Hi Kathryn Le Veque and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Highland Defender!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
A mistake has cost Bane Morgan everything. When he disobeyed a battle command, he ended up losing good men and the ghost of that mistake follows Bane everywhere. He flees the highlands and ends up in Edinburgh, living on the streets, but a chance meeting with a young lady changes everything.
Lucia Symington serves Lady Currie, working off a debt incurred by her dead father. Lady Currie is less than moral, and her former nurse is a beast of a woman who torments everyone. Lucia is counting the days until her debt is worked off, but in an unexpected moment, she meets Bane.
Attraction is instant.
Bane and Lucia fall for one another. Bane realizes she’s working off a debt and in order to pay the debt off for her so they can marry, Bane turns to the mysterious fight guild known as the Ludus Caledonia. There, a man can earn money – and a great deal of it – but the caveat is that he must commit seven years of his life to the place, learning to fight and then working up through the gladiatorial ranks to fight for sport and big purses.
Bane works hard to become a top fighter, but there’s a problem. Lady Currie loves the Ludus Caledonia and attends fights, looking for lovers among the gladiators. For the right price, a woman can spend the night with a top fighter, and she sets her sights on Bane. Though Bane refuses, it’s clear that Lady Currie’s presence isn’t going to go away. She doesn’t know that Bane is Lucia’s love, but her beast of a nurse knows it. When the nurse confronts Lucia and tries to beat her, Lucia accidentally kills the nurse. Thanks to the kindness of Lord Currie, the cuckolded husband, Bane and Lucia escape to the highlands, back to Bane’s family while Lady Currie is punished in disgrace by her fed up husband.
Unfortunately, there’s a complication. Bane’s father has died in the time Bane was in Edinburgh so Bane returns to a clan that is no longer his, but a beloved cousin’s. Rather than create a crisis or fight for his birthright, Bane surrenders his rights and returns to the Ludus Caledonia, realizing the men of The Cal have become his family. Along with his wife, Lucia, Bane resumes his position as a most prized gladiator and trainer of men.
Please share your favorite quote from the book:
“Ye already have it. I canna explain it, Bane, but whatever feelings have grown between us are something stronger than I’ve ever known. As if it was meant tae be.”
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
My advice to the characters is a simple one – once your love story gets rolling and you end up at the home of Lord and Lady Currie, bring Lord Currie into the situation sooner rather than later! Lord Currie is quite old, his wife quite young, so the old man spends all of his time in his solar with his books and shuts his wife out. He turns out to be the tipping point in the story, a strong man when he needs to be, so I would have told them to tell him what his wife has REALLY been doing! Put that old nurse in the vault and throw away the key! But, if they’d done that, we’d have no story, so maybe it’s best that they didn’t. Therefore, my advice to them would have been to have patience… everything will work out in the end!
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
Highland Defender is such a different book – an entire world opens up with the Ludus Caledonia, the fight guild tucked into the hills of lowland Scotland, and it’s really an amazing place with all kind of different and interesting people. The fifteenth century in Scotland was a time when the world was starting to open up and there were more travel routes than every before. I hope the reader takes away the understanding that, at the Ludus Caledonia, all men are really created equal and there’s a bond of brotherhood that is stronger than most. I hope they take away the face that Bane is a true hero in a unconventional and compassionate way.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: A paperback copy of Highland Defender by Kathryn Le Veque
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Excerpt from Highland Defender:
He was handsome.
Lucia had noticed that from the outset. It was difficult to tell beneath all of that grime and hair, but once she got a good look at his face, she could see just how handsome he was. And young; he wasn’t old at all. Well, relatively old. At ten or more years than her twenty and one.
He was a man in his prime.
But he was also living on the streets, and in addition to the smell of piss from the pot she’d slung at him, she thought she could smell ale. After the chaos of the sausages had died down and she realized he was injured, she still couldn’t explain what made her go back to see how badly he was hurt. Perhaps it was the fact that something in his eyes conveyed utter defeat.
He was a man who had given up.
Perhaps that was why she’d insisted he come back with her to Meadowbank. All she knew was that something in his eyes had pulled at her, something that captured her curiosity and natural empathy. Certainly, she’d seen her share of the destitute in Edinburgh. But what made this man different, she didn’t know.
But first, he needed a bath and food. That was the least she could do for him, considering his attempted act of valor during the sausage disaster. But she didn’t want her mistress to know she’d brought a man back to the manor, so she went to the stable master and explained the situation.
The stable master, being a very old man with a kind disposition, assured her that he would help the man. In little time, a big copper pot, clean straw, and blankets were heading to that tiny storage cottage. Everything needed for a bath was being brought in, and Lucia confiscated soap from the laundress along with clean drying linens. A trip to the kitchens had her carrying a basket filled with bread, cheese, and several apples. With all of it balanced in her hands, she headed back to the cottage.
By the time she reached the rear of the stable yard, the sky had clouded over and it was starting to rain. Fat droplets pelted the ground as she stood at the cottage door while the servants with the hot water buckets finished filling the old copper tub. Once they vacated, she entered the cottage and shut the door behind her.
