posted by Nancy
Gerri Russell returns to the Lair to celebrate the second release in her Brotherhood of the Scottish Templars series, Seducing the Knight. Gerri and I were emailing back and forth about knightly heroes and their ongoing appeal, and we thought that might be a good topic for a blog post. So Gerri's going to share her thoughts about the attraction of knights, and then we'll all chat about that in the comments. Just FYI Romantic Times Book Reviews called Seducing the Knight “an Indiana-Jones-meets-Lara-Croft tale.” Having read it, I can attest that it is that, but it's also fast-paced and full of romance and chivalry, not to mention heat that has nothing to do with the desert.
When most contemporary people hear the words knight, they think of a medieval knight in shining armor riding a large white horse. They imagine the knight bravely wielding his sword or lance in defense of a damsel in distress, or courageously charging forth to glory and honor on the field of battle. Or perhaps the image of a crusading knight comes to mind, with his armor glimmering in the sun and banners waving as he rides for a mighty castle in the distance.
Whatever your perception of a knight is, it no doubt includes chivalry, integrity and honor, as well as the romantic quest involving excitement and adventure. At least it does for me. But I started to wonder why? Where did I get my perception of what a knight is, and what about knights makes me think of them as the romantic ideal?
Perhaps it was from all the books I’ve read over the years, the classics such as Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale, Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, TH White’s The Once a Future King, and Pearl Poet’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, to name a few. Or was it the modern tales of knighthood such as Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor, Lynn Kurland’s The Very Thought of You, Alexis Morgan’s Dark Protector, and Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave.
For me, a knight is the whole package—a dedicated warrior, a gentleman, someone who will do whatever it takes to protect his hearth and kin, all while wrapped up in steel.
Really, does it get any better than that? My own infatuation with knights is what led me to create the Brotherhood of the Scottish Templars series. The second book in the series came out last week. Seducing the Knight features a knight, Sir Alan Cathcart, on a mission from King Robert Bruce of Scotland to find the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy Land and bring it back to Scotland for protection from those who would use it for evil purposes. Joining Alan on his quest is a Moorish princess who was born to fulfill her own prophecy surrounding the famous ark.
Nancy asked me to include an excerpt, so I hope you’ll enjoy reading a snippet from the book where our hero, Alan, and heroine Jessamine search for the Ark of the Covenant in the city of Petra:
“Come, let’s have a look inside.”
Jessamine curled her fingers around Alan’s. She’d never held hands with anyone before. The courtiers weren’t allowed to touch her. For one breathless moment his smoldering gaze studied her feature by feature, then he gave her hand a squeeze and led them through the entrance that rose some twenty feet high overhead.
With a sense of awe, Jessamine followed Alan into the ornate structure. Inside, the air was still and cold, a stark contrast to the suffocating heat outside. Golden light from the lantern splashed the nutmeg-colored walls, illuminating a colossal doorway that dominated the outer court and led to an inner chamber. Alan led her up the seven stairs and into what she could only guess was some sort of sanctuary, if the ablution basin was a clue.
“Where do we go now?” she asked. There were two passageways off to the left and right sides of the room.
“Let’s start here.” He led her to the passageway on the right. When they hit a wall of stone, they retraced their steps and instead took the passageway off to the left.
They entered a large, empty space that looked almost identical to the one they’d just explored. But as Jessamine searched the empty space, a strong sense of premonition made her skin tingle. There was something different here. She stared at the only other doorway carved into the stone. The answers they sought were in there. She knew it.
Alan appeared by her side. “Ready to explore?” he asked, stepping inside.
Jessamine followed. They headed down another passageway that seemed to go on forever, until finally it opened into another empty chamber. This room was different from the others they’d passed through. It was carved out of the stone like the others, yet these walls were uneven and, from the looks of it, carved in haste.
Then she saw it—a small pinprick of light emanating from a tall, narrow crack in the wall at the back of the chamber.
“Alan?” Jessamine breathed.
“I see it,” he said, moving past her to explore the human-sized opening. He held the lantern into the space. “It’s unfinished,” he said, bringing his free hand up to caress the poorly sculpted rock at his eye level.
“Perhaps they grew tired of chipping away the stone,” Jessamine offered.
“Or perhaps they wanted it to appear unfinished for a reason. We need to go inside.” Alan offered her his hand.
She took his fingers in hers and allowed him to guide her into the dark void. Her heart raced and her palms grew damp. The space was narrow and confining, forcing them to turn to the side to slip through the rock.
Jessamine’s breath quickened as she and Alan moved deeper and deeper into the ever-narrowing space. The wall at her back was cold. The wall at her front nearly brushed against her chest. She clung to Alan’s hand and kept moving. “If we find the ark in this place, how will we ever get it out? The walls are too narrow.”
“Somehow it was brought in, so there must be a way to get it out,” he replied with confidence.
Together, they felt their way along the cool, gritty sandstone wall. The lantern cast eerie shadows that twisted and danced with each step they took. The shuffling of their footsteps mingled with the quickened rush of their breathing. The darkness seemed to seep around them, outside the circle of light cast by the lantern. Alan’s hand became her lifeline.
Cold dampness seeped into her clothes. Jessamine shivered. Her breath caught. She shuffled forward. “How much farther?” she whispered into the confined and darkened space.
No sooner had the words left her lips than the passageway opened up, spilling into a small chamber. The light from the lantern splashed across the walls, painting everything in hues of coppery gold. The room was empty, just as the others had been, except tucked high into the back wall was a shelf cut into the stone. It held a small golden chest that was much too small to be the ark.
Alan released her. He pressed the lantern into her hands and moved slowly across the chamber until he stood before the chest. He reached up and carefully removed it from the rock ledge.
“What is it?” Jessamine asked.
Alan turned toward her and bent, setting the small chest on the floor. “I’m not certain.” He blew the dust and sand away from the lid. No ornamentation decorated the chest. “Bring the light closer.”
She stepped beside him as he carefully lifted the lid from the chest. Inside were twelve formed and polished colored stones.
“What do they mean?” She set the lantern on the floor beside them.
With a grin, he sat back on his heels and pulled the leather book from the folds of his robe. She moved to peer over his shoulder as he flipped the loose pages. When he came to a drawing of what appeared to be a ceremonial garment, he stopped.
“What is that?” she asked. “How does it relate to what we found?”
“These stones might not be the Ark of the Covenant, but they are a worthy find in and of themselves.” He lifted his gaze to hers. Excitement brightened his eyes. “These twelve stones are what were referred to in the Old Testament as the stones of fire. They represent the twelve tribes of Israel and were at one time set into the breastplate of the high priest. That high priest would have worn the breastplate to control the divine fire that was said to emanate from the ark.”
“So whoever controls the stones of fire controls the ark?” Jessamine cupped her hands over his. A spark passed between them at the intimate contact. It brought a soft gasp to her lips. She should pull her hands away, stand, anything to break the contact between them. Instead, she gazed into his piercing blue eyes and felt a strange lightness at her core.
“Aye,” he said softly. “But suddenly it’s not the ark or the stones that interest me, but something else entirely.” He abandoned the chest on the ground and stood, pulling her up with him until they faced each other, their bodies only a hairbreadth apart.
“Jessamine. We are entering dangerous territory.” The words seemed dredged up from his very soul as he pulled her even closer, his gaze on her lips.
She knew he didn’t mean the dangers of following the prophecy, but the dangerous way desire flared each time they touched.
Knights and action-adventure themes lend themselves to creating awesome book trailers. Check out the trailer made for me by the fabulous April Rickard at DewPoint Studios.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek inside Seducing the Knight as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing it with you.
So what about it, do knights hold the same appeal for you as they do me? If so what are your favorite knights? Do you feel you heart quicken at the thought of those Templar Knights like I do, or is there another knight in fiction or in film that weakens your knees? I'm giving a copy of Seducing the Knight to one commenter today.
If you're in the area, join Gerri at her launch party tonight, May 6, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Sweet Decadence Chocolates in Newcastle, WA. Check the events page on Gerri's website for more details.