From award-winning author Alison Stuart comes a stirring historical trilogy about soldiers, spies, and the strong women that love them.
By The Sword
England 1650. In the aftermath of the execution of the King, England totters once more on the brink of civil war.
Kate Ashley finds her loyalty to the Parliamentary cause tested when she inherits responsibility for the estate of the Royalist Thornton family.
Jonathan Thornton, exiled and hunted for his loyalty to the King’s cause now returns to England to garner support for the young King. Finding Kate in his family home, he sees in her a chance at a life he doesn’t deserve.
But love is fragile in the face of history. What hope can one soldier and one woman hold in times like these?
(Winner of the 2008 Epic Award for Best Historical Romance)
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The King's Man
London 1654: Kit Lovell is a disillusioned Royalist who passes his time cheating at cards, living off his wealthy and attractive mistress and plotting the death of Oliver Cromwell.
Penniless and friendless, Thamsine Granville has lost everything. Terrified, in pain and alone, she hurls a piece of brick at the coach of Oliver Cromwell and earns herself an immediate death sentence. Only the quick thinking of a stranger saves her.
Far from the bored, benevolent rescuer that he seems, Kit plunges Thamsine into his world of espionage and betrayal – a world that has no room for falling in love.
Torn between Thamsine and loyalty to his King, Kit’s carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. He must make one last desperate gamble – the cost of which might be his life.
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England, 1659: Following the death of Cromwell, a new king is poised to ascend the throne of England.
Imprisoned, exiled and tortured, fugitive Daniel Lovell returns to England, determined to kill the man who murdered his father. But his plans for revenge must wait, as the King has one last mission for him.
Agnes Fletcher’s lover is dead, and when his two orphaned children are torn from her care by their scheming guardian, she embarks on a perilous journey to save them. She didn’t plan on meeting the infamous Daniel Lovell.
Thrown together with separate quests – and competing obligations – Daniel and Agnes make their way from London to the English countryside, danger at every turn. Will they find the peace they crave, or will their fledgling love be a final casualty of war?
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Excerpt (By the Sword)
A shadow fell across the table. Assuming it to be the bookseller, without looking up Jonathan said, ‘I’ll take this volume —’
‘Thornton.’ The name fell onto the table like a fist.
At the sound of the familiar voice, Jonathan looked up into the cold, blue eyes of a man he knew too well, a man he had once called a friend, and his blood froze in his veins. The book dropped from his nerveless fingers back onto the table.
The stocky man in the uniform of a Parliamentary officer smiled without humour or warmth. ‘God is with me this day,’ his nemesis said in a low voice as he reached for the pistol he wore in his belt.
In that moment of hesitation, Jonathan threw the table over in one swift movement and took off down the street crowded with the afternoon’s shoppers. Behind him he heard his name bellowed as the man he knew as Stephen Prescott gathered his men for the chase. Heavy feet trampled the slimy cobbles and loud voices shouted exhortations for someone to stop the fugitive.
No one paid them any heed. The shoppers simply parted before the running figure and despite the urging of the soldiers, none made to catch him. Twisting and turning down the narrow streets, Jonathan found himself unable to shed his pursuers. His heavy boots slipped on the wet, mired streets and made running hard. Almost spent, he heard Prescott behind him, urging his men on, knowing that the man would not let up with his long-sought quarry in such plain view.
The man thought he had God on his side.
Jonathan turned sharply down a street he knew led to one of the gates but was brought up short by a heavy ox cart, laden down with wool bales, taking the width of the passageway.
‘Cornered, Thornton. Turn around and face me like a man.’ He heard Prescott’s breathless voice behind him and turned slowly to face his pursuers.
There was no mistaking the look of malicious triumph on Stephen Prescott’s face. He had seen it before in a town square in Devon six years ago. Surely it would be better to die now than at the end of a rope?
‘While I live I hope,’ the late King had said, and Jonathan had escaped Stephen Prescott before. He raised his hands away from the hilt of his sword. At least with so public an apprehension, there might be some hope of fair trial, if not immediate escape.
A fascinated crowd pressed back against the shops as Prescott swaggered towards him. The man stopped some fifteen yards from Jonathan, breathing heavily, savouring the moment. Jonathan held the man in a cold, hard gaze, determined that Prescott would see no fear in them.
‘No escape this time, Thornton. You stand tried and convicted.’
Prescott straightened and raised his heavy pistol in a slow deliberate movement. In the brief moment before the report of the pistol echoed from the houses, Jonathan saw his death written in the man’s eyes. The watching crowd gasped as the pistol ball smashed into his shoulder. The force knocked him backwards, and he fell to his knees in the mud.
He looked up and saw Prescott accepting a second pistol from one of his soldiers. He would not remain here waiting to be shot like a dog in the streets of York with Stephen Prescott his judge, jury and executioner.
About the Author
Award winning Australian author, Alison Stuart learned her passion for history from her father. She has been writing stories since her teenage years but it was not until 2007 that her first full length novel was published. Alison has now published eight full length historical romances and a collection of her short stories. Her disposition for writing about soldier heroes may come from her varied career as a lawyer in the military and fire services. These days when she is not writing she is travelling and routinely drags her long suffering husband around battlefields and castles.
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