Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Romance blooms during the War of the Roses in Lady of the Roses by Sandra Worth

The War of the Roses was a civil war in England that lasted from 1455 to 1487. During these years, the families descended through Edward III battled the families descended from Henry IV to lay claim to the throne. This war that devastated England, provides a powerful backdrop for the romance that unfolds between Isobel Ingoldesthorpe and Sir John Neville, medieval ancestors of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Sir Winston Churchill.

Here's an excerpt:

Amid lightning, thunder, and the pelting rain of a summer storm, a castle appeared in the distance, as if in answer to my prayers. “There!” I cried, unable to restrain my great relief. “We can take refuge there, can’t we, Sœur Madeleine?”

With the wind whipping her cloak around her, Sœur Madeleine turned her small, plump bulk in her saddle and, ignoring the young man-at-arms, Guy, directed herself to the squire accompanying us on our journey. “Master Giles, you know this place that is so curious?” she inquired. Her English was so heavily laden with the accent of her native Anjou that if I didn’t listen carefully, she seemed to be speaking French. But she was right about the castle. Set in an open emerald field instead of high on a hill, and more like a magnificent country mansion inviting to guests than a fortress designed to repel enemies, it made a strange sight with its hexago– nal redbrick towers, large windows, and tall, narrow frame.

“I believe it belongs to Lord Ralph Cromwell, Sister,” replied Master Giles, his horse’s hooves sucking in and out of the sticky, mud-mired road. “I heard he built a castle of red brick in Lincolnshire called Tattershall.”

“And this lord . . . which is his allegiance, the Red Rose or the White?”

Master Giles threw Sœur Madeleine a small, sardonic laugh. “No man can be sure, Sister— ’tis said Lord Cromwell changes color with the wind. He was King Henry’s lord chancellor back in the thirties, but a few years ago he quarreled with the Lancastrians and wed his niece to a Yorkist lord. After the Battle of St. Albans, I heard he quarreled with the Yorkists and now considers himself a loyal Lancastrian adherent of the queen’s.”

Sœur Madeleine gave a horrified gasp. “Such a man is a traitor! In France we would know what to do with him.”

From what I could see of Master Giles’s face, hidden between his collar and his sodden wool hat, I could tell his thoughts: This was England, and a good thing too. Even the French queen who had wed our King Henry couldn’t change that.

“Perhaps we should not stop,” Sœur Madeleine said suddenly, pulling up so sharply her horse almost lost its footing in a muddy puddle and snorted in protest. “Mon dieu, he may have changed back to York, and I will not take ’ospitality from a traitor!”

Master Giles and Guy rested their gazes on me, and their expressions told me I was the only one who could avert this setback. If we passed up this castle, we had no assurance of finding a hamlet with lodging for the night, and might well find ourselves sleeping under a tree. Wet and shivering with cold in the stinging rain, I too had been excited at the thought of a hot meal and a change of clothes. Now all stood in jeopardy. Fond as I was of Sœur Madeleine, she could be quite impractical. Fortunately, thanks to the kindly, almost maternal interest she had taken in me during the few weeks we had known one another, I had been able to use my influence with her for the benefit of our entire little party on the long journey from Marrick Priory in Yorkshire down to London. I took a breath before I spoke.

Sandra Worth has degrees in political science and economics from the University of Toronto and is the author of four historical novels set during the Wars of the Roses. She is the winner of ten writing awards and prizes in Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Texas and Arizona, including the First Place Prize of the Francis Ford Coppola-sponsored NEW CENTURY WRITERS AWARD, and the 2003 Glyph Award of the Arizona Publishers Association for Best Adult Fiction. In 2007, Sandra signed a two-book deal with Berkley Trade, a division of the Penguin Group (USA). LADY OF THE ROSES: A NOVEL OF THE WARS OF THE ROSES, was released January 2, 2008, and THE KING’S DAUGHTER: A NOVEL OF THE FIRST TUDOR QUEEN is coming December, 2008.

To Order Lady of the Roses visit

LADY OF THE ROSES VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on Feb. 1, 2008 and continue all month. If you would like to follow Sandra's tour, visit Leave a comment on her blog stops and become eligible to win a free copy at the end of her tour! One lucky winner will be announced on this page on February 29!

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