Happy Sunday everyone! Today, I’m handing over to Cathie Dunn, to take us on a two-destination Sojourn…
Hello! A big ‘thank you’ to Jennifer for hosting me today. I’m delighted to be here, and I love chatting about the settings of my stories.
First of all, a little about me. I write historical and time-slip romance, with a dash of adventure and suspense thrown in. I love using locations I have visited, as I think it’s important that you get an idea of the atmosphere of a place. I combine the locations I choose with real events that happened there.
So, I’m going to tell you about the locations of my second published novel, Dark Deceit.
Dark Deceit is set in mainly rural Gloucestershire, England and Normandy, France. In 1141, it was a time of uncertainty when two factions were claiming the English throne: the Empress Matilda, daughter of King Henry I and his heir (a woman no less!), and Stephen of Blois, her cousin and son of Henry’s sister Adela. Following Henry’s death in 1135, Stephen rushed to London and usurped the throne, whilst Matilda remained in Normandy, preparing for her entrance as queen. This was the beginning of two decades of civil war across England and Normandy. It was the time of ‘the Anarchy’.
Dark Deceit began to take shape after a trip to the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside. Driving through softly rolling hills and walking through rustic old villages with their beautiful churches inspired the setting for the manor of Bellac, the home of the heroine, Alleyne de Bellac. Imagine a medieval manor, with a moat, drawbridge, an inner courtyard and a solid two-storey stone building – one of the early ones at the time. A walkway at the top inside its solid outer walls completes the manor of Bellac. Looking out from the walkway over the forests and fields, any approach by strangers would have been spotted.
The small church of St Michaels in Brampton Abbots, Herefordshire, inspired the church in the Bellac. It was a beautiful place to visit, very inspiring.
With that in mind, I created my hero, Geoffrey de Mortagne, under-sheriff of Gloucestershire. Miles, the real-life sheriff of the county, is by 1141 on Matilda’s side, and Geoffrey is their spy.
Geoffrey’s own family home, however, lies in southern Normandy. I love the Normandy countryside. You have beaches, endless fields, ancient forests and rolling hills in the national park. With its fascinating medieval history, it is the perfect setting for Geoffrey’s home, although he had not returned for many years. You’ll find out why in the novel…
These are places that existed at that time. It was exciting visiting Normandy and imagining what went on in those distant times.
Argentan: a town that was founded at the time. Matilda and her daughter-in-law Eleanor of Aquitaine would have passed through it. The Tour Marguerite dates from their time.
Falaise: its partially-ruined castle was turned into an incredible interactive museum about the dukes of Normandy.
Bayeux: with the famous tapestry and old, cobbled streets.
Historical sites are such an inspiration, as they bring the past to life. By describing real places, you add a sense of ‘being there’ so that your readers can imagine the scenes right in front of their eyes. It adds depth and authenticity.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little excursion into medieval England and France. Thanks again to Jennifer for having me here today.
About Dark Deceit: On his return from battle at Lincoln, Geoffrey de Mortagne, undersheriff of Gloucester and spy for the Empress Matilda, assists a dying knight caught in an ambush. Promising to look after the welfare of the knight’s only daughter, Geoffrey stays at her manor, investigating the murder. Keen to join the Empress on her progress through England, he is torn between his oath and his duty.
Left to defend her manor following her father’s death, Alleyne de Bellac reluctantly accepts Geoffrey’s support. As she doesn’t trust the taciturn stranger, she asks Will d’Arques, an old friend, for help. But loyalties change. Her life in danger and her inheritance at stake, Alleyne must decide which man to trust.
Discover England and Normandy divided by a brutal civil war, where vows are broken as allegiances waver.
About Cathie Dunn:
Cathie Dunn writes romantic suspense & adventure set in Scotland, England and France. A hobby historian, her focus is on medieval and Jacobite eras, and she is currently researching Merovingian and Carolingian movements in the south of France.
She has two historical novels published: Highland Arms, a Scottish romance set near beautiful Glencoe, and Dark Deceit, a historical adventure with romantic elements that takes you from England to France.
Cathie also released Silent Deception, a romantic paranormal novella set in Victorian Cornwall. All her titles are available on Amazon.
She is currently working on a time-slip novel set in the Languedoc region of France. It takes you right back to the 8th century.
After many years in Scotland, Cathie now lives in France with her husband and two cats.