|Siege of the Heart|
About the Book
Title: Siege of the Heart
Genre: Medieval Romance
Author Name: Elise Cyr
Book heat level (based on movie ratings): PG13
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Interview with Elise Cyr
Why did you write this book?
As a lover of history, I have always been fascinated by accounts of how one person can have a profound effect on events. This story started with one person as well: William Malet who was an English advisor to Duke William as he prepared to cross the channel and take England for his own. I wondered at how an Englishman could come to help a Norman take over his homeland, and figured there must be others in England who would be in a position to help Duke William in the conquest, given the charged political climate. Thus, my heroine's father, Lord Bernard Dumont, was born, a man with conflicting loyalties who could ease the way for Duke William's rule. His actions set the book's plot into motion and are the means of placing my English-born but Norman-blooded heroine in the path of the hero—one of William's honor-bound knights.
What is your favorite genre to read?
Romance! I found romance novels in my early teens. Classics by Jane Austin and the Brontë Sisters, gothic suspense by Victoria Holt, Harlequin Superromances, and the audacious but unputdownable bodice rippers. I read them all, but something about historicals in particular kept me coming back for more. The appeal of another time and place, love that risks everything, and of course the dresses!
What is your favorite character from fiction (not including your own characters)?
I think Lizzie Bennett will always have a special place in my heart, along with Egyptologist Amelia Peabody in Elizabeth Peters' mystery series.
Do you enjoy films and/or TV shows? Which are your favorites?
It's hard to only pick a few… There's a special place in my heart for nearly all Masterpiece Theatre productions. I've been enjoying the first two seasons of Elementary and love watching standup comedy. Movies-wise, I've always been a fan of James Bond, the original Star Wars trilogy (which has some medieval tropes, surprisingly), and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
What are you working on at the moment, and what are we likely to see from you in the coming months?
I'm currently revising another medieval story set during the crusades. After that, I have a another book I want to write, but I'm still thinking about it—often I let stories simmer in the back of my mind until the pot boils over, so to speak, and I'm compelled to start writing.
Please tell us about your latest book.
It's a medieval romance called Siege of the Heart from Kensington, set during the Norman Conquest of England, with a knight seeking his place in the world and noblewoman struggling to hold on to all she holds dear. It's the first novel I ever got to "The End" on. It has taught me so much about writing and myself, and I'm so glad to share it with the world.
He fought for king and country, but that battle is nothing compared to the one he'll wage for a woman's heart.
Still reeling from the news of her father's death during the Norman Conquest, Isabel Dumont is unprepared when trouble arrives at the castle gates. Alexandre d'Èvreux, a Norman knight with close ties to England's new king, has arrived to secure the land and the loyalties of the Dumont family. Desperate to protect her people, Isabel strives to keep the confounding knight at arm's length and hide the truth about her father's death.
For Alexandre, the spoils of war come with more than just a generous gift of land. They come with Isabel Dumont. Vowing to marry only for love, Alexandre finds himself in a difficult situation as a conqueror granted dominion over the land and its people. Isabel is the one person capable of helping him win the regard of those living in the war-torn country…if he chooses to accept her.
Just when Alexandre finds a spark of hope that he and Isabel have a chance at love, she vanishes. His quest to find her plunges him deeper into the conquest's fallout. Was she taken? Or did she leave?
CONTENT WARNING: Entering into this novel may cause extreme affection toward knights of old, admiration for strong-willed women, and the overwhelming belief that love really can conquer all.
Northern Gloucestershire, England
At least she now knew the truth.
It was little comfort though, as Isabel Dumont watched the messenger ride out of the bailey. She let out a breath, a feathery cloud on the cold air. The messenger had declined her offer of hospitality, and she did not ask him to reconsider. Instead, she had seen to it his horse was watered and had pressed a gold piece into his palm to ensure his silence.
Snow had threatened all morning. Now it fell around her in fat flakes, but she did not move. She did not think she could. Her limbs felt heavy, almost waterlogged. Like the time Julien had knocked her headfirst into the river in a moment's foolishness. And then pulled her back to shore.
That had been ages ago. Her brother's message now had the same effect, leaving her winded and frozen in place.
Captain Thomas, who handled the training of Father's men-at-arms, stamped his feet beside her. "My lady, if you wish it, I will make the announcement—"
"No!" The word ripped through her chest and rang in her ears. "No. You will say nothing. To anyone."
His eyes widened. "But this cannot be kept secret."
His disapproving tone cut through the numbness that suddenly filled her. She twisted away from him and looked out past the gates. The graying countryside swallowed all sign of the messenger. If only his words were as easy to erase.
"Your father—" Captain Thomas began.
She balled her hands into fists. "Do not say it," she whispered.
Captain Thomas shook his head. "I must. Your father is not coming home. I know it was not the news you hoped for, but Julien's message…"
He lifted a hand toward her shoulder, and she gave him a sharp look. He stopped mid-motion, his fingers dangling awkwardly, before resting his hand on his belt. She turned on her heel.
Captain Thomas hastened after her. "Wait!"
She wrapped her woolen mantle more securely around herself. She would not discuss it further. She could not. Not when she could scarcely think.
"My lady, please—"
She slipped her hand to the hilt of her sword—one of her father's cast-offs—and the brush of the leather-wrapped handle against her palm made it easier to rein in her breathing. "You said there were reports of the Welsh attacking tenant farms to the west?"
"Yes. I was going to have Kendrick and some of the other men scout the area, but—"
"Good. I will join them. Tell the men to make ready."
Captain Thomas's mouth tightened. For a moment she thought he would disobey her, but he slowly turned toward the castle to do as she bade. Lord Bernard Dumont, thane to the king, had fallen. Now it fell to her to ensure the safety of the Dumont lands. Captain Thomas, of all people, should know what that meant.
Isabel thrust a bow and quiver of arrows from the armory over her shoulder and ducked into the stables, waving off the groom before he assisted her. She led her mount outside and fastened the leather saddle straps. Hardwin flinched when she drew them too tight and kicked his hind leg out in protest.
"Shh. I am sorry, boy." She ran her hands over his sleek flanks. "I was careless."
Kendrick and four more trusted men-at-arms filed out of the stables. Strong, steadfast men who should have been fighting by her father's side in York. Not ordered behind to protect her.
Isabel took a deep breath and pulled herself into the saddle. Captain Thomas's gray head appeared next to Hardwin.
He tugged on her stirrup. "My lady, I must protest." He threw a glance at the other men and kept his voice low, his lips barely moving as he glared up at her. "I am responsible for your welfare."
She squeezed her eyes shut. Her welfare was the least of her concerns. She turned to the fair-haired Kendrick. "Ready?"
He nodded. If he observed her exchange with Captain Thomas, he gave no sign of it as he ordered the other riders ahead.
She pressed her heels into Hardwin's sides. Captain Thomas trotted along with them, the stubborn man still clinging to the leather stirrup. She grimaced but kept her horse's speed in check.
Before Captain Thomas had the chance to chastise her again, she leaned down as far as she could without losing her seat. "I need this," she said through her teeth. "Can you not understand?"
His hand dropped away. She spurred her horse and did not look back.
Elise Cyr has always loved adventure, romance, and happy endings. She writes primarily in the medieval period. Because there's still so much we don't know about that time in history, the writer's imagination is essential for fleshing out the research and making it come to life on the page. Plus swords and castles are just plain fun. She lives in New Mexico with her husband and the sweetest dog ever. When she's not writing, she hikes, bikes, cooks, and (of course) reads. Siege of the Heart is her debut medieval romance.
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Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Elise-Cyr/e/B00JESBX78/