Spotlight: The Bridled Tongue by Catherine Meyrick
I'm thrilled to share an enticing excerpt from historical fiction author Catherine Meyrick's intriguing novel, The Bridled Tongue, currently on blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club.
Set in Elizabethan England at the time of the Armada, The Bridled Tongue is a tale of secrets, danger, and romance.
I really enjoyed the excerpt. Another fabulous novel to be added to my ever-increasing reading list!
Take a peek!
The Bridled Tongue
Historical Fiction / Women's Fiction
Alyce paused at the head of the stairs and tugged at her new square-necked doublet. She brushed her hands across her partlet, borrowed from Isabel and of delicate embroidered lawn. Squaring her shoulders, she followed her mother down to the hall.
She was aware of Granville’s scrutiny as soon as she entered the room. He watched her walk towards him. She could read nothing in his face and hoped her own face was as guarded.
He bowed courteously. ‘Mistress Bradley, Alyce.’
Both women curtsied.
Her father stood beside Granville, looking exceedingly pleased with himself. ‘Alyce, Master Granville wishes to speak with you.’
As her parents moved to the other end of the hall, Alyce said, ‘Master Granville, please sit.’ She indicated the settle beneath the window overlooking the street. She sat, ensuring a distance between them, and tried to ignore her parents pretending an intense conversation at the other end of the room.
‘Alyce.’ He paused.
For a ridiculous moment, Alyce thought that he was as uneasy as she was.
‘As you are aware, your father has suggested that you would make a suitable wife. I am—’
Alyce’s eyebrows shot up. ‘My father suggested it?’
‘Perhaps not so directly. He made me aware that he was seeking a husband for you. And I know that it is beyond time that I married. It seems to me, from our recent acquaintance, that we might make a reasonable match.’
It was not the most elegant, nor courtly, of proposals but Alyce knew that she would have despised him if he had claimed he was suddenly smitten with her.
As she sat in silence, Granville continued on, describing his manor and the household there.
Alyce lowered her eyes to her hands in her lap. So close, she found herself acutely aware of him as a man. Beneath the brocade doublet, pinked to show the bright silk lining, she could sense the strength of his broad shoulders, his muscular arms. Her downward gaze took in his strong hands crossed with scars, his broad wrists. She forced herself to look towards his face. He looked to be around forty. His eyes were grey, deep creases at the corners. Ruddy, weathered skin, dark close-cropped hair. His lips were firm, not fleshy, above his neatly trimmed beard. His nose was crooked; broken how many times? The flaws in his once-handsome face somehow made him more appealing.
Silence stretched out between them.
Granville was staring at her, an eyebrow raised. ‘Do you consider your skills are sufficient to the task?’ He spoke with the patience of someone repeating an obvious question, which no doubt he was.
‘Skills?’ Better to have him think she had misunderstood than that she had not been listening to him.
‘The skills you learnt from the late Lady Faulconer in the management of a large manor.’
‘I have never managed a manor.’
‘But you learnt the necessary skills when you were with her.’
Alyce paused, blinking quickly. She supposed she had. ‘Ay, though Lady Faulconer was always at my shoulder. Hers was an elderly household. When servants died, she had no wish to employ and train younger people to her ways, so over time many tasks fell to me.’
‘You can cast accounts?’
‘I can. My ledgers always balanced.’
‘Ledgers can be made to balance even by those with poor arithmetic. Say you were to add one hundred and ninety-three to two hundred and fifteen?’
‘The answer would be four hundred and eight.’
‘And divide it by three.’
Alyce paused. ‘One hundred and thirty-six.’
‘Two hundred and seventy-two.’
Alyce frowned with concentration. ‘One hundred and seventy-five. Is that correct?’
‘I have no idea,’ Granville laughed, ‘I gave up at the addition.’
Alyce grinned. In that moment the thought of a life spent in this man’s company seemed a not unpleasant prospect.
‘Were you involved with any aspects of the management of Lady Faulconer’s wider manor lands?’
‘Not to any great degree. My skills are in household management including ensuring meat was cured or salted for the winter, stores got in. I oversaw the dairy and cheesemaking. I can card and spin wool as well.’
‘And you have your skills in physic. You would understand the workings of the body and the balancing of the humours.’
Alyce shook her head. ‘My lady would not permit me to read any of her texts concerning that, nor would she explain it to me. She said it would be beyond my understanding. I use those remedies I know will work.’
‘I will not stand in your way of reading whatever you wish, short of seditious tracts.’
‘I would not know where to find such things.’
‘It is safest not to know,’ he said. ‘Up until now, my manor and household have been managed by my sister, Cecily, but she is ailing and in need of care herself. My sister is very dear to me, and I would expect my wife to treat her as a sister.’
Alyce nodded, wondering what this sister was like, what she would be taking on beyond a husband she barely knew.
‘We are agreed.’
Alyce said nothing in reply—he was not asking, merely stating an accepted fact.
Granville frowned. ‘The proposition displeases you?’
‘Nay, but marriage is a serious step. I have been given less than a day in which to make up my mind. I know nothing of you.’
‘You are right. We both know each other only by repute. Would you like longer to consider the matter?’
It was not Granville’s fault she was being hurried into marriage by her father. ‘Nay, I believe even if we waited half a year, my decision would be the same.’
He stood. ‘Your father and I will now beat out the details of the dowry and jointure. Once the documents are ready for signing, we can plight our troth.’
As Granville walked across the room towards her parents, Alyce thought they might as well have been discussing the sale of livestock. It would not have surprised her had he asked to examine her teeth and run his hands down her legs.
Alyce Bradley has few choices when her father decides it is time she marry as many refuse to see her as other than the girl she once was--unruly, outspoken and close to her grandmother, a woman suspected of witchcraft.
Thomas Granville, an ambitious privateer, inspires fierce loyalty in those close to him and hatred in those he has crossed. Beyond a large dowry, he is seeking a virtuous and dutiful wife. Neither he nor Alyce expect more from marriage than mutual courtesy and respect.
As the King of Spain launches his great armada and England braces for invasion, Alyce must confront closer dangers from both her own and Thomas's past, threats that could not only destroy her hopes of love and happiness but her life. And Thomas is powerless to help.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B083NGH3ZP/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083NGH3ZP/
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B083NGH3ZP/
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B083NGH3ZP/
About the Author:Catherine Meyrick
Catherine Meyrick is a writer of historical fiction with a particular love of Elizabethan England.
Her stories weave fictional characters into the gaps within the historical record – tales of ordinary people who are very much men and women of their time, yet in so many ways are like us today. These are people with the same hopes and longings as we have to find both love and their own place in a troubled world.
Catherine grew up in regional Victoria, but has lived all her adult life in Melbourne, Australia. Until recently she worked as a customer service librarian at her local library. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also an obsessive genealogist. When not writing, reading and researching, Catherine enjoys gardening, the cinema and music of all sorts from early music and classical to folk and country and western and, not least of all, taking photos of the family cat to post on Instagram.