The wait is over!

I’m delighted to tell you that the Fifth MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLE, Squire’s Hazard, is being published very soon!

The Kindle version of Squire’s Hazard will be published first, with the paperback following towards the end of October.

I am launching the eBook on the 10th October, with a five day online book tour of reviews and guest posts. 

The paperback launch will be supported by another book tour, this time lasting ten days, organised by The Coffee Pot Book Club.

For both tours, I’ll be posting links to the tour stops on Facebook and Twitter, so do look out for them, so that you can discover what bloggers think of my new book – and of course also share the buzz about the new book to your own followers!

So, what is Squire’s Hazard about? Here’s the blurb…

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 surely 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 revenge, 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 triggered by such powerful and dangerous emotions, can 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.

How about an excerpt?

It’s December 1363, and Dickon de Bohun is coming home for Christmas…

The waters of the river glinted in the winter sun, as it dipped towards the tops of distant trees. Dickon’s heart beat faster at the sight of it, for he and his small retinue had at last reached the final mile of their long ride to Meonbridge from Steyning. He’d never have thought he would care for it quite so much, the Meon, the river of his childhood.

He called out to Piers Arundale and, when his grandmother’s squire turned his head in answer, he pointed. ‘Home,’ he cried, and Piers trotted over.

‘You’re glad to be back, my lord?’ Piers’s eyes were quizzical.

 ‘I’ve missed the place.’ He’d not tell Piers the true reason for his yearning to be home. If asked, simple pleasure in being amongst family and friends again would be enough. Indeed, now he was here, he wondered if he could somehow arrange it so he stayed for good. Though of course his grandmother wouldn’t let him.

He’d been relieved when Piers arrived at Steyning Castle with two de Bohun men-at-arms to accompany him on the journey back to Meonbridge for the Christmas festivities. Yet the prospect of the two-day ride, in the chill December weather, was still daunting.

He’d done this journey many times before. When he was small, he’d ridden pillion behind his uncle, John. But, for the last two years, he’d travelled the long distance on his own horse, albeit still with the small retinue to protect him. He had to keep his wits about him, for the roads and tracks were treacherous at the best of times, even more so at this time of year. Though the courserPiers brought for him, his favourite, Bayard, was a fine, sure-footed horse. Indeed, Bayard lived up to his reputation so well, he could let his mind wander to the events of the past few months.

He’d been at Steyning now for a year and a half. When he went there the first time, years ago when he was much younger, he wasn’t at all happy. At home in Meonbridge, he’d always felt confident and strong. But Steyning Castle was big and frightening, and all the other boys seemed arrogant and proud. He was glad when Sir Giles Fitzpeyne had suggested he went to Shropshire instead, to continue his page training. Sir Giles had only two pages, and they lived as part of the family. But, by the time he was twelve, Dickon was ready for a more martial atmosphere, and content, if not eager, to return to Steyning.

At first, it was all he’d hoped. He soon made friends with two fellow squires in training, Alan de Clyffe and Nicholas Fenecote, both of whom were from noble families, and displayed it in their bold and mannerly demeanour.

He’d been nervous about exposing his own background. His grandmother had made it clear that there was no need to speak of it: no one at Steyning except Lord Raoul knew the truth about his birth. And the confidence he’d gained at Fitzpeyne Castle was enough to make him feel their equal, and for Alan and Nicholas to accept him.

But when Edwin de Courtenay arrived in Steyning a few months later, the mood entirely changed.

First, Edwin lured his friends away. Then, after a while, the “gang of three”, as he thought of them, began to taunt him, always at Edwin’s instigation, making him look stupid, calling him “churl” and “dullard”, though never within earshot of their knights or the earl, or even any of the castle servants.

Dickon didn’t understand what made Edwin take against him. It seemed clear he considered him inferior. But why? Surely he didn’t know his secret? How could he? So, was his true background showing after all?

He found it hard to assert himself more strongly, but pretended to ignore their taunts, determined to put on a brave face, not let the others see how alone and scared he felt. 

What they did at first was not much more than teasing. Like the time Dickon came to dress Sir Eustace for a tournament and one of his gauntlets was missing, and he couldn’t explain its loss, though he was certain Edwin or one of the others had taken it. He had to endure a lashing from the knight’s blasphemous tongue, before running to the earl’s armourer to beg for a substitution. How vexed Sir Eustace had been when the replacement didn’t match his other gauntlet, though he’d joined the tourney, nonetheless.

But, next day, when all the other squires had time off their normal duties, to play a game of camp-ball, Sir Eustace had made him search for the missing gauntlet. All day he looked for the wretched thing, searching in all the places it might have been. By late afternoon, he reported to Sir Eustace that the gauntlet was nowhere to be found. But, a short while later, it appeared as if by magic in Sir Eustace’s armoury chamber.

The knight came looking for him, demanding his presence in the chamber. He pointed. ‘What is that then, boy?’ he said, his scruffy eyebrows arched.

And there it was, the missing gauntlet, sitting with its fellow.

His face had grown hot. Certain though he was that Edwin de Courtenay was responsible for the mysterious reappearance, he’d not say so. He just had to accept that his knight considered him inept.

There were other instances too of objects going missing, sometimes making it impossible for Sir Eustace to ride out that day. Each time, the knight had been so furious, Dickon imagined he’d be beaten at the very least. But, fierce as Sir Eustace often was, he usually held back from a physical reprimand. Yet Dickon would have preferred a beating, rather than have his knight so disappointed and frustrated with him.

But the prank that resulted in poor Morel’s anguish was quite a different matter, for him and for Sir Eustace.

Dickon bit down hard upon his lip to stop tears welling at the memory, of the horse’s suffering, the knight’s fury and the stinging blows that followed. But worst of all was being dismissed from Sir Eustace’s service. How mortified he was to be cast aside. Sad too, for he liked Sir Eustace and knew the knight was fond of him.

What’s more, Lord Raoul deciding Dickon would join his personal entourage of squires made it all much worse. The “gang” surely resented what seemed like his advancement. And, unless he told the earl what was going on, no amount of bravado on his part would stop Edwin continuing to make his life a misery.

Yet, how could he tell the earl? He’d ask him to prove that the mislayings and the incident with Morel resulted from others’ pranks, rather than his own carelessness. Then ask him to prove it was Edwin who was behind them. How could he possibly do that?

Of course, he knew it was Edwin and the others, from hints they dropped within his hearing and winks that passed between them whilst in his company. But those things weren’t any sort of proof.

Besides, blabbing about a fellow squire just wasn’t done; it was dishonourable. He couldn’t––wouldn’t––do it.As they crossed the bridge, Dickon clicked his tongue and Bayard spurred his pace. Piers did the same and together they broke into a canter, leaving the men-at-arms to follow on. The road that led through the village up towards the manor house was muddy from the autumn rains, but not yet a slough. That would come, when the road ran almost as slickly as the Meon, the usual dirt and rubble churned up by deluges of rain and snow into a murky torrent tumbling with rocks and debris liable to hobble the unwary rider’s horse or even break its leg. But, for now, they could ride apace even as the road inclined uphill towards the knoll from which the great house overlooked the village.

Do you love reading Historical Fiction? Are you intrigued by medieval life?


“Historical fiction at its best!” (Amazon reviewer)

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