H K Carlton is a multi-published Canadian author of historical, erotic and contemporary romance. She lives in Ontario with her hard working husband and lovely teenage daughter. She also has two grown sons. Currently, she is working on several projects in many different genres, in varying states of completion.
Today my TEB release buddy HK Carlton comes back to pay a visit. HK and I released our debut books around the same time and we have been cyber pals ever since. We also shared the same wonderful editor, Amy (who has since moved on from Total-E-Bound to concentrate on her own writing career.)
HK is quite obsessed with Scotland, so its no shock that this book is set in that region. I have been able to tease HK relentlessly of late because in a few weeks I will be in Scotland to attend a wedding at Dundas Castle. She is sooo jealous and I’ve promised to send her lots of postcards – so she can see what she is missing. I’m such a good friend 😉
So HK, tell us about Gard and The Devil Take You.
Gard Marschand — The Classic Anti-hero
Last week, my second historical romance The Devil Take You was released by MuseItUp Publishing. This book was inspired by not only my love for Scottish and British history, but I also wanted to challenge, myself to write something a little different, something that might shake up the historical romance genre a little bit.
Traditionally, the male protagonist in historical romance is portrayed by a character who is admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. He rides in, swoops in, or sails in, to save the day.
Now, even I have read historicals where the male lead starts out as a rake or a bounder, but once he rescues the heroine, slays the villain, or solves the problem, he then finds love with the female lead and he is all of a sudden reformed, forgiven and held in high esteem.
I wanted to write an anti-hero; a severely flawed, cruel and malevolent character with no hope of ever being rehabilitated.
Meet Gard Marschand—an evildoer of epic proportions. Marauder, murderer, rapist, thief; a man hell bent on revenge. He is prepared to do anything, no matter how heinous to accomplish his goals. Gard possesses zero heroic qualities whatsoever and is proud of it. But even in his own wickedness, he still holds to his own moral code, skewed as it may seem to decent folk. Nevertheless, in the end, there will be no forgiveness or reform for Gard; his past deeds too countless and excessively appalling for any kind of absolution.
So, how then, do we make a romance out of that?
That was the fun part of writing this book. It was challenging right from the beginning but I knew that I had to create the right woman with a combination of strength, resilience and an overabundance of, if not understanding, at the very least acceptance, for a man who has no remorse for any of his wrongdoings and with no inclination or desire to change. Braelynn Galbraith began as the woman in the wrong place at the wrong time and she eventually evolved into a character that could stand toe to toe with the devil and hold her own.
I hope readers will enjoy the clash of Gard and Brae as much as I loved writing it.
Thank you for hosting me again, Donna! It is always a blast On the Bench!
Scotland – 1307 – During the Scottish Wars of Independence
Gard Marschand will stop at nothing in his pursuit to regain what is lost. Concealing his true identity, he will associate with his enemies, kill his own countrymen, even sell his soul to the devil if all else fails. He will lie, cheat, steal, rape and siege his way across two countries gaining power and reputation in his malevolent wake. His determination all consuming, until King Edward commands Gard to lay siege on Ross-shire holding, where Braelynn Galbraith obliterates his single-minded purpose.
Braelynn Galbraith wants peace for her beloved Scotland, marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Callum, and a house full of children. In that order. But evil incarnate in the form of Gard Marschand, turns her life inside out and destroys all hope of a decent marriage.
Can Gard abandon his deep-seated need of revenge for a love that might just save his soul, or will he succumb to the demons that hound him and surrender to the devil within?
Excerpt: The Devil Take You
Brae needed something to do. The thought of waiting for Marschand to return, especially in his present mood, was putting her on edge. Gazing out the tent flap, the smell of meat cooking set her stomach growling. Surely it would be permissible for her to help with the evening meal. She moved to step out.
“I wouldna.” The voice to her right belonged to Bain. “Marsch be in a temper.” He did not even look her way.
“And Llach?” she asked worriedly.
“Here, Braelynn.” He was on the opposite side of his usual place.
She heaved a sigh of relief, afraid Marsch would have taken out his misery on Llachlan for helping her.
Brae was not given anything else to eat. She laid on the pallet and cried herself to sleep. Mercifully, Marsch did not join her. Brae slept until she heard the rest of the camp rising. Then she dressed and waited for the canvas to come down and travel for the day to begin again.
She was not sure who she would ride with or if the day would begin with
walking. She would not walk too far without eating. She was starving.
Brae waited outside where Marsch’s tent stood only moments ago, when he appeared at her shoulder soundlessly. “Did you eat?”
“Why not? Do you think if you do not eat that in death you will escape me?”
“Nay, it had no’ occurred ta me, but it is somethin’ ta keep in mind. Thank ye fer the suggestion.”
His lips tightened.
“As usual I am no’ allowed ta leave yor quarters, but no one brings me food. And ye are off doin’ wha’e’er it is tha’ ye do. Ya might think ta be nicer ta the one ye need ta rely on.”
His eyes narrowed. “You grant yourself too much importance.”
