His Castilian Hawk by Anna Belfrage
For bastard-born Robert FitzStephan, being given Eleanor d’Outremer in marriage is an honour. For Eleanor, this forced wedding is anything but a fairy tale.
Robert FitzStephan has served Edward Longshanks loyally since the age of twelve. Now he is riding with his king to once and for all bring Wales under English control.
Eleanor d’Outremer—Noor to family—lost her Castilian mother as a child and is left entirely alone when her father and brother are killed. When ordered to wed the unknown Robert FitzStephan, she has no choice but to comply.
Two strangers in a marriage bed is not easy. Things are further complicated by Noor’s blood-ties to the Welsh princes and by covetous Edith who has warmed Robert’s bed for years.
Robert’s new wife may be young and innocent, but he is soon to discover that not only is she spirited and proud, she is also brave. Because when Wales lies gasping and Edward I exacts terrible justice on the last prince and his children, Noor is determined to save at least one member of the House of Aberffraw from the English king.
Will years of ingrained service have Robert standing with his king or will he follow his heart and protect his wife, his beautiful and fierce Castilian hawk?
EXCERPT – in which Robert bids his wife farewell before riding out to war
Robert was up at the crack of dawn. The rain had abated, and for a couple of hours he had his men busy themselves with preparations while he oversaw the loading of victuals onto a couple of packhorses—a cart would not get far in the mountainous terrain of Wales.
By the time they came in to break their fast, Noor was already in the hall. She served him herself, placing a platter of smoked fish and bread in front of him. No words, they just sat side by side, holding hands under the table.
And then it was time to leave. Robert ordered his men outside but lingered in the hall, reluctant to leave the warmth and his wife. From outside came the sound of men and horses, and there was no point to further delaying, not when the moment of farewell was upon them.
Noor accompanied him outside, fingers clutching his. Down the steps that led from the hall, there was Elias, holding Mars. Robert took a deep breath and turned to his wife.
“Be careful,” she said, stroking his cheek. “Come back safe and sound to me.”
“I will,” he promised, knowing just how futile his promise was. It was all in the hands of the Lord—and maybe his king. Robert could do nothing but obey his orders and hope he’d emerge from every fray alive and essentially unharmed. “And you must take care of yourself, my heart.”
She blushed, her eyes glistening. She nodded in response.
Robert took her hand and kissed each finger in turn before lifting her chin so that he could press a kiss to her lips. A chaste thing, him far too aware of their audience, of just how close Noor was to tears.
“I have something for you,” he murmured.
“Another collar?” she teased, and he was grateful for her attempt to lighten the mood. He glanced at Gawain, presently wearing his new collar. The hound looked none too happy about it, his hind leg coming up regularly to scratch at his neck.
“No. This is for you, my hawk.”
He dug into his pouch, his hands closing round the smooth white stone he had found so many years ago on the shore of the Holy Land. He had just been laughed out of Yasmine’s room, she telling him he need not come back if he intended to subject her to his lovesick spouting, and instead of returning to his lodgings he had ended up by the sea north of Acre, having first snuck out through St Anthony’s gate.
He pulled out the stone and opened his hand. Like a little white heart, it lay on his palm, as bright as when he’d first found it and veined with thin lines of red and black.
“I’ve carried this with me for longer than I’ve had my leather surcoat,” he said. “I never found someone to give it to before.”
“A stone?” But her finger followed its shape.
“A heart.” He cleared his throat. “My heart.”
The look she gave him made his throat constrict. In those beautiful dark eyes, he could see just how much she loved him, and that single tear running down her cheek had him reaching out to catch it.
“Don’t weep, little hawk,” he said. “I cannot bear it.”
“I’m not weeping.” She ducked her head and scrubbed at her face. “It is just the wind making my eyes water.”
He smiled. “There is no wind.” He handed her the stone.
“Then it must be a speck of dust.” She straightened up, still as short as when he’d first met her, still soft and round. But his Noor was different from the maid he’d wed less than a year ago: she had grown into a young woman, alluring curves hiding a centre of steel. A wife to be proud of, he reflected. A wife to love and cherish, he added as an afterthought when she embraced him as if she would never let him go.
“God keep you,” she said, releasing him.
“And you.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead and stepped back, only to bump into Gawain. “Take care of your mistress,” he said to the dog, scratching it behind the ears. Gawain gave him an aloof look, eyes the colour of amber staring straight through him.
About the AuthorHad Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
More recently, Anna has published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. While she loved stepping out of her comfort zone (and will likely do so again ) she is delighted to be back in medieval times in her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love.
Find out more about Anna on her website or on her Amazon page. You can also follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
Blog Tour ScheduleSaturday, October 24
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Monday, October 26
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Tuesday, October 27
Review at Rajiv's Reviews
Wednesday, October 28
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Friday, October 30
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit
Sunday, November 1
Interview at Reader_ceygo
Tuesday, November 3
Review at YA, It's Lit
Wednesday, November 4
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Friday, November 6
Review at Passages to the Past
Monday, November 9
Excerpt at I'm Into Books
Tuesday, November 10
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, November 12
Excerpt at Carole Rae's Random Ramblings
Excerpt at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals
Monday, November 16
Review at Reader_ceygo
Review at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, November 17
Review at Books and Zebras
Wednesday, November 18
Review at Novels Alive
Interview at Jathan & Heather
Thursday, November 19
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks
Friday, November 20
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Review at Bookramblings
Interview at Books & Benches
GiveawayDuring the Blog Tour, we are giving away two paperback copies of His Castilian Hawk! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
The giveaway is open internationally and ends on November 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.