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Tuesday 29 November 2022

My Coffee Pot Guest: Anna Belfrage - Her Castilian Heart

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About the Book

Book Title: Her Castilian Heart

Series: The Castilian Series

Author: Anna Belfrage

Publication Date: 27 Sept 2022 (my 60th birthday. Felt apt, somehow…)

Publisher: Timelight Press

Page Length: approx. 380 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romantic Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

Blood is not always thicker than water…

At times a common bloodline is something of a curse—or so Robert FitzStephan discovers when he realises his half-brother, Eustace de Lamont, wants to kill him.  

A murderous and greedy brother isn’t Robert’s only challenge.  He and his wife, Noor, also have to handle their infected relationship with a mightily displeased Queen Eleanor—all because of their mysterious little foundling whom they refuse to abandon or allow the queen to lock away.

Eustace is persistent. When Robert’s life hangs in the balance, it falls to Noor to do whatever it takes to rip them free from the toothy jaws of fate. Noor may be a woman, but weak she is not, and in her chest beats a heart as brave and ferocious as that of a lioness. But will her courage be enough to see them safe?

Trigger Warnings: There is some sexual (consensual) content. Also some violence

Read An Excerpt

Excerpt 4 – In which Noor and her female companions have to become very resourceful

The moment Eustace’s party had left, Noor swung into motion. The horse she could bluff her way out of by demanding that Eustace describe a truly significant detail about him. But Rhys! Dear God, Rhys! 
“I’ve ordered the guards to shut the gates,” Amalia said, huffing as she attempted to keep up with Noor. “And we’ll just have to hide Rhys, won’t we?”
“Hide him?” 
Noor closed her eyes at the cool voice. “Elena. Shouldn’t you be in the solar?”
“Why would I be there when you are here, running about like a headless chicken?” Elena was taller than Noor and had no problem keeping up, long legs striding at such speed her skirts billowed around her. “So who is Rhys, and why must he be hidden?”
“He’s an injured friend. A man who has endangered himself to keep both me and Robert alive.”
“Ah. So you owe him a debt.”
“Si.” Noor wet her lips, not entirely sure how to continue.
“Before he came to his senses and became a loyal companion to Noor and Robert, he dabbled in rebellion,” Amalia said breathlessly.
“One cannot dabble in rebellion. Either one is a rebel or one is not,” Elena said.
“But some men have no choice,” Noor said. “Rhys had pledged himself to a man who joined the Welsh rebellion, and so . . .”
From Elena’s snort, she did not find this argument particularly compelling. 
Noor came to an abrupt stop. “Rhys is a friend. I will not turn him over to face certain death at the hands of the king’s men. He has already lost his home, his family, his son, his lord—and all because he refused to abandon the man he had promised to serve.” She met Elena’s gaze. “I want your word that you’ll respect my decision.” 
“Rebels—and Welsh rebels in particular—are a plague on our existence,” Elena said. “But,” she added when Noor made as if to interrupt, “I hear in your voice that you care for this man. So this time, I will not say anything. Besides,” she added with a sniff, “Eustace de Lamont is not a nice man. The way he treated his poor wife . . .” She shook her head.  
By now, they’d reached Tom and Harry’s cottage. Harry was outside, a full chamber pot in his hand. 
“What’s she doing here?” he asked, giving Elena a beady look. 
“I am here to help. We fear Orton Manor is about to be searched,” Elena replied. “It would be most unfortunate should your . . . um . . . guest be found.”
“Not a guest. A friend. A comrade who saved us from enslavement.”
Elena’s eyes widened at that. “Truly? Well, that is a story for another day. As it is, he is Welsh and, as I understand, injured.” She gave Harry a shrewd look. “Likely, he was injured in the recent upheaval in Wales.”
“I would not know.” Harry emptied the pot over one of the empty vegetable beds. “He came here hurt. We never asked.”
Because Robert had told them not to, dragging the close to unconscious Rhys up to the cottage with John’s help. After all, they all knew he’d been involved, eager to support any venture that might put a dent in the English king’s stranglehold on Wales.
“De Geneville will not ask,” Elena said. “He will see an injured Welshman and assume.” She frowned. “And harbouring a rebel comes at a high cost.”
Which was precisely what Eustace hoped for. Noor set her teeth. She should not have invited them in, should have ordered them off her land. 
The little cottage was dark and stuffy, a distinct stench of damp wool, sweaty males and sickness having Noor breathe through her mouth. Elena did not say anything as she stared down at Rhys, tossing in his restless sleep. The bandage around his midriff was stained, and to judge from the high colour on his face, the poor man was fighting yet another bout of fever. 
“We need him quiet,” Elena said, efficiently inspecting the various herbs on the small table beside the pallet. She held up a bottle. "Milk of the poppy?"
"Aye. But he fights like the possessed when we try to give it to him," Tom said, rubbing a hand over his face. He looked exhausted—and in dire need of a bath, his neck and face startlingly clean compared to the rest of him. 
“Hmm,” Elena said before settling herself beside the pallet, bottle in hand. “Rhys,” she said softly, her free hand stroking his sweaty hair off his forehead. 
“Eh?” He didn’t quite open his eyes, but he turned towards the sound of her voice. 
“I am here to help you,” Elena said in that same soothing voice. She continued to touch him, and Rhys sighed and moved closer to her. With Tom’s help, Elena had Rhys half sitting up, and then she held the bottle to his mouth. “You have to drink this. All of it,” she said firmly. 
He frowned and shook his head. 
“Now, Rhys,” Elena said. 
He pressed his lips together, and she sighed. “Men,” she muttered before pinching his nose shut. Rhys gasped for air, and she poured the contents of the entire bottle into his mouth. He spluttered, he coughed, and then he collapsed, breathing loudly. 
Tom gaped at her. 
“Where can we hide him?” Elena asked. 
For a moment, Noor just stood there, her mind a blank. 
“I say we hide him here, under the pallet bed,” Harry said. “I’ll be the sick one.” 
“Very risky,” Elena said. 
“Aye. Which is precisely why they’ll not think us fools enough to attempt it.”

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About Anna Belfrage

Had 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. 

Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

Her Castilian Heart is the third in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to 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. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain. This latest release finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain!

Anna has also authored The Whirlpools of Time in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode!

All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.

Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website, 

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