Look Inside

Curious to find out if this is the sort of thing you enjoy reading?

Take a peek inside each novel of the series.

 

I have no expectations, for I am a second son. Moreover, I am a second son of a second son, making me twice removed from the advantages of inheritance.

It is usual in our society that second sons are destined for the Church. There, a man who is ambitious and clever . . . and lucky . . . and also, perhaps, a bit ruthless . . . may rise to positions of comfort and power. Those of a more meek and selfless bent may be drawn to a life of service to others. But for many, it is a destiny of rules and deprivation and toil, and a life with little joy or satisfaction.

I am to be spared that fate, however, for our family is not usual.       Read more …

The noise that first woke us this morning seems to be getting louder and closer. It began as the sound of a woman wailing and crying in a distant corridor. To that was added the sound of a man’s voice, alternately talking and shouting something indecipherable. Then the door to the nursery opened and closed, and Nurse began admonishing anyone who would listen to stop the racket as it was upsetting the children.

The wailing and shouting kept moving in our direction, growing louder. This caused any number of doors to be opened and slammed shut as squires and maids went out into the corridors to see what was happening, and everyone started talking at once. Next came the sound of heavy boots and further shouting as guards began running through the corridors . . .      Read more …

Approaching the dressmaker’s shop, Gwen remarks on a group of people nearby in the square. An itinerant priest is holding forth to any who will listen, and the crowd seems to be slowly growing. My inclination is to steer our little party away, but Gwen and Catherine are adamant. “We’ve heard so much about these priests,” says my aunt. “It seems impossible that what we’ve heard could be true. Let’s just listen for a bit.” And so we edge a bit closer, taking care to stay on the fringes and not become engulfed in the crowd. The priest is just hitting his stride with the exhortations I’ve heard far too often.       Read more …
Slowly, I become aware of my surroundings, the soft light through the window waking me gently from a very deep sleep. I open my eyes and look around. I am lying in an unfamiliar bed in a room I’ve never seen before. Across the room, beside the window, a man in priestly garb dozes in a chair. Trying to raise myself up to get a better view, I discover that I am almost too weak to do so. My stirring brings the priest immediately alert.

“Ah,” he says quietly, rising from his chair, “I see you have decided to come back to us.” Crossing the room, he sits beside me on the bed and places one hand on my forehead. “And the fever has not returned. That is good . . . very good indeed.”

“Where am I? What is this place? And how did I get here?”       Read more …

“Isabella wants to come home,” my mother says cheerily as she crosses the room to join Gwen, Rupert, and Catherine, who are waiting for me to finish the day’s business before we join the court for the evening meal.

“Why not?” I remark offhandedly, continuing to sign the documents my secretary has left on my writing table.

“Why?” The immediacy and vehemence of Rupert’s response draws everyone’s attention and causes me to drop a large blob of ink on the pristine document in front of me. This will cause my secretary no end of grief, for the poor man fervently believes that history will judge us on the quality of our records.       Read more