“Here,” she said as she turned around. “I’ve brought ye…”
Her words were cut off as she found herself looking at the rear view of a naked man. His filthy clothes were in a pile at his feet, and he was standing next to the tub. Startled, she tried to turn around quickly to block her view of the man’s nude arse, but she ended up dumping the soap and the linens, barely saving the food in the basket. She heard a laugh behind her.
“Ye sent me a bath, lass,” he said. “Am I not supposed tae use it?”
Lucia could hear water sloshing behind her as he climbed into the tub. “Of course ye are,” she said, feeling her cheeks flame with embarrassment. “Ye should have told me… That is, I could have waited outside while ye removed yer clothing.”
“I suppose it dinna occur tae me,” he said. “It doesna matter now, anyway. Ye can turn around. My modesty is protected.”
Timidly, she turned around to see that he was, indeed, sitting in the copper tub. She could see him from the waist up, which in truth wasn’t a better view than his naked buttocks had been. She should have been permanently traumatized by that sight but, somehow, she wasn’t.
It had been unexpectedly tantalizing.
Setting the basket of food down on the ground, she went to collect the linens and soap that she’d dumped. She extended the soap to him and he reached out, taking it from her.
“Do I smell that bad?” he asked.
“Bad enough that ye’ll start attracting flies if ye dunna wash up.”
He grinned, splashing water over his head and upper body, going to work with a soap that smelled of mint and rosemary. It was hard soap, rare in these times, and produced a good deal of white, slick residue. He scrubbed his head and face with it vigorously.
“What kind of soap is this?” he asked, foam all over his face.
“Savon d’Alep,” she replied. “Soap from the Levant. Have ye not heard of it? Lady Currie has it sent all the way from Rome. Everyone here uses it because she says she canna stand the smell of anything else.”
Satisfied, he continued to scrub, smelling at the frothy bar. “Nay, I’ve not heard of it.”
“How does yer head feel?”
He splashed water all over his face and hair, rinsing out the soapy residue. “Better,” he said. “It was kind of ye tae bring me here. Ye dinna have tae.”
“I know,” she said, watching him splash. “But as I said, ’twas my fault ye couldna walk. I had tae make amends.”
“Ye have a big heart, lass.”
Lucia watched him use the soap on his arms, hands, and chest. Thoughts of the glimpse of his naked buttocks filled her mind again but instead of chasing them away, she lingered on them. Muscular buttocks that had been smooth and white, something that made her feel the least bit heated to recall. She had to lick her lips to moisten them because thoughts of the man’s nude form dried out her mouth as she sucked in air. She found herself standing back by the door because it was safer that way.
Safer for whom?
Lucia had to ask herself that question.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Gladiator meets Fight Club in the Scottish Highlands in this thrilling Highlander romance series from USA Today bestselling author Kathryn Le Veque!
Ashamed of a decision he made in battle that cost good men their lives, the dark Highlander Bane Morgan escapes to Edinburgh to forget his past. But the more time he spends away from his Highland home, the more he’s filled with regret and despair.
Lucia Symington knows something about despair. Forced to work off a family debt for a clan with little moral compass and a particular hatred for her, Lucia loses herself a little more each day. When a chance meeting with Bane gives them both a glimpse of what their future together could be, Bane pledges himself to the Ludus Caledonia, the warrior training club where he can reconnect to the fire for justice that still burns within him. The Highland Defender has returned…only to discover that his quest to free his lady could cost them both everything…
Meet the Author:
KATHRYN LE VEQUE is a critically acclaimed, multiple USA TODAY Bestselling author, an Indie Reader bestseller, a charter Amazon All-Star author, and a #1 bestselling, award-winning, multi-published author in Medieval Historical Romance with over 100 published novels.
Kathryn is a multiple award nominee and winner, including the winner of Uncaged Book Reviews Magazine 2017 and 2018 “Raven Award” for Favorite Medieval Romance. Kathryn is also a multiple RONE nominee (InD’Tale Magazine), holding a record for the number of nominations. In 2018, her novel WARWOLFE was the winner in the Romance category of the Book Excellence Award and in 2019, her novel A WOLFE AMONG DRAGONS won the prestigious RONE award for best pre-16th century romance.
Kathryn is considered one of the top Indie authors in the world with over 2M copies in circulation, and her novels have been translated into several languages. Kathryn recently signed with Sourcebooks Casablanca for a Medieval Fight Club series coming in 2020.
In addition to her own published works, Kathryn is also the President/CEO of Dragonblade Publishing, a boutique publishing house specializing in Historical Romance, and the President/CEO of DragonMedia Publishing, a publishing house that publishes the Pirates of Britannia Connected World series. In July 2018, Kathryn launched yet another publishing house, WolfeBane Publishing, which publishes the World of de Wolfe Pack Connected series (formerly Kindle Worlds).
Kathryn loves to hear from her readers. Please find Kathryn on Facebook at Kathryn Le Veque, Author, or join her on Twitter @kathrynleveque. Sign up for Kathryn’s blog at www.kathrynleveque.com.