See below for how you can win a FREE COPY of Her Rebel Heart!
Winner will be drawn on the 20th August
There’s a knack to writing historical romances. Somehow, the author must balance the historical context with the romantic content, this so as to please both those readers who first and foremost want a love story as well as those whose focus is on the historical aspects of the story.
This reader happens to be something of a sucker for a good love story – but not at the expense of historical accuracy. Fortunately, Her Rebel Heart is set against a well-presented historical background, in this case that of the English Civil War, a conflict that not only pitted king and parliament against each other, but also saw families torn apart as some held with the king, others with parliament.
Deliverance Felton is the daughter of a man with Parliamentarian ideas, and so when war breaks out, Sir John sides with Parliament against his king. When the book opens, Sir John is trapped in Gloucester, and left leading the defence of Sir John’s own castle, Kinton Lacy, is his eldest daughter, Deliverance. So far, Deliverance has mostly been a disappointment to Sir John. Unfashionably dark in looks, uninterested in her appearance, his eldest daughter lacks in decorum and the polish required to attract a husband. Not so pretty Penitence, Deliverance’s younger sister, who presently is heartbroken due to a broken engagement – the man she loves is the son of Sir John’s former neighbour Richard Farrington, now a most vociferous defendant of the king’s rights and prerogatives.
Sir John is too much a man of his time to be comfortable leaving his daughter in charge, and so he dispatches Captain Luke Collyer to take over the defence of his home – something that does not exactly please Deliverance, who had hoped that with her staunch defence of Kinton Lacy she would at last receive some recognition from a father who mostly ignores her – or finds her a nuisance.
One could argue that Deliverance, excellent shot, adept at swordplay, is somewhat anachronistic.
Usually, we perceive women of the 17th century to be meek and biddable, but there were real-life exceptions – quite a few, actually – and besides, civil war brings out sides in people one didn’t know they had. Deliverance is competent and intelligent, she knows her castle inside out, and her people love her, recognising in this small petite woman a force of nature that will not back down in the face of adversity. Ever.
Not only has Ms. Stuart invested in giving us a well-developed female protagonist, she has taken equal care with Luke Collyer, a man with the reputation of being a drinker and seducer of women, and who at the age of twenty-nine has been a soldier for close to ten years, first in the endless conflicts on the Continent, now here, in England. Our Luke comes with baggage of his own, secret hurts he rarely shares, and when he is confronted with this scrap of a woman who refuses to back down, he can’t quite put a name to the emotions she inspires – beyond annoyance and grudging admiration.
Luke and Deliverance find common cause in the defence of Kinton Lacy. Where Deliverance is fighting for her home, Luke is fighting for his principles, and the resulting combination is quite impressive. But Kinton Lacy is small, it holds less than two hundred men, and how can it in the long run, hold out against Farrington’s troops and, more importantly, Farrington’s guns?
In between forays and skirmishes, undercover scouting operations and bickering as to the best way to defend the castle, Deliverance and Luke find time to be drawn to each other, a mutual attraction that now and then explodes into fiery heat. Not, Luke believes, the distraction he needs at present, and so he rebuffs and wounds, regrets it, succumbs, rebuffs – well, a classic scenario of a man torn between duty and love. And for Luke Collyer, even admitting that what he feels might be love, is in itself frightening.
Ms. Stuart has done her research. Her well-developed characters are complemented with accurate descriptions of the times, both when it comes to such things as clothes and weaponry, but also when it comes to the disturbing background offered by the on-going conflict. As Deliverance is to find out, war is a messy business, and as tensions rise, atrocities are committed, honour is forgotten, traitors spring into life, and ultimately it seems Deliverance will lose everything she holds dear.
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About the author
Alison Stuart is an award-winning Australian writer of cross genre historicals with heart. Whether duelling with dashing cavaliers or wayward ghosts, her books provide a reader with a meaty plot and characters who have to strive against adversity, always with the promise of happiness together. Alison is a lapsed lawyer who has worked in the military and fire service, which may explain a predisposition to soldier heroes. She lives with her own personal hero and two needy cats and likes nothing more than a stiff gin and tonic and a walk along the sea front of her home town. More information about Alison and her books can be found on her website.