A pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for The Raided Heart by Jennifer C Wilson: a historical story filled with both adventure and romance, independently published today (15th November) for kindle, also available through Kindle Unlimited and already out in paperback, and available via Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support.
I have read Jennifer’s writing before: you’ll find my review here of The Last Plantagenet?, a well handled time slip novella with a strong historical background and a touch of Ricardian romance. Although I enjoyed that one, this book looks considerably more substantial – and I’m really sorry I could find space to add it to my reading list. Let’s take a closer look…
Meg Mathers, the headstrong youngest sibling of a reiving family on the English-Scottish border, is determined to remain at her childhood home, caring for the land and village she’s grown up with. When an accident brings her a broken ankle and six weeks in the resentful company of ambitious and angry young reiver Will Hetherington, attraction starts to build. Both begin to realise they might have met their match, and the love of their lives, but 15th century border living is not that simple, as Meg soon finds herself betrothed to the weakling son of a tyrannical neighbour, Alexander Gray. When tragedy strikes, can Meg and Will find their way back to each other, and can Will finally take his own personal revenge on Gray?
So, no review today – but I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer C Wilson as my guest to tell us more…
Hello, and thanks so much for hosting me today; I hope you and your followers enjoy reading The Raided Heart as much as I enjoyed writing it! And it has been a bit of a journey, I’ll say that. This final ‘2019 version’ is the third full iteration of the book, which began life 22yrs ago, when I was just 13, and really, really wanted to write a historical fiction novel. Unfortunately, at 13, I didn’t really have a grasp of how historical fiction worked, and decided to invent a whole new King of Scotland (Edmund, in case you’re wondering, in the middle of the 1500s, completely ignoring the wonderful Mary, Queen of Scots, and the true, fascinating history which was actually happening!). The whole thing was written in Excel, and looking back, I’m horrified at the plotting, let alone the quality of the writing. And to think I got an A* for English Language…
The edition released now is two major edits (and hundreds of minor ones) on from that version, and although the core plot hasn’t changed significantly, I’m pleased to say it is more finessed, and (I hope), in much higher-quality writing.
The Raided Heart has moved from 1500s Scotland to 1470s Northumberland, and the world of the border reivers, a fascinating group of people, and era in our history, that we don’t hear that much about, and I really don’t know why. They were brave, hardy souls, and if you ignore the murder, kidnapping and theft… Ok, perhaps I see the problem! There were frequent raids over the border, and on each other, but this was an accepted way of life for many of the families of the time, whose names are still common in the region today (including Wilson).
The final version of the book brings us into the world of the Mathers family, one of many who struggled to make ends meet through legal means, and who often relied on stealing livestock to get through tough winters. The Mathers, in my story, haven’t yet resorted to kidnap or ransom, but it was never far away. The reivers gave us two important words which really do show us what their lives were like: ‘bereaved’ meant exactly that, to have suffered a raid from the reivers, and ‘blackmail’ was the fees that some powerful families would charge smaller villages, in order to ensure their safety. Not necessarily the neighbours you would wish for. But there was also a sense of honour amongst the group, as the ‘hot trod’ shows. This was when, having suffered a raid, a family could ride out after a group of thieves, carrying a piece of burning peat aloft, and summon help of the surrounding farms or villages to try and regain what had been taken. Unfortunately, such events could also result in the start of long-running family feuds, which could run for generations, causing more and more grievances between groups.
You can see why this is a world which is crying out for the injection of some romance, and it was great fun trying to balance the budding romance between Will and Meg, and the harsh world they found themselves in. As with most times, women’s lives were not entirely their own, and they often found themselves part of family agreements to work together, sealing the commitment with a marriage, just like the royal houses of the time. And that is exactly what happens to poor Meg, wrenching her away from Will, just as they begin to find happiness. As to whether they manage to beat the odds, and their times, you’ll just have to read on to find out…
Jennifer, thank you – wishing you every success with this one.
With thanks to Jennifer and Rachel, I’m delighted to offer the chance to win 2 x e-copies of The Last Plantagenet? (open internationally). Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
Terms and Conditions: Worldwide entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author
Jennifer C. Wilson is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history and historical fiction whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots on childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east of England for work reignited her pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and has been working on a number of projects since, including co-hosting the North Tyneside Writers’ Circle. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and her time-slip novella, The Last Plantagenet?, by Ocelot Press. She lives in North Tyneside, and is very proud of her approximately 2-inch sea view.