Promo: A Rip in the Veil by Anna Belfrage

I'm delighted to welcome author friend, Anna Belfrage, again to Ruins & Reading. 

Today, we're promoting her novel, A Rip in the Veil – a fabulous time-slip tale that takes you back to Jacobite Scotland. I've read it, and it's a cracker of a story!

It's currently on blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club. Make sure to check the other fascinating posts here.

A Rip in the Veil

The Graham Saga

Anna Belfrage

Guest post – my seventeenth century hero, a dreamboat?

I was very young and impressionable when I met my husband. To me, he was the equivalent of finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (boy, I can see him squirm should he read this) and it helped that we both shared a childish sense of fun, with me hollering “Heathcliff” to his “Catherine” and throwing myself into his arms whenever opportunity arose. (This inspired by Dave Allen, not by "Wuthering Heights")

One of the things I found interesting about my young man was the fact that he carried a signet ring with a coat of arms, casually telling me his family was a member of the Swedish nobility and that he could trace his roots back to fifteenth-century Scotland.

My husband’s family is descended from a twelve year old boy who landed on Swedish soil in 1624, accompanied only by his mother, Joneta. His father is presumed to have died and Joneta so feared for their lives she fled all the way to Sweden. In the documents, it is stated rather cryptically that Joneta fled due to issues of faith. 

To this day, the real reason behind Joneta’s drastic move from Scotland remains shady. The dates don’t coincide with any major religious upheaval, her husband seems to have been a minister, and as Joneta was a Stuart, she was connected to a number of powerful families who could have protected her. No, I fear there may be other reasons behind this headlong flight – but we will never know. Anyway, my interest in Joneta and her son had me expanding my historical readings even further, submerging myself in thick tomes about the seventeenth century, mostly in Britain but also in other countries.

This is the background to why I set A Rip in the Veil—the first book in The Graham Saga—in the seventeenth century and why my hero, Matthew Graham is a devout Presbyterian who has fought in the Commonwealth armies in the Civil War. To Matthew, faith is an integral part of who he is, a defining characteristic that is as much a part of him as an arm or a leg. 

Enter Alex Lind, a concussed badly singed woman who lands at his feet on an empty Scottish moor, and while Matthew’s life is very much enriched by this strange woman, it also becomes rather more complicated.

Alex Lind is all blue eyes, dark short hair and legs encased in the oddest garment Matthew has ever seen, light blue and tight these odd breeches showcase her every curve, and Matthew can’t quite grasp what she is and how she came to be here. Plus, of course, there's the matter of her obvious lack of religious education—and her scepticism to certain aspects of Matthew's beliefs.

For Alex, life has taken a most dramatic and unexpected—hang on, impossible—turn. In a matter of seconds she’s been propelled from her safe existence in 2002 to land in the seventeenth century, complete with political strife, religious unrest—and Matthew. Which is why at times Alex can be heard muttering that maybe God—should he exist—had an ulterior motive that day when he threw her three centuries backwards in time: how else would she ever have met Matthew? It always makes Matthew smile to hear her say thus: of course God had a plan, gifting him with this miraculous and enervating woman!

One of my issues with setting a story in the  seventeenth century was wardrobe related. I'm not overly fond of men in sashes and floppy collars, in velvet  and curls. Yet another reason why Matthew had to be of sterner ilk, a man who prefers to dress in simple broadcloth, linen shirts and not much else. Okay, the occasional flashy coat will find its way to enhance his shoulders, and he's vain enough to wear the odd pair of silk stockings when he finds them, but overall simplicity rules, in sober colours with no frills. 

I do, however, think it's a misconception to label all Puritans as having been stark and dark in their clothing. Even a man dressed in sombre black (which, btw, was a very expensive colour) can subtly adorn himself, his coat in expensive velvet lined with silk, his collar - however discreet - in dazzling white linen decorated with priceless Brussels lace. And no matter how devout, no matter that vanity was frowned upon, I bet you even the staidest Puritan matron would now and then succumb to decorated garter ribbons, to a bodice in softest yellow or palest pink. I sure hope they did!

Back to my seventeenth-century hero:  One of the very interesting developments in the seventeenth century was the rapid increase in literacy—this as an indirect consequence of the Reformation. I liked having a hero who could read and write, and while Matthew's early reading was restricted to the catechism or the Bible, since then Matthew has read both this and that. Not that he's much given to such romantic nonsense as declaiming verses to his beloved, but should he want to, he has quite the repertoire, much of it written by his personal favourite John Donne.

And then, dear people, Matthew has hair. Okay, okay, no major revelation as most of us do. What I mean is that Matthew has hair in just enough quantity, long enough that Alex can fist her hands in it, short enough that it looks manly, not foppish. I've never been much impressed by the men of the latter seventeenth century and their masses of curls (quite often false, as few men grow such luxurious manes of curly hair). It makes them look quite feminine - with one notable exception, king Charles II, because whatever else one might want to say about this man, feminine he most definitely is not.

