Friday, September 04, 2015

My current WIP

I cut my author teeth writing historical romances, because that's what I loved reading. Write what you know, right? So there's some irony that I've mostly only ever published was contemporary romance.

Well, I've decided to dig out one of several completed historicals I wrote a good long time ago to revise and hope to publish next year.

Under the Hawkes' Wing is the quintessential tortured hero story. Lord Bravin Hawkes has seen some horrible things happen in his 29 years, and to understand some of them, one must be a little familiar with the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (1639-1651).

Those three kingdoms includes England, Scotland, and Ireland, and with each of those countries, there were different segments of wars which had their own names:

Siege of Drogheda, Ireland
aka Rape of Drogheda, 1649
The English Civil War (1642-1651)

The Bishops' Wars (1639-1645)
Scottish Civil War (1644-51)

Irish Confederate Wars (aka The Eleven Years' War 1642-1653)
The Cromwellian War (1649-1651)

By 1653 when it was all over and Charles II had returned to England from exile in France and reclaimed the throne (1660), several things had happened:

Execution of King Charles I (1649)
Exile of Charles II (1646)
Defeat of the Irish Confederates (1648)
Defeat of the Scottish Covenanters (1640)
English Parliament reduced to a Rump Parliament (1648 and 1659)
Establishment of the Republican Commonwealth, ruled by Oliver Cromwell (1653-1659)

Oliver Cromwell
Lord Protector 1653-1658
Oliver Cromwell's name is at the top of the advanced wars as he rose to power as the Lord Protector. He'd refused the title of King as he was disestablishing the monarchy...a King being a he took the term Lord Protector of Great Britain. And as a Parliamentarian, Old Roundhead, as he came to be known, ruled with as much an Iron fist as he had on the battlefield. When he passed away in 1658, it was his son, Richard, who took up the role until Charles II could reclaim his throne in 1660.

It was during this horrible time that people were forced to chose their allegiances -- side with the crown to save the monarchy and take on the title of Royalist, or Cavalier...or side with Cromwell and the Parliamentarians, or Roundheads...a term given for the hair worn very short, which countered the long haired worn by members of the monarchy. It seems that as an act of protest, when Charles II claimed the throne of England, he brought with him from France many of the court fashions, such as sumptuous fabrics and flamboyant costume, and longer hair and ostentatious wigs.

This is where my story comes in. The Hawkes family had had strong allies and connections with many people around England during the reign of Charles I. After his execution and a new parliament was established, those allies were forced to take sides. The Hawkes remained loyal to the crown, while many of their allies converted to Parliamentarians. Old ties and bonds were broken, promises and oaths dissolved, and those who had been closest to the family were now mortal enemies who often went to war between themselves.

Charles I
Reign 1625-1649
My hero, Bravin Hawkes, was born in 1641, the year Charles I was executed and the English Civil War began. He grew up in a life of national turmoil, but he had a loving family who tried keeping peace for the sake of their children. Bravin learned everything a young boy of his station was meant to learn, and upon his father's murder, became a man very quickly--forced to care for his father's estates, care for his grieving mother, see to his siblings' educations, and everything else that comes with manhood. He was pleased, and a bit relieved, when Charles II claimed the throne, but those loyal to the defunct Roundheads still had their axes to grind.

Part of putting the family back together post-Civil War included taking a wife. It was encouraged by Charles II that Bravin take a bride from one of the family's former allies, as a means to recapture alliances and strengthen the nation under a new monarchy. It wasn't a love match, but they were making it work.

It was when his wife died in childbirth that her family went to Charles II with accusations of her murder at Bravin's doing. While he was cleared of murder, he decided to bury himself in work, his estates, and his family...trying to stay out of the political spotlight. He'd become a very hardened man of 29 when this story opens.

It's three years after the death of his wife and child, and just as Bravin has buried himself in things to help him forget the tragedy in his life, the body of a woman is found in the woods on his estate. Unconscious and alone, the only choice is to bring her home to Hawkeswing Manor for care. When she wakes, they'll return her home. Easy, right?

Seated man of thin build with chest-length curly black hair
Charles II
Reign 1660-1685
But what happens when she claims to have no memory. The longer she remains at Hawkeswing, the more endeared Bravin becomes to the woman, who is known as Becca by an embroidery on her kerchief. Continued searches turn up no family searching for a missing wife, sister, or daughter, so now her future must be decided.

For Becca, she has her own troubles. She has no memory of her past, but many worries about her future. She's a bright and intelligent woman, as it turns out, who's strong willed and knows her own mind. She recognizes that Bravin can put her out at any time, but sees gentleness and empathy in him. She knows he'll care for her forever, perhaps even find her a husband, should her memory never return. She needs to find a way to show her appreciation for all he's doing for her, and potentially will in the future, and with the help of his estranged family, she's sure to put a smile back on his face before she leaves Hawkeswing.

Of course, as love stories go, they will fall in love. But that's not the end of the story. Indeed, that's only the beginning. Where does her allegiance lie? Is her family Parliamentarian or Royalist? Do politics matter when love is involved? Will she ever get her memory back? Will she ever find her family to know any of these things?

You'll have to read the book! In the meantime, I've put up an excerpt if you care to read it. I'd love to hear your comments. Drop me a note on Facebook or Twitter and share your thoughts. Don't be shy. I love hearing from readers :-)

Have a great day!