Hi Elisabeth and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Redeeming the Rogue Knight!
Hi, it’s great to be back.
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
In essence the story is how Roger Danby learns to be a decent human being.
He has been fighting in France as a mercenary and has returned to England on a mission to recruit troops to fight in the King’s campaigns in France. An ambush leaves him wounded and forced to take refuge at an inn owned by a struggling single mother who is less than happy to have the unwelcome guest.
Roger must persuade Lucy to give him shelter while he heals and tries to solve the mystery of who is pursuing him, and why.
The idea of two strange men barging into an inn late at night with a mysterious mission grew out of an entertaining night I spent at the pub with a friend trying to persuade the men sitting at the bar next to us to tell us what was in their mysterious box. We never discovered the contents* but the box made its way into The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge and the men ended up as the inspiration for Roger and Thomas.
*We decided it was either duelling pistols or a watercolour paint set.
What’s your favorite line(s) from the book?:
‘Don’t fool yourself, lad. You may tell yourself—or better still the wench—that it’s love, but don’t confuse the twitch in your braies for the thump of your heart.’
This is Roger lecturing his squire Thomas about the dangers of falling in love. It captures his philosophy about women early in the book for anyone who hasn’t already met him in The Blacksmith’s Wife. As far as Roger is concerned women are for short term flings and pleasure (theirs as well as his, in fairness to him) and nothing more. He’s gone through life never letting himself get too close to anyone and is happy with that state of affairs. Until he meets Lucy and is forced into a situation where he is unable to leave he doesn’t imagine that changing.
I also have a soft spot for:
Robbie blew a spit bubble and picked up his toy. ‘Hoss!’
‘I know. It’s a lovely horse.’
I like to slip lines in to amuse myself and anyone who spots them. I’ve referenced Doctor Who and Terry Pratchett in previous books. I wonder if anyone can recognise this one (please let me know in the comments if you do).
When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?
Turning Roger into someone readers would root for. We first met him in The Blacksmith’s Wife, and only seen him as the vain, self-centred womaniser who led Joanna on and dumped her. His story was going to end there but readers kept telling me that they wanted to know what happened to him. I also became curious to see how the knight who had jousting groupies (to use a slightly anachronistic term) dropping at his feet coped when he didn’t have his flashy armour, fine horse and noble connections to tempt them.
I wanted delve into his background and discover what led him to become the man he had. He had to start off reasonably disreputable to remain true to the character I had created in that book.
I wanted him to be vulnerable and hit rock bottom so at first I just had fun making him suffer.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Roger is arrogant, self-centred and believes he is irresistible to women. He’s never had to try to get a woman if he wants her and can’t understand why he is failing to seduce Lucy with his usual chat-up lines. He isn’t as talented at jousting as he believes he is.
Lucy has developed a thick shell to live down the shame of having an illegitimate child. She’s overworked, struggling financially and constantly exhausted. With her past still haunting her a rich nobleman swanning into her life and assuming she’ll fall into bed just because of who he is isn’t going to be given an easy ride. It was important for me that Roger sees first hand the consequences to women of the sort of behaviour he has indulged in so far in life.
The outcome of Roger’s first joust at the St Barnabas Fair took me by surprise but readers will have to read to find out what happens.
What have you learned about your own writing process/you as an author while writing this book?
I discovered how much fun it is coming up with cheesy chat-up lines for Roger and coming up with his attempts at seduction that strike a balance between being amusing to read but not too awful that readers disliked him . He’s awful really- you’d avoid him in a bar if he tried it on, but he never stops trying to impress or cajole Lucy into bed. As the story progresses and his feelings develop into something true and deep his compliments become more sincere and I hope readers spot that.
The First kiss…
… is when Roger barges into Lucy’s inn after dark. He’s been seriously wounded but even this doesn’t stop his instinct taking over the first time they meet.
‘Don’t let me die unmourned, dove,’ the man slurred, his voice deep and husky.
Before Lucy could think how to reply he had reached his left arm to the back of her head, tilted it back and covered her lips with his.
The kiss took Lucy by surprise, the rough beard scratching at her cheek and lips teasingly, sending shivers through her. His mouth enclosed hers, his lips firm and his tongue seeking hers with a fierceness that left her weak. Her mind emptied as desire lurched in her belly and without intending to she was kissing him back. If he could kiss like this when close to death, what would his touch be like when at full strength?
She came to her senses almost immediately and jerked her head away. His mouth followed, greedily seeking her out again, and his good hand slid from her neck down her body, fumbling at her breast.
A kiss she could tolerate, but the groping was too much. Outrage surged inside Lucy and now she had her wits about her. He was not the first of her customers who had tried to force attentions on her and was likely not to be the last. Injured or not made no difference. She twisted her leg until it was between his and brought her knee sharply upwards.
The man gave a whimper of pain and crumpled on to her, his eyes rolling back in his head.
