Title: Ruffled Feathers
Author: Anna Markland
Genre: Tudor Romance
Dominic Hawke is a proud member of a well-respected family of London goldsmiths who’ve honed their craft for four generations. Like many goldsmiths, they also carry on a lucrative and trusted banking business.
Spain plots to invade England, assassinate her queen and install the Catholic Mary of Scotland on the throne. Determined to protect his country from Spanish interference, Dominic is also an informant for Elizabeth Tudor’s Spymaster.
When the Pope’s Venetian emissary deposits the funds to finance a Spanish invasion with the Hawkes, events are set in motion that will likely result in the Venetian’s execution.
Things go awry when Dominic meets and falls in love with the emissary’s daughter. A man smugly proud of his prodigious sexual appetite and imbued with an innate desire to dominate in the bedroom, he doubts the haughty and spoiled Luisa Bertolli would ever bend to his will. Even if she isn’t involved in her father’s plot, the innocent often do not escape torture and execution.
Unaware of her father’s involvement in treasonous activities, Luisa cannot understand her craving for a London goldsmith who lives in a cramped apartment above his shop. Venetian noblewomen are destined to marry wealthy Venetian men. She begins to suspect Dominic is somehow involved in her father’s affairs and doesn’t doubt that he craves sexual dominance—something she could never agree to. It becomes clear the goldsmith is using her to entrap her father.
Both their lives are at risk in the deadly game of intrigue orchestrated by the Queen’s notorious Spymaster, Francis Walsingham.
Dominic followed the Venetian and his bodyguards along Chepesyde, ducking into a shadowed alley near the Eleanor Cross when Bertolli entered Madame Juliette’s salon. The footmen remained outside. Dominic’s curiosity was satisfied five minutes later when Bertolli exited the shop, a stunningly beautiful young woman on his arm. An older woman trailed behind—a chaperone, judging by the simple cut and drab color of her clothing.
The haughty Madonna wore a tall, golden halo contraption on her head. Well versed in the art of manipulating precious metals, he appreciated the intricacy of the headpiece’s design. Inky black tresses framed her face, though most of her hair was tightly braided in coils that peeked out from under the headgear. The ruff around her neck was wider and deeper than those worn at the English court—and made of expensive Venetian lace, he’d wager. It forced her chin into the air, but he suspected she always carried herself with arrogant pride. Her olive skin glowed, untouched by the white powders considered de rigueur by fashionable English noblewomen. She was petulantly scolding Bertolli, but her pout only added to the allure of full lips. The deep red of her sumptuous gown accentuated every luscious curve of her body. Lace adorned her long sleeves. He instantly recognized the value and artistry of the heavy gold chain draped across generous breasts. The most exotic creature Dominic had ever seen stirred more than mild interest in his loins. He conjured the ear-bobs he could design for her, or the pendant that would rest between those tempting globes.
He assumed the beauty was the Venetian's daughter. “Pity,” he muttered under his breath. If Bertolli was involved in treasonous activities, as the queen’s private secretary suspected, it would be dangerous to pursue the man’s daughter. Although…
Satisfied the foreigners were out of sight and convinced Bertolli would be unlikely to meet fellow conspirators with a daughter on his arm, Dominic entered the modiste’s salon and doffed his hat.
Juliette smiled a greeting then kissed him on each cheek. “Dominic! How is your Papa?”
He returned the gesture, trying not to inhale her cloying perfume. “He is well.”
“What can I do for you, mon cher?”
Dominic assumed a bashful expression. “I was passing by and…er…the young woman who just left…I was wondering…”
Juliette wagged a finger. “Méchant! You have good taste, as usual, naughty boy. She is Venetian.”
Dominic raised his eyebrows in feigned surprise. “Is she visiting London?”
“Her gowns are to be delivered to the home of the Venetian ambassador. On the Strand.”
Dominic bestowed a kiss on Juliette’s plump knuckles. “Merci. A thousand thanks.”
“Beware of the chaperone’s fangs,” Juliette called as he left.
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As an amateur genealogist (aka an addict of family tree research) I became obsessed with tracing my English roots back to the Norman Conquest in the 11th century.
This turned out to be a pipe dream since I am not descended from the nobility and records were not kept for "common folks" until much later. Even then, early parish records are often indecipherable.
As a result, I began to write stories about a noble medieval family I conjured from my imagination. The Montbryces were born.
Like many people, I had an inner compulsion to write one good book. What was originally intended as that one book about my fictional family eventually became the 12-book series, The Montbryce Legacy.
In other words, writing superseded genealogy as my principal addiction, and I have since published more than 60 novels and novellas. Almost all are historical romances that feature, Vikings, Highlanders, medieval knights or Regency earls. You can find more details on my website https://www.annamarkland.com/.
I've lived most of my life in Canada, though I was born in the UK. An English grammar school education instilled in me a love of European history which continues to this day. While I may boast of being a proud Canadian, I'm still a Lancashire lass at heart.
Before becoming a full-time writer, I was an elementary school teacher, a job I loved. I then worked as administrator for a world-wide disaster relief organization.
I love cats, although I haven't been able to bring myself to adopt another one since unexpectedly losing Topaz a few years ago.
I have few domestic skills. You'll notice most of my heroines hate sewing!
I try to follow three simple writing guidelines. I give my characters free rein to tell their story, which often turns out to be different from the original version in my head. I'm a firm believer in love at first sight. My protagonists may initially deny the attraction but, eventually, my heroes and heroines find their soul mates. It seems only natural then to include scenes of intimacy enjoyed by people who love each other deeply. I believe such intimacy is wholesome. Historical accuracy is important to me, although I have been known to tweak history when necessary. I write romance because I find happy endings very satisfying.
You can find me on all the usual social media platforms. On Facebook as Anna Markland and Anna Markland Novels, on Instagram as annamarkland, on Twitter as @annamarkland, and Pinterest and BookBub as Anna Markland. I also have a reader group on Facebook called Markland’s Merrymakers and new members are always welcome.
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