Come to Me, new medieval debut

I’m honored to have a longtime writing friend join us today with her debut, Come to Me, published by Entangled Press.  Oberon has one of the most authentic medieval voices I’ve ever read.  Be sure to read the excerpt of her novel at the bottom of the post and see what I mean.  With that, let me present Oberon Wonch.

OberonThank you, Banditas, for having me today! I’m honored to be pampered in your lair. That Sven is a sweetie with his mimosas and cute little pumpkin tarts, isn’t he?

So, let’s talk romance. Did you all read the literary classics in school? The Scarlet Letter, Romeo and Juliet, Tess of the d’Urbervilles? Did you, like me, want the relationships in those books to work out for the protagonists? I even hoped Ishmael in Moby Dick would find a gal and settle down. With only a few notable exceptions, the books we were told best presented the human condition all ended unhappily, usually for the female protagonist (Anna Karenina, anyone?) but often for the male lead as well.

While reading these books—and many more in college as I pursued a degree in World Literature and studied masterpieces in their originalTales_serial languages—I was more interested in the romantic relationships between the heroes and heroines. I desperately wanted the protagonists to find love and happily-ever-afters.

Time after time upon reaching the finale, however, I was disappointed. Rather than sit back and nod sagely over how well the book demonstrated the wretchedness of life and our insignificance in a cruel world, I wept in frustration for the love that never was.

I longed for Tess Durbeyfield to escape her pursuers and be happy forever with her faithful Angel Clare, or for Hester Prynne and Reverend Frederick_Leighton_-_The_Reconciliation_of_the_Montagues_and_Capulets_over_the_Dead_Bodies_of_Romeo_and_JulietDimmesdale to overcome the villainous Chillingworth and sail off with their love child Pearl. For Juliet to awaken in time to stop Romeo from his rash and, frankly, cowardly act.

During this time, I was writing my own stories, too. Since grade school, I’d dreamed of entertaining readers the way my favorite authors did me. Jules Verne’s tales were a big influence on my early work. At some point in adulthood, I started reading romance novels, and thank heavens I did. There, I found a world of great literature, characters and conflicts pertinent to my life experiences, and men and women who overcame obstacles to live together in love and harmony. Bingo!

After that, I knew what I wanted to write. I think it was watching the movie Roxanne with Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah thatRoxanne really clinched it for me. That film is wonderful! Funny, lighthearted, tender with an HEA.

But it was based on a famous French play, Cyrano de Bergerac, written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand. You may have heard of this literary treasure in which the swashbuckling Cyrano of the Big Nose is too shy to court the lady he loves, but he helps his handsome, less glib friend do so by feeding him poetic love words to give to the lady. A fun, romantic trope, right?

However, did you know that play ended unhappily for poor Cyrano? Yes! He helped this handsome, young fellow court Roxanne, who actually marries the guy! It’s only years later, after Roxanne’s husband has been killed and Cyrano lies dying in her arms, that she learns Cyrano had been cyranobehind all the lovely words. How did such a story become synonymous with romance and courtship? Who knows!

It was seeing how the movie reworked the classic to have a happy ending that made me realize I could write romance as a way to sort of “fix” all those monuments of literature that had disappointed me.

Thus, my first book, Come to Me, was born. It’s a new treatment of the Cyrano story, set in my favorite time and place (medieval England), with a bit of the beloved and very romantic Sound of Music mixed in.ComeToMe-500x7501

HEA all around, thank you very much!

Do you have a romantic literary classic with a tragic ending that you would like to see made into a romance with a happy ending? Comment about it below. One commenter will be randomly chosen to receive a digital copy of Come to Me.

 

A maiden’s duty
becomes a woman’s desire…

Comte Grégoire FitzHenri, the new Earl of Shyleburgh, is known for his prowess as one of the Norman conqueror’s most favored warriors…but not for his romantic sensibility or his command of the English language. Now Grégoire wishes to court his elegant betrothed before taking his wedding vows—which means an interpreter…and much-needed lessons in courtly love.

Bridget of Shyleburgh has been secretly in love with Grégoire since his visit when he was promised in marriage to her sister. But when he returns five years later as their new earl, Bridget is tasked with translating for him—including his love letters and awkward attempts to woo her sister. Mortified at first, Bridget soon finds herself completely charmed by his whispers of love and desire. Grégoire’s heated missives tempt a fair maiden to stray down a path filled with forbidden pleasures.

