10 May 2009

Guest Author: TJ Bennett

This week we welcome back TJ Bennett as she celebrates the release of her second book, THE PROMISE.

In a dangerous world, sometimes the greatest risk is love...

In 1525, Günter Behaim is a professional soldier in the service of Emperor Charles V. Günter has been betrayed by love and promises not kept. As a result, he has sworn to make few promises of his own and keep those unto death. However, when his friend is mortally wounded while saving Günter's life, he gives a pledge to marry his betrothed. To keep his promise, Günter must use every weapon in his romantic arsenal to convince the reluctant woman to marry him. As his passion for her grows, he realizes he is falling in love. Is he prepared to risk his worst fear: having his heart rejected once more?

The Spanish beauty Alonsa García de Aranjuéz is determined to withstand Günter's relentless pursuit. Haunted by a gypsy's curse on any man who loves her, Alonsa yearns for Günter, but fear for his safety forces her to rebuff him. As she struggles to deny the growing attraction between them, she begins to realize that fate may have other plans. With danger surrounding them, will Alonsa bite from the forbidden fruit? Or will Günter be bitten instead by the mysterious misfortune that seems to plague any with the courage to become Alonsa's love?
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Welcome back! So what's so unusual about THE PROMISE?

Well, the hero of THE PROMISE, Günter Behaim, was introduced in my first book, THE LEGACY. That was set in Martin Luther's Reformation Germany, and during my research on the history of the period, I came across information about the Landsknechts, or the German mercenary companies hired first by Emperor Maximilian and then by Charles V to fight their wars throughout Europe.

Standing armies were rare during this time; many rulers, kings, and princes hired mercenary companies. I was fascinated by the lives these men--and the women who loved them--led. It was harsh and difficult, but at the same time compelling and exciting. I felt the mercenaries who lived, fought, and died during those times must have been extraordinary and well worthy of a story of their own. The story begins just days before the pivotal Battle of Pavia, a turning point in history between medieval and modern warfare. I don't believe I've ever seen a historical romance set in this particular time with this subject matter, so that makes it pretty unusual right there.

How does the setting influence the story?

Of necessity, it is a darker book than THE LEGACY, which was about an arranged marriage between a runaway nun and a middle-class printer. In THE PROMISE, we are dealing with a mercenary soldier, Günter, whose livelihood is fighting, killing, and avoiding being killed. The heroine, Alonsa, is the daughter of a blade merchant who has seen her share of violence as well. I had to deal with these elements in the story yet keep the focus on an impossible yet extremely romantic relationship, and that made it edgier and more adventurous than the first novel. But it is still a wonderful story of the triumph of love over impossible odds, as is THE LEGACY.

Since we are focusing our month long spotlight on literature and education, can you tell us what role those played in this book?

My hero is a Renaissance man (despite some of the advertising copy that suggests this is a Medieval, sorry to say). He joined the army after being jilted by his beloved sometime before the beginning of the first book. Before that, however, his backstory was that he was studying art and music in Florence, one of the great centers of learning and culture. Günter absorbed much while he was a student, and throughout the book, we see his various artistic talents manifest themselves in his ability to speak multiple languages, his skill at composing music, and his knowledge of poetry and art. He even composes a love song to Alonsa, one that leads to an emotional scene before they must part for what they believe is the last time. I loved taking this rough and tumble soldier and layering him with these romantic, sensitive qualities. It makes him a complex hero, not easy to pin down--my favorite kind.

Thanks for stopping by Unusual Historicals and telling us about your book!

Thank you, and let me invite your visitors to come learn more about THE PROMISE and its connected novel, THE LEGACY, at my website. They can also participate in my May contest, read excerpts, and view photos on my gallery pages. I'll be happy to answer any comments posted on this Unusual Historicals blog.

Reviews:

Romantic Times Magazine BOOK Reviews: Four Stars!
Passion, intrigue and romance distinguish this wonderful tale. The well-defined characters and fast pace will keep your attention from the first page to the last. Passion and humor are seamlessly inserted into this tale of love and adventure, and the emotional conclusion is very satisfying.
Night Owl Romance: 4.5 star Top Pick
THE PROMISE is "passionate, enchanting, and moving."

Eye on Romance's Historical Romance Writers: "I enjoyed Ms. Bennett's first book THE LEGACY and this book is just as good....The journey these two people take is one of true love."

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Thanks so much for joining us once again, TJ, and best of luck with THE PROMISE! Readers, would you like a copy of TJ's debut, THE LEGACY? If so, leave a comment or a question. I'll draw a winner next Sunday. Good luck!

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