Title: By Promise Made
Author: Susan Leigh Furlong
Genre: Historical/Adventure Romance
She wants to take off his head. He wants to win her heart.
Hugh Cullane, accused of murder and sentenced to hang, is forced to deliver a message of betrothal to four-year-old Queen Mary of Scotland. He faces death yet again when, in rejecting the proposal, the queen's guardian orders his severed head sent back to England in a jar.
Trained to protect her queen at all costs, Katherine Payne can show no mercy to the handsome messenger, despite the way his stolen kiss unsettles her single-minded sense of duty. Trapped between the English and Scottish armies, she must escape with Mary. Hugh joins her as they are chased by men determined to murder the young queen in their own quest for power.
After escaping the disastrous Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, Kit, Hugh and young Mary flee north…
In the distance, bobbing heads of the horses of an English patrol headed in their direction.
“Down the cliff is the only way. Ye take Mary,” she said, tugging the straps of Mary’s carrying sack off her shoulders. “The wall of the cliff has a small cave in it about halfway down. We can hide inside. I’ll go down first and lead the way. Ye follow with the babe. I’ll guide ye. Here.” She hefted Mary and the carrying sack onto Hugh’s back. “The straps will rub on yer shoulder and start the bleeding again, but there is no other way.”
“Doesna matter. Are ye set, little one?” he asked Mary.
She kissed him on the cheek. “Aye, the man will take good care of me, Kit”
… “I think I see the cave.” She pointed. “I’ll start that way and call for ye to follow.” Swinging her legs over the side, she quickly started the climb down.
Hugh watched her from the top, trying to memorize where she put her feet and hands. “Mary, ye watch Kit verra carefully so ye can help me put my feet in the right places. Ye can even grab hold of the stones with yer hands to help me. Can ye do it?”
“Aye. Kit and I climbed this cliff more than once. Captain Rand put a rope around her waist, but we didna need it. Kit and I climbed up and down all by ourselves.”
“Are ye ready?”
Hugh adjusted quickly to Mary’s extra weight, and he found it relatively easy to follow Kit’s route down over the jagged rocks.
About halfway down the face, Kit called to him. “I see it. The cave. About thirty feet to yer left. I’ll get there and lead ye to it.”
“Aye,” he said.
That’s when loose rocks started sliding down the cliff, not the pebble or two that fell off when his hand hold wasn’t secure, but bushels of debris falling fast and hard. Looking over his shoulder, he saw Kit fighting to find a foothold. She had a grip on a rock with both hands, but her legs swung uselessly. She grunted and strained, but she didn’t cry out.
“I am coming to ye!” called Hugh.
“Nay!” she called back. “Get to the cave where Mary will be safe. I’ll find a way.”
Her right hand slipped off the stones, followed by her left, and she fell fast and hard. Time slowed down as she flew through the air, bouncing repeatedly against the face of the cliff. Two, three times she slammed into the wall. Her tunic caught on a stone and ripped nearly off. On the fifth time, another jagged edge caught her boot and tore it from her foot and twisted her body until she fell headfirst toward the ground. She landed on her back at the edge of the road below with a sickening thud.
“Hush, Mary,” Hugh said, hoping the soldiers thought the sound was only the wind whistling. “Kit’s all right. I can see her moving.”
The lie churned in his stomach, but he had to get Mary to safety before the patrol trapped them. He moved slowly toward the opening in the stone on the face of the cliff. Whenever he could, he glanced down at the figure at the cliff’s base. Listening, he tried to hear if she at least moaned, but he heard nothing except the wind gusting around him.
Breathing hard, he moved across the face of the cliff. He had to get to safety in the cave before the approaching soldiers reached the road above them. One foothold, then another, until after what seemed like an eternity of time, he reached the edge of the cave and swung his leg inside the small space. He pulled himself and Mary inside a cavity in the stone with just enough room for him and the girl to sit up. Carefully, he got Mary out of the carrying sack and cuddled her on his lap.
She cried softly over and over, “Kit, Kit.”
Voices approached on the road overhead.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
As a Finalist in N.N. Light Book Heaven Award for Historical Fiction for 2020, Mrs. N’s five star review says it all.
By Promise Made is a historical romance I couldn't put down. I have read a lot of books dealing with Queen Mary of Scots, but this story puts a new spin on the young queen. From the first page, I was transported to medieval Scotland. The descriptive narration is so well done, I sniffed the air and heard the sounds of everything going on in By Promise Made. The plot moves at a great pace with plenty of twists and turns. Told in multiple POV's, the reader gets a secret glimpse into what motivates characters which I adored. The characters themselves are so expressive, I instantly connected with them. My favorite character has to be Katherine. Her heart wars with her sense of duty which brought such a depth to her. Start to finish, By Promise Made, is a brilliant historical romance and one I highly recommend!
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Susan Leigh Furlong was born at the University of Michigan before moving across the country six times before the age of fourteen. At college she met her love and moved to his hometown, where she taught first and fourth grades. While performing in community theater, she realized she wanted to play ALL the parts, and she now writes and/or directs church plays and performs with a music and drama ministry, LightReaders.
She wrote two historical non-fiction books published by Arcadia Publishing about her now hometown. Susan first discovered romance novels when she won a copy of Velvet Song by Jude Deveraux at the local bookstore.
Her first two books published by The Wild Rose Press are Steadfast Will I Be and By Promise Made in 2019 and 2020 respectively. By Promise Made is the winner of the NEST (National Excellence in Story Telling) for Historical Romance in 2021. Her third book about the Cullane family featured in Steadfast and Promise will be released on September 6, 2021, titled Keeper of My Dreams.
Social Media Links:
Twitter @ FurlongLeigh