This story takes place in the late fourteenth century England around the time of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The widowed heroine, Dame Audrey, lives in Redding, the town where I grew up. She runs the cloth shop inherited from her late husband.
Audrey keeps an Irish wolfhound called Rufus. She travels on Daisy, a dappled grey mare. The horse on the book cover looks more like the hero’s steed, Jet. You can read an excerpt at the end of this post.
Young widow seeks true love in this vivid Medieval romance with a touch of fantasy
In fourteenth century Britain, Dame Audrey cherishes her independence as the widow of a wealthy cloth merchant. But some of the wealthier traders covet her profitable business and she fears they will invoke the Abbot’s authority to compel her to marry a man of their choice. Her worst nightmare is suffering under a cruel husband like the hateful jeweler, Henry Goldsmith, who has threatened to curb her lively spirits.
Audrey joins a pilgrimage to Glastonbury to pray for guidance. The holy relics give her no inspiration nor do her fellow travelers. On the homeward journey, she aids the dying victim of a brutal robbery. She wins the stranger’s blessing and a gold brooch with a green dragon. Back in her hometown, the faerie brooch attracts trouble from thieves of all ranks and the attentions of a handsome yeoman, Selwyn Drake. As her nightmare looms nearer, she grows desperate to preserve her freedom.
Can the magic brooch help Audrey evade the schemes to force her into wedlock or must she submit to a husband’s will?
Excerpt: Audrey meets the hero
The four horsemen raced closer.
The second one blew his horn in a second warning.
The foremost rider rose in his stirrups and shouted, “Make way for the sheriff’s men.”
We urged our horses onto the grassy verge to let the riders pass. They slowed their rapid pace to a brisk trot as they approached our party. The leader raised his hand to acknowledge our compliance. His stern face unsmiling, he stared straight ahead, seemingly intent on urgent business.
My Rufus is accustomed to the bustle in the town’s streets. Even so, I bade him lie down in the grass by Daisy’s legs. Excited by the hoof beats, my mare snorted and pranced as the horsemen drew closer. Like me, Daisy was weary of our sedate pace and longed to race alongside the fast riders.
Wary of my frisky mare, the lead horseman glanced at me as he rode past. His glance lengthened into a curious gaze. A sudden smile warmed his severe face and lit green streaks in his hazel eyes.
My heart gave a flutter of delight and I returned his smile.
Daisy whinnied a horse greeting.
The yeoman gave me a quick nod. He pressed his spurs into his steed’s flanks and slapped the reins. His black courser tossed its head and sped into a gallop.
One after the other, his men passed us. An older man with grizzled hair sat astride a chestnut horse. Behind him, a slim, beardless youth rode a lanky piebald mare. In the rearguard, a burly man as brown and shaggy as a bear was mounted on a sturdy bay charger.
Once they passed the vanguard of our party, their horses settled back into an easy canter.
Their leader’s stern face remained etched in my mind. My instant attraction to this handsome yeoman caused me to reassess my options for a husband. I had wealth enough to support a man with none. Yet, if I married a penniless man, I would never know if he most desired me or my riches. A man who could support himself would be best. If ever I decided to marry again and risk losing my independence.
As our company resumed our journey, I watched the figures of the horsemen dwindle into the distance until a dip in the road obscured them from my sight.