Saturday, 25 June 2011

Bought For The Harem

Here is a small taste of my new book coming in August. Already published in USA it will be published in UK this year. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.

‘This is an assignment I would trust to no other, Kasim. Prince Hassan is very precious to me. He will soon be of the age to marry and I must find the right wife for him. He already has many beautiful women in his harem but none of them are what is needed. Hassan will take my place when I die…’ The Caliph waved his hand as Kasim would have protested. ‘It is as Allah wills, my son. All men must die to take their place in Paradise. I shall not shrink from death when my time comes – but I would have my son secure. He needs a woman of both exceptional beauty and intelligence but also spirit. She will produce his heir. His mother was such a woman and this is what I want for my son.’

Kasim looked at him thoughtfully. ‘Is there no one within the ranks of your fellow lords with a daughter that would fill your requirements? She at least would be a Muslim and trained in all the things she should know to fit her for her duties as the prince’s chief wife.’

The Caliph was silent for a moment. His eyes held a cold glitter as he looked at Kasim and his mouth formed a thin hard line. ‘If I chose a wife from one important family I should make an enemy of another. You know the jealousy of the tribal chiefs, Kasim. We are constantly having to suppress uprisings and small rebellions amongst the chieftains of the north. My own wife came from the country that gave you birth and I wish for an English wife for my son.’

‘You wish me to buy a woman from the slave markets of Algiers?’

‘Yes, that is my wish. Choose wisely, my son. The price is immaterial. I want a jewel beyond price for Prince Hassan.’

‘It shall be as you command.’

Kasim bowed to his royal master and took five steps backward, before turning to leave the presence chamber. He was frowning as he made his way towards his own apartments in the palace. The Caliph treated him with respect and even affection. A tall, handsome man with dark hair and deep blue eyes, he owed his position here to a man he knew to be ruthless and yet compassionate, wise and yet sometimes ruled by his ruthless nature. Kahlid was a just ruler of his province, which he held in subservience to the Sultan, but he gave no quarter to his enemies. To raise your hand against him and fail was to die. Kasim had recently returned from an expedition to crush a rebellious tribe to the north of the Caliph’s territory. He had done so efficiently and with as little wanton bloodshed as possible, but he knew that the prisoners the Janissaries had brought back would receive harsh punishment. There was nothing he could do to change that fact, and any interference would be frowned on.

However, he would not be there to see the punishments for he must leave as soon as he could provision his ship. A request from the Caliph was an order. Kasim must find a bride for the young prince – and an English girl of exceptional beauty and intelligence.

He smiled ruefully for it was not an easy task. Given the choice he would ride out to do battle against the mountain tribes and leave the purchase of slaves to another more inclined for it. The slave masters of Algiers would have many men, women and children on offer. Some of the women would be beautiful and might end up in the harem of the Sultan himself but the Caliph had been precise in his instructions.

The woman must be beautiful, spirited and intelligent – and English. Kasim knew that he might need to spend many months searching for such a woman.

HMB are moving to simultaneous publication, here and USA together. It means some books will overlap and be published there only in digital, and some books here, already published there, will be brought out in double books. That may be a little disappointing in some ways but I believe the simultaneous publication to be a good thing, as books are now available both sides of the 'Pond' once they are published in either country and because some readers buy parcels of books they could find themselves inadvertantly buying a book they had read. So well done HMB for finding a sensible solution.

