Today, May 17, 2016, my historical romance, The Price of Honor, is free. To many, giving away books seems like a silly thing for a new author like myself to do, but it’s my way of thanking those of you who follow my blog for your support.
When I wrote this novel, I saw it as a way of introducing people to Canada’s history. I also thought it was a good way to remember my ancestors who came from France and chose to remain here in New France during volitile and dangerous times.
The ancestor in the story isn’t the heroine with royal blood in her veins. Rather he’s a composite of all the soldiers who served in the Carrignan Saliere regiment, and who opted to accept a land grant and remain in the colony. It’s meant as a tribute to the Filles Du Roi who chose to come to this new and fierce land to face hardships and found a colony that has persevered and endured for more than 400 years.
With the exception of the characters and the drama immediately surrounding them, the book is based on hi8storical data. Yes, there were many in France who wanted to colonny to fail so that they could have wider and less stringent hunting grounds. Conditions aboard Izzy’s ship were far better than they would’ve been, but every author takes some license.
I hope you’ll enjoy the story.
Here is a snippet from the first few pages to whet your interest:
Caen, France, April 15, 1668
Treason, murder, destitution! What more could fate possibly throw at her? Isabelle Gaudier, her ashen face a stark contrast to the unrelenting black she wore, stood stoically beside the family crypt as the door was resealed. The church and its cemetery were housed within the castle walls, mere steps from the governor’s lodge where she’d been raised.
Three months ago, Papa had stood with her less than ten paces from this very spot. He’d been healthy and strong, a man in his prime, fuelled by the fire of injustice, and yet in a short while, he’d wasted away. It didn’t make sense, but so little did these days. Perhaps if she hadn’t hidden herself away in shame and confusion in l’Abbaye Aux Dames, the convent on the other side of the town, she might have realized how sick he’d been.
She stepped to the right and stopped in front of the simple wooden cross marking Pierre’s grave—darling Pierre, her beloved husband. She traced his name gently with her trembling fingertips. They’d had so little time together. He’d been away so long and then, newly returned to France, he’d been accused of treason, disowned by his family, and murdered. Pierre wouldn’t have betrayed the king. She’d discover the truth, clear his name, and restore his honor. After uttering a prayer for his immortal soul and renewing her vow to see justice done, Isabelle turned to follow the mourners to the castle no longer her home.
How did this happen?
By the laws of aînesse intégrale, the rules specifying inheritance regardless of gender, as her father’s only surviving child, Caen should have been hers. Somehow Henriette had used her prenuptial agreement, which included an altered préciput, the legal clause governing a woman’s rights within the marriage, to change all that. She’d secured the estate for herself, and because Isabelle wouldn’t be twenty-five until August, she was now her guardian as well as the king. Why did Papa ever agreed to such a clause?
The bone-chilling spring rain fell relentlessly as if nature wept with her. Penniless, no husband, no home, no future. What’s going to happen to me?
Isabelle neared the house and saw the Chevalier d’Angrignon sending his coach to the stables and walking towards the front entrance where her step-mother stood waiting for him. She slowed her steps. Her nose crinkled with distaste. The king’s knights were supposed to be men of honor. She doubted this man knew what honor meant. He and Henriette had been in earnest discussion since his arrival shortly before the funeral service. He’d escorted a tall woman, heavily veiled, into the church, but she’d vanished. From the look on her step-mother’s face, the comtesse hadn’t expected him today.
Some guests had chosen to leave immediately after the service. No doubt, the woman had gotten in with someone else. Sophie had attended the funeral with the lodge servants as the comtesse had instructed. She wished her cousin were here with her now. It was unlikely she’d be able to avoid the two people she despised. She glared at the chevalier laughing at something Henriette had said.
Why is he here? It isn’t as if he and Papa were friends. Years ago, the chevalier had come to the château on behalf of the king to discuss the French West India Company, the trading consortium controlling all legal trade with the French colonies including the fur trade with New France. The company set prices and collected the king’s taxes while making a hefty profit for themselves. It had been a good investment for both, but, lately, there were rumors the company wasn’t doing well.
At the king’s request, her father had joined the company despite his feelings for the upstart d’Angrignon as he called him. The chevalier had visited the château from time to time, and notwithstanding their lack of friendship, the relationship had been amicable until he’d asked for Isabelle’s hand in marriage. Papa had used the excuse she was too young at the time, barely sixteen, but from that moment, the relationship between the men had been strained. The chevalier’s second wife had died in childbirth last year.
Many members of the court had come from Versailles to honor her father’s passing, including Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the king’s minister of finance. The funeral had all the makings of a weekend fête. Thank God the king had a cold and had chosen not to attend. Could the veiled woman have been the queen? Neither she nor Sophie had been required to put in an appearance at last night’s reception, a small concession from her step-mother who’d chosen to play her role of grieving widow. The loud laughter, so out of keeping with the sad occasion, had carried up to the family apartments.
Papa, darling Papa, did you know it would be like this? Why didn’t you send for me? I’d have come home. You didn’t give me the chance to say goodbye. Tears brimmed her eyes.
Download your free copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Price-Honor-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B00PWUB52A