing smoke.  Notice, the commonality with the Redding the House?  Once the house was filled with smoke, driving out the evil influences, the windows were opened and whisky would be passed around.



These festivals grew in popularity after the banning of Christmas  in the 16th and 17th centuries. Under Oliver Cromwell, Parliament banned Christmas celebrations in 1647.  The ban was lifted after Cromwell's downfall in 1660.  However, in Scotland, the stricter Scottish Presbyterian Church had been discouraging Christmas celebrations  as having no basis in the Bible, from as early as 1583.  Thus, even after the Cromwellian ban was lifted elsewhere, Christmas festivities continued to be discouraged in Scotland.  In fact, Christmas remained a normal working day in Scotland until 1958 and Boxing Day did not become a National Holiday until much later.  Slowly, people began to go back to memories of olden days to find ways to make merry and celebrate.  Thus, Hogmanay became a mid-winter celebration to chase away the darkness and welcome the light.


Wishing you a blessed 2021, Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward All

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr

(Happy New Year!!!)



Deborah Macgillivray write Medieval Romances -- the Dragons of Challon-- and Pararmoral Contemporary Romances - The Sisters of Colford Hall.  Her works have been published worldwide and in many foreign translations.

21 December 2020

One Snowy Knight -- a lovely Christmas gift for your romance reader


cover image by Jon Paul Ferrara

Turning back to the man on the ground, she once again had to wipe the gathering flakes from his face.  She attempted to tug him to a sitting position, thinking she could wrap her mantle around them both, and lend him what little body heat she still had.  When she went to lift him, she realized he still had his broadsword lashed crosswise over his back.  Finding the strap’s buckle on the center of his chest, she released it.

Then, froze as the howl came. 

It was close by.  The man groaned as she urgently rolled his dead weight, enough to drag the sword out from under him, and then dropped the leather sheath as she freed the blade.  Holding the sword in her right hand, she used her left to release the clasp of her mantle.  She would need her arms free to swing the sword.  Keeping her eyes fixed upon the trees, she dragged her woolen cape over the man’s unmoving body.

The deep growl sent a chill to her marrow as the threat of the snowstorm had failed to do.  Low tree limbs rustled and then parted as the set of glowing yellow eyes peeked through the wintry foliage.

Swallowing hard, Skena brought the sword up, preparing to swing, and praying she had strength enough to wield the mighty sword true.


Skena stood trembling, from the cold, aye, but more so from dread.  With the specter of famine looming across the land, she feared wolves would soon be a threat they would face.  Foolishly, she had hoped the menace would not come this early in the season.  Swallowing to moisten the dryness in her mouth, she watched the feral eyes narrow on her, judging how much a threat she presented holding the sword.  Plainly, she posed nary a concern to the creature.  Shoulders lowered, teeth bared, he edged forward, a low growl of intent rising deep in his throat.  The animal scented her fear.  Her weakness only emboldened him. 

Keeping her attention on the black wolf, her eyes quickly scanned to see if there were others coming up behind him or circling around.  Where you found one, usually there lurked a small pack.  Her luck holding, thus far no other pairs of bright eyes appeared; no dark forms skulked through the unmoving undergrowth around the dense pine trees. 

“Oh, please let him be a lone wolf,” she offered her wish to the Auld Ones, before whispering dark words to weave a Charm of Protection, drawing upon what little powers she possessed to sustain her through this ordeal.

 Not a small woman, her Ogilvie blood showed in her tall body and strong bones.  Even so, to hold the heavy broadsword—which took years for a man to master—was tiring.  Her arms vibrated; tremors racked her muscles.  A mix of terror and cold.  The winter storm slowly leached all the strength from her body.  She fought against the quaking, still the sword wobbled in her grip.

Baring his fangs, the wolf crept slowly forward, more daring with each step.  Skena had trouble keeping her vision clear.  Falling flakes and those kicked up by the spindrift continued to stick to her long lashes, adding moisture to the tears she valiantly labored to hold at bay.  It was vital to see the wolf when he leapt, in order to time her swing.  She sucked in a hard breath of terror.  The creature was so much bigger than she expected!


“Off with you, evil foal-chû.  You shall no’ be making a meal of this warrior or me.”  She spoke false courage, hoping the sound of her voice might frighten him into backing off.  Instead, his body coiled, preparing to spring.

So intent upon the wolf, Skena hopped slightly when long arms enclosed about her.  Startled and yet unwilling to take her eyes off the black creature, it was several heartbeats before she comprehended the stranger had awakened and was on his feet.  Suddenly, in his strong embrace she was not so scared.

“Be still, my lady.  I lend my strength to your swing.”  The warrior’s cold hands closed over hers.  He leaned against her back; his powerful muscles caused her shaking to lessen.