Did any scene have you crying or laughing (or blushing) while writing it?
Even when Roger is recovering from a serious wound he can’t let any supposed slight against his manhood pass. Writing this exchange made me giggle.
‘I’ve spent three days not knowing if you would be dead the next time I came up here. Trying to keep your presence—which I could well have done without—hidden from anyone who might be searching. Tending to your needs…’
‘My needs?’ Roger interrupted, furrowing his brow. His bladder, which had begun increasingly to trouble him, should have been fit to bursting after three days. A horrifying thought crossed his mind and his hand moved downwards.
‘All your needs,’ Lucy confirmed, following the movement with a smirk. ‘Don’t worry, I have a young child so I’ve done such things before. It was no great matter.’
‘I hope it was a matter a little greater than your son’s!’ Roger exclaimed.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
Lucy is helping to undress a wounded Roger in preparation for his squire removing the arrow in his shoulder. This scene doesn’t have much dialogue so I’d be looking for sizzling chemistry between the two actors that comes across in their expressions and body language.
The jerkin was the colour of oak and the cloak was of good quality. Lucy wondered for the first time who he was. She unlaced the jerkin, aware all the time of the man’s eyes upon her.
‘You’ll have to sit up to take this off.’
‘You’ll have to help me, Lucy Carew,’ he slurred, raising an eyebrow.
He gave her the same grin that had made her stomach curl. Now alone on her bed with him she felt a stirring of anxiety. It had been a long time since a man had shared her bed and, even though he was not there for that purpose, the sight of him made her stomach twist. She weighed up the likelihood of him repeating what he had done downstairs and decided he looked incapable of much harm.
She sat on the edge of the bed and eased her hands beneath his armpits, pulling him forward until he sat upright with his face close to hers. He eased his left arm about her waist, holding tightly to support himself and tried to do the same with his right arm, but there was no strength in it. Lucy slipped her hands inside the front of the jerkin, acutely aware that her hands were running across the contours of his chest. He drew a breath as her fingers slipped across the bare flesh at his neck. He looked at her with an expression of hunger, tilting his head to one side and parting his lips as if he was preparing to kiss her once more. She hastily bent her head to better look at what she was doing, conscious of the heat rising to her face.
‘You haven’t asked my name, Lucy Carew,’ he breathed as she pushed the jerkin over his shoulder.
‘I don’t care to know it,’ she answered.
Together they contrived to remove the jerkin, easing one arm out, then twisting the fabric until it slid over the arrow. Once or twice it caught, jerking the shaft slightly. Each time it happened the man gave a guttural growl deep in his throat, the fingers of his left hand tightening on Lucy’s waist. Now he was left with only a wool tunic.
‘Cut it off,’ he whispered, closing his eyes. ‘I have others and I fear I cannot sit any longer.’
His grip on Lucy’s waist slackened and she eased him back on the bed.
Readers should read this book….
to see if the rogue they had previously loved to hate can be convincingly redeemed (or just to derive some satisfaction from watching him suffer).
New readers shouldn’t feel they’ve missed anything form his story if they start with this book- though I hope they’ll decide to go back to The Blacksmith’s Wife and find out what happened beforehand.
You’ll also gain the necessary skills to brew medieval beer as everything Lucy does is based on original recipes, though I’m not sure I would recommend it as I imagine they would have tasted fairly rough.
What are you currently working on? What are your up-coming releases?
I’m currently working on a story about a road trip through Yorkshire post-Harrying of the North with a heroine from York (so more Viking than Saxon) and a Breton archer both travelling under assumed identities. I wrote a Saxon hero and Norman heroine in The Saxon Outlaw’s Revenge so I wanted to switch the backgrounds and see how that changes the dynamic.
Once I’ve finished with that I’m thinking of finding out what the next generation of Danbys get up to- if readers want me to of course!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: A signed paperback copy of Redeeming the Rogue Knight if up for grabs for one reader who leaves a comment here. The giveaway is open internationally.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Roger spends a lot of the book trying to seduce Lucy with chat up lines. What is the worst/best you’ve heard?
Excerpt from Redeeming the Rogue Knight:
She was weakening. Roger knew enough about women to recognise the moment when downright refusal turned to hesitation and would soon become acquiescence. He would have her agreement before long. He had expected the fight to be harder, but perhaps he had caught her at a moment of weakness brought on by whatever had upset her. He wondered briefly what were the troubles she had referred to and what had caused her tears. Then his mind drifted to the thought of her long-lashed eyes made all the more piercing and attractive by the redness surrounding them and pushed his concerns to the back of his mind.
Roger took a final look around the brewing shed, tilting his neck back to try to ease his sore shoulder. Dust floated down and filled his nose and eyes. Lucy seemed to have begun cleaning the central beam and given up halfway through because one end was free of cobwebs while the other was thick with them. He went outside and took a deep breath to fill his lungs and rid himself of the pungent, mealy smell of ale and dust.