Best wishes to all
Anne Herries

Friday, 10 June 2011

Hostage Bride

This is an excerpt from my Medieval book coming out in December in HB and Feb next year in Paperback

Rosamunde looked down from the solar at the top of the tower, watching the activity in the courtyard below. The compound was filled with men, horses and dogs, because the hunting party had just returned. The huntsmen seemed to have been successful and there was evidence of more than one kill. That meant that Lady Meldreth and her women would be busy for a few days salting the flesh of wild boar into barrels for the winter, but most of the game and venison would be roasted for the feast the next day.
She was not yet thirteen years of age, but Rosamunde was accustomed to helping her mother in her still room; she kept accounts and embroidered hangings to keep the chill from the stone walls of her father’s keep. She was wise beyond her years and knew that Sir Randolph Meldreth was not as rich and successful as some of the knights he was entertaining. Behind her, she could hear her mother complaining.
‘If you do not watch your spending, husband, you will ruin us,’ she scolded. ‘The King is off to the crusades and you will earn no favours by entertaining him and his knights to a lavish feast. You would do better to save our money and wait until you see which way the wind blows. Prince John is to be Regent in Richard’s place and it is he you should seek to please now.’
‘Hush woman. Richard asked me to entertain his friends for a few days,’ Sir Randolph replied in his cheerful, easy manner. ‘It is an honour, wife. Besides, I cannot refuse. If my health did not prevent it, I should offer my sword to this holy cause and go with the King.’
‘Then I must thank God that you have the agues and cannot ride for days and weeks at a time,’ Lady Meldreth’s mouth turned down sourly. ‘The King may be gone for years and only God knows if he and his knights will ever return.’
Unwilling to listen to yet another quarrel between her parents, Rosamunde went quietly from the room. She walked down the narrow spiral staircase to the great hall below the solar. Some of the men were already spilling into the large room, laughing and talking excitedly as they boasted to one another of the day’s exploits. One of them had brought his dogs in with him and they were sniffing at the rushes, yelping and growling as they hunted for scraps that might have been tossed to the floor.
Suddenly, a small kitten rushed at one of the hounds and scratched its nose; it had obviously been startled by the arrival of the dogs and lashed out in fright. The great hound stared at it for a moment then growled and pounced, intending to crush it between its heavy jaws.
‘No, please, do not let the dog harm my kitty,’ Rosamunde cried and rushed towards them. Somehow the kitten had avoided capture thus far and she flung herself on it, clutching it to her breast as the dog snarled and jumped at her trying to reach its prey, its sharp teeth snapping inches from her face. ‘Get down you, brute. Leave my poor kitty alone.’
The dog saw only the kitten. It reared up on its hind legs to growl and bark as it attempted to grab its prey from her. Rosamunde screamed as the dog’s saliva dripped on her and its yellow fangs scraped her hand.
‘Down, you cur,’ a voice cried and then a youth, dressed in a short parti-tunic of blue and silver over black hose, caught hold of its collar and dragged it off her. The dog snarled and fought but the youth hauled it to the door and thrust it outside, where it could be heard barking fiercely.
Rosamunde ran to a corner of the hall and sat down on the stone floor, hunching her knees to her chest and hugging the terrified kitten. Tears trickled down her cheeks because she was frightened and her hand hurt where the dog’s fangs had scraped her skin.
‘Are you hurt, little mistress?’
Rosamunde glanced up as the youth spoke. He was perhaps sixteen or so and handsome, with dark blond hair and blue eyes. His mouth was wide and generous and there was concern in his eyes as he looked at her.
‘I thought he would kill my kitten,’ she said and wiped her hand over her cheek. ‘I’m not frightened for myself.’
‘Of course not,’ he said and smiled. ‘Did the dog’s teeth break the skin?’
Rosamunde showed him her hand. His fingers were gentle as they examined the red marks the dog’s fangs had made.
‘The brute has not drawn blood. I think you will not take harm from it.’
‘You were in time to save me,’ she said. ‘I thank you, sir. What is your name? Are you here because you’re going to the crusades?’
‘Aye, that is my reason for being here.’ His eyes lit up. ‘It is a wonderful chance for me to win glory and fame, and perhaps a knighthood. My father will not join the King’s cause but I think it an honour.’
‘Shall you fight the Saracens? My mother says they are fierce fighters and many will die in a foolish cause.’
‘We fight for a holy cause, little mistress,’ he said. ‘Your mother does not understand that men will gladly risk everything for such honour and glory.’
‘I do not think I should like you to be killed,’ Rosamunde said, looking at him shyly. ‘You are so brave. The hound could have bitten you but you did not think of yourself.’
‘It was nothing. I knew the dog was too strong for you. He would not have stopped until he had the kitten and, since you would not let go, you could have been seriously injured.’
‘Raphael. Here to me, sirrah. I need you.’
‘My master calls me,’ Raphael said. ‘Sir Harold of Fernshaw trained me his squire and I owe him allegiance. If it were not for him I should not have this opportunity. Excuse me, little mistress. I have work to do.’
‘My name is Rosamunde,’ she whispered but she did not know if he heard her. ‘When you return to England visit us again, sir. I shall be here waiting for you.’
The young man turned his head and smiled at her once more. Rosamunde’s heart raced, her breath quickening. She was only a child but the men would be many years at the crusades and by the time they returned she would be a woman.
Would Raphael remember her? She would never forget him but perhaps he believed her merely a child. His thoughts were only of the Holy Land and the adventures he would discover there.
‘Come back safely,’ she whispered as she stroked the kitten and kissed its soft head. ‘I shall not forget you, Raphael. One day I pray we shall meet again.’

