A month into unemployment and I no longer feel like I’m simply on vacation. The transition wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be – though saying goodbye to the best boss I ever had and my other colleagues was difficult. The extra month of working did a lot for my self-esteem, that’s for sure. It was a reminder that I was a vital part of a successful business group who did things others couldn’t – and we were one of the leanest-staffed groups and operated in a super cost-effective manner. Sigh. All good things do come to an end.
In any case, I’ve spent the last month catching up on household chores that had long fallen by the wayside (cleaning and organizing closets, cabinets, etc.), being a SAHM and all the tasks and errands that go along with that.
And writing. I’m back in medieval England again. The intentions were to get started on my planned Viking books, but the third Warrior book, Warrior’s Possession, took over instead. My long-time critique partners know this book under a different title, and I never thought I’d ever attempt to get it out there again. But with the last two Warrior books, it made sense to go back and see how it all began. And that’s when all the changes started. I knew I’d have to make some drastic revisions, but it seems I’d forgotten more about this book than I remembered. Not to mention finding a plot point that affected the other two books.
Gillian Marlowe is given in marriage by King Edward to one of his favorite earls. Royce Langley, known as The Panther, wants no part of marriage – he doesn’t trust women in general, but in order to subdue the Welsh rebellion for good, he has no choice. And the only way he can gain the estate is by marrying its daughter. Of course, discovering his bride is half-Welsh and is apparently keeping secrets, won’t make gaining these lands very easy on him.
In the book’s original incarnation, Royce was a much kinder hero. I’ve toughened him a bit, and given him some very naughty ideas on how to deal with his rebellious wife. Gillian, adept at using a longbow and an accomplished falconer, does not like having her freedom curtailed. Both find themselves attracted to the other, but neither wants to give in. Of course. 😉
Most women in the medieval era were, unfortunately, objects to be used by the men in their lives. But in actuality, there were some very powerful women who made their own choices and gained their own power. Eleanor of Aquitane, queen to two kings and the mother of two more, had political clout of her own and wielded it wisely. Queen Margaret of Norway was not a woman to be dismissed, either – she united three Scandinavian kingdoms. There was Isabella, the wife of Edward II – she used her position to usurp her husband’s power and eventually have him murdered. And there were several other unmarried noblewomen who held land and could wield as much power as their male counterparts – depending, of course, on the benefits their holdings provided the king. Power was one thing, respect another, and the two didn’t always come together in a neatly wrapped package.
Gillian is cut from the same mold as some of those women – she will defend her home and her people, to the death if necessary, and fight for her own freedom. Of course, her husband doesn’t think she has the right to do so, so this naturally leads to some very interesting confrontations. And if you’re familiar with my other books, whether they be the Warrior books or others, you know how my heroes handle their women!
The difference in this book is, I think, that while Gillian was married off without her having any say in the matter, technically, she isn’t being held captive, at least in the typical sense. So even though she’s strong and capable, in a way, she is still trapped. Often, marriage or the convent were the only choices for many noblewomen, and once there, no way out. So amid the clutter of the contrived and drawn-out plot devices I’ve been deleting, a stronger Gillian has emerged, and in challenging her husband, she has created a fiery situation that neither may survive. Of course they will, if nothing else, all of my books have an HEA. They’re romances! It’s getting to that happy ending that’s the fun part!
In any case, some very powerful historical women have helped me shape Gillian into the character she has now become. Even some more modern than just those from her time. Which women inspire you?