Blogger Book Fair: Meet Marsha Canham

This year's Blogger Book Fair theme is to let your imagination travel to far-away places. Since I love to travel, but can't always match my wishes with my budget, I let my writing take me where ships and planes can't go. Even better, since I write historical romances, I can visit the dark forests of medieval England in armor, stalk the Highlands of Scotland in a kilt, sail the high seas in breeches and a cambric shirt, or...ride the moonlit moors as a highwayman.

Handsome robin hood type thieves have always fascinated me, starting with The Scarlet Pimpernel on down through Zorro in all of his incarnations.  When I wrote Pale Moon Rider, I had The Highwayman poem in mind, with dark windswept moors, a damsel in distress, the handsome highwayman riding to her rescue. Full of action and adventure and of course...romance.

Here is an excerpt from Pale Moon Rider:

It was a fine night for treachery—dark with a pale moon rising. The silence was profound enough for the shadowy figure seated on horseback to hear the soft slither of the mist curling around the trunks of the trees and the moisture dripping off the sleek surfaces of the leaves overhead. He felt the chill of the night air through the heavy wool of his greatcoat and kept the uppermost of two collars standing high, almost touching the brim of his tricorn. A glitter of wary eyes showed through the narrow gap between the collar and hat; they were the only feature that would have been visible even if the light of a dozen lanterns surrounded him.
“Horses,” came a whisper from the shadows to his right.
Tyrone Hart nodded by way of acknowledgment even though the gesture went unseen. He had already heard the pounding of hooves on the road, the churning of wheels, and the rattle of traces.
The whisper came again, sparked by a hint of excitement. “Double-braced. Big bastard by the sound of it.”
The highwayman’s long, thick lashes momentarily descended as he transferred the reins into one gloved hand. After running the other briefly along his stallion’s neck, he reached beneath the flap of his greatcoat and withdrew a long-snouted pistol. One of a fine pair of flintlock snaphaunces he wore belted to his waist, the weapon was as exquisite as it was deadly. Silver-mounted, with gold inlaid barrels, the walnut stock was carved with grotesques and floral patterns, the designs highlighted by rich foliate work. Similar snarling monsters shaped the locks—one for each of the over-and-under barrels, making each pistol capable of firing two shots before it needed reloading.
Tyrone curled his long, gloved fingers around the curved stock and, through force of habit, raised the gun to his nose; a gentle flaring of the chiseled nostrils verified that both pans were primed with gunpowder. In the past eight months there had been only one instance when either he or Robert Dudley had been caught off guard during the course of a robbery, and even then, it had been more of an annoyance than a threat. A fat, oafish lord, returning from a night of gambling and drinking, had tried to impress his beautiful young companion with his bluster and had made a clumsy attempt to retrieve and discharge his own gun when Tyrone’s back was turned. A calm, accurate shot from one of the snaphaunces had raised a ribbon of blood on the nobleman’s hand and sent him into a dead faint, face-down in a puddle of mud.
Hart spared a glance into the shadows where Dudley’s horse was nickering with impatience. His own black brute, Ares, named after the god of war, stood like a block of granite beneath him, motionless, soundless, unseen in the gloom save for the wary puffs of steamy breath blown into the surrounding mist.
Hart concentrated on the moon-washed ribbon of road again. The coach was intermittently visible through the trees as it approached along the winding track. A single brass riding lamp was mounted on the roof, its glow not only making it easy to track the vehicle’s progress along the road, but also defining the silhouette of the driver seated in the front box.
“A fancy rig, all right,” Dudley whispered. “Two matched geldings, marquetry on the doors … can you see if it has a crest?”
“Not yet.”
“No outriders. No escort. What do you make of it?”
“I make it a curious enough sight to warrant a closer look.”
“Talk at the White Swan tonight was that the governor is getting quite apoplectic over the number of good citizens being waylaid on his roads. I heard he dressed your friend Colonel Roth down in front of the entire regiment and by the time the governor was finished frothing at the mouth, the colonel was so livid, he slashed his fencing partner half to death during a practice session. And that was with dulled blades.”
Tyrone’s dark eyes narrowed. Colonel Bertrand Roth was neither his friend nor a very inventive adversary. He was a pompous braggart who had specifically requested a transfer to Coventry four months ago in order to oversee the capture and hanging of the elusive highwayman known to the local citizenry as Captain Starlight. Since issuing his vow to see Starlight hanging from a gibbet before Christmas, there had been a marked increase in patrols and coaches sent out as decoys full of soldiers. And while Hart did not take the threat lightly, he did not think this particular conveyance was part of any such scheme. For one thing, it was far too grand to be trusted into the hands of Roth’s oafish dragoons. For another, Tyrone possessed an uncanny, and usually reliable, instinct for danger, and the only thing he sensed about the polished, well-appointed coach approaching them now was that the occupant was inviting trouble by being out so late at night on such a deserted stretch of road.
Caution, nevertheless, was the name of the game, and caution had kept him playing—and alive—for the past six years.
“If Roth is behind this, we will know it soon enough.”
He gave the reins a gentle tug, wheeling Ares around. The coach was just drawing abreast of them now, and it would take at least six minutes for such a cumbersome vehicle to navigate the upcoming section of the road where it snaked between two forested hills. A man on horseback could cover the distance in half the time by cutting over the crest and be waiting in position with a pretty ambush on the other side when the big spoked wheels crossed the midpoint. He and Dudley had ridden the route, paced it, timed it half a dozen times by daylight, and he was confident enough to keep Ares to an easy lope. Thin filaments of displaced fog curled in their wake, closing like a curtain behind them. The horses’ hooves made almost no sound as they passed over the spongy earth, and as Tyrone rode, he looked up and noted the moon where it flickered through the tops of the trees. It was full and blue-white, ringed with a gauze-like aura of menace. A good moon for the business they were about.
They reached the ambuscade with plenty of time to spare, and Tyrone, dismounting briefly, dragged a rotted branch out of the shadows. It was no thicker than a man’s wrist and would be nearly invisible from the tall perch of the driver’s box, yet it would feel as if the coach had struck something large enough to have caused potential damage to the wheels or axles. The driver would naturally be obliged to stop and inspect, and when he did, Dudley would be there to assure him there was nothing to keep him from continuing on his journey … once the passengers had been relieved of the burden of any valuables they might be carrying, of course.
It had been Dudley’s idea to switch roles tonight. If it was a trap, he would feel much better having Tyrone’s guns behind him in the shadows. Hart was not completely comfortable with the arrangement. Dudley had suffered a badly broken leg several years back and walked with a heavy limp. On horseback, he was as light and swift as any man, but if there was trouble and he was unhorsed for any reason …
Tyrone pushed the thought aside before it was finished. Dudley was well aware of the risks: They both were.
As the sound of harnesses and rolling wheels approached, he swung easily into Ares’ saddle again. He shrugged the collar of his coat higher and adjusted the brim of his tricorn lower and, after looping the reins over the front of his saddle, drew the second snaphaunce from beneath his greatcoat and thumbed both forward hammers into half-cock. Ares responded to the pressure of his master’s knees and stood still as stone, man and beast becoming one with the mist-drenched shadows.

.¸¸•.¸¸.•´¯`• (¯`•♥•´¯)•´¯`•.¸¸.•.¸¸.


Marsha's website
And Marsha's blog, Caesars Through the Fence 

Pale Moon Rider can be found at:
Barnes and Noble

1 comment:

  1. I am SO squeeing over here. I have loved Marsha Canham's work for AGES upon AGES. So glad you featured her.

    Check out her Pride of Lions books. SWOONY and really sound history.


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