Lucy’s small son was peering over the top of the wicker fence of the chicken run. Roger leaned his arms on it and stared down at the boy. His curls, much darker than his mother’s hair, tumbled across a grubby forehead and his brown eyes were wide. He reminded Roger of someone, but he could not think who it was.
He wondered if he should say something, but children were an unfamiliar experience to him. He knew from the last letter from Yorkshire that his half-brother had fathered two by now. Meeting them would be another trial to endure when he finally arrived in York. If he ever managed to get there.
He heard Lucy’s footsteps and smiled at her. Lucy stopped as if instead he had slapped her. Her body tensed, reminding Roger of a cat ready to pounce. He had no doubt that her claws would come out if she thought her child was at risk.
‘I’m not going to hurt your boy,’ Roger muttered, stung by the unspoken accusation.
‘Robbie doesn’t know many people.’ She tore her eyes from his and glanced towards the child. ‘I don’t… We don’t have many friends here.’
Loneliness oozed from her words, causing Roger some puzzlement and opening a pit in his belly. This was her home and where she had grown up. She should have companions.
The boy didn’t look particularly scared. As Roger looked at him he blew a spit bubble and held up a wooden figure.
‘Hoss!’ He grinned.
The anger in Lucy’s eyes melted and her face took on an expression of such affection it made Roger’s heart twist to see it. Robbie looked at Roger, sticking his bottom lip out. Roger felt his lips curl into an unexpected smile. Robbie blew another bubble and sniffed. Roger wrinkled his nose in mild disgust at the stickiness on display.
The boy was becoming agitated, his voice on the cusp of becoming a wail as he held the toy out. His face was reddening. Roger gingerly took the toy between his fingertips. It was a roughly carved horse, slightly damp from some source Roger preferred not to consider. He jiggled the toy and made a clopping noise with his tongue. To his surprise and pleasure, Robbie’s face split into a wide beam and he cackled.
‘Thank you,’ Roger said in a serious voice. ‘If only your horse was my size I could ride away and leave your mother in peace. That would satisfy us both.’
Behind him Roger heard Lucy snort, whether in amusement or annoyance he could not tell. Roger trotted the horse back to Robbie. He turned to discover Lucy had moved closer to him than he had realised. She had one hand across her mouth. Her eyes were unreadable. Roger held his breath. Lucy lifted a hand and for one moment Roger thought she was going to touch him. His stomach tensed with excitement, anticipating the softness of her fingers against his flesh, but she reached past him to stroke her son’s cheek.
She looked at Roger and her eyes briefly crinkled at the corners.
‘You can stay here. But there are conditions.’
Roger mastered his impulse to cheer aloud.
She held a hand up and raised each finger to list the conditions.
‘I’ll expect you to pay for what you eat and drink. I know you have no money at the moment, but when you do you can settle your account.’ Her angular, serious face was tilted back to look into his eyes. She licked her lips nervously, the tip of her tongue skimming around them in a manner that sent Roger’s heart thudding.
‘You sleep in the other room. I want mine back. No one goes up there so you can hide well enough if I have customers.’
Roger held a hand up to stop her mid-flow, raising his eyebrows. ‘I’ll gladly sleep in there, if that’s where you want me to sleep, but I don’t intend to hide. I’ve been caged long enough.’
Lucy lowered her fingers, clenching her fist into a ball. She pursed her lips, forming them into a perfect bud, which only increased Roger’s desire to kiss them.
‘Then how shall I explain your presence?’
Roger’s lips curved into a smile. ‘I’ve already told you. We have a story that has worked before. It will work again. I’ll play your husband.’
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The spy who sought refuge…
When injured spy Sir Roger Danby comes asking for shelter at her inn, Lucy Carew is wary. He may be strikingly handsome, but the disgraced single mother has learned the hard way with men like him. Against her better judgment, she gives him refuge.
Sir Roger has never been at the mercy of a woman before, and he’s never met one as mysterious and bewitching as Lucy. He hasn’t come looking for redemption, but Lucy is a woman who could reach in and touch his closely guarded heart…
Meet the Author:
Elisabeth’s writing career began when she entered her first novel, Falling for Her Captor, into Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest. She finished in third place and was offered a two book contract. She has since written five novels for Harlequin Mills & Boon with settings and eras ranging from the turbulent events of post-Conquest Cheshire to the thrilling tournaments of thirteenth century York.
As well as writing Elisabeth is a part time teacher and full time mum to two children. She spends whatever spare time she has reading and is a pro at cooking one-handed while holding a book.
Elisabeth’s other hobbies include horse riding, skiing, Arabic dance, fencing and exploring dreadful tourist attractions, none of which has made it into a story yet. She loves ginger mojitos, historical fiction and has a fondness for dark haired, bearded heroes.