Please help me welcome Sarah Hegger and her new release “The Bride Gift.” It’s great to have you here today.
Thank you, Karen, for having me over to share the release of my debut novel, The Bride Gift. The book is set in England in 1153 with the war between King Stephen and Empress Maude (Mathilda) as its backdrop.
When I first started writing historical I had hankering to write Regency. Having cut my teeth on the amazing world of Georgette Heyer, I was a total fan. However, I found in sitting down to write Regency, it was not a period suited to my writing voice and instead of sounding witty and light, it all ended up being a bit contrived.
So, why medieval?
It’s a good question and not one with a simple answer.
I have to confess that I first chose this period out of laziness. When researching my British kings, I came across this lesser known king called Stephen. One of the landmarks of this period was near unadulterated chaos as the king was busy fighting for his throne and the barons were largely out of control. Perfect, I thought, a period with rather loose research requirements.
Wrong, I discovered. The research itself is like a beast that starts to consume you. You start off with a simple questions like: How long would it take my hero to ride to London?
And so it begins and ends with a detailed scouring of sights depicting London at the time and the events leading up to and following your time period. The research draws me in constantly and I can often lose track of time and even what the original question was.
Another draw to the period for me is my love affair with castles. Kenilworth Castle being my favorite. Not because it’s in immaculate condition, quite the opposite. It was more about the feeling I got there. I remember standing with my palm against one of those incredible stone walls and wondering what stories those stones could tell. I ended up creating some of my own. The Bride Gift is my first medieval novel, the second Sweet Bea is due for release on September 1st, 2014 and is the book 1 in a series entitled Sir Arthur’s Legacy.
In a nutshell, the story of The Bride Giftis this:
It’s 1153 in the period dubbed ‘The Anarchy’, King Stephen and Empress Maud are not the only ones embroiled in a fierce battle of the sexes.
Determined to control her own destiny, wilful Helena of Lystanwold has chosen just the husband to suit her purposes. But, when her banished guardian uncle attempts to secure her future and climbs through her bedroom window with a new husband by a proxy marriage, she understandably balks. Notorious warrior Guy of Helston is everything Helena swore she would never marry; a man who lives by the sword, like the man who murdered her sister.
This marriage finally brings Guy close to his lifetime dream of gaining lands and a title. He is not about to let his feisty bride stand in his way. A master strategist, Guy sets out to woo and conquer his lady.
Against a backdrop of vengeance, war and betrayal, Guy and Helena must learn to forge a united front or risk losing everything.
And I couldn’t leave without giving you a small taste:
The men had practiced in the yards since early morning. Now, they streamed into the hall, filthy, sweat stained, and bellowing for food. Helena stiffened her spine. They would not treat her hall as if it were a rough camp.
“Sir Guy,” her voice rang across the expanse.
His face was streaked with perspiration, his tunic hanging haphazardly from one meaty shoulder. His bare chest gleamed from his exertions.
The butterflies were back inside her and flinging themselves about. Helena tightened her resolve. This wouldn’t do.
She swept from the dais toward them. Around Guy, his men went silent and fell away.
They would not come to her table filthy and stinking of sweat. This was her keep.
“The meal will wait until you have had time to prepare yourselves.” She spoke to their leader, but let her glance drift over the rowdy lot.
Their eyes slid shamefaced to the floor. They looked like a collection of overgrown, rebuked boys.
A small smile tugged at her mouth. She suppressed it harshly.
“Hah?” Sir Guy grunted at her.
Helena gritted her teeth. The man was able to speak. She’d seen as much around his men, but for her he could do nothing more than, ‘hah?’
“Tell me, Sir Guy,” she lisped sweetly, “was that ‘Aye, my lady’ or ‘Nay, my lady’ or, mayhap, it was aught else entirely?”
Guy went absolutely still before her. One corner of his mouth turned up slightly. Helena’s pulse fluttered against the side of her neck in reaction.
She couldn’t read the expression turning his eyes near silver, but her pulse kicked rapidly in response.
He lunged toward her, deadly swift. She squealed as his hands closed on her hips and lifted her into the air, as if she weighed no more than thistledown. Good Lord, he is strong. A small thrill chased through her innards. Her hands clung to his forearms convulsively. The feel of his skin beneath her hands was hot as the sensation of touching him swept up her arms.
“As you will, my lady,” he rumbled.
Around them, the hall broke into raucous yells and whistles. Helena’s face flamed with heat.
He lowered her closer, his mouth hard and swift on hers before he placed her back to the floor. His men cheered and stamped their feet.
Helena’s lips tingled where he’d touched them. She raised her fingertips to her mouth. Then jerked her hand away, irked by her own reaction and unable to still her pounding heart.
“Will you attend me as I bathe?” he drawled, smooth as silk.
She tried to regain her composure, but her blood rushed through her ears and her knees knocked together beneath her bliaut. She raised her chin.
“Geoffrey will attend you.” She wouldn’t let him see how he had completely overset her.
Guy merely grinned at her, a great, unabashed beam of nonsense that prodded at her to respond.
She turned her shoulder on him instead. “The rest of you may wash in the barracks,” she groused at the grinning bunch of louts. “Merry will bring cloths.”
They turned as one and stormed for the screens.
Helena wished she could follow them. Guy’s kiss, his touch still lingered. But the hall was looking to her. She put a bright smile on her face. She would act as if naught had happened.
Thank you sharing this special day with me. I love to hear from readers and you can find me at any of the places below.
A little about me:
Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.
Mimicking her globe trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.
She currently lives in Draper, Utah, with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.