As the third wife of an abusive French vineyard owner, Madeleine Bouchard hasn’t produced the expected heir after three years of marriage. Fearing he plans to kill her, she flees during a trip to England. Unable to make her way home, she joins a troupe of traveling mummers and reinvents herself as the only woman troubadour in the land, captivating audiences with both song and story.
Nobleman Garrett Montayne’s fascination with Madeleine causes him to pay the troupe to bypass their next stop in order to journey to his estate. Though he suspects Madeleine of being a thief with dark secrets, love blossoms between them under the magical moon of summer solstice.
But Madeleine’s past is about to catch up with her, as her husband is set to arrive to conduct business with Garrett. Madeleine determines to free herself from her loveless marriage and make a new life with Garrett, no matter what the cost.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I enjoyed reading historical romances written in the medieval era, and I decided I wanted to write one myself! I was always fascinated with the stories troubadours told, and so I made my heroine Madeleine the only woman troubadour in all of England.
I had Madeleine join a traveling group of mummers who perform at faires, and I really had fun researching all the goods that were sold and other things about the time period.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Madeleine came from her name. I wanted a French name, and once I landed upon this one, I could see her physically and began to build her personality.
I saw a picture in a magazine and right away, I knew I had my hero. Garrett grew from that one photograph into a nobleman with a tragic past and a winsome daughter.
Madeleine knew with certainty that the nobleman would recognize her. They spent too much time together in one another’s company for him not to know her upon first sight.
She groaned aloud. Where Sir Ashby was, she was positive his friend, the brooding Lord Montayne, would soon appear. She did not care to see that one face to face, especially since he had been so angry at her when they parted.
She decided to skirt around the crowd and make her way back to the performance area. She would plead a sore throat and have Farley allow her to take York’s place in the play. York was a decent lute player, though not much of a singer. Still, he could perform before and between their scenes while Madeleine could be in plain sight of all, disguised by the heavy costume and mask York wore.
She moved stealthily through the throng, hoping she would avoid attention. Just as she thought she’d made her way unseen, she heard shouts headed her way.
“Stop, thief! Stop!”
The cutpurse ran by her swiftly, throwing a cursory glance over his shoulder. She despised people who preyed upon others’ misfortune, and she was ready to see this shabby scoundrel caught. Madeleine stepped out, ready to give chase after the fellow when she was blind-sided, being thrown to the ground, the wind knocked from her.
She rolled into a ball, her arms instinctively wrapping around her in a protective mode. She had spent many a time lying on the floor after one of Henri’s swift punches to her stomach. She knew she must guard her ribs at all costs. Oh, God, it hurt so much when one broke. Please, not again. Not again.
A hand, firm but reassuring, touched her shoulder. A voice came through the fog rolling through her brain. It wasn’t Henri! She half-laughed, half-gasped, as she opened her limbs and came to lie on her back. She even reached into her pocket and stroked Henri the pebble, validating that she was alive and unharmed.
Yet who had attacked her? She looked up into the blinding summer sun but could not see who stood above her. Then the shadow moved, covering her face from the harsh light.
“Why if ‘tis not Lady Montayne,” said a familiar voice. “And where the hell is my favorite cloak?”
Garrett peered into the angry face of the woman who haunted his dreams by night and left him absent-minded by day. Their encounter had been brief, but he doubted he had ever met a more remarkable woman. Not even his petite Lynnette had brought such a sweet longing to his loins as did the bewitching creature before him.
Her honeyed hair, loosened from its intricate braid, curled around her shoulders. Tiny beads of sweat had formed just above her upper lip. Without thinking, Garrett reached his thumb towards her and wiped it away. She flinched slightly, her dark, amethyst eyes glowering up at him.
Garrett smiled in spite of himself, offering her a hand to pull her to her feet. He had forgotten how very tall she was as she stared at him, her cheeks flushed with anger.
“Perhaps we could arrange a trade?” he suggested.
She eyed him suspiciously. “I’m not sure if I could trust you, my lord,” she countered.
“Trust me?” he sputtered. “This, from the woman who traipsed about the countryside claiming to be my wife?”
She shrugged nonchalantly, an almost Gallic air about her. She didn’t sound French, but there was an unmistakable manner to her movement. Garrett spent enough time in France to recognize the behavior. However, when she spoke, he quickly put it from his mind.
“I chose a bloody awful name to scare away anyone who accosted me on the road! How was I to know I’d run into you?” She snorted in an unladylike fashion. “I had heard tales of the wicked Lord Montayne, how he frightened old and young alike and gobbled up babes for his dinner. Why, the very mention of his name would cause grown men to plead for their lives and their loved ones. Oh, no, my lord, I was an honest liar. You were the one who resorted to trickery and hid your true identity from me.”
Her accusation so startled Garrett his jaw flew open. No sound came out for a moment. The woman lifted her chin high and turned on her heel. That brought Garrett into motion.
He grabbed her elbow and pulled her around to face him. “Not so fast, my lady.”
He studied her a second. Her eyes narrowed at him, but she remained silent. Finally faced with her visage square in front of him, Garrett was at a loss of what to do. His emotions swirled out of control as he spoke.
“’Tis curiosity,” he sputtered.
She looked puzzled. “Curiosity?” she echoed.
He nodded, his words spilling forth rapidly. “I know not who you are, nor where you come from. I’ve dreamed of you since that night only to awaken to an emptiness.” His voice became low and tinged with sadness. “I don’t even know your name.”
Lauren Linwood became a teacher who wrote on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones. Her romances use history as a backdrop to place her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire and yearning for one another grow into the deep, tender, treasured gift of love.
Lauren, a native Texan, lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with five mile walks. She is thinking about starting a support group for Pinterest and House Hunters addicts.
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