She had loved her knight from afar, but could she now injure him to aid her mother? Might the quest for the chalice finally bring these two lonely, longing hearts together?
Royce Hayden is a fierce, bold, and brave knight, who has been granted Dillyglen Castle in the border region of Scotland after securing it for England. An heir to an earldom, he has wealth, values prestige, and is honor bound.
Ahna Murray is a strong, determined, yet loving and gentle Scot who can make a harp sing as well as an arrow from her bow. Her father, a merchant of salt, spices taught her hard work paid off. She heeded his words, yet found him a gambler, a drunkard, and a cheat until she and her mother are left penniless with his suicide the final shun.
When Royce and Ahna meet at a fair and tournament outside Ahna’s town of Selkirk, their mutual beguilement knows no bounds. Yet each knows their station in life deny any future. After two long years they find themselves once again faced with desire strong and true. And even more barriers between them.
First up is Ahna. Where are you from? Selkirk, Scotland
Tell us a bit about The Chalice. I thought I had found the love of my life two years ago. He ‘twas willing to overlook I be a Scots, but when my mother and I be shunned after my father’s many foul deeds, my handsome English knight chose his family and status over someone like me. Now I have vowed to capture the precious chalice that the very same knight transports. ‘Tis not for me I steal such a valuable piece, but for my sweet, ailing mother. My only regret is that I must let my arrow fly to wound him.
What did you think the first time you saw Royce Hayden? I thought he be a most handsome, bravest and dear mon on the earth. When his smile lit his eyes, my own heart quivered like a released bow string.
What was your second thought? He be so tall and muscular, yet his touch to my hand and then to my cheek be oh so gentle. My toes curled and I near swooned.
Did you feel it was love at first sight? Oh aye, though I dinna think he be paying much fancy to a Scots.
What do you like most about Royce? His valor.
How would you describe him? Dedicated, strong, brave, and a leader of men. Above all else he values his honor. Did I say he be verra handsome mon?
How would he describe you? At first, an unwanted dilemma, my being a Scots and a mere merchant’s daughter. But after talking and laughing about anything and everything he seemed to accept my heritage, even said I be pretty, quite witty and had a big heart. I…I think after my father’s first disgrace, he pitied my mother and me, and had more than a wee bit of reluctance to overlook I be my deceitful, selfish father’s daughter. But after father took his own life and the town shunned us, I be sad to say I believe he would say I be more than unworthy of even being a friend.
What made you decide to become a fletcher? From the time I could walk, I be fascinated with archery. I practiced from when I first could stand and pull a bowstring. For years I perfected my own fletches for better flight. The small fee the nuns pay me for helping at the abbey and teaching the children is no’ enough to put food on the table. ‘Twas because my ailing mother needs opium that I started selling my arrows.
What is your biggest fear? That my mother will no’ find the peace and comfort she deserves before she passes.
How do you relax? I adore playing the harp and can lose myself in my music.
Who is your favorite fictional character? ‘Tis sorry I be to say though I can read in several languages, my father never spent coin on fictional books. But at the abbey I did read a copy of The Lais of Marie de France. (Lais means poems in French). She be the illegitimate daughter of Geoffrey Plantagenet hence the half-sister of Henry II of England and ‘twas an abbess of the Abbey at Shaftesbury. Now she writes books of poems, full of love and courtliness, brave knights and aristocratic ladies, but most of them dinna end verra happy, not like a true romance should end, so I regret I have nae favorite character.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? To always be myself, believe in myself and never be judgmental of others.
Thank you for spending time with us, Ahna. We'd love to speak with Beverly.
What movies or books have had an impact on your career as a writer? Golly, there are a gazillion so I’ll just say that any movie or book that is done well and moves me to laugh, cry, or maybe both, makes me think and appreciate life and love. And one that has a happy ending as all romances do. I do believe however, that Cinderella and The Diary of Anne Frank –I read both and saw the movies several times when young. Each have a special spot in my heart—Cinderella, because it’s a romance, had humor yet good conflict, and Anne Frank gripped me with the varied emotions and grab-your-seat scenes of suspense, plus her plight. I too try to bring those moving aspects to my writing.
What event in your private life were you able to bring to this story and how do you feel it impacted the novel? I love piano, but playing the Celtic harp takes me to the world beyond, my own little zone. In The Chalice, I hope Ahna shows how soothing and pleasant music can be for the player as well for others.
Tell us a bit about your publisher: how did you hear about them and what influenced your decision to submit to them? Though one of my dreams was to eventually write a Medieval, I love writing historical romance, especially those set in the American west during the eighteenth or nineteenth century. I had read several books by Prairie Rose Publications, searched the web and submitted [to them]. PRP has a wide selection of different genres and imprints and I was first pulled in because of their number of American westerns. Since then, besides my full length novels, I’ve ventured to write short stories in their Memories From Maple Street series (a collection of true shorts stories by different authors), plus sweet romantic novellas and anthologies. PRP has numerous genres and imprints from romance, westerns, contemporary, paranormal to YA, youth, inspirational and non-fiction, the list goes on. Working with the PRP publishers and editors, the entire staff and all the authors at PRP has been a joy ever since first submitting. We’re one happy and very helpful family.
What project[s] are you working on now? I set aside my historical American western to take a part in One Winter Knight. Now, I’m diligently back working on my The Deaconess Hires A Gunman [which is] set in the late 1800’s. I’m having so much fun with this one as there’s so much humor in it which I love to do anytime I can put a bunch in there. And the heroine’s dog, Cubby, better known as Lug Nut by the hero, just might steal the limelight—not really as there’s too much steam between the characters. Yet there’s a serious aspect as well of course, otherwise I wouldn’t have a good conflict for my hero, and this makes me wonder if I should make the title Justice Or Vengeance. Guess I’ll leave that one up to my editor.
What's up next for you? I have two finished western historical romances and a Royal Mounted Police with a female doctor from way back that I’d set aside and I need to bring them to life by tightening them up a bit and fine tuning. I also have a Civil War synopsis with several scenes that need attention. Then I just might venture in to doing the full length medieval novel that’s screaming to pop out of my head and onto the screen. I’ll most likely be doing some more novellas for the anthologies too. I’d written a western for the Fourth of July anthology last year, A Cowboy Celebration, and I have a spin off from it with two secondary characters that I’d love to do, so that may be coming up sooner than I think.
Bev was kind enough to bring an excerpt from The Chalice:
Her mind, again, questioned the logic of wounding the one who still held her heart. Could she really release the arrow? Cause him pain and grief? Her conscience badgered ‘twas a terrible unforgiveable sin. Desperation to aid her mother compelled the overwhelming necessity. Her heart wept for true love denied and so painfully lost so very long ago.
As the vehicle drew nearer, she laughed at how easy it be to predict Royce. He ‘twas a hulk of a man, brave and skilled in warfare, a proud knight of honor who battled from atop his powerful destrier, but be there a wagon or cart needs be driven, Royce resembled a youthful lad in his eagerness to play at the reins instead of a twenty-six year old warrior.
Spotting movement through the trees too far off in the distance to take aim, she inhaled slow and steady to battle back her persistent, nagging conscience. ‘Twas to her benefit the soft breeze held only a wee bit of chill and but a dusting of snow lay on the ground so she could avoid wearing heavier clothes over her woolen tunic that might encumber her. Her heart drummed in her throat in anticipation of her goal. Beads of sweat slickened her grip on her bow she held loosely at her side as she questioned the wisdom of what she was about to do.
Rich peat laced with fresh pine rose from beneath the thin white sheet to calm her nerves and help ease her tense muscles. The sun hung overhead. Her shot needed to be straight on and at approximately thirty yards give or take to fully penetrate his chain mail. Having left her water skin tied to Patience, she now wished she had it to quench her dry throat. She should be thankful no more snow had fallen. She flexed her shoulders, straightened and patiently waited to prepare at fifty. Closer, closer…now.
Ahna reached over her shoulder and pulled a two-feathered arrow from her leather-covered quiver. She planted her feet in a familiar broad stance, laid the nock of the arrow on the ox hide bowstring and pulled both back as the wagon came into view. Closer, almost there…waaait…
One moment she stood poised as an expert archer. The next, a strong band of steel circled her neck to cut off her air. Helpless, her feet flew upward as she was toppled backward. She landed with such force her teeth rattled. As her jarred mind cleared, she realized ‘twas no’ hard-packed earth beneath pine needles prodding her bruised shoulder blades. ‘Twas her attacker’s muscled body equaled to hard rock.
Joggled senses recovered enough to feel a thick, muscular forearm encased in chain mail ease back a tad from her abraded neck. Blood trickled down her neck in warm rivulets to pool into her tunic’s neckline. Only then did she realize how chilled she had become, not only from the wet snow, but most likely from shock and almost losing consciousness.
Braving a small swallow before daring a deeper breath, her throat rebelled from the raw injury as if a hot poker had been thrust down her gullet. Though she questioned how she would fare against her assailant, she thanked God her neck had no’ been snapped in two. Now she needs must face penalty for becoming a misbegotten scoundrel. Oh, sweet Mother Mary please let them be merciful.
Before you go, Bev, tell our visitors where they can learn more about you and the stories you write:
Prairie Rose Publications Author Page
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