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Tour: Squire's Hazard (Meonbridge Chronicles, #5) by Carolyn Hughes

Book details:

Book Title: Squire’s Hazard, The Fifth Meonbridge Chronicle

Series: The Meonbridge Chronicles

Author: Carolyn Hughes

Publication Date: 6th October 2022

Publisher: Riverdown Books

Page Length: 360

@Archaeolibrary, @cathiedunn, @writingcalliope, #CoffeePotBookClub, #BlogTour, #Medieval,


How do you overcome the loathing, lust and bitterness threatening you and your family’s honour?

It’s 1363, and in Steyning Castle, Sussex, Dickon de Bohun is enjoying life as a squire in the household of Earl Raoul de Fougère. Or he would be, if it weren’t for Edwin de Courtenay, who’s making his life a misery with his bullying, threatening to expose the truth about Dickon’s birth.

At home in Meonbridge for Christmas, Dickon notices how grown-up his childhood playmate, Libby Fletcher, has become since he last saw her and feels the stirrings of desire. Libby, seeing how different he is too, falls instantly in love. But as a servant to Dickon’s grandmother, Lady Margaret de Bohun, she could never be his wife.

Margery Tyler, Libby’s aunt, meeting her niece by chance, learns of her passion for young Dickon. Their conversation rekindles Margery’s long-held rancour against the de Bohuns, whom she blames for all the ills that befell her family, including her own servitude. For years she’s hidden her hunger for retribution, but she can no longer keep her hostility in check.

As the future Lord of Meonbridge, Dickon knows he must rise above de Courtenay’s loathing and intimidation, and get the better of him. And, surely, he must master his lust for Libby, so his own mother’s shocking history is not repeated? Of Margery’s bitterness, however, he has yet to learn…

Beset by the hazards these powerful and dangerous emotions bring, can young Dickon summon up the courage and resolve to overcome them?

Secrets, hatred and betrayal, but also love and courage – Squire’s Hazard, the fifth MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLE.

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From Chapter 6

Libby ran out through the manor house gate and down the road towards the mill. She hadn’t visited her friend Maud for months. It was well before Christmas that they’d last spoken.

As she ran along the narrow track that led down to the mill cottage, Libby remembered her Aunt Margery saying she wasn’t allowed out for any purpose other than running errands for her mistress. Which was really mean. Whereas Lady Margaret was perfectly happy for her to visit Maud. She did seem very kind compared to the horrid Mistress Browghton.

A little out of breath, Libby knocked upon the cottage door. She knew it was Maud coming to answer, from the slight scuffing sound as she dragged her twisted leg across the floor. It took a long time for her leg to mend after she broke it years ago, but mend it did, albeit not quite straight. But the cheerful, energetic Maud she’d known before the accident never did return. She rarely went outside, staying indoors with her ma, doing what she could to help around the house and mind the little ones. Her mood was mostly solemn too, though she did seem to enjoy her chats with Libby, even laughing a bit more than she used to.

Libby had been dying to tell her about Dickon.

Not that Maud was much interested in boys. When she confided her own secrets to Libby, they were never about boys. Mostly, Libby presumed, because Maud thought they wouldn’t be much interested in her. Yet, despite her wonky leg, Maud was just as pretty as she’d always been, and it was obvious she’d make a good wife and mother, with all her years of looking after the cottage and the babies.

But she’d not yet mentioned Dickon when the cottage door flew open and Mistress Miller burst through, a basket on each arm. She’d been down to the village for supplies. Maud got up at once. ‘Shall I help you, Ma?’

Mistress Miller shook her head. ‘No, sweeting, you sit with Libby, as she’s come to see you.’ She looked sidelong at Libby. ‘Why don’t you go out into the garden? It’s chilly still, but it’s a lovely afternoon.’

Libby slipped off her stool. Even if it was cold, it would be easier out there to tell Maud about Dickon. She didn’t want Mistress Miller to overhear her. ‘We could walk down to your orchard, Maudie.’

Maud looked up. ‘You sure you don’t mind, Ma?’

‘’Course not, sweeting. It’ll do you good, a breath of fresh air.’ She caught Libby’s eye again. ‘But wrap up warm.’

Outside, Libby set off through the potager down towards the orchard, which lay beyond the gate at the far end of the garden. There was a bench under the fruit trees where they might sit. Eager to get there, so she could tell Maud what was on her mind, she almost broke into a run. But she soon realised Maud wasn’t close behind her. She was several yards back up the garden, tottering a little on the uneven ground. ‘Are you all right?’ she called.

‘It’s this tufty grass,’ said Maud. ‘I still wobble if I step on a lumpy bit.’

‘I’m sorry, I should’ve waited.’

Maud caught her up. She was breathing hard.

‘D’you still want to go down to the orchard?’ said Libby.

‘Oh, yes. The blossom might be coming out on some of the trees. It is so pretty.’

The pear tree under which they sat was covered with white flowers, and its branches hung low around them. They pulled the frothy sprigs towards their noses and sniffed in the sweet, fruity scent.

Libby took Maud’s hand. ‘If I tell you something, will you promise not to tell anyone else?’

Maud’s eyes widened. ‘Have you got a secret?’

Libby giggled. ‘Promise?’ Maud nodded.

‘It’s about Dickon––’ she began.

Maud interrupted. ‘Libby, you can’t call him “Dickon” any more…’

She pouted. ‘He doesn’t mind. I’ve always called him Dickon and, till he’s lord, he won’t expect me not to.’ She said it with confidence. Though maybe he did mind now and that was why he had been strange with her? ‘Anyway, I wanted to tell you what happened when he came home for Christmas. Did you see him at the feast?’ Maud shrugged. ‘What did you think?’

‘I didn’t think anything.’

‘Not even how handsome he’s become?’

‘Well, yes, of course, he’s handsome. But what of it? It’s not for me to admire him.’

‘Oh, Maudie, you’re so prissy!’ Though she did feel a prickle of unease. ‘Anyway, why not?’

‘You know why not. Anyway, does he admire you?’

Libby hesitated. She was certain she’d seen something in his eyes when he caught sight of her, standing at the door of her ladyship’s chamber. They had sparkled, hadn’t they? Then, later, when he spoke to her in the hall, he’d taken her hand in his, and held it. ‘I’m sure he does.’

Maud shrugged. ‘As long as you’re not thinking something more can come of it.’

Libby flushed. ‘Whatever do you mean?’

‘Oh, Libby, stop it! You know what.’

When Libby was home again, she thought about what Maud had said. How shocked she’d seemed. She suspected she’d never had feelings for a boy.

Yet she’d not told Maud the whole truth about Dickon. She’d made out he had eyes for her, as much as she had for him. When, really, he had dismissed her, hadn’t he, or did she just imagine it?

CAROLYN HUGHES has lived much of her life in Hampshire. With a first degree in Classics and English, she started working life as a computer programmer, then a very new profession. But it was technical authoring that later proved her vocation, as she wrote and edited material, some fascinating, some dull, for an array of different clients, including banks, an international hotel group and medical instruments manufacturers.

Having written creatively for most of her adult life, it was not until her children flew the nest several years ago that writing historical fiction took centre stage, alongside gaining a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Portsmouth University and a PhD from the University of Southampton.

Squire’s Hazard is the fifth MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLE, and more stories about the folk of Meonbridge will follow.

You can connect with Carolyn through her website and on social media.

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Tour hosted by: The Coffee Pot Book Club

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