Message From The Author
Be honest. Do you think its so terrible
a thing for a middle-aged woman to fall desperately in love with a little boy?
Eeeeww! Sounds icky, doesn't it?
But Im not talking about real life here. Im talking about authors and the special relationships they sometimes have with the characters they create.
In my case, the character is Rhys ap Owain, 12th-century Welsh hunk and all around bad boy. But as I first conceived him, he was only six years old, though already a bad little fellow. Little did I know as I started the first book of my Rosecliffe trilogy, The Bride of Rosecliffe, that he would become my very favorite male character of all time.
Given that Ive written a dozen or so romances now, thats saying a lot. But my favorite he is, growing from a dirty, unloved little urchin in that first book, to an arrogant, adolescent rebel in the next, The Knight of Rosecliffe, and now, into a cold-hearted, single-minded renegade Welsh knight in my latest, THE MISTRESS OF ROSECLIFFE.
Did I say cold-hearted? Well, he tries to be. But once he clashes with his direst enemys daughter, the temperamental Isolde FitzHugh, he is hard-pressed to maintain any temperature lower than a boiling point.
I have to confess, I have been waiting to write Rhys story since he was a little boy trying desperately to deserve his fathers loveor anybodys love for that matter. He might say I was pretty mean to him in Book Two, denying him the love of Rhonwen and letting her fall for Jasper FitzHugh, one of King Henrys hated knights. Nor did I let him succeed in his plan to take over the English castle built in his Welsh countryside. Indeed, I banished him from Wales entirely.
But hes back in THE MISTRESS OF ROSECLIFFE, and I think hed say that Ive redeemed myself completely with the love he finds with Isolde. But I make him work for it!
So now Ive had to relinquish Rhys to Isoldebut Ive discovered just the cure for missing him. Hes Neville Hawke, an ex-soldier, tortured by his past and living with no hope for the future. Youll have to wait for Nevilles story, but meanwhile, I hope you enjoy Rhys travails with Isolde, THE MISTRESS OF ROSECLIFFE, just as much as I did.
Rexanne has just completed Nevilles story, THE MATCHMAKER, and is currently pondering its sequel, THE TROUBLEMAKER. You can write to her c/o St. Martins Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
Excerpt from THE MISTRESS OF ROSECLIFFE
Isolde twisted her head to see the door and shuddered when it opened. It was him, the man whod deceived her, then made her his captive.
But as light filled the chamber, it was a far different looking man who turned to face her. Hed abandoned his rough tunic for a warriors leather hauberk, and his worn brogans for tall boots. A sword swung at his side, heavy and ominous, and a thin dagger dangled at his hip.
He was no longer the minstrel shed once admired, but rather a man of war. How had she not seen it before? Those thickly muscled arms came from wielding a sword, not a lute. Those wide shoulders were developed through years of battle practice, not through strumming and singing.
Then he raised the candle higher to reveal his face, and she gasped. Gone was the long hair and woolly beard. In their stead appeared a face she would have recognized. He was ten years olderand ten years harderbut he was the same Rhys ap Owain whod kidnapped her so long ago. He was her familys direst enemy. That his face was so comely and his form so manly only drove home the depths of her terrible mistake.
He might have the face of an angel, yet still he was the devils spawn.
Isoldes chest hurt, her heart pounded so violently. She should have been more wary. She should not have been so smug. She should have done as her father wanted and agreed to marry Mortimer Halyard. Now, because
of her vanity and stupidity, shed opened wide the door to her familys ruin.
As if Rhys guessed her thoughts, he grinned down at her, the awful, beautiful grin of a predator who toys with his victim, knowing full well she has no escape. He moved towards her, then set the candle down.
Tis a great day at Rosecliffe Castle, Isolde. The Welsh have regained what was stolen from them.
She closed her eyes against the wolfish triumph in his face, then jerked them open when he moved nearer still. I am victorious, he continued in a huskier tone. And you know what is said of the victor. To him, go all the spoils.
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