But his words are meant for another…aren’t they?

 

Link to order: http://amzn.to/1Q4VYRp

 

Additional Excerpt:

Blind panic drained Bridget’s limbs of warmth. “I don’t read those kinds of poems. I read the gospels and ancient sages.”

FitzHenri ignored that. “Simply substitute Aislinn fair for Blancheflor, or Guinevere.”

“I tell you I don’t know those poems.”

“I’ll get you started.” His impassive gaze remained fixed on hers—that dark, forest-colored gaze with the blackest lashes. But when his fierce Norman lips moved again, Bridget instinctively sighted on them. She shivered over every delicious vowel he articulated. “Lady fair, of the crimson lips and snowy breast…”

Her face heated. Those words were so…so evocative, and she just knew she’d gone as red as the flamboyant apron Nurse wore on feast days. Heavens! And her sister was watching them!

She licked her lips and sucked in air. I can do this. I can do this.

After whirling stiffly toward Aislinn, she delivered the lord’s words in English as indifferently as she could.

Her sister blushed sweetly and averted her shining eyes. Bridget ground her jaw. Even Aislinn’s shyness was delicate and enchanting.

The earl said, “You know the rest. Tell her.”

“But I don’t know the rest!”

“Then make something up. You don’t expect me to utter these absurdities, do you? All that drivel and sniveling.”

She stared at him. “How is this possible? You are famed for wooing women and yet you don’t bring gifts. You don’t dance. You memorize love poems but sneer at them.”

“I’m a man of action. Not a minstrel.” He winked. “Tell her something…” In the air he waved a forefinger, drawing Bridget’s gaze to his handsome ring of garnet set in gold. “Something about her sweetness and lovely face.”

Bridget met her sister’s eager, bright eyes and observed the anticipation there. For whatever reason, Aislinn was making an effort to please her intended husband and be pleased by him. All Bridget needed to do was nudge her sister, metaphorically speaking, a little closer in his direction. Indulging the girl’s vanity was certainly a way to do it.

This was all part of her plan, she reminded herself. Let Aislinn believe the earl found her irresistible, that he loved her. What woman could resist that? Bridget would also convince his lordship that Aislinn loved him. Everyone would be happy. For, if Aislinn fell in love with the earl, Bridget could forget about him and his disturbing kiss. She could never desire the man her sister loved. Never.

So what if she had to fabricate some of the words? She was a creative sort.

 

 

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Comments

30 Comments

  • Jane says:

    Welcome Oberon,
    I hated Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles when I read it in high school and really despised Alec. I don’t really consider Romeo and Juliet a romance, but I would to see those two kids get a happy ending.

    • Hi Jane!

      you know, I remember reading Tess of the d’Ubervilles when I was in 10th grade. I can remember the classroom and where I sat, but I can not remember the plot of that book. Nothing. I know that a movie was/is being made of the book. Guess I’ll have to go to reactivate those memories 🙂 . I figure how good can a story be if I can’t remember liking or hating it?

      • Oberon Wonch says:

        Very true, Donna. How good could it be if you can’t remember it? LOL that you can remember the classroom and where you sat, but not the book itself! 🙂

        I think they made a Hollywood movie of it a few years back. It didn’t do well. A BBC version was aired more recently, and that was pretty good. Nice to look at. But still, what a bummer of an ending.

    • Oberon Wonch says:

      Hi, Jane! Thanks for stopping by!

      I had a love-hate thing going with Tess of the d’Urbervilles. In the beginning of the story, I really, really wanted Alec to be her hero and for the story to be a romance. And that was before I even knew what romance novels were. I was disappointed that Alec was so unlikable and never really redeemed himself. I still loved Hardy’s writing and the way he depicted the desolate moors and the people who lived there, though.

  • flchen1 says:

    Congratulations, Oberon! Yes, I did always want to rework those to have happy endings! It’s also kind of why I tend to avoid “literary fiction” these days (which I consider another name for “depressing stuff with heartbreaking endings”)… I think people tend to think of Romeo and Juliet as romantic, but honestly, that isn’t romance! Who wants a story where the hero and heroine end up dead??

    • Hi Fichen!

      Yes. I’ve always thought of Romeo and Juliet as one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. But a story with young love, sword fights, violation of parental edicts, sex and the ultimate sacrifice – dying for love –what could be more romantic to a teenager? LOL. Man, we were sick puppies 🙂 . It’s a wonder we survived adolescence.

