Squire’s Hazard: The Coffee Pot Book Blog Tour

I’m delighted to host Carolyn Hughes on my blog today, as part of the blog tour for her new release, Squire’s Hazard, The Fifth Meonbridge Chronicle. Please check out the excerpt from this book below.

You can find out more about this tour here: https://thecoffeepotbookclub.blogspot.com/2022/09/blog-tour-squires-hazard.html

Squire’s Hazard by Carolyn Hughes

How do you overcome the loathing, lust and bitterness threatening you and your family’s honour?

It’s 1363, and in Steyning Castle, Sussex, Dickon de Bohun is enjoying life as a squire in the household of Earl Raoul de Fougère. Or he would be, if it weren’t for Edwin de Courtenay, who’s making his life a misery with his bullying, threatening to expose the truth about Dickon’s birth.

At home in Meonbridge for Christmas, Dickon notices how grown-up his childhood playmate, Libby Fletcher, has become since he last saw her and feels the stirrings of desire. Libby, seeing how different he is too, falls instantly in love. But as a servant to Dickon’s grandmother, Lady Margaret de Bohun, she could never be his wife.

Margery Tyler, Libby’s aunt, meeting her niece by chance, learns of her passion for young Dickon. Their conversation rekindles Margery’s long-held rancour against the de Bohuns, whom she blames for all the ills that befell her family, including her own servitude. For years she’s hidden her hunger for retribution, but she can no longer keep her hostility in check.

As the future Lord of Meonbridge, Dickon knows he must rise above de Courtenay’s loathing and intimidation, and get the better of him. And, surely, he must master his lust for Libby, so his own mother’s shocking history is not repeated? Of Margery’s bitterness, however, he has yet to learn…

Beset by the hazards these powerful and dangerous emotions bring, can young Dickon summon up the courage and resolve to overcome them?

Secrets, hatred and betrayal, but also love and courage – Squire’s Hazard, the fifth MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLE.

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Excerpt from Squire’s Hazard

Someone must have sent word up to the house, for his grandmother was awaiting him.

‘My darling boy,’ she cried, as Piers shoved open the heavy bailey door and ushered Dickon into the great hall. A welcome mantle of muggy warmth at once enfolded him. He threw off his damp and chilly cloak and eased off his soggy gloves, letting them all fall onto the floor, as his grandmother came forward, her arms outstretched. ‘How glad I am to see you.’

He was glad to let himself be embraced. ‘And I you, Grandmama,’ he said, and meant it, more so this time than he’d ever done before.

She took his arm and drew him over to the fire, blazing in the wide stone hearth and sending its smoky billows skywards up the towering chimney. He slumped down onto a nearby bench, all of a sudden exhausted and looking forward to his bed.

But Grandmama was eager for conversation. ‘How was your journey? Not too onerous? Or cold?’

‘Bayard made it easier. But the cold…’ He grimaced and, despite the fire’s heat, his whole body gave a shudder. Yet he managed a rueful grin. ‘It’s a pity Christmas is in December. Riding from Steyning to Meonbridge in midsummer would be almost a pleasure. Perhaps I’ll ask his lordship if he can change our annual holiday to June?’

His grandmother threw back her head and laughed. ‘What a wonderful idea. But even as powerful a man as Raoul de Fougère cannot alter the Church’s calendar.’

He shivered again, then couldn’t stop, and Grandmama called to a servant to bring a fur-lined wrap. Moments later, a snug fox fur was enveloping his shoulders, and he held out his icy hands towards the fire and kneaded at his fingers.

Piers came over, bearing a cup of steaming spiced ale. ‘Here, my lord, this’ll warm you up.’

‘I’m not sure I can hold it,’ said Dickon, grimacing again. ‘Best put it on the table.’ Leaning forward, he wrapped his hands around the cup and waited for his tingling fingers to thaw out.

‘Do tell me your news,’ said his grandmother, after they’d shared a little supper in the privacy of her chamber. They were sitting before the fire until it was time to retire to bed. ‘Last Christmas, you were so full of excitement about your new life at Steyning. Has this year been even better?’

Dickon bent down, pretending to fiddle with the buckle on his shoe. He was sure his face must betray the anxiety that had built up during the long ride home. He’d tried to work out what he was going to tell his grandmother about his squiring life. As he rode, he practised what to say, about the training and about his move to the earl’s personal retinue, though not why it had happened. But now he was confronted with the need to say it, he feared he might without intention betray the truth.

‘Actually, Grandmama, I’m very tired,’ he said at last, glad, as he sat up again, that the light in the room was dim enough to conceal his face. ‘Do you mind if I tell you all about it in the morning?’

It wasn’t that he’d never lied to her before: he’d become quite practised at it as a boy. But those lies had been trifling matters, not a bald concealment of something so humiliating as being dismissed from Sir Eustace’s service.

‘Oh, my dear boy,’ she cried, ‘of course. How unthinking of me to keep you from your bed, when you must be so weary from your journey.’ She leaned across and patted him on the arm, her smile tender. ‘In the morning, then.’

In his own chamber, Dickon was alone a while, though Piers would soon come to share it with him, as he’d done for many years when he was younger. He rolled out the truckle from beneath his fine oak bed in readiness for Piers, then threw himself down upon his own mattress. He felt bad about putting off his grandmother, when she was so eager to hear his news. Maybe, by the morning, he’d feel both stronger and more certain about how to paint his life at Steyning in the most favourable light.

A Little Bit about Carolyn…

CAROLYN HUGHES has lived much of her life in Hampshire. With a first degree in Classics and English, she started working life as a computer programmer, then a very new profession. But it was technical authoring that later proved her vocation, as she wrote and edited material, some fascinating, some dull, for an array of different clients, including banks, an international hotel group and medical instruments manufacturers.

Having written creatively for most of her adult life, it was not until her children flew the nest several years ago that writing historical fiction took centre stage, alongside gaining a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Portsmouth University and a PhD from the University of Southampton.

Squire’s Hazard is the fifth MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLE, and more stories about the folk of Meonbridge will follow.

You can connect with Carolyn through her website http://www.carolynhughesauthor.com and on social media.

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