Reviews: ‘…outstanding’ Jeffrey Archer
‘…wonderful, I loved it.’ Cathy Kelly
‘…incredibly evocative. Anne O’Brien
4.8* on Amazon (12) sample comments:
‘fights and ambushes and dark deeds aplenty here
but much on the domestic front too and the women,
especially on the Montgomerie side, come over as real,
warm, individual characters that we feel we know.’
‘…a fascinating and engaging read. By the end I
loved it to bits.’ AliB
‘I’ve never read a book of historical fiction before
thinking I wasn’t interested in it but Margaret Skea
has changed my outlook.
I read it in 2 nights staying up till 2am to finish it.’
‘…a well-researched, detailed, moving and at times
amusing book, with just enough “Scottish-isms”
for authenticity without exhausting the English reader!
And Skea writes beautifully, in a style that can be
quite spare but pleasing…’ Misskin
‘As a picky and hard-to-please reader
I have to say I loved Margaret Skea’s debut…
I’m looking forward to reading more by this
exceptional writer.’ Berwick Babs
Scotland 1586: A land in turmoil.
Old rivalries, a new religion, a young king.
An ancient feud that threatens Munro’s home, his
family, even his life…
Munro owes allegiance to the Cunninghames and to the Earl of Glencairn.
Trapped in the 150-year-old feud between the Cunninghames and the Montgomeries, he escapes the bloody aftermath of an ambush, but he cannot escape the disdain of the wife he sought to protect, or his own internal conflict. He battles with his conscience and with divided loyalties – to age-old obligations, to his wife and children, and, most dangerous of all, to a growing friendship with the rival Montgomerie clan.
Intervening to diffuse a quarrel that flares between a Cunninghame cousin and Hugh Montgomerie, he succeeds only in antagonizing William, the arrogant and vicious Cunninghame heir. And antagonizing William is a dangerous game to play…
As Munro entered the solar Lady Margaret Langshaw rose from her seat by the inglenook, one cheek flushed, the draught from the door rippling the tapestry on the wall behind her. She came towards him: a figure come to life. He bent over her hand, her skin, buttermilk-white, unblemished, drifting with the scent of almonds as they touched.
“A request, Lady – from Glencairn.”
“My husband is from home. Can this wait?”
Munro proffered the letter. “It’s for you. Glencairn expects a reply tonight.”
Frowning, she slid her forefinger under the wax seal, her grip on the parchment tightening as she read. She pressed one hand against the bulge of her stomach. “To betray a guest…a kinsman…and to such an end…Glencairn presumes much.”
Slate eyes met blue. Munro made his voice flat. “The Montgomeries are kin in marriage only. You are a Cunninghame.”
She bent to pick up the small shift, fallen to the floor as she rose to greet him, her fingers teasing at the edge of the unfinished smocking. “And for that I must risk my peace and that of my children?”
He dragged his eyes away, focused on the fire flaring in the hearth, on the basket of split logs calloused with moss, stifled the unbidden thought – her bairn is likely ages with my own. Blocking the anguish in her voice and hating his own tone, he said, “We are none of us at peace. Our cousin Waterstone’s lady lies cold in bed at night and his bairns they say still cry out in their sleep.”
“And am I to bring trouble to my lord too?”
“No trouble. Glencairn asks a signal only – the real work is elsewhere.”
“And if it goes awry? The sound of the rout will rebound to my door.”
“Am I to take your refusal to Glencairn?”
She spoke so soft he had to bend his head to hear her. “I am a Cunninghame, God help me.” A hesitation… “I expect the Montgomeries tomorrow, some ten or twelve only. Braidstane is bid meet Eglintoun to sup here, and make for court thereafter. You may tell Glencairn to look to the battlement, on the west side. And they arrive as arranged, there will be a white napkin hanging.” She was looking past him to the square of window framing the darkening sky. “Beyond that, I cannot do more.”
He bowed over her hand. “Glencairn is grateful, lady.”
She dismissed him with the smallest of nods. “Good-day Munro.”
He bowed again and escaped, clattering down the stair. Outside, glad of the sting of the air on his face, he wheeled through the gateway, closing his ears to the sound of children’s laughter floating over the barmkin wall.
* * *
William Cunninghame, Master of Glencairn, turned from the gable window, dark eyes sparking. He made no offer of his hand to Munro, nor any concession to ordinary courtesy, his voice echoing under the high-raftered ceiling of Kilmaur’s long hall.
“What kept you? The job is done?”
There was only one suitable answer. “She will provide the signal.”
“As she should. And willingly I hope.”
“She can be trusted?”
“Oh yes…” Munro thought of the look with which Lady Margaret had dismissed him. “Your father is a dangerous man to cross. She understands that.”
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Published in Novemeber 2012, Turn of the Tide is available in good bookshops in the UK and online here – http://tiny.cc/kli0ow
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