The inspiration for my story, The Lady of the Garter, came to me after a trip I took back in time one autumn afternoon. I live in Ohio, and we have one of the largest and most authentic Renaissance Festivals in the country.
I even dressed the part, and took a ride on a warhorse. I was inspired by what I saw. The jousting reenactments, danger, romance, chivalry, comedy, comradery. It was all there and I wanted to write a story about that world, as well as build a story around a period in England that would be recognizable to the readers who are also history buffs.
I love the idea of chivalry and romance mingling together. In the late 15th century, the notion of the knight in shining armor was not a fantasy, but a reality (if history doesn’t lie). And as a lover of history and romance, I couldn’t resist researching and then writing about a group of knights who have been revered and served the English monarchy for generations. The Most Noble Order of the Garter was founded by King Edward III in 1348, holds the highest order of chivalry, and is the most prestigious group in service to England. Even Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, serves as a Garter Knight today.
As a homage to King Edward, I named the squire, who becomes a knight in my story, after the Garter’s founder, but there’s more to my squire than meets the eye.
Well, as much as I like to think watching jousting matches at the Ren Fair would help me write a story that featured knights in tournaments, I realized early on, that I’d need to do something more in-depth. I was surprised to find that the Ren Fair had a book kiosk and stumbled upon a book called “Knights at Tournament,” by Christopher Gravatt. This resource was indispensable. I also interviewed a man who travels the country working as a jousting knight on the Ren Fair circuit and on the TV show, “Full Metal Jousting.” He told me what it felt like to be struck by a lance and how it impacted his body, liking putting him bed for a few days to recover after one brutal hit.
Also, when it came to getting details about the 15th Century. I had three books at my fingertips: Everyday Life in the Middle Ages, Life in a Medieval Castle, and The Lady in Medieval England 1000-1500. These resources helped me paint my pictures of medieval life and they also ensured my descriptions were accurate. Words like bailey and porticus, were imperative for the story to describe places in the castle. I also needed to know what period items of clothing were called at that time. A hauberk of chain mail and a houppelande gown, were items I described my characters wearing, helping to provide authenticity and provoke visual imagines for the reader.
When Henry VII takes the throne, not all are loyal to the new king. Garter knight, Sir James, is charged with bringing dissenters to justice. Determined to fulfill his vows, he’s unprepared for Lady Elena, a girl from his past he’s never forgotten.
Lady Elena defies her family and disguises herself as a squire to reunite with the man she’s always loved. She might be able to wield a sword, but she still possesses a woman’s heart.
Thrust into a world of danger and family rivalry, James and Elena face the ultimate test.
Can James avenge his father’s death and find passion, or will his Garter oaths hold him to a life of service without love?
Servants began to bustle about the hall. Men offered pitchers of rose-scented water and towels. Overflowing baskets of fresh bread and pitchers of wine were placed on the tables. Elena was ready for some mead after all she’d been through. Once the king’s taster sampled the fair, he nodded to the queen. The feast had officially begun. Nudging her brother, Elena confessed, “I was ordered out of the tent.”
“What did you expect? What kind of man do you take James for?” He laughed, raising his goblet in honor of the king.
“You tease me,” she said. “I don’t like it.”
“What did you find, Edward?”
“A foul-mouthed, dirty warrior,” she complained. “Not the sweet innocent lad I fell in love with.”
William’s eyes were filled with merriment. “Lads grow into men. Men become knights.” He studied her face. “And what of your other goal?”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“Becoming a knight,” he reminded her.
Elena gasped. The other squires stared as if they’d overheard her brother.
William chuckled, raising his cup again. “Long live the king.” The squires joined his salute.
Elena shot her brother a look of warning. How could he be so careless? Spirits. She rolled her eyes. “I admit it,” she said with defiance, keeping her voice low. “I want to become a knight. I’ve never kept that secret from you, but we both agreed I must serve as a squire first.”
Their conversation was interrupted by a woman who placed a trencher on the table in front of them.
“Peacock, venison, quail, and rabbit,” the wench announced, flashing a toothless grin.
William quickly helped himself to half the meat. Always selfish, he even chose the tenderest pieces of venison.
She glowered at him. “Will nothing change? I must accept the meager portions left after you claim the best?”
He licked his fingers, then leaned in so only she could hear his reply. “To these lads you’re just another squire. But I know what’s underneath those pants. So yes, you are still a female, and I get the best. Be satisfied there’s anything left for you to eat.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
With a degree in journalism, Marisa has spent many years writing for the television industry. As an award-winning producer/director/marketer, she has worked on commercial production, show creation, product branding and social media.
Marisa’s passion for writing began when her first-grade teacher read her poem aloud and posted it on the classroom wall. She soon followed up by writing plays for her neighborhood friends and hosting the productions in her garage.
Marisa has always enjoyed reading romance novels and now realizes a dream come true, writing romantic adventures. She lives in Kettering, Ohio, with her first love and knight in shining armor, James.