Please make welcome the lovely Tonya Ulynn Brown to the Tavern! We're celebrating her new book release, The Queen's Almoner! I'm looking forward to reading this historical novel. The excerpt definitely drew me into the story. The ale and mead are flowing, so grab a mug and let's take a look at Tonya's book...
Sometimes loyalty to the queen comes at a cost.
Thomas Broune is a Reformer and childhood friend of the young queen, Mary Stuart. When Mary embarks on a new life in her estranged homeland of Scotland, Thomas is there to greet her and offer his renewed friendship. But the long-time friends grow closer, and Thomas realizes his innocent friendship has grown into something more. Yet he is a man of the cloth. Mary is the queen of the Scots. Both of them have obligations of an overwhelming magnitude: he to his conscience and she to her throne.
When he must choose between loyalty to his queen or his quiet life away from her court, he finds that the choice comes at a high price. Driven by a sense of obligation to protect those he loves, and crippled by his inability to do so, Thomas must come to terms with the choices he has made and find a peace that will finally lay his failures to rest.
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Sneak preview from The Queen's Almoner
The next morning, I was awakened by the soft humming of a maid as she pulled at the dressings of my bed. Knowing I wore no clothing under the blankets, I was brought to complete wakefulness as my situation became painfully clear. I sat up quickly, pulling at the blanket in my best attempt to salvage my honor. Her laugh rang out crystal clear and made her known to me even before I saw her face.
“You always were a man of the utmost reputation, Thomas Broune. Aye keep your blanket if it makes ye feel better. I’ll not molest ye for it.”
Isobel moved away from the bed and bent to pick up a potato I had missed the night before.
“I assume Tess will not be waiting on me any longer,” I stated more than asked.
“Aye, ye assume correctly.” She eyed me as she pulled my clothing out of a chest at the foot of my bed. “After ye vexed her so last evening, she’ll not be catering to ye anymore.”
“Why? What did you hear? I merely shouted at her to let me be alone. I was upset.”
“Aye, ye did. But when a man of gentle spirit as yourself finds himself inclined to shout to get his point across, ‘tis not pleasant. Ye hurt her feelings, ye did. I personally think the maid was smitten with ye, but ye don’t have to worry yourself about that now. I think she’s cured.”
I stared at her in disbelief. Shaking my head, I said, “I must apologize to her. I meant her no ill will.”
“Apologize if ye must, but you’re stuck with me now. The maids were all in a tizzy last night when Tess came in all red eyed and blubbering. When Her Grace came to find her…”
“The queen saw to finding help for me?” I interrupted.
“When Her Grace came to find Tess,” she continued, nodding, “to give her instructions concerning your toilette, the lass cried that you’d been most cruel to her and begged off of the responsibility.”
“Cruel?” I could scarce believe my ears. “And what did Her Grace say?”
Isobel shrugged. “Naught but that she understood and that ye had had a rough time of it the last few months, and that she hoped Tess would find it in her heart to forgive ye.”
I needed to speak to Mary. The confrontation the night before was poorly done, and I needed to explain myself. I wanted her to know that she didn’t have to avoid me to avoid an awkward or uncomfortable situation. I needed to tell her of my renewed plans to take up a position elsewhere. I would no longer be a thorn in her side.
“Isobel, would you please fetch my robe from the trunk as well? I have an errand I need to see to.”
She laughed. “You’re not going anywhere, Thomas Broune. You’ve been bed-ridden for months, what makes ye think you’re going to just walk out of this room all the sudden? Tell me what ye need and I’ll see to it that your business is taken care of.”
I knew she was right and I sighed in frustration. As though she read my mind, she spoke again. “I know we’ve not seen each other for a spell, but I do still consider ye my friend. It’s not every man who will help a maid with her headaches.”
“How have you been feeling? Did the herbal concoction work?”
“Aye, it did, and the physicker ye sent to see me has helped replenish the herbs when they ran low. I thank ye.”
Isobel busied herself with rifling through my trunk even though everything I needed was already in her hands. Not knowing what else to say, I said, “I’m glad you are well.”
She shut the trunk abruptly. “When I heard…I mean, when I found out about…the accident…we didn’t know… no one told us if ye were alive.” Isobel’s gaze landed on me. “I’m glad you’re still here. Even if ye are terrorizing poor Tess.”
I gaped at her for a moment until a playful smile lit up her face. I smiled back.
“I’ll be discreet,” Isobel said, handing me the clothes. “Tell me what ye need and I’ll take care of it.”
I motioned to my desk. “Would you bring me the small bundle that is tucked inside that drawer?”
She quickly moved to the desk and opening the drawer, pulled out a pile of documents and letters that I had tied together with a string. She studied them wide-eyed, then quickly handed them to me when she saw me watching her. I flipped through the stack and pulled a small folded letter from the middle. The red wax seal was still in place, just as perfect as the day I had first written it.
“I have a letter that I need to send to St. Andrews,” I began. I handed the letter to her, then gave her the bundle to put back in the drawer. “I would still like to go downstairs, please. I have an apology to make to Tess, and I need to speak to Her Grace.”
“Her Grace is not here. She left early this morning for Falkland Palace. Plans to do some hawking, I believe.”
I stared at her again in disbelief. So, the queen has given me exactly what I asked for. I should have felt satisfaction, or at least relief. But instead I felt an emptiness. I had grown so accustomed to Mary’s visits, that I was a little put off by her failure to share with me her plans to visit Falkland. I had no right to be, I knew; but I felt the jilt, nonetheless.
“Now ye get dressed and eat your breakfast.” The sound of Isobel’s voice stirred me from my reverie. “The parritch will be cold for all the talking. I’ll be back in a wink to help ye down to the servants’ quarters so ye can speak to Tess, for I fear there’s no convincing her to come back up here.”
Meet the Author
Tonya Ulynn Brown was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, USA, but now calls southeastern Ohio home. She spent her younger years right out of college, living in Europe and teaching English as a second language. She attributes her time in Eastern Europe as being one of great personal growth, where her love for history, the classics, and all things European was born. Tonya holds a Master’s degree in Teaching and is now an elementary school teacher where she uses her love of history and reading to try to inspire younger generations to learn, explore and grow. Along with all the historical characters that she entertains in her head, she lives with her husband, two sons and a very naughty Springer Spaniel. Her mother has also joined their home, making for a cozy and complete little family.
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