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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Work In Progress - Jewel Under Siege

Sunset Over The Golden Horn By Bertil Videt

Jewel Under Siege is a revised and updated ebook edition of a physical book I wrote for the Harlequin Masquerade line some time ago. At the time it was released as both a hardback and paperback under my pen name of Polly Forrester, but this is the first ebook edition. 

I’d done a lot of research for a non-fiction project on Robert Curthose, the eldest son of William the Conqueror. Robert was a charming, real-life hero. He never got to be king of England, but the major flaws in his character meant that was the best thing for all concerned! He went on the First Crusade in 1097, and I loved reading about the exotic settings. They sounded ideal as the backdrop to a romance. 

Constantinople (now known as Istanbul) grew up on the junction of the great trade routes between Europe, Asia and the Near East. In those days, anyone who travelled long distances went through it, particularly pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. In a parallel with modern-day tourism, pilgrims and traders alike stopped off in the city and spent money. Trading links and networks were created, and gossip swapped (along with various exotic pests and diseases, of course). When roaming bands of Seljuk targeted the surrounding areas Alexius, the emperor of Constantinople, appealed to Pope Urban II for help. The Pope took the idea and ran with it, calling for all good Christians to go and secure Jerusalem. In no time at all the message turned into “Go abroad and kill foreigners” with the definition of the word "foreigner" being a pretty liquid concept. When waves of rag-tag travellers spoiling for a fight homed in on Constantinople, Emperor Alexius took fright and slammed the city gates in the faces of the people who supposed to be helping him. The people inside the city were scared, while the band of Crusaders were affronted at the horrible ingratitude of the people they had come to help. 

Imagine travelling thousands of miles on foot, in terrible conditions and subject to highway robbery every inch of the way, then discovering you’re not welcome. The Crusaders weren’t happy, and by the time Jewel Under Siege starts, they’re starving and dying, too.

Emil Selest hasn't travelled half way across Europe to die outside some foreign city. He's determined to get food, and help for little boy he's rescued from the mob. But then an accident brings him face to face with a beautiful, wilful enemy...