The official blog of Historical Fiction author, Mary Anne Yarde, and home to The Coffee Pot Book Club. Come and join Mary Anne on the hunt for everything historical, as well as mythological. Oh, and let's not forget the odd book or two! Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy...
Please give a warm Coffee Pot welcome to
Historical Fiction author, Cryssa
Bazos. Cryssa is going to share with us her
inspiration behind her fabulous debut novel…
England 1650: Civil War
has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King
Royalist officer James
Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds
for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.
Elizabeth Seton has long
been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she
risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But
her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of
injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.
The lovers’ loyalty is
tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the
woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means
Knot is a sweeping tale of love and
conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.
for Traitor's Knot
satisfying read that will appeal to historical fiction fans who demand
authenticity, and who enjoy a combination of suspense, action, and a very
believable love story. Five stars." – Elizabeth St. John, bestselling author
of The Lady of the Tower
historical adventure expertly told.” – Carol McGrath, bestselling author of The
“Cryssa Bazos is equally
at home writing battle scenes as writing romance, and the pace keeps the reader
turning the pages.” –Deborah Swift, bestselling author of The Gilded Lily.
Traitor’s Knot can be viewed as two intertwined storylines woven into
one romantic tale. The first is the struggle to help Charles Stuart (later
Charles II) recover his father’s throne during the latter part of the English
Civil War. Playing against this backdrop is the conflict between love and duty,
and the sacrifice of those who are left behind during war.
It’s hard not to be inspired by the
history. Here you have a society in flux—everything that people once held as
unshakable was ripped apart. Family units had been destroyed, and communities
were broken apart. Rather than trying to heal the old differences, the new
regime (led by Oliver Cromwell) was intent upon breaking the old icons and
remaking England into a godly new society. Soldiers returning from war had crippling
fines levied against their estates and many turned to highway robbery to
My heroine, Elizabeth Seton, is a young
woman who would like nothing better than to leave the war behind and start a
new life, but the conflict is far from over. Royalists are trying to escape
persecution from Parliament, and at great risk to herself, she starts to
shelter these recusants.
Elizabeth by Brittany LeClerc
The original inspiration for this
storyline came to me as I thought about the civilians who were affected
indirectly by war. I kept thinking of the women from the English Civil War down
through the ages to the more recent WWII, who were left behind while their
menfolk marched off to war, and who it fell to them to find a way to keep their
I grew up hearing stories of my maternal
grandmother during WWII and the occupation of Greece. Widowed with three
children, she had to provide for her family without the protection of a husband.
She had to use her wits to keep even the roof over her head. And when an
orphaned Jewish boy needed her help, she did what she could to protect and hide
him, despite the risk to herself and her children.
While the two wars are separated by nearly
three hundred years and arose from very different pressures, they do have in
common is how they tested the mettle of those people who were left behind in
the occupied areas. They faced starvation and harassment from the enemy. It
would have been easier to turn a blind eye to those who were more vulnerable,
but the truly courageous did not. In times of inhuman persecution, brave souls
have taken a stand for humanity. It is this spirit I had in mind for
This theme of sacrifice and protecting
others in need links the two storylines together in Traitor’s Knot through
the dramatization of the king’s escape after his crushing defeat at Worcester.
My hero, James Hart, fights his way clear of the carnage and finds himself in
the company of a fugitive King Charles. At the time, there were rumours
circulating that the king had received help to escape from a highwayman, who
knew all the hidden roads.
Charles being disguised ~ Wikipedia
I found this part of the history
inspiring, given that the king survived only through the help of servants and
commoners. Parliament had placed a bounty of one thousand pounds for his
capture, a fortune for most people. The first house Charles sought asylum in
(White Ladies), the family were not in residence and had left their servants,
the Penderells to mind the estate. A thousand pounds would have represented a
lifetime of earnings, but instead, the Penderells took Charles in, sheltered
him from dragoons and saw him to the next safe house. Had they been caught,
they wouldn’t have had the luxury of going into exile like many of the nobles.
These people would have paid with their lives.
Finally, turning to the romantic aspect,
the clandestine affair between Elizabeth and James intertwines through both
storylines. With Elizabeth looking toward the future and James mired in the
past, the opportunity for happiness is fleeting. James has turned to highway
robbery as a form of resistance and a way to raise funds for the king.
Highwayman with a woman ~ The British Library.
I have to admit to being hooked on the
romantic notion of a highwayman ever since first reading Alfred Noyes poem, The
Highwayman. Loreena McKennitt has made a song out of it and it’s
brilliantly evocative and romantic. But highwaymen, lets face it, are amoral
thieves and murderers, hardly the stuff of heroes. I was more intrigued by the
concept of a highwayman who robbed, not for personal gain, but out of loyalty
to a higher purpose. In a similar vein as the poem, Traitor’s Knot
continues the theme of sacrifice through the lengths that Elizabeth and James
are willing to go for each other.
If you enjoy rich historical detail
combined with a romantic love story set during a turbulent era, then I hope
you’ll consider Traitor’s Knot for
your next read.
Illustration of Elizabeth ~ Attribution: Original artwork by Brittany LeClerc
Charles being disguised ~ Attribution: By Isaac Fuller (died 1672) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Highwayman with a woman ~ Attributions: The British Library (Public Domain)
Cryssa Bazos is an award winning historical fiction writer and 17th century
enthusiast with a particular interest in the English Civil War. She is a member
of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelist Association and is a
co-editor and contributor of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. Her
debut novel, Traitor's Knot, is published by Endeavour Press. For
more stories, visit her blog cryssabazos.com