Sunday, 5 June 2011

News from Anne Herries

This it the latest available book - in paperback and ebook from amazon and other outlets.

Here is a small excerpt from my new book coming out in USA first at the end of this year. In USA at the moment I have the Hanover Square triolgy coming out and here in Uk I have Bought For the Harem in paperback in August.


Make-Believe Wife, Anne Herries

'Damn you, sir. I have had enough of your wild behaviour,' the Earl of
Hartingdon thundered at his grandson. 'I shall not tolerate the disgrace
you have brought upon us.'

'Forgive me,' Luke, Viscount Clarendon, said and looked contrite.
'This should never have come to your ears. Rollinson was a fool and a
knave to come prattling to you, sir.'

Tall and almost painfully thin, yet with a commanding presence, the
earl's bushy white eyebrows met in a frown of disapproval.

'Do you deny that you seduced the man's wife?'

Luke hesitated. The truth of the matter was that he had no idea
whether or not he had seduced Adrina Rollinson. The evening in question
was hazy to say the least. He had been three sheets to the wind and,
when he'd woken to find himself lying next to the naked and undoubtedly
voluptuous beauty, he had hardly been given time to wonder before her
husband came storming into the summerhouse to demand satisfaction.

'I can only tell you that I have no memory of it happening, sir.'

'What sort of an answer is that, pray?' the earl demanded. 'You
puzzle me, Luke. You have had every advantage and yet you insist on
carrying your wildness to excess. If you cannot recall making love to a
woman like Lady Rollinson, you must have been drunk.'

Indeed, that I shall own,' Luke said instantly. 'I would not call
the lady a liar, but I doubt I was capable of making love that night.'

'I suppose your taste is for whores?'

'I do not know what you may have been told of me, sir, but I assure
you I have done nothing of which I am ashamed.'

'Indeed? I know that you have bought a house and intend to set up
your mistress in Hampstead.' The earl's top lip curled in scorn. 'You
are a disgrace to your family. Thank God your parents did not live to
see what you have become.'

'Perhaps had they lived I might have been otherwise.'

'Are you blaming me? Impudent pup!' The earl's eyes darkened with
temper. 'Well, sir, I have done with you. It was in my mind to make you
my sole heir, for although the estate is entailed, the patent allows the
title to pass through the female line and my fortune is my own to
dispose of as I wish. However, I have a cousin who would restore both
honour and fortune to the family name.'

'Horatio Harte, I presume? I wish you joy of him, sir.' Luke's
temper was barely in check. 'Good afternoon. I shall not trouble you
with my presence again.'

'I did not give you leave to go.'

'Yet I believe I shall. You have never liked me, sir. I have done
things of which I am not particularly proud, but I am not the rogue you
think me.'

Hope you enjoyed the taster.
Love to all my fans.

I'm on twitter now @Anne Herries