She continued, perhaps stupidly after Hudson’s warning. “Ye ne’er ken when I could miss a word or reword a message or jus’ plain no’ read the whole o’ it. Puttin’ ye in a bad position.” Her own eyes narrowed deviously as she spoke. “Ye migh’ want ta think aboot tha’ the next time ye be dolin’ oot yor punishments. I can be vindictive too. And it would seem ye have a whole lot more ta lose than I do.” She walked away and he grabbed her braid, hauling her back painfully.
His black eyes glittered as he pulled on her hair so she had no choice but to look up at him. “Why do you not learn?”
“And why dinna ye learn? I think I jus’ made meself perfectly clear.” Slowly, she reached down in hopes that no one would detect the movement.
“And if you are of no use to me, then I have no use for you. Do not bite the hand that feeds you, Mistress Galbraith, is that not what you said?”
“No one feeds me, Marschand, be tha’ no’ wha’ preceded this particular argument.”
“And perhaps the withholding of food may continue, Miss…” He stopped
speaking as soon as his own blade cut into his skin, a warm trickle ran down his neck.
His mouth quirked, his black eyes lighting from within. He was the most onfounding man, she thought.
He was proud of her. “Ya see, Marsch, I am learnin’. Soon ye willna be able ta push me aroond.”
“Ye need ta be willin’ to use it, Brae.” He took hold of her wrist and applied enough pressure that she was forced to drop the blade. “Or I will continue to push ye around all I wish.” He ground his hips into her letting her know what kind of pushing he meant. “But it was a splendid attempt.” He winked. “I did enjoy the blood letting. Ruadh!” he yelled to his squire. “You are neglecting your duties. Mistress Galbraith has not been fed this morn.”
The boy glared at her before he turned to find her something.
“And ye dinna think he will spit or somethin’ far worse in my fair after bein’ set down.”
“He wouldna dare.”
“Mayhap no’ ta ye he wouldna but he has na like fer me.”
“Good. I am glad to know there is at least one male in this camp not sniffing at your skirt.”
“Na one is interested in ma skirt now tha’ they believe I have been wit’ ye.”
“Aye and tha’s why Llach of Skye be pickin’ ye off the ground when I am done wit’ ye, eh?”
“He was jus’ bein a gentleman.”
“He has a sweetheart.”
He snorted again. “Be she here?”
“Then he doesna have a sweetheart.”
“Ya canna tell me tha’ all men are like tha’.”
“Hudson is the most loyal steadfast man I ken and e’en he canna honour his vows.”
Ruadh, the squire approached with a hunk of bread in his hand. He thrust it at her. Brae reached out to touch it, but Marsch grabbed it out of her reach and raised it toward his mouth. The squire’s eyes widened at the action. Marsch paused with the morsel half-way to his mouth.
“May I eat this?” he asked his squire quietly but firmly.
“Nay, Sir. ’Twas no’ meant fer ye,” the boy said swallowing hard.
“You will prepare her food as if it were meant for me. You may never know when I might take it right out of her mouth and put it in mine own. Do you understand me, Ruadh?”
Marsch tossed it to the ground at his feet. “Now, you will eat it.”
The boy’s eyes darted and his lips trembled. He hesitated before bending to pick it up. He swallowed stiffly again before opening his mouth and closing his eyes, cringing. It made Brae wonder what he had done to it.
“Marsch, dinna make him,” she whispered, feeling sorry for the boy.
“He was about to have you consume it.”
“I ken, but….”
“T’will be a lesson for both of you.”
She looked up at him in question.
“He will learn not to tamper with what is mine. And you will learn that you are not the only one I dole out punishment on.” Crossing his muscular arms he watched the squire eat every last crumb.
You will go wash your hands and you will prepare a portion for Mistress Galbraith properly or you will prepare to return from whence you came. I will not tolerate your treachery yet again.”
“Aye, Lord Marschand.”
“You will apologize to Mistress Galbraith.”
His lip curled. “I am repentant, Mistress,” he intoned, as one would expect a
boy of his age being forced to apologize for something he was clearly not
Marsch moved with his incredible speed that unnerved her. He clouted the lad in the side of the head with such force she heard the thud and closed her eyes, not sure what to do. If she defended the child, would it just make things worse for the both of them? Marsch was so unpredictable she was afraid that he would see her interference as another affront to his authority. Or perhaps he would turn around and strike her as well. Or worse.
“You will apologize with sincerity,” Marsch demanded, his voice deep and
“I apologize fer me behaviour, Mistress Galbraith. It willna happen again,” he said gasping, trying valiantly not to cry in front of his master.
Brae had no problem letting her tears fall.
“Go wash and begin again,” Marsch said harshly. “And quit your snivelling. Be a man.”
Marsch turned back to her.
“I hate you,” she said.
His mouth ticked in the corner and his eyes were a light brown. “Ye are learnin, Brae.”
The Devil Take You © 2013 by H K Carlton
Buy Links The Devil Take You
H K’s Blog http://pickagenrealready.blogspot.ca
Manic Readers http://www.manicreaders.com/HKCarlton/
Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/HK-Carlton/e/B009KVR7EW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Being an Australian the first image that comes to mind when I think of Scottish history is this one – Mel Gibson in Braveheart 😉
Thanks for joining me today HK. I’m looking forward to reading The Devil Take you on my flight to Europe…only 9 more sleeps!