It’s my tour stop for ‘The Bridled Tongue’ by Catherine Meyrick! Thank you so much to The Coffee Pot Book Club for letting me participate. Click here for more information about this wonderful group!
‘The Bridled Tongue’ Book Information
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.
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.
‘The Bridled Tongue’ | Excerpt
Alyce walked into the parlour, surprised to see Isabel sitting by the window, staring down into the garden.
She turned in her seat, smiling happily. ‘Good morrow, Alyce. Mother asked me to help with cutting out your new gowns.’ She ran her eye over Alyce’s gown. ‘That gown is pretty, but Mother said—’
‘I came back with next to naught,’ Alyce finished for her. She brushed her hand down the moss green worsted of the skirt. ‘Mother had it put away. I did not take it with me to Dalstead.’ She took a bolt of cloth from the chest in the corner of the parlour and spread it on the table. ‘It fits well enough, though it is a mite too short, but I am not going anywhere today.’
Isabel took out the sewing box their mother had stored in the chest. ‘Mother should get a tailor to do this for you. You do not want to spend your whole time sewing.’
‘I like to be busy.’ Alyce straightened the cloth and took the measuring stick from the box.
‘Did you know,’ Isabel handed Alyce a piece of chalk to mark the cloth, ‘old Sir Henry Crabbe is looking for a new wife?’
‘Sir Henry Crabbe,’ Alyce’s eyes widened in horror, ‘but he must be ninety at least.’
‘Seventy-five. And he has buried three wives.’
‘But he is old and fat and bald and…’ she shuddered, ‘… and hideous.’
Isabel giggled. ‘He is indeed.’
‘Father would not…?’ Alyce stood rigid, the chalk crumbling in her hand. ‘I would rather die.’
‘Of course they would not. Mother and Father do want someone you can be content with.’ She smiled brightly. ‘Would Thomas Granville do?’
There was something about Granville. Perhaps it was that he was courteous and one of the few men she had met who listened when she spoke.
‘He was definitely watching you yesterday, and it was more than that he was entranced by your lute playing.’
‘I think it was more the discordant notes I plucked,’ Alyce lied. He had been watching her, but she doubted it was as simple as Isabel imagined.
‘He is old and not so pretty any longer. And there are the numerous women he has debauched. Hundreds, if the stories are all true.’
Alyce did not want to believe that of him. ‘Not all stories are true, Isabel.’
‘Perhaps not all.’ Isabel shrugged. ‘But tales always begin with some grain of truth.’ She frowned, her eyelashes fluttering with thought. ‘Well, what about Robin Chapman?’
‘You must want to marry…all women do…‘
‘He is rather handsome. I wonder why he is not married. He has only kept company with one girl for any length of time, Maude Middleton’s maid, Susan, and that ended a few months ago.’ Her eyes twinkled. ‘Perhaps he’s been keeping himself for you.’
Alyce glared at her. ‘You do realise Chapman believes he will be the only one to offer for my hand?’ She blinked against threatening tears. ‘He said I would get no better offer.’
‘He what?’ Isabel gaped. ‘The presumption of him! The only person to benefit would be Robin himself.’ Colour flooded her face. ‘Be assured, no matter what Father might think, Mother would not stand for it. Nor would I. I will have something to say to Father, and Robin Chapman too, if such a ridiculous proposal is taken seriously.’
Isabel put her arms around Alyce, pulling her close. ‘It was a foolish jest on my part.’
‘You have your grandmother’s gifts’…
Alyce gave herself up to comfort and laid her head on her sister’s shoulder.
‘You are worthy of a man of far higher standing than Robin. And remember, Father said you would decide.’
Alyce moved away from her and dropped into a chair. ‘Service in a pleasant household would be easier.’
‘But you must want to marry—all women do.’
‘I do not know that I do. When I was young, I supposed I would. Now I no longer care.’
‘Well,’ Isabel screwed up her face, ‘let us pretend. If we lived in a perfect world, what would the husband of your dreams be?’
‘I abandoned foolish dreams a long time ago.’
‘I do not believe you.’ Isabel pulled out a chair at the side of the table. ‘We all dream of something. I dream of children. Alyce,’ she lowered her voice, ‘I have a secret. I will tell you if you promise not to tell a single soul, not even Mother.’
‘I promise,’ Alyce said warily.
‘I think I am with child. Every morning I awaken feeling queasy.’ Her face glowed with happiness. ‘I have been married nearly three years, and it has never been like this before. I have hoped I was with child many times but always, whether it is a few days or a week later, the bleeding comes.’ Her lashes glistened. ‘But now it has been two whole months and you are here.’
‘What difference do I make?’
‘You have Grandmother’s gifts.’
‘Isabel,’ Alyce spoke slowly, ‘Grandmother had no special gifts. She knew much of herbs and healing. The help she offered was no different from the apothecary or a housewife tending to the physic of her family.’
‘That is not what most people say.’
A shiver ran down Alyce’s back. ‘Most people are wrong.’ The sight of her grandmother’s friend dancing on the gallows was one that would never leave her. No doubt some had thought Bridget Mason had special gifts too.
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