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EXCERPT: A Splendid Defiance

I hope everyone is enjoying spring. My yard is dressed in beautiful color right now. The lilacs have bloomed, along with my Lilies of the Valley, both of which have a fragrance unmatched. I'm now looking toward summer and some rest, travel, and plenty of research comingled with beginning my next project.

A lot of folks have been asking what that project is going to be. I'll simply share this: it'll be 19th century American once again, and keep looking WEST. In the meantime, if you haven't read WEST OF SANTILLANE yet, I encourage you to do so. And if you've just subscribed because of WEST OF SANTILLANE and you've already read it, be sure to begin the Antonius Trilogy.

This past weekend, I had a lovely book reception here at my home. Friends and neighbors attended along with a a special guest: my Mother-in-Law! It's been a wonderful week having her here and sharing some good books. She's a voracious reader!

This week's blog features an excerpt from Stella Riley's dramatic novel, A SPLENDID DEFIANCE, based upon the 17th century and the English Civil War. I hope you enjoy it and I'd like to welcome Stella to Brook's Journal, as it's her first visit here. And she and I share a common interest--the music of the Baroque Period! Love me some harpsichord with my recorder!

Read ON, everybody!

Excerpt from A Splendid Defiance

By: Stella Riley


Justin was assisting Hugh Vaughan with the recalcitrant firing mechanism of a saker when he heard sounds of arrival in the rebel camp and, stopping work, looked down on a well-drilled troop of Horse.  At the head of the column, an unmarked rectangle of silk proclaimed the presence of a Colonel; and a great silver-fringed banner bore the legend Exurgat et Dissipa Buntur.

‘Hugh – whose colours are those?’

Captain Vaughan peered abstractedly between the machicolations.

‘The honourable member for Oxfordshire.’  And then, in response to Justin’s patient stare, ‘It’s Lord Saye and Sele’s son, John Fiennes.’

‘Ah. I met his brother Nathaniel once.  When he surrendered Bristol to Rupert.’

‘Yes?  Well, this one’s better. That motto of his is more than just words.’

Justin looked again at the banner.  ‘Latin was never my strong point.  Arise and … what?’

‘Scatter.  It means Arise and Scatter.  It also means that, if he’s got command, we’re in for an interesting time – and sooner than we expected.’

This prophecy was fulfilled within two hours when the rebel drums beat out the chamade and a blue-sleeved Trumpet rode slowly up to the south gate, accompanied by a cornet bearing a white flag.  In rigid silence and with the utmost formality, the Trumpet was conducted to the Governor’s quarters where Sir William sat in state, flanked by Colonel Greene and Captains Vaughan, Ambrose and Walrond, all of whom were garbed with temporary splendour.

The envoy cleared his throat and began.

‘Colonel Fiennes presents his compliments and suggests that, before hostilities commence, it may be possible to reach an accommodation. He therefore seeks that you look upon the forces ranged against you and determine the wisdom of ceding the Castle.  In return, Colonel Fiennes will issue passes and permit you to march out with all the honours of war.’

‘The full honours of war?’ murmured Will. ‘That’s generous – considering we won’t have earned them.’

A glint of appreciation warmed Captain Ambrose’s eyes but he remained ramrod-straight.  The envoy, meanwhile, was attempting to continue.

‘The Colonel further empowers me to --’

‘I think,’ said Sir William, coming to his feet, ‘that we have heard enough.  You may thank Colonel Fiennes for his courtesy but tell him that we hold this place in trust for His Majesty and while there is one man left alive within it, he need not expect to have it delivered to him.  And in case you have trouble remembering that, you may give the Colonel this letter.  Captain Ambrose, escort this officer from the Castle.  Captain Vaughan – I believe you have your orders?’

Walking beside Justin to the gate, the Trumpet said good-humouredly, ‘Ah well.  So much for the preliminaries. I don’t suppose you could recommend a decent billet?’

Laughter stirred in the grey eyes.

‘No.  I couldn’t.  And we’ve got all the whores.’

‘Well, of course,’ grinned the envoy.  ‘But we have all the daughters of Banbury.’

‘You’re welcome to them,’ replied Justin, his hand on the gate.  ‘Goodbye.’


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?


A Splendid Defiance is a dramatic and enchanting story of forbidden love, set against the turmoil and anguish of the English Civil War.


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.



Special Tour Price: Ebook £1.95 / US $1.95 (and equivalent) for the duration of the tour!

*To purchase, simply click on the book-cover.


28 views2 comments


Stella Riley
Stella Riley
Apr 25

Many thanks for hosting Defiance. (And yes, a Baroque duel sounds good!)


Cathie Dunn
Cathie Dunn
Apr 25

Thank you so much for hosting Stella Riley today, Brook.

Take care,

Cathie xo

The Coffee Pot Book Club

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