A Phoenix Rising: The House of the Red Duke Book One by @VivienneBreret1 is a Snuggle Up Readathon P
Title: A Phoenix Rising: The House of the Red Duke Book One
Author: Vivienne Brereton
Genre: Historical Fiction
Come and party like it’s 1520!
Set against the backdrop of the extraordinary Field of Cloth of Gold, ‘A Phoenix Rising’ is a tale of ambition, love and intrigue, with Thomas Howard at the centre of this intricate tapestry.
Thomas Howard. Charismatic head of one of the most powerful Houses in Tudor England. An indomitable old man approaching eighty: soldier, courtier, politician: a ‘phoenix’ rising from the ashes. After a calamitous period of disgrace, the Howards, renowned for their good looks and charm, are once more riding high at the court of Henry VIII.
“If I have anything to do with it, we Howards will live forever.”
Will Thomas’s bold vow be fulfilled? Danger stalks the corridors of the royal courts of Europe. Uneasy lies the head beneath a crown. Every other ruler – a fickle bedfellow…or sworn enemy.
The action takes place in England, Scotland, and France. On either side of the Narrow Sea, four young lives are interwoven, partly unaware of each other, and certainly oblivious to what Dame Fortune has in store for them.
“Nicolas de La Barre laid his lute to one side, hardly bothering to stifle a yawn of boredom. Nevertheless, he couldn’t escape the fact he’d agreed to take on a new wife…”
Explosive family secrets are concealed behind the ancient walls of castles in three lands. But… “There are no secrets that time does not reveal.”
In this extract, we meet a sulky eleven-year-old Tristan d’Ardres, his parents, and Thomas Howard at one of Henry VIII’s tournaments at the Palace of Westminster. Half-French, half-Cornish, Tristan has been destined since birth to enter the Church. But he has very different ideas about his future….
“‘Why can’t we stay longer? I want to meet the King and Queen.’
I could feel all my joy and high spirits draining away like the contents of an upturned tankard left unattended at a banquet. In the distance, I could still hear music and laughter coming from the lists and could well imagine King Henry congratulating all the knights who’d fought so hard.
<<Would that I could be amongst them>>
My father was clearly in no mood to listen to any protests. ‘Because, Tristan, I promised Antoine Bohier we would dine with him at Fulham Palace. I’ve accepted William Warham’s invitation now.’
I didn’t care how angry I made him. ‘Why can’t he go by himself?’
My mother laid a warning hand on my arm. ‘It’s been a very trying day for the Abbot. I think he was expecting something quite different when he was appointed French Ambassador. Not the public insult he received today. He doesn’t want to dine with the Archbishop of Canterbury and be the sole Frenchman there.’
At least her remark made my father smile. As she always did. Turning to her, he lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it. ‘Louis should have appointed you as ambassador instead, chérie. Though I couldn’t bear to be parted from you for long.’
My mother smiled sweetly at him before giving me a sidelong glance as if to say: I’ve saved you this time, I’m not sure if I can again.
I felt so angry about being made to leave just when everything was getting more exciting. I wanted to know what happened to one of the Stranger Knights, whether he’d survived his fall. I kicked several stones on the path in front of me. ‘Who was that old man you were talking to?’ I asked my mother. ‘The one you were rude to?’
My father whipped round on me in a fury, making me think of a male lion protecting his territory. Yet, in doing so, attacking his own cub.
‘Tristan! Watch that tongue of yours. I can never imagine your mother being rude to anyone.’
I felt like switching to English to exclude him but knew I would lose my mother’s support if I did that. “It’s not fair to your father to speak English in front of him,” she’d always say. “He can’t help it if English is such a difficult language to learn.”
Then he should try harder, I wanted to retort but never did. I loved my mother more than anything or anyone on earth and could never imagine saying one word to wound her. Besides, not being able to speak English worked to my advantage as it meant my father never had any desire to accompany us down to Cornwall.
“You go, Grace,” he’d said this time. “They’re your people and you deserve some time alone with them. To speak your own tongue. It would be selfish of me to keep you to myself all the time. William and Alys know they’re welcome to come to Ardres Castle whenever they want. With little Cecily, of course.”
‘Who was the old man sitting next to us?’ I asked again, changing the wording of my question to keep the peace.
‘That was the Earl of Surrey,’ answered my father. ‘From what Antoine Bohier tells me, he’s a very colourful character.’
‘Had you met him before, Maman?’ I asked.
‘No, I’m unfamiliar with any of the Howards.’
My father gave a shrug. ‘I realized he must be the same earl Gilbert Talbot was telling me about: the one that wed a young girl on the death of his first wife. But keeps marrying off one of his sons to rich old widows. I wonder if it was the one we met today. You English certainly have a funny way of doing things,’ he said, smiling at my mother.
Whenever I was irked with my father… which was often, I thought of myself as English. Whenever something in England irked me, I thought of myself as French.
<<Today, I am definitely English>>
‘Couldn’t you and I stay a little longer here, Maman? I want to explore London more.’
My mother understood me so well; she’d known how much I admired the “Stranger Knights”. How I wanted to be like that one day. Not a fusty old priest, dried up inside and out.
She reached out to stroke my hair. ‘I’m afraid it’s not possible this time. We have to get back to relieve Nicolas of his duties. It’s not fair to leave him alone for too long. I know Bernard Guillart is with him but even so. He’s still so young. And your father has already done it once this year when he accompanied King Louis to Italy.’
Apart from my joy at travelling alone with my mother down to Zennor Castle, the other positive thing about this trip was that Nicolas had stayed behind. As usual, whenever we travelled to England, Gilles went off to visit his relatives in Venice.
“Unfortunately, I need a member of the family to remain in Ardres Castle to represent us,” my father had said to Nicolas. “But I promise I’ll take you with me on my next trip.”
“To the next war?” Nicolas asked, his face alight with hope while looking pointedly at me, knowing I’d never be asked to go.
“Let’s not wish for war,” my mother said. “It’s bad enough when it happens.”
Even though I’d been pleased to hear Nicolas getting a reprimand, it wasn’t enough to make up for being asked to be a priest, not a soldier.
I continued to tramp bad-temperedly along next to my parents, leaving behind all the merrymaking as we made our way down to the river’s edge. How clay-brained that we had to catch a barge to the Bishop’s palace at Fulham to attend some sleep-inducing supper. I rued my ill luck: to have the full-gorged Abbot of Fécamp looming large.”
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AMAZON UK: https://amzn.to/2yaLmO1
November is a time to be thankful. What are you most thankful for this year?
For my wonderful family and friends, and all the new ones I’ve met since starting on my writing journey.
Why is your featured book worth snuggling up to?
As the nights grow longer in some parts of the world while others prepare for lazy beach reads, what could be better than escaping not just into a book…but in time…to the heady world of the Tudor court. Not to mention, the wild beauty of Cornwall; the subtle allure of France; or the rough and ready Gaelic charm of Scotland. Wriggle your toes in front of an open fire and reach for that steaming drink…or stretch out on your lounger and take a sip of your Mojito. Whichever one, prepare to channel your inner Anne Boleyn or Henry Tudor. And come and party like it’s 1520!
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Runs November 1 – 30.
Drawing will be held on December 1.
Born near historic Winchester in the UK, I’ve been passionate about the Tudors for as long as I can remember. This led to a degree in medieval history at university where I met my future husband. Three sons later and six countries I called home, I finally felt ready to write a novel.
Words have always played an important part in my life whether it’s been writing, editing, teaching English to foreigners, or just picking up a good book. In preparation for my novel, I read intensively on the skills needed to write well and did an enormous amount of research which I greatly enjoyed. Having three sons was helpful when I came to write about the characters, Tristan and Nicolas. All those squabbles I had to deal with came in very handy. I also used my husband and sons as guinea pigs for my Tudor cookery attempts with varying degrees of success (abuse).
Seeing ‘A Phoenix Rising’ in print for the first time was a moment of great joy for me and I hope anyone who decides to read it enjoys it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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