Thank you, Anna, for hosting me today! I enjoyed getting to talk about my hero from Conquest of the Heart.
Most romance readers want an exceptional hero. He must be bigger, better…just more…than the other men in the book–at least in the eyes of the heroine. But can a man who is exceptional because he is less than the other men still be the hero?
In “Conquest” novels, books about the conquest of England in 1066, the heroes are almost always big, brash, never-defeated-in-battle types. They are big, bad, bastards who come with William and conquer the heroine’s castle. (Even though castles as we think of them were practically non-existent in England at the time.) The heroine must marry the conquering hero to “save her people.”
In those rough and tumble times a tough, muscle-bound man, a man with power, a man with battle skills, would be ideal for protecting the heroine. But surely, there were some men at that time who were not muscle-bound hunks, men who did not come hacking and slashing and conquering, men who were not part of William’s army. Couldn’t these men also be heroes?
I happen to love romances about the conquest of England. And I wanted to write one. But, I also love to do things as differently as I can. So I wrote down every cliché I could think of in these Conquest books, including the traits of a typical hero. Then I turned everything around and created my hero.
Ranulf is English, not a conquering Norman. He is not tall and has a slender build. He’s tough and wiry, but he doesn’t have bulging muscles. Think Spiderman rather than Terminator. He was studying for the priesthood and never learned to fight until his two older brothers die and he has to return home and become the heir. But he is an avowed man of peace. And he is a virgin. He’s clueless when it comes to women. Other men might scoff at first, but they soon realize that Ranulf is a natural charismatic leader. He may not win a straight out arm wrestling match, but, with soft-spoken words and gritty determination, he will win the day, characteristics that might just be even more important than outright brute strength.
To turn the tables even further, I match Ranulf with Madeline, a Norman woman King William orders him to marry if he wants to keep his holding and “save his people.”
Her people conquered his country. How can they overcome the distrust they feel to find love?
In 1067 England, Madeline, a Norman, wants a big, brash, never-defeated-in-battle, Norman knight. What she gets, by order of the king, is a wiry Saxon who once studied for the priesthood instead of warfare. But is this gentle man she is falling in love with entangled in the rebellion now sweeping the land?
Ranulf wants to marry the girl next door. What he gets, by order of the king, is a lush, strong Norman woman who just might be a spy reporting his every move. He wants her in every way a man can possibly want a woman. But can he trust his heart to a woman who might have been sent to root out the struggle for freedom his people are engaged in?
He let his gaze travel back to his bride walking stiffly, reluctantly, toward him. For once, Ranulf felt speech was beyond him. She was so much more than he had expected. So beautiful. So clean. She glittered like a bright jewel in a dung heap. For Etherby, no matter how much he loved it, was not much better than one right now.
If only he could say to this magnificent woman, “Go away. Come back in a year. Give me time to build the castle the king has ordered, tear down this rotting hall, teach cleanliness to servants to whom filth is a way of life. Then you won’t have to grit your teeth and square our shoulders as if going into battle as you come to wed me.” But it was already too late. She was here. The wedding was now. And he felt as randy as a billy goat.
He would begin building the king’s castle immediately. The work would distract him from Lady Madeline’s seductive lure. She would find no treason with which to fill the king’s ears, and, like his mother’s attitude toward his father, he was sure the lady would be glad not to have him in her bower, not the way he felt now, the things he wanted to do to her.
Buy links for Conquest of the Heart
Michele Stegman has always loved history and she lives it every day. She spins, weaves, makes her own soap and bread, and lives in a 175 year old log cabin with her husband, Ron, who is the basis for all her heroes. You can contact Michele on her website, www.MicheleStegman.com, or on her Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/MicheleStegmanAuthor.