We have a special, special guest today. Please help me give a warm welcome to Blythe Gifford, author of medieval romance.
Blythe Gifford – Movie as Muse
Thanks for having me today. I’m talking movies, so chime in at the end for a chance to win a copy of my new book.
Recently, an enthusiastic new friend asked when my book was going to be made into a movie. I resisted the opportunity to launch into all the business reasons that was unlikely, because the truth is, I must be one of the few writers on the planet who does not long to see her book on the silver screen.
That’s not to say the inspiration doesn’t run the other way, though. Every book of mine has a playlist and movie soundtracks can be perfect for sweeping me away into the world of the story. When I first crossed the border to set a story in Scotland, I leaned on the emotional power of music from the iconic movies, “Braveheart” and “Rob Roy” to get me in the proper mood.
The actual story on the screen, however, rarely triggers anything in my work, but I must admit a buried movie inspiration for the excerpt I’m going to share today. “The Mask of Zorro,” 1998, has a wonderful swordfight between Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas. It comes early in the film, when they are immediate antagonists. The confrontation crackles, as a romance writer would say, with sexual tension.
While my hero and heroine and story share nothing else with those characters, I think that fight must have served as an unconscious muse for following scene.
First, a little setup. RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, a current release from Harlequin Historicals, launches my trilogy about the Brunson Clan, a family of Reivers on the Scottish Borders during the early Tudor era. CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD follows in January 2013, and TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL in March 2013.
RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR is the story of John, the youngest son, who returns home after years of serving as a “big brother” to the young Scottish king. John is a man with something to prove, both to himself and to his family. As the only blue-eyed Brunson, he’s always felt as if he didn’t belong. Now, he no longer wants to. As soon as he enforces the king’s command for peace, he plans to return to his life at court and leave the valley of his birth for the last time.
But first, he must persuade Cate Gilnock to release his family from their promise to avenge her father’s death. Cate is a woman fierce as a warrior, but behind her eyes John senses vulnerability and secrets she refuses to share. Bit by bit, he falls in love with her, and with each step, he is drawn back into the life he thought he had left behind forever. Because of Cate, he discovers he is more like the rest of his family than he thought until, finally, he must decide: Is he truly a Brunson? Or is he the King’s man after all?
In this excerpt from Chapter One, John has come across Cate, practicing her sword fighting against her own shadow. He thinks to play with her, easily besting her sword with his dagger, but the woman proves more capable than he imagined…
He jumped just in time to escape a touch. Now was not the time for distractions. He had expected a playful joust. Instead, he faced a warrior.
He swung high, but she held up her sword, turned sideways, to block his stroke. A clever move, but lifting the two-handed sword had strained her strength and when she lowered it, her arms shook.
Seizing on her weakness, he attacked and they crossed blades again. Prepared now, he leveraged his strength against her sword. Though she kept her grip, he pushed the blade away, coming close enough to feel her chest rise and fall, nearly touching his.
Close enough that his mind wandered, careless of the blades, thinking that under her tunic and vest, she had breasts. Now he could see her face, the angles of it, sharp and cleanly sculpted as her sword. Yet thick lashes edged her brown eyes, disguising some of the hatred there.
Panting, she shook her head. Yet her lips parted, tempting him to take them. She was, after all, a woman. A kiss would be mightier than a sword.
He pushed her sword arm down, pulled her to him, and took her lips.
She yielded for a breath, no more.
But it was long enough for him to lose his thoughts, to forget she held a sword and remember only that she was a woman, breasts soft against his chest, smelling of heather…
In a flash, she turned stiff as a sword and leaned away, though her lips did not leave his, so he thought she only teased.
When he felt the point of a dirk at his throat, he knew she did not.
“Let me go,” she said, her lips still close that they moved over his. “Or you’ll be bleeding and I’ll leave you to it, I swear.”
He eased his arms from her back and she pushed him away, wiped her mouth, and spat into the dirt.
He touched the scratch she’d left on his neck, grateful she had not drawn blood.
Her eyes, which he had thought to turn soft with pleasure, narrowed, hard with fury.
“It’s a Brunson you’re facing,” he said, trying a smile. “Not a Storwick.”
She raised both sword and dirk, the larger wobbling in her grip. “It’s a man I’m facing who thinks what I want is of no consequence if it interferes with his privileges and pleasures.”
Had he imagined the echo of the bedchamber in her voice? No more.
He raised his eyebrows, opened his arms and made a slight bow. “A thousand pardons.” Words as insincere as the feelings behind them.
She frowned. “You are a stranger here, so you know no better. And because you are a Brunson, I’ll let you keep your head, but I’ll warn you just once. You will not do that again. Ever.”
She lowered her sword, slowly.
You are a stranger. She was the Brunson, besting him with a sword, displacing him at the family table. His temper rose. “And what if I do?”
The blade rose, this time, not pointed at his throat, but between his legs. “If you do, you won’t have to worry about bedding a woman ever again.”
He swallowed, gingerly, his body on fire. Only because she had challenged him. Nothing more. No man could desire such a woman.
“Then have no worries on that score, Catie Gilnock,” he said, flush with anger. “When next I bed a woman, it most certainly will not be you.”
So, talk about movies! What are your favorites? A lucky reader who comments on today’s blog will be randomly selected to win a signed copy of RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR.
The lucky winner randomly chose is Cynthia! Congrats!
Blythe Gifford has been known for medieval romances featuring characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. Now, she’s launching a trilogy set on the turbulent Scottish Borders of the early Tudor era, starting with RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, November 2012, Harlequin Historical. CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD will follow in January 2013, and TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL in March 2013. The Chicago Tribune has called her work “the perfect balance between history and romance.” Visit her at www.blythegifford.com, www.facebook.com/BlytheGifford, or http://www.twitter.com/BlytheGifford.
Photo credits. Cover used with permission. Author photo by Jennifer Girard.