05 May 2016

Excerpt Thursday: THE BLACKSMITH'S WIFE by Elisabeth Hobbes

This week, we're pleased to welcome author ELISABETH HOBBES with her latest release,  THE BLACKSMITH'S WIFE. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. One lucky visitor will get a digital only copy of The Blacksmith's Wife - this giveaway is open internationallyBe sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's post or Sunday's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

A passion forged from fire

Rejected by her favoured knight, Joanna Sollers knows she will never love again. Especially when the man she’s now forced to marry is none other than her beloved’s half brother!

For blacksmith Hal Danby, marrying Joanna makes his lifelong dream of entering the Smiths’ Guild possible, even if the secrets in his past mean he’ll forever keep his distance. But everything changes with one stolen night, and in the arms of his new bride, Hal wonders if this loveless arrangement could transform into something real...

Praise for The Blacksmith’s Wife

‘A passionate story that unfolds with a great plot and well defined characters. It is one that you will remember and a little out of the ordinary for its content.’

‘I loved the historical accuracy and detail, and the plot gives you great characters (some you'll love, some you'll enjoy hating!), excellent settings, and the desire to bang heads together as two people don't let on what they really think.’

‘The attention to setting and period details mean that you quickly become immersed in the tale - and this tale has everything you need: tensions and misunderstandings, a growing passion between two very engaging protagonists, and a dog called Simon. It's brilliant.’

**An Excerpt from The Blacksmith’s Wife**

Having both been rejected- Joanna by Sir Roger, the man she loves, and Hal by the Smiths Guild he had hoped to join – Joanna’s uncle, Simon Vernon, Master of the Guild proposes that if Hal marries Joanna he will help ease Hal’s way into the guild.  Having made his decision Hal goes in search of Simon.

Hal retraced his steps to the Guild Hall along the alleys Joanna had taken him through the previous night. He suppressed a smile as he remembered her wide eyes full of innocence as she had led him in circles throughout the streets.
Even without instruction he could not have missed his destination. St Andrewgate was home to all York’s metalworkers. The narrow street was lined on both sides with open-fronted workshops making and selling all manner of wares and the heat from the furnaces and heady stench of smoke meeting the drizzle greeted Hal like an old friend.
Master Vernon’s foundry was located in an excellent position on the corner with two sides open to the street. Hal paused outside, aware of a clamminess creeping around his back. It was not too late; he could turn and walk away and no one would know. Except for him. He contemplated Simon Vernon’s establishment, larger and grander by far than his own forge in Ravenscrag. One day he would be master of such a place and today, for all his reservations, he was setting his foot most decisively on that path.
Simon Vernon was standing with his back to Hal, barking orders at a pair of young apprentices. A figure was seated at a table in the corner. Hal stared in surprise as he recognised Joanna, head bent over a wax tablet with a stylus in her hand. No one had noticed his arrival so for a moment he stood drinking in the sight of her. She wore a dark-blue dress, high necked and tight sleeved beneath a sombre grey surcoat, belted tight beneath her breasts. Her hair was braided and held back from her face with a linen band. In such a setting she appeared as delicate and out of place as a wren in a nest of crows. The impression was such a contrast to the gaily dressed, flighty girl he had encountered at the camp that Hal was transfixed.
She was not beautiful, at least not in the way he preferred his women to be, but engrossed in her task Joanna’s face was alight with enthusiasm, lending her cheeks a blush of rose. Her figure he already knew from having examined her the previous night. A slight stirring of excitement made him grin. Whatever other reservations he might have about marriage to Joanna, the physical aspects were not among them. He would enjoy getting to know his wife once they were wed.
Joanna muttered to herself, made a swift stroke with a quill and looked up. Too late to glance away her eyes trapped Hal’s. She frowned, a small furrow appearing between her eyes before she broke into a wide smile. She jumped from her chair and crossed the room to him.
‘Master Danby, what brings you here?’ she asked warmly. ‘Do you have a message for me?’ Her voice was hopeful, leaving Hal in no doubt whose word she craved.
He ignored the faint stab of jealousy that pricked his chest, deciding that whatever else occurred, Joanna would never discover Roger’s indifference from him.
‘I’m here to see your uncle.’
Simon Vernon finally noticed him. He strode to Hal, an eager expression on his face. ‘You again. Should I assume you are here because of our conversation last night?’
Hal bowed. ‘Good morning, Master Vernon. I am indeed here to discuss your proposal.’ He glanced at Joanna who was still standing beside her uncle, her eyes bright with suspicion. Master Vernon followed his gaze.
‘Joanna, go fetch ale for us. Make haste, girl!’ he exclaimed, pushing her shoulder.
Hal’s teeth gritted. If he had needed confirmation that he was making the right choice, the man’s manner towards his niece was enough.
Joanna left the building.  Simon Vernon watched her go then turned to Hal.
‘You’re here to ask for her hand?’
Hal took a deep breath. ‘I am.’
Now the words were out the weight of anxiety lifted from his shoulders.
‘Last night I was certain you would refuse,’ Simon said. ‘What changed your mind? Was the promise of my good favour too much to resist?’
Hal smiled politely. ‘Naturally.’
Simon Vernon held out a hand. ‘Then the matter is settled. Now let’s discuss terms.’

Joanna tapped her foot impatiently as the serving girl filled an earthenware jug with maddening slowness, all the while wondering what her uncle and Hal had been discussing. When she first saw him her heart had leapt, believing for one blissful moment that Sir Roger had changed his mind and sent his brother as messenger. Of course that had been foolish. From what she was learning of Hal he was too proud to consent to carry out such a task. This was not merely a visit for courtesy, however. From the way her uncle had dismissed her she knew there was more to Hal’s appearance and she was determined to find out what it was.
She arrived back at the foundry with heels skidding in the mud. The two men were facing each other, arms folded and legs set wide, consciously or unconsciously mirroring each other’s stance. They were both talking and smiling, but when Joanna entered Hal’s face became serious.
‘Bring the ale quickly, Joanna,’ her uncle instructed. ‘We have something to drink to.’
Obediently Joanna walked to the table at the back of the room and filled two cups. She picked them up and turned to find Hal standing close behind her.
‘Let me help,’ he said, taking the cups from her hand. He stared down at Joanna with an intensity that sent warm shivers running across her scalp.
‘Come here, girl!’ Simon called. As she joined them his jowly face split into a smile. ‘I said last night I would find you a husband if you could not find your own. Master Danby here has asked for your hand and I have agreed.’



Learn more about author Elisabeth Hobbes