Skena had little chance for the details of his nearness to filter through her thoughts, for with a feral snarl the wolf leapt at them.  Frozen in terror, she was unable to move, yet she felt the warrior wielding the sword.  Bared teeth snapped close to her throat.  She cried out and then flinched when the great blade caught the beast in the neck.  Blood splattered across her clothing and her face.  Its heat shocked her.  Numb with the horror, she stared at the animal writhing on the ground.  In the gathering darkness, the pooling blood oddly appeared black upon the pristine snow.  The coppery smell set her stomach to roiling; revolted, she choked back rising nausea.  Her grip slackened about the hilt.  

            The knight’s fingers closed tighter around hers.  “Nay, my lady, never leave a wounded animal alive...sometimes, not even a man.  ’Tis when they are most dangerous.  They risk all for they have naught to lose.” 


 

One Snowy Knight, Dragons of Challon, Book 3

Coming July 19 2018  - Print
July 12th for eBook


eBook and Library Quality Tradesize print

http://amazon.com/Snowy-Knight-Dragons-Challon-Book-ebook/dp/B07FBRM8FT


Prairie Rose Publications

#DragonsofChallon #ScottishRomance #MedievalRomance  #Historical Romance




Blessing of Yuletide - Welcoming the Winter Solstice


Winter arrived today just after noon, so the loss of daylight stops and we now begin to see the hours of light wax instead of wane.  The days will grow longer with each passing, and the hint of Spring is on the horizon.

I know this is the first day of Winter, but somehow, this day always felt more in keeping with the old pagan ways of being the midpoint in Winter.  So decorate your Yule tree (yes, it was a Yule trees centuries and centuries before it was a Christmas tree) and think of the promise is holds for a prosperous coming year.

Blessings to all on this Magical Day of hope.



14 December 2020

Book review: One Hot Knight anthology

 

Book review: One Hot Knight anthology

 

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Blurb:

Come join us for a medieval collection of wonderful romantic tales that take place during the hottest part of the year with ONE HOT KNIGHT! This unusual offering of summertime stories set between the medieval times of 1100-1300, of hot nights and even hotter knights, will keep you reading long past bedtime.

You’ll be entranced with these five tales of knights and their ladies from some of today’s top medieval authors, as well as some rising stars in this up-and-coming genre.

Lindsay Townsend, Deborah Macgillivray, Cynthia Breeding, Angela Raines, and Keena Kincaid offer you some of the best medieval-themed stories written, filled with romance and intrigue, laced with traditions and celebrations of this rich era.

Prairie Rose Publications is proud to introduce yet another wonderful collection of exciting tales for your reading pleasure. ONE HOT KNIGHT is sure to bring you hours of enjoyment as you read on to find out how these knights and ladies will find their very own "happily-ever-after" endings at this very “hottest” time of year!

My review:

I'm highlighting Deborah Macgillivray's Gambit, Check and Mate story.  

Hmmmm mmmm there's just something about the Dragons of Challon world that Deborah Macgillivray created that keeps me coming back to it and wrapping me up in the feel-goods.

This tale is about Cianna, the Lady of the Isle, finding herself trapped in the hands of Fate as she faces Iain Sinclair, the Black Lord of Dunnascaul (and he's as charming as his name implies), in a bid to save her people. Both have a need that they are drawn to desire the other to supply, however wariness and jadedness tarnish some of that trust. And oh the games and intrigue that follows, in words and in deed, and of the heart, just delightful! (in a I'm so glad I'm experiencing this through a story and not in reality kinda way! haha). I love their strength of character and spark-filled interaction with each other. And the fierceness that Cianna displays to protect what's hers - deep happy sigh - and the way Iain gives Cianna what she needs - beautiful (and fun!).  These two proved why they were the perfect match.

And when my (still pretty sure top) favorite Challon and his woman arrive on scene - cherry on top!

If you're a fan of the Dragons of Challon series, you definitely don't want to miss any of the short stories in the medieval anthologies Deborah Macgillivray is in - they're all based in the same world and just add that much more depth and beauty to it. Plus, even though they're shorter/novella length, they all pack a satisfying punch.

Purchase link:

     

12 December 2020

One Perfect Knight - Boxed Set of Six Full Medieval Novels

 Coming December 17th

SIX FULL LENGTH MEDIEVAL NOVELS
for one low price!



ONE PERFECT KNIGHT BOXED SET

 

Your knight in shining armor is waiting to tell his exciting story in this new boxed-set release from Prairie Rose Publications! ONE PERFECT KNIGHT is a fantastic collection of SIX full book-length tales of beautiful medieval ladies and their dangerous men as they discover the magic of love! These exciting stories are sure to capture your imagination as you travel back in time to those romantic days of knights and ladies in medieval times! Handsome warriors, valiant knights, or valorous common men of the day—all will meet their matches with the daring and unusual women they happen to fall in love with, and you won’t want to put this boxed set down until you’ve read the very last story!

