Constantinople, Epublishing, First Crusade, Harlequin Masquerade, inspiration, Jewel Under Siege, Tessa Shapcott

Jewel Under Siege – My New Release.

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I love the quote from writer Norah Ephron’s mother that everything is copy. This was brought home to me when I was researching the life of Robert Curthose for a magazine article. He was the eldest son of William the Conqueror (remember? Battle of Hastings, 1066?). As well as being a chivalrous knight, Robert was the original party guy. He was a lot of fun, but too easily swayed by his advisors. He could never have been a good ruler, and in the end both his younger brother William (Rufus) and then his youngest brother Henry (I)  got the top job  instead.

Robert’s travels took in Constantinople (modern day Istanbul), which was an amazing place. The luxurious descriptions of a city at the hub of all the great trade routes made me want to use it as the setting for a novel. People have always been resourceful in times of hardship, and I wondered how attraction would work between two people on opposing sides, caught up in a war.  My notes turned into an historical romance, Jewel Under Siege. Heroine Elena is a young widow who shelters Emil, an injured Crusader. This puts her in terrible danger, both from the authorities and from Emil’s rugged charm. The tension mounts as their attraction for each other struggles with Elena’s guilt at living a lie. Then disaster strikes – and only Emil can save the situation.

Jewel Under Siege was brought out in print by Harlequin Mills and Boon as part of their Masquerade Historical Romance Line, under my pen-name Polly Forrester. Now the on-line market has expanded, the book has been re-edited by Tessa Shapcott, given a great new cover by Samantha Groom at magicat45degrees and is now available as an ebook by clicking here.  

I love the ebook’s cover image, which you can see above. It suggests Elena’s vulnerability, as well as the exotic setting. After all the dreadful weather we’ve been struggling with here lately, the sunlight on the sea is a welcome reminder that warm weather is on the way.

I’d love to know what you think about Jewel Under Siege. If you’d like your name to be entered in  a draw to win a review copy, email me at christinahollis(at), replacing the word in brackets with @. To find out more about Jewel Under Siege, you can sign up for my next newsletter here.
Constantinople, Crusades, Harlequin Masquerade, Jewel Under Siege, Robert Curthose, Romance, The First Crusade

Work In Progress – Jewel Under Siege

Sunset Over The Golden Horn By Bertil Videt

Jewel Under Siege is a revised and updated ebook edition of a physical book I wrote for the Harlequin Masquerade line some time ago. At the time it was released as both a hardback and paperback under my pen name of Polly Forrester, but this is the first ebook edition. 

I’d done a lot of research for a non-fiction project on Robert Curthose, the eldest son of William the Conqueror. Robert was a charming, real-life hero. He never got to be king of England, but the major flaws in his character meant that was the best thing for all concerned! He went on the First Crusade in 1097, and I loved reading about the exotic settings. They sounded ideal as the backdrop to a romance. 

Constantinople (now known as Istanbul) grew up on the junction of the great trade routes between Europe, Asia and the Near East. In those days, anyone who travelled long distances went through it, particularly pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. In a parallel with modern-day tourism, pilgrims and traders alike stopped off in the city and spent money. Trading links and networks were created, and gossip swapped (along with various exotic pests and diseases, of course). When roaming bands of Seljuk targeted the surrounding areas Alexius, the emperor of Constantinople, appealed to Pope Urban II for help. The Pope took the idea and ran with it, calling for all good Christians to go and secure Jerusalem. In no time at all the message turned into “Go abroad and kill foreigners” with the definition of the word “foreigner” being a pretty liquid concept. When waves of rag-tag travellers spoiling for a fight homed in on Constantinople, Emperor Alexius took fright and slammed the city gates in the faces of the people who supposed to be helping him. The people inside the city were scared, while the band of Crusaders were affronted at the horrible ingratitude of the people they had come to help. 

Imagine travelling thousands of miles on foot, in terrible conditions and subject to highway robbery every inch of the way, then discovering you’re not welcome. The Crusaders weren’t happy, and by the time Jewel Under Siege starts, they’re starving and dying, too.

Emil Selest hasn’t travelled half way across Europe to die outside some foreign city. He’s determined to get food, and help for little boy he’s rescued from the mob. But then an accident brings him face to face with a beautiful, wilful enemy…