We are delighted to welcome Cathie Dunn, author of Dark Deceit, published by Crooked Cat Publishers. Cathie is here today to tell us about her favorite scene in her mystery romance, and especially exciting is Cathie’s research which often takes her to the most breathtaking landscapes.
Hi, first of all, thank you, Claire, for inviting me here today to talk about my favourite scene. What a brilliant opportunity to share my work.
As I have several ‘favourites’, I’ve finally chosen a scene from my historical novel, Dark Deceit, the first in The Anarchy Trilogy set in England and Normandy in the 1140s. A mystery romance, Dark Deceit begins with the cold-blooded murder of a minor knight.
Geoffrey de Mortagne, under-sheriff of Gloucester and spy, comes across the final seconds of the ambush and takes the dying man to a nearby monastery where he later succumbs to his injuries. He then has the unenviable task of breaking the news to the knight’s daughter (who he initially believes is his widow due to a misunderstanding). A man with secrets of his own, leading a life of spying and fighting, he slowly, reluctantly, falls for her.
Alleyne de Bellac, newly widowed heiress of Bellac manor and lands in the rolling Gloucestershire countryside finds herself without a protector, at a time when her king is unable to be of help as he is imprisoned. She reluctantly accepts Geoffrey’s help in the meantime, but is torn between her growing feelings for him and for the man she assumed a friend of her father’s, Will d’Arques, Behind Geoffrey’s back, she asks Will for help. But was hers the right decision?
I had an exact vision of Geoffrey in my head when I first started writing the story. A couple of years later, the BBC showed a new series of Robin Hood, and I found Geoffrey come alive under the latest guise of Guy of Gisborne! He portrayed Geoffrey’s broodiness, his dark good looks and serious character perfectly. Only Geoffrey isn’t as nasty… 😉
The scene below is still quite early on in the novel, before Will’s arrival. I think it shows the conflict between Geoffrey and Alleyne, but also her internal conflict, quite well.
De Mortagne placed his forefinger under her chin and tilted her face up before he dropped his hand to his side again. When their eyes met, she saw encouragement. And something else she could not identify. Something deeper. Blushing, she smiled and opened her mouth to thank him again. His kiss came as a surprise, warm and soft. It lasted barely an instant and at first she thought she imagined it. Then a wave of guilt engulfed her.
Alleyne took a step back and aimed at his cheek but he was quicker, catching her wrist just inches from her hand’s aim. Damn the reflexes of a trained knight! She steadied herself against the manor wall with her other hand.
“Forgive me, Lady Alleyne. That was most inappropriate.” He turned away.
“I could have you thrown out right now.”
“That wouldn’t help you much in catching your killer.” He stated the obvious, her empty threat exposed for what it was. His voice gave her a chill. Gone was the warm, soothing tone. She had almost believed him. But he was an under-sheriff, a lowly knight with unknown loyalties. One not to be trusted. She straightened her back.
Will must arrive soon. She trusted him.
“It won’t happen again,” de Mortagne said. “At first light we’ll be out of your way and focus our search on the forest again.” He walked towards the steps, but turned his head. “I shall report to you on our return, or to your steward should you so prefer.” Without a further glance her way, he took the stairs in swift steps.
She watched as he strode to the stables, his broad back straight and fists clenched. He kicked open the stable door. The door banged against something solid, the sound echoing through the silent bailey.
Alleyne closed her eyes. Her heartbeat pounded in her ears. If she aimed her anger at him, perhaps she could banish the memory of the eager anticipation she felt when he had turned to her. She shook her head to rid herself of the demons. No, she had not wanted for him to kiss her. All she needed was reassurance. Damn the man! Perhaps women threw themselves at him in Gloucester, but not here.
She descended the stairs, careful not to slip. By now, the bailey lay shrouded in darkness. Inside the hall, the throngs of guests had dived deeper into their cups, their shouting and laughter loud in her ears. Alleyne brushed past them, up the stairs to her chamber, and bolted the door.
She had begun to trust him. How could she now? After this?
Will, on the other hand, would never have let her down in such a manner. After all the years she had adored him, he was still her chivalrous knight. The type minstrels sing about. Tears brimmed in her eyes.
“Oh, Will,” she whispered, her hands covering her mouth as she came to a halt by the narrow window. “Come quick!”
Murder. Betrayal. Hope.
On his return from battle at Lincoln, Geoffrey de Mortagne, under-sheriff of Gloucester and spy for the Empress Matilda, assists a dying knight caught in an ambush. Promising to look after the welfare of the knight’s only daughter, Geoffrey stays at her manor, investigating the murder. Keen to join the Empress on her progress through England, he is torn between his oath and his duty.
Left to defend her manor following her father’s death, Alleyne de Bellac reluctantly accepts Geoffrey’s support. As she doesn’t trust the taciturn stranger, she asks Will d’Arques, an old friend, for help. But loyalties change. Her life in danger and her inheritance at stake, Alleyne must decide which man to trust.
Discover England and Normandy divided by a brutal civil war, where vows are broken as allegiances waver.
Cathie Dunn writes romantic suspense and adventure set in Scotland, England and Normandy. A hobby historian, her focus is on medieval and Jacobite eras.
She has two historical novels published with Crooked Cat Publishing: Highland Arms, a romantic Scottish adventure previously released by The Wild Rose Press, and Dark Deceit, the first in The Anarchy Trilogy.
Cathie has also self-published Silent Deception, a romantic paranormal novella set in Victorian Cornwall. All her books are available on Amazon and other retailers.
Cathie lives in Scotland with her husband and two cats and currently works on a historical Scottish romance set during the Wars of Independence.
Thank you for visiting, Cathie, and all the best for Dark Deceit.
If you would like further information on Cathie Dunn’s books, feel free to visit her at the websites below.
Find her at www.cathiedunn.com!