Authors Deborah Macgillivray, Lindsay Townsend, Cynthia Breeding, Linda Swift, Keena Kincaid, and Livia J. Washburn spin six incredible novel-length love stories filled with danger, excitement, and romance that will keep you turning page after incredible page until the very end. What could be better than ONE PERFECT KNIGHT? How about six fabulous stories of knights, warriors, and noblemen who want nothing more than to live happily ever after—in love—with the women in their lives?

A RESTLESS KNIGHT—DEBORAH MACGILLIVRAY

Had the music stopped, or had she just ceased to hear it? All she could do was stare into the dragon green eyes. Drown in them. This man was her destiny. Nothing else mattered. Lost in the power, Tamlyn was not aware of the hundreds of other people around them or their celebrating. To her, the world stood still, narrowed, until there was nothing but the star-filled night. And Challon.

THE SNOW BRIDE—LINDSAY TOWNSEND

Beautiful Elfrida is the witch of the woods, and no man dares to ask for her hand in marriage until a beast comes stalking brides and steals away her sister. Desperate, Elfrida offers herself as a sacrifice, and is seized by a man with fearful scars. Is he the beast—or will he save her, as well as the other young women who have disappeared? Sir Magnus, battle-hardened knight of the Crusades, has finished with love, until he rescues a fourth 'bride', the red-haired Elfrida, whose touch ignites a fierce passion that satisfies his deepest yearnings and darkest desires.

CAMELOT’S DESTINY—CYNTHIA BREEDING

The legend of Camelot is born and, with it, bold passions and forbidden desire. Fiery-tempered Gwenhwyfar is chosen by Arthur to be his wife and queen… Seared by the forbidden kiss of Arthur’s most-trusted warrior, Lancelot, Gwenhwyfar is swept into a world of passion, torn by loyalty and love to a husband who betrays her and a man she cannot have. But in a time where good and evil clash, where magic and chivalry reign, love will prove a weapon as powerful as any sword.

MISTRESS OF HUNTLEIGH HALL—LINDA SWIFT

Wait for me… Malcolm Gray asks only one thing of Alice Wykeham when he goes to sea. But ten long years go by, and Alice is forced to marry an elderly lord who is eager to claim her dowry. Malcolm has been shipwrecked and severely injured, but when he heals, he remains nearby in disguise, too late to claim his true love. When Alice discovers the lord is involved in a treasonous plan to overthrow the king, she must do something—it could be the death of her, along with Malcolm, the only man she will ever love…

 

ART OF LOVE—KEENA KINCAID

Abigail d'Alene has been in love with learning all her life, and she now has the means to indulge in her passion. Disguised as a boy, she heads to Paris and the abbey schools that will one day change the world. Shocked by the ineptitude of her masquerade, Alain of Huntly Woods takes Abigail under his protection until she recovers her senses. But her audacity and intelligence spark unexpected passion. When Alain discovers Abigail's uncle plots against the English king, Alain must choose between protecting his king or the woman he loves.

ALURA’S WISH—LIVIA J. WASHBURN

In the fire opals of an ancient treasure live two djinn. Once freed from the stones, these immortal spirits will serve this master's commands. But these djinn also have another purpose—to bring the wearer a true and lasting love… Can a reluctant bride find unexpected happiness with the dark knight, Sir Connor Warrick, she agrees to marry for the sake of honor and duty? The brilliant opals of the exquisite slave bracelet unlock a magic unlike any Lady Alura has ever imagined…and a love more rare than any jewel…


Just a note for my readers -- this version of A Restless Knight is the expanded version for Prairie Rose Publications.  A chance for people familiar with Kensington version to read the longer saga.






07 December 2020

Pearl Harbor Day Remembrance

(image USS Shaw Exploding in Pearl Harbor - source: Wikipedia Commons)

There are moments that tend to define a decade or a lifetime.  That single instant when everything stood still and then changed forever, something so momentous occurs to where you can never go back to an innocence of the time before.  In my childhood the 1960s was defined by the death of a young president that held so much promise.  Oh, there were other similar tragedies to follow –– the death of his brother, the assassination of Martin Luther King, but my childhood naive beliefs in life was shattered with Kennedy’s death.  I could never go back.  

911 affected the nation.  The Challenger explosion saw everyone glued to the television in hope, later in grief.  To my mother’s generation that defining moment was Pearl Harbor.  It was odd.  She was a small child when it happened and she didn’t know anyone that was at Pearl Harbor, but the day stayed in her mind, and in some way defined her consciousness.  Every year she would awaken me with the words “It’s December 7th ––Pearl Harbor Day.”  She never spoke of how it changed her, rarely mentioned it other than to say she heard the news on the radio.  Only, she never forgot how the whole nation held its breath and cried, and then how the sorrow and shock turned to anger.

My mum is no longer around to awaken me with that familiar phrase.  She died on December 2, 1987, and was much much too young.  When the anniversary of her death came around this year I was sad, but I chose to remember the good times with her.  Oddly, this day hurts me a bit more, for it was so much a part of her.  Thus, this day I will share a moment of silence in respect for the many who died on this day, and for my mother who never forgot.