22 November 2012

Excerpt Thursday: The Scarlet Kimono by Christina Courtenay

This week, we’re welcoming author Christina Courtenay whose title THE SCARLET KIMONO  takes readers to 17th century Japan in the time of the shoguns. Join us Sunday, when Christina will be here to talk about the novel and offer a paperback copy to a lucky winner. Here's the blurb:

Abducted by a Samurai warlord in 17th-century Japan – what happens when fear turns to love?

England, 1611, and young Hannah Marston envies her brother’s adventurous life. But when she stows away on his merchant ship, her powers of endurance are stretched to their limit. Then they reach Japan and all her suffering seems worthwhile – until she is abducted by Taro Kumashiro’s warriors.

In the far north of the country, warlord Kumashiro is waiting to see the girl who he has been warned about by a seer. When at last they meet, it’s a clash of cultures and wills, but they’re also fighting an instant attraction to each other. 

With her brother desperate to find her and the jealous Lady Reiko equally desperate to kill her, Hannah faces the greatest adventure of her life. And Kumashiro has to choose between love and honour …

**An Excerpt from The Scarlet Kimono**

The shadows in the room lengthened. Hannah had almost started to believe she’d been forgotten, when suddenly she found herself looking up at a man who had come into the room on silent feet. She shot up and stared at him, struck dumb at first. Her eyes widened as she looked into a face she knew.
‘Lord Kuma!’ The shock of seeing him, of all people, reverberated through her and almost made her legs give way again.
He inclined his head in greeting, but didn’t reply. Instead he stared at her as if he was reacquainting himself with her features. His very calmness and nonchalance infuriated her and her pent-up fear and frustration suddenly boiled over.
‘How dare you? Why have you brought me here?’ she demanded to know. ‘We’ve been travelling for ages and no one would tell me why. You can’t just abduct people at will like that. I’m under the protection of the Englishman you called Anjin-san, and he’s high in favour with the Shogun. You’ll regret this.’
She ran out of breath and glared at him, but he was still busy studying her. He moved slowly towards her, then circled her, looking her up and down. She wondered what game he was playing. Was he trying to intimidate her? Well, he’d catch cold at that.
‘Possibly,’ he conceded at last, presumably referring to her threat that Will Adams would avenge her somehow, but the prospect didn’t appear to worry him unduly.
Hannah willed herself not to swivel her head around to see what he was doing. Above all she mustn’t show fear. She gritted her teeth. I’ll show him that English women are not to be so easily cowed.
When he had completed his inspection he gave her a measuring stare.  ‘Haven’t you been told that here no one speaks to me unless I have spoken to them first?’ he asked calmly.
She frowned, but relieved that he was talking to her and not just staring, she replied with spirit. ‘No, I don’t think so and I don’t even know where here is. Perhaps you would care to tell me? Or is it a secret?’
He smiled, showing the dimples on either side of his mouth which had so attracted her the first time she’d seen them. His face, so harsh a moment ago, seemed instantly more gentle. Hannah drew in a shuddering breath, hoping this signified some sort of turning point. Perhaps now they could clear up what was obviously a misunderstanding. Surely he hadn’t meant to abduct her?
‘Very well, I will forgive you this once since you are a gai-jin and not used to our ways,’ he said. ‘In Hirado I tolerated your ignorance since you had only just arrived, but this place is my home, Shiroi Castle, and here it’s a different matter. I am Kumashiro Taro, daimyo of this province,’ he announced in a grand tone, ‘And in this house my word is law, don’t ever forget that,’ he added sternly.

Christina Courtenay lives in Herefordshire in the UK and is married with two children. Although born in England she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, the family moved to Japan where she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East.

Christina is vice chairman of the UK's Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA). She won their Elizabeth Goudge Trophy for a historical short story in 2001 and the Katie Fforde Bursary for a promising new writer in 2006.

In 2011, Christina's first novel Trade Winds (September 2010) was short listed for the RNA's Award for Best Historical Fiction. Her second novel, The Scarlet Kimono, won the Big Red Reads Best Historical Fiction Award. In 2012, Highland Storms won the Best Historical Romantic Novel of the year award (RoNA). As well as her novels, Christina has had four Regency novellas published, all available in Large Print and soon to be released on Kindle.

When she's not writing, she spends her time tracking down elusive ancestors for her family tree, and her other hobbies include archaeology (the armchair variety), listening to loud rock music and collecting things.

The Scarlet Kimono is published by Choc Lit on 1st March, (ISBN 978-1-906931-29-2).  For more details see www.choc-lit.co.uk or www.christinacourtenay.comThe Scarlet Kimono is available at Amazon UKAmazon US and Goodreads.