"Rogue, more like it," Matthew mutters. "All those mistresses—"

"You're biased," I inform him.

"Biased?" Dark brows arch, his long mouth thins into a line. "Not all that surprising; I spent my youth fighting to rid this country of kings and such."
"Well someone screwed up, or he wouldn't have been back here, would he?" Alex points out.

"Not me," Matthew says, "and I would gladly take the field again if—" He breaks off abruptly and strides across the room to where Alex has sunk down to sit on a stool, looking very pale. "It'll not happen," he says. "I can't very well take on the king and his armies all by myself, can I? And it's not as if my parliamentarian brethren are baying for his royal blood."

"Thank heavens for that," she says, gripping his hand. Of course, Alex has yet to learn that conflict there will be aplenty in the coming years, and not for nothing is Matthew a man of integrity and valour. I decide this is not the right moment to tell her about all those adventures she has in store—I  mean, soon enough Matthew will be in dire straits, and . . . Nope; don't go there.

"What will happen to him?" Alex asks—no, growls.

"Hmmm?” I give her my blandest smile. 

So far my hero is a literate man of strong convictions, with a nice head of hair and a simple taste in clothes. Well, one can find that in any age, more or less, but the truly intriguing aspect of the seventeenth century is the continuous religious strife, the fact that faith as a denominator was fundamental in all aspects of your life.

Catholic? Great if you were living in Spain or France, a problem in Ireland while Cromwell was doing his ethnic cleansing thing, and definitely an issue in the staunchly protestant Sweden, which was  why there was a greater hullabaloo when the former queen (she abdicated first) Christina converted to Catholicism than there was when she did the actual abdication (truth be told, many Swedes were quite relieved when the young queen chose to turn the crown over to her dashing MALE cousin). Anyway, people were killed because of their faith and even more mindboggling people knowingly risked their lives on behalf of their faith. 

In Matthew I have a devout man, an excellent counterfoil to Alex, who considers all this religious stuff ridiculous. 

"Ridiculous? Stuff?" Matthew sounds rather disapproving.

"Stuff." Alex bites off the thread and holds up the shirt she's making, frowning at the hem. "And it's not as if there's any fundamental difference between your Presbyterian beliefs and those of the Church of England."

"No differences? Of course there are differences! We don't—"

"Ultimately it's all about believing in the one God, right? And in his son. As far as I can make out, all Christians believe in that,  even if the Catholics are nice enough to have a female representative  up there beside God."

"Female representative? I'll have you know that—"

Okay, we can leave them to it. These religious discussions tend to become very heated. I smile at my Matthew and Alex, at how they argue and yet can’t quite stop themselves from touching each other, a brush of fingers there, a casual caress there. Matthew stretches, eyes alight as he remonstrates with his wife, and he is so beautiful, so . . .  

"Ha! I knew it," Alex mutters. She sinks blue, blue eyes into mine. "Hands off, lady!"
Hands off? The man only exists inside my head. Or does he? As if in response, my seventeenth century dream man gives me a dazzling smile. (Courtesy of Alex and her insistence he keep his teeth clean) Tall and strong, of firm convictions and strong beliefs—in God, in his Kirk, in his ministers, but also in his wife—he has grown out of my head to become a constant, pleasant presence in my life. I might be lucky—or stark raving mad. The jury is still out!



On a muggy August day in 2002 Alex Lind disappears. On an equally stifling August day in 1658, Matthew Graham finds her on a Scottish moor. Life will never be the same for Alex – or for Matthew.

Alexandra Lind is thrown three centuries backwards in time to land at the feet of escaped convict Matthew Graham.

Matthew doesn’t know what to make of this strange woman who has seemingly fallen from the skies—what is she, a witch?

Alex is convinced the tall, gaunt man is some sort of hermit, an oddball, but she quickly realises the odd one out is she, not he.

Catapulted from a life of modern comfort, Alex grapples with her new existence, further complicated by the dawning realization that someone from her time has followed her here—and not exactly to extend a helping hand.

Potential compensation for this brutal shift in fate comes in the shape of Matthew, a man she should never have met, not when she was born three centuries after him. But Matthew comes with baggage of his own and on occasion his past threatens them both. At times Alex finds it all excessively exciting, longing for the structured life she used to have.

How will she ever get back? And more importantly, does she really want to?

Buy Links:

A Rip in the Veil is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.


About the Author

Anna Belfrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.

Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. 

Her Castilian Heart is the third in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain. This latest release finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain!

Anna has also authored The Whirlpools of Time in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode!

All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.

Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website,

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  1. Dear Cathy - thank you for hosting me and for putting together such a fab tour!


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