Title: Ruff Justice
Author: Anna Markland
Genre: Elizabethan historical romance/fiction
Like his father and brother before him, Julian Hawke is a well-respected London goldsmith—and an informant for Elizabeth Tudor’s Spymaster. But he craves the challenge of a more significant role in espionage. As part of a plan to trap the imprisoned Mary of Scotland in treasonous activities, he is sent to France as a double agent. His mission is to deliver false documents to the exiled Thomas Morcant, one of the Scottish queen’s stalwart supporters and a suspect in the attempted murder of Julian’s brother.
Things go awry in Paris when Julian meets Morcant’s sister. He is drawn to her but assumes she has come to France as a courier for Mary.
Lydia Morcant has traveled to Paris in a last-ditch effort to dissuade her older brother from involvement in the plot to put the Scottish queen on the English throne. She finds herself falling for Julian Hawke but, when she discovers he has met with her brother, fears he must be a courier for the traitors plotting Elizabeth’s overthrow.
Untangling the web of intrigue in which they are mired could implicate them both in the deadly plot to assassinate Elizabeth Tudor and lead to arrest and execution.
Responding to the gong that signaled it was time for the evening meal, Julian tucked the sealed missive inside his doublet, scanned the room one last time, and went down the creaking wooden stairs to what the Venetian innkeeper referred to as the dining room. Two tables, each with four chairs, were crammed into a space barely large enough for one table. The first to arrive, he seated himself, hoping the Englishwoman and her son would soon appear. Given his lack of fluency in French, perhaps she would prove to be a better companion during his stay. It might be tricky to woo her with the boy present, but women warmed to him quickly and he could suggest a midnight tryst in his room while the lad slept. She didn’t look the sort to agree to playing the role of his sexual plaything, but a man could only hope. Even if she resisted his persuasive charm, there was naught amiss with spending time talking with a beautiful woman.
He stood quickly when the pair arrived. The lady’s tightly pursed lips and annoyed glare didn’t augur well, but nothing ventured…
“Won’t you join me, my lady?” he asked politely. “It seems silly to…”
“My brother and I prefer to eat alone,” she replied, lifting her chin.
“You’re English, Sir,” the lad exclaimed, sliding into the seat next to his.
“I am,” he replied, pulling out a chair for the scowling sister. “Julian…er…Falcon, of London.”
A little voice warned him in time, but Falcon? Settling on a better false name ahead of time might have been a good idea, though these two seemed harmless enough.
The woman sat, ignoring his outstretched hand. Evidently, he wasn’t going to be allowed to kiss her knuckles—yet.
“Lady Sara of Tredegar,” she announced, making no effort to conceal her reluctance to join him. “Bevan is my brother.”
Julian liked women. He enjoyed the pursuit, the foreplay, the erotic sexual congress if things went as planned, and the amicable parting when he and his lady-love tired of each other.
An emotion he couldn’t name swept over him as he gazed into the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. He suddenly had trouble swallowing. The wayward wisp of hair curled around the edge of the gable hood confirmed his suspicion that she was blonde. His cock turned to granite and his brain to mush. “You’re…er…Welsh,” he babbled.
“Perceptive of you,” she replied.
Something niggled at the back of his mind, but he was too preoccupied wrestling with the possibility she might be a virgin. He wasn’t the kind of man who despoiled virgins. But she was in France, with only a boy as her escort. “Are you on holiday in Paris?” he asked, wondering what had become of Julian Hawke the witty conversationalist.
Bevan snorted. “We’re visiting my brother. He’s a prisoner in the Bastille.”
The color drained from Lady Sara's face. “Bevan Morcant! We do not discuss private matters with strangers.”
“But Thomas isn’t a criminal,” the lad protested.
Julian gaped, deafened by an alarm bell ringing in his head. He had almost revealed his real name to Thomas Morcant's sister. A sister who was no doubt as committed to the Scottish queen’s cause as her brother. She’d come all the way to Paris, probably carrying messages from Mary. It was diabolically clever. Who would suspect a beautiful woman? He had to escape but the confines of the tiny room made it impossible, unless he leapt over Bevan and trampled the maidservant who’d arrived with platters of what looked like raw mutton.
He thought he might be going mad when his foolish cock refused to acknowledge what his brain knew. Sara Morcant was trouble.
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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://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.
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