Title: Steadfast Will I Be
Author: Susan Leigh Furlong
Genre: Historical/Adventure Romance
The king’s law, a thief’s revenge, a love that risks it all
Vicious gangs of reivers roam Scotland during the tumultuous reign of James V, and one of these gangs, led by a man with a red stain on his face, threatens all that Robin holds dear. The man steals Robin’s ear and then nearly steals his life, but Robin will not let him take anything else, not his home, not his family, and not the woman he loves. Even when accused of murder and facing the hangman’s noose, Robin will remain steadfast above all else.
As long as she lives, Suannoch will carry half of the shilling she and Robin split when they pledged their devotion to each other. Even after she is forced into an unwanted betrothal, their unwavering love is stronger than anything trying to keep them apart. After Robin’s arrest, Suannoch vows to rescue him, or bring his body back, because where they have chosen, steadfast will they be.
Northern England, 1518
The boy crouched under a solitary tree by the side of the road in the Pennine Hills. His lanky, battered, and bloodied legs had taken him this far and no farther. Shivering from the rain cascading off the nearly bare branches, he might not make it through the night without drowning. He turned his head at the sound of a horse coming down the road, splashing mud with each step, and closed his eyes as if praying for the rider to pass by.
“What are ye doing here, chiel?” asked the stranger on the chestnut stallion.
The boy’s eyes flew open.
The man’s thick brogue betrayed him as a Scot, one who risked being caught alone on the English side of the border. Discovery would mean a quick death at the hands of Englishmen who had had their fill of defending themselves against Scottish raiders.
The boy looked up at him through miserable dark blue eyes surrounded by heavy purple bruises. “Nothing, milord. I will be on my way.” As he started to stand, his ragged oversized tunic fell off his shoulder, exposing raw stripes on his back.
“Who beat ye, chiel?” the Scot asked gruffly.
Quickly, the boy pulled up his tunic. “ ’Tis nothing, sir. I will be gone.”
“Are ye going back to the man who did it?”
The boy stuck out his chin and narrowed his eyes. “Nay!”
“Then ye will go with me.” The man on the horse tossed the boy a piece of dry bread, which he caught and stuffed into his mouth all in one bite.
“Hungry, chiel?” the man asked.
The boy did not answer but swallowed the bread as quickly as he could.
Astride his stallion, the man towered over him. He had a chest like a bull, long copper locks, and a rugged face with a thick jagged scar running down his forehead and across his eye on the right side of his face. The man, despite his menacing appearance, had a kindness in his deep, rumbling voice.
The man reached out his hand and hoisted the bewildered boy onto his horse’s rump behind him. Quickly, the boy slid up against the raised back of the saddle to keep from falling off. The man, unfastening a section of his woolen plaid from his belt, handed the edge of the long cloak to the boy, who draped it over his head, sheltering them both from the rain. Then the man took a thin slice of dried meat from his pack and handed it to the boy.
“Why are you helping me?” asked the boy, stuffing the meat into his mouth as fast as he could between words.
The man smiled, and his wide mouth tugged his rough red beard up nearly to his eyes. “ ’Tis a long sad story that I am hoping will end better than it began.” Then the smile left his face. “ ’Tis only me to claim my family land. I have lost everything I love in the battle for Scottish freedom that I now ken winna ever end, so I am going home, ne’er to return to England, ne’er to wield my sword against another man. When I saw ye by the road, I thought ye might want the same, ne’er to have a weapon raised against ye again. Am I right, lad?”
“I mean no disrespect, milord,” the boy said as he chewed, “but I am a stranger.”
“Ye ride on my horse, so ye’re a stranger no more. I am Bretane, Laird of Makgullane.”
“I am Robin.”
Southern Scottish Highlands, 1530
Robin slumped on the filth-encrusted floor of the prison wagon taking him to Caerlanrig, south of Edinburgh. The enclosed wagon, barely bigger than a cart, let in the lone hint of fresh air through the small, barred windows at the back and at the door. He had only been a prisoner for a couple of hours, but already his iron shackles had scraped his wrists and ankles raw. The rusted chains dangling between his feet and his hands clanked every time he changed positions.
“Well, ye bloody Sassenach, how do ye like being on yer way to the noose?” snarled one of the two other prisoners. “Being English winna help ye now!”
Robin scowled at the gap-toothed man named Tinker. “It does not look like being Scot is helping you much either,” he said darkly.
The prison wagon hit yet another rut on the notoriously bad roads of Scotland’s Southern Highlands, and Robin bounced against the wall where a skelf of splintered wood pricked his back. He twisted away from it.
The wagon continued to toss its three prisoners around in the tight quarters until Tinker lost his balance and fell into Robin. The man had a bushy beard, stringy ginger hair, and breath that would shame a thummurt.
A hard shove from Robin sent Tinker back into the opposite corner with a thud and a painful groan. The other prisoner, Ronald, scooted out of the way into the other corner.
“Ye think ye’re the Lord High and Mighty Himself,” Tinker said, struggling to sit upright again, “but ye’re no better than the two of us! Talk like a bloody Sassenach all ye want, but yer neck will stretch just like ours!”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Steadfast Will I Be takes you back to a wild and raw time in Scottish history when thieves overwhelmed the countryside while the young King James V fought to regain his throne. The main characters, Robin and Suannoch, are strong, believable and share a devoted love despite the odds against them. You will find vivid descriptions of the land and its people along with romance, intrigue, mystery, and history. Even if you are not a history buff, the story and characters will pull you in and keep you reading.
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Susan Leigh Furlong was born in the middle of a blinding spring snowstorm at the University of Michigan, which forced her mother to walk across campus in the snow to the hospital while in labor. Susan doesn’t remember any of this auspicious beginning, but it always makes for a good story! As a child she moved across the country six times to various big cities before the age of fourteen because of her father’s career in women’s ready-to-wear clothing. At college she met and married her love, and moved to his small hometown in southern Ohio, and you couldn’t get her out of there with a crowbar! She taught first grade and fourth grade and raised her children who did not have to change schools even once. Creating stories started early in life—as is typical of most writers—even before she could actually write. Then came handwritten pages stuffed in her underwear drawer, followed by stories created on a manual typewriter. Her first computer—a Commodore 64—was replaced by a series of computers and laptops, which her husband promised she could never fill up the storage space, but she always did. At age 32 she performed in her first community theater play—Guys and Dolls—where she quickly realized that she wanted to play ALL the parts, which is exactly what a writer does. She writes and/or directs church-related plays and sketches and also performs and sings with a music and drama ministry, LightReaders. Her love of history led her to write two plays about her now hometown, followed by two historical non-fiction books published by Arcadia Publishing. She loves to do the research even though old books and documents make her cough and sneeze! Susan first discovered romance novels when she won a copy of Velvet Song by Jude Deveraux at the local bookstore. She reads all varieties of books, but historical romance is forever her first choice. Steadfast Will I Be and By Promise Made were published by The Wild Rose Press in 2019 and 2020 respectively. By Promise Made won the NEST – National Excellence in Story Telling – for Historical Romance for 2021. Her third book – Keeper of My Dreams – a continuation of the Cullane family adventures will be officially released on September 6, 2021.
Social Media Links:
Facebook – Facebook.com/SusanLeighFurlong
Website – www.SusanLFurlong.com