Before introducing this week's guest blogger, be sure to let reader friends know that Antonius: Son of Rome is on sale for only .99 and will remain at that discounted price for one more week. Now is an excellent time to begin the adventure! Read ON, everyone!
This week, I have another treat for Tudor fans. Author Sarah Kennedy is sharing an excerpt from her novel Queen of Blood. If that title doesn't make your eyes bulge and send a shiver up your spine, then I don't know what will! It's truly a delight for me to share Sarah's work, as she also happens to be a fellow Virginian! So, welcome, Sarah!
To start things off, let me share a brief blurb of her book.
Queen of Blood
(The Cross and the Crown, Book 4)
By Sarah Kennedy
Queen of Blood, Book Four of the Cross and the Crown series, continues the story of Catherine Havens, a former nun in Tudor England. It is now 1553, and Mary Tudor has just been crowned queen of England. Still a Roman Catholic, Mary seeks to return England to its former religion, and Catherine hopes that the country will be at peace under the daughter of Henry VIII. But rebellion is brewing around Thomas Wyatt, the son of a Tudor courtier, and when Catherine’s estranged son suddenly returns from Wittenberg amid circulating rumours about overthrowing the new monarch, Catherine finds herself having to choose between the queen she has always loved and the son who seems determined to join the Protestants who seek to usurp her throne.
Queen of Blood
(The Cross and the Crown, Book 4)
Excerpt By Sarah Kennedy
At dinner, Benjamin studied the young men who occupied one side of the long table. The four newcomers, guided by Robbie, helped themselves to the roast lamb and bread without assistance, and they finished off five bottles of French wine among them. They had been introduced simply as Tom, John, Edward, and Peter, and they laid into the custard with a vengeance, not waiting until the dirty plates had been taken away. Diana had taken a low seat, across from the newcomers and away from the others, and Veronica appraised the strangers more than she ate. Alice kicked at Catherine under the table until her shin could withstand no more abuse and she squeezed the girl’s knee. Old Moll peeked around the corner of the doorway once, and backed away.
“Have you brought your books home with you, Robbie?” Catherine finally asked.
“Books will be burned in England,” her son said. “And I am called Robert now.”
“Who has said anything of burning books?” said Catherine.
“Books. Men. It will be all the same. I have brought my necessities and no more.”
Benjamin said, “And what is necessary for a young man these days?”
The two at the end exchanged a sideways glance and dug into their sweets. Robert said, “Men will need their consciences more than anything else now.”
“Yours must be very heavy,” said Benjamin. He rose and turned his back to tend to the fire.
Robert spoke to his mother. “The reformed priests will be forced to divorce their wives. The lands will be seized for the Pope. Some of those lands are mine.”
Catherine coughed into her hand. She scanned the four feeders. “The lands are held in my name, Robbie. Robert. Until my death. The properties that will be yours were Overton land, never the Church’s. They’re safe enough.”
“The church lands will be mine, will they not, Mother?” added Veronica. She cast her brother a glare. “If anyone must worry, Brother, I am the one, not you.”
“Anyone who is the child of a priest should worry,” said Robert. “Anything owned by a person who holds old Church property will come under the scrutiny of this new court. That may mean my land.”
“You’re chasing ghosts, boy,” said Benjamin, sitting again. “England is ruled by law, and even the queen must follow it. Is this what you came back for? To raise a rabble like the drunks in the public houses?”
Again the furtive meetings of eyes.
“I’m not worried,” said Veronica. “The queen has always been a great friend to me. And the queen’s sister, as well.”
“The queen’s sister?” said one of the four. “She will need friends. She has had too few.”
“What do you mean by that?” demanded Benjamin. He leaned onto the table, and the daughters all leaned back.
“He means that the Lady Elizabeth is reformed and the new queen is not,” said Robert. “She has been ill-treated by this Roman Mary and someone must defend her rights.” He pushed himself away and stood. “This is no time for wrangling and debate. We are weary and will retire.” The others all shoveled in last bites and wiped their faces. They bowed stiffly at Catherine and crowded out.
“What a pack of hounds he’s gathered,” said Benjamin. “And what a large set of cases they carry about with them, for men who need nothing more than their consciences.”
“They’re young, and young men are often angry,” said Catherine. “They want the world to turn on them.”
“It will turn on them, in truth, if they don’t mind their mouths,” said Benjamin. “And if they are so angry, what are they doing here? Why didn’t they stay in Wittenberg, where they have allies?”
Catherine said, “He didn’t say that they came from Wittenberg. Did you not hear them speak? I think these friends of his are all Englishmen.”
Sarah Kennedy is the author of the Tudor historical series, The Cross and the Crown, including The Altarpiece, City of Ladies, The King’s Sisters, and Queen of Blood. She has also published a stand-alone contemporary novel, Self-Portrait, with Ghost, as well as seven books of poems. A professor of English at Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Virginia, Sarah Kennedy holds a PhD in Renaissance Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing. She has received grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
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