  • Laney4 says:

    My first thought too was Romeo and Juliet, as it IS a classic and it DOES have a tragic ending. So I started thinking about it and wondered if Wuthering Heights would qualify. Couldn’t believe what all I read after Googling to find Sparks Notes, though. I read Wuthering Heights in high school many moons ago (40!) and remember that I didn’t like it. What I did NOT remember were all the details that Wikipedia gave. It’s no WONDER I didn’t like Wuthering Heights! Way too many people to sort out, although, yes, it had MANY tragic endings for ALL the characters. Wow.

    • Oberon Wonch says:

      Welcome, Laney4! Thanks for chiming in.

      I thought of Wuthering Heights, too. This is a weird one because I’m not sure it has a happy ending or not, LOL! We all think of the main hero and heroine being Catherine and Heathcliff, who never even really got together, let alone had a happy ending. But Catherine’s daughter Catherine and Heathcliff’s step-nephew (I think it was?) did get their HEA in the end.

      What a frustrating story! The whole time I struggled through it, I just wanted Catherine to get over herself and for Heathcliff to find some honor. Then they could have had their HEA. That would have been a terrific romance arc, with characters who learned a thing or two.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Oberon Wonch says:

    Hi, Flchen! Thank you for the congrats!

    I guess most people wouldn’t include R and J as a romance, but many certainly think of it as the pinnacle of “romantic.”

    For a second there I thought about what a romance reworking of R and J would be like, and then I realized many romances, especially Highlander stories with feuding clans and the hero and heroine getting together despite that (or because of it) are retellings of the classic.

    Thanks for chiming in!

  • Saralee says:

    Hi, Oberon! What a great scene from your book — can’t wait to read it!

    Stories that end happily ever after are my favorites, too. Oh, I read R & J and The Scarlet Letter, like everyone else, but the literature we were made to read in school never really stuck in my mind. Maybe that was because I wasn’t very interested in characters who wound up unhappy. After all, what did they have to show me about finding the happiness I sought in my own life?

    Now I know that I’m supposed to admire their struggles, but that’s not what makes me read a book over and over and wish I were living the story. Give me a happy ending every time!

    • Oberon Wonch says:

      Hi, Saralee! Happy endings rule!

      I remember how disdainful my teachers and (later) professors were about literature that ended happily. They really tried to instill in me the idea that literature wasn’t literature unless it was dark and ugly and showed how futile life was. (And was written by men, of course.) My high school didn’t even read Jane Austen. I guess Jane Eyre was dark and dreary enough, because we did read that. Maybe the teachers failed to notice the tiny bit of happy at the end.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Oberon, welcome and congratulations on your debut! That’s a great excerpt.

    I tend to avoid romantic stories that have unhappy endings and so have managed not to read any since high school. The ones I read then have already been mentioned by others. Regardless, I’m all in favor of stories that correct these unhappy outcomes. 🙂

    • Oberon Wonch says:

      Hi, Nancy! Great to hear from you.

      Sadly, I kept reading classics all through college. I now know I was seeking the all-too-rare happy ending. I just kept getting disappointed. 🙂

      Thanks for the congrats!

      • I was a history major and so read a lot of other unfortunate stories, just not usually ones involving anything much romantic. It occurs to me, though, that the unhappy ending I would love to see changed is the Morte d’Arthur. I would give Arthur and Guinevere their HEA and hook Lancelot up with someone perfect for him yet not married to his best friend.

  • Minna says:

    I can’t think of a romantic literary classic with a tragic ending that I would like to see made into a romance. There must have been some, but I just can’t thhink of one. Gone With the Wind is the only one that comes to mind, but oddly enough, I just can’t see those 2 characters having a happy ending -not with each other, anyway.

    • Oberon Wonch says:

      Minna, yeah, I don’t know if those two could have worked things out. Although, I really wish they had. I never read the sequel, more recently published. Anyone else? Did Rhett and Scarlett get together in that?

      Anyway, that would be a good novel to try to fix by giving them an HEA. Must think about that…

      Thanks for the idea, Minna!

      • Minna says:

        I actually read it (wish I hadn’t) and yes, they did get back together, but I think Margaret Mitchell knew where to end the story with Gone With the Wind.

        It’s been years since I read either Gone With the Wind or Scarlett (or saw the movies), but as far as I can remember, