Parchment received from Olwen de Belleme, secondary character in My Lord Raven: Knights of the Royal Household
If you’ve read the story of my cousin Catrin and her truelove Sir Bran ap Madog, then you will know I was betrothed to Sir Bran. King Edward gave my hand in marriage to him, a knight of his household, for a job well done. But you will also know events transpired that caused my cousin to change places with me (we favor one another) and then fall in love with “The King’s Raven.
I, on the other hand, went to live in a convent near to my castle. It was my sanctuary, because, you see, when Catrin and I changed identities, I needed to find a place to hide.
Catrin has said I “possess a timid disposition.” ’Tis true. I couldn’t abide the thought of marrying such a vicious man as the king’s knight. Often as a child, when Catrin fostered at my castle, she had been the prod, encouraging me to stretch myself beyond my limits. But alas! Was not to be. My temperament is naturally sweet, serene, and pious.
That’s why I thought a life as a bride of Christ would suit me. Yet, I knew that dream to be a fool’s folly. King Edward would never let me take holy vows. Therefore, I hoped for a life inside the convent as a lay sister. Many gentlewomen in my time choose a secluded life as I desired.
I soon discovered the life of a nun is boring. We are gently born, not accustomed to menial tasks. We need our servants as much as we do in the world. A nunnery is a house of prayer, but it is also a community of domestics and others who depend upon the landholdings of the sacred house.
Many convents during my time may be poor, depending upon their locations, landholdings and finances. A nunnery may face all the temporal hardships of the day: plagues and pestilence, fires and floods, and attacks by Scots or Welsh marauders, lawless neighbors or enemies of the realm. Oft nuns are forced into begging for alms. ’Tis not a pretty sight to see a pious woman so reduced to poverty.
Furthermore, secular life may intrude upon the sacred. We are women, after all, and many enjoy colorful clothes and silken veils. We keep our pet dogs, entertain guests and, with our servants, travel outside the bounds of our cloistered world. I will not mention the depravities of some who stray from their vows. The bishop is always warning against such sins.
Did I say that holy life can be boring? Ah, yes. You see, the routine, the silence, the hardships can be born if you have a vocation for it. Being the pampered only child of a great lord, I soon discovered the communal life was not for me, however devout I had been. So now I await the king’s grace once more. He sends me another husband, a knight to take my father’s place and run the estates I have inherited. Is he sending me a helpmate, like Sir Bran is to my cousin Catrin? Or is he sending me an overlord—someone to rule me with a firm fist?
If you are interested in reading more about the medieval life of a nun, take a look at Medieval English Nunneries c. 1275 to 1535, by Eileen Power, Cambridge at the University Press, 1922, found at Amazon.com.
About the Book
My Lord Raven: Knights of the Royal Household
To protect what little family she has left, Lady Catrin Fitzalan switches places with her cousin when King Edward orders the pious girl to wed his royal champion, a vicious knight called the King’s Raven. Rumors abound that this savage is responsible for the deaths of Lady Catrin’s father and brother. How can she allow her sweet cousin to wed a murderer?
Bran ap Madog, bastard son of a Welsh prince, has devoted his life to serving the English king. His badge is the raven, a creature that feeds off rotting spoils, just as Bran feeds off the spoils of war. Now he wants a reward for his service: a wealthy wife and the land and power she can bring him.
But there’s another side to the rapacious black birds Bran has chosen for his badge. Social and family-oriented, ravens mate for life. Which gives them something Bran never had—a family, a sense of belonging, and a rightful place in the world. Bran has fought for everything he’s ever had. But his last battle, with his new wife, may cost him the one thing he isn’t prepared to lose: his heart.
About the Author
Jan Scarbrough is the author of two popular Bluegrass series, writing heartwarming contemporary romances about home and family, single moms and children, and if the plot allows, about another passion—horses. Living in the horse country of Kentucky makes it easy for Jan to add small town, Southern charm to her books and the excitement of a Bluegrass horse race or a competitive horse show.
Leaving her contemporary voice behind, Jan has written paranormal gothic romances: Tangled Memories, a Romance Writers of America (RWA) Golden Heart finalist, and Timeless. Her newest book, My Lord Raven is a medieval story of honor and betrayal.
A member of Novelist, Inc., Jan has published with Kensington, Five Star, ImaJinn Books, Resplendence Publishing and Turquoise Morning Press. Today she self-publishes her books with the help of her husband.