Mastodon The Writing Desk: Blog Tour Excerpt: A Splendid Defiance, by Stella Riley

26 April 2024

Blog Tour Excerpt: A Splendid Defiance, by Stella Riley

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

For two years England has been in the grip of Civil War. In Banbury, Oxfordshire, the Cavaliers hold the Castle, the Roundheads want it back and the town is full of zealous Puritans. Consequently, the gulf between Captain Justin Ambrose and Abigail Radford, the sister of a fanatically religious shopkeeper, ought to be unbridgeable. The key to both the fate of the Castle and that of Justin and Abigail lies in defiance. But will it be enough?

Excerpt ~ After the fire at Compton Wynyates:

Captain Ambrose lay in bed, propped up by several pillows, his torso naked except for the bandaging around his ribs.  Abigail flushed and said, ‘Who was that lady?’
   ‘My nurse,’ said Justin, indifferently.  ‘Didn’t Ned introduce you?’
   ‘No.’ His hands, also bandaged, lay with helpless stillness at his sides.  ‘How are you?’
   ‘Still breathing.’
   She looked into silvery eyes empty of expression.  ‘Well, that’s good isn’t it?’
   ‘That would depend on your point of view.’
   Shock banished embarrassment and she crossed to the bed.
   ‘I brought a few things for you.  Nothing much … just a cordial of my mother’s and – ’ She set the basket on the floor. ‘Please don’t look like that.’
   ‘Like what?’
   ‘As if … as if you wished you’d died.’  Her eyes widened in horror. ‘You don’t, do you?’
   He shrugged slightly and his breath caught as the pain hit him.
   ‘Why shouldn’t I?’
   She did not reply and something in her gaze finally succeeded in piercing his detachment. With a smile that didn’t reach his eyes, he added, ‘And then again, why should I? Don’t get carried away. I’m well enough. Unlike you – if Jonas finds out you came here.’
   ‘He won’t. And Sam is with me – at least, he’s with your nurse.’ She paused, watching him frown.
   ‘What is it?’
   ‘Where are they?’
   ‘On the ramparts, I think.’
   ‘Well, that should be safe enough. She can’t seduce him and has no reason to push him off.’
   ‘Nothing.’ He leaned back, looking at her from beneath half-closed lids. ‘Merely my rather warped sense of humour. What did you say you had in that basket?’
   ‘Calves-foot jelly, a bottle of cherry cordial and something of Mother’s for your hands,’ she recited, still staring. ‘Why should she do either?’
   He sighed, closing his eyes.
   ‘God! Will I never learn? All right. She won’t do the second till she’s failed to do the first. Satisfied?’
   ‘No. Who is she?’
   ‘Her name is Anne Rhodes and she is what Jonas would call a harlot,’ he snapped. ‘And don’t tell me you don’t understand that.’
   ‘Oh. No.’ She eyed him uncertainly. ‘How do you know?’
   ‘How do you think?’
   ‘Oh,’ said Abigail again, wishing she hadn’t asked.
   His eyes remained closed, allowing her time to notice the carved pallor of his face, the scattering of burn marks on his chest and the places where the long, walnut hair had been singed. The line between his brows deepened and something tightened in her throat. She asked diffidently, ‘Do your ribs hurt?’
   ‘Not unless I laugh. But I’m showing restraint in that department.’
   ‘Oh – stop it!’ Suddenly, she was unable to bear it. ‘Since you can’t possibly care what I think, there’s no need to put on a performance.’
   The grey eyes opened slowly, hazy with pain but remotely smiling.
   ‘And what do you think, Abigail Radford?’
   ‘I think … I think I’d like to look at your hands. May I?’
   He gave a brief, humourless laugh.
   ‘Help yourself. I can’t stop you. And you’re quite right, of course. They hurt like hell.’

Stella Riley

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About the Author

Stella Riley is the winner of four gold medals for historical romance and sixteen Book Readers’ Appreciation Medallions, Stella Riley lives in the beautiful medieval town of Sandwich in Kent. She is fascinated by the English Civil Wars and has written six books set in that period. These, like the 7 book Rockliffe series, the Brandon Brothers trilogy and, most recently The Shadow Earl, are all available in audio, performed by Alex Wyndham. Stella enjoys travel, reading, theatre, Baroque music and playing the harpsichord. She also has a fondness for men with long hair - hence her 17th and 18th century heroes. Find out more from Stella's website and find her on Facebook and Twitter @RileyStella

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for hosting Stella Riley today, with an enticing excerpt from A Splendid Defiance.

    Take care,
    Cathie xx
    The Coffee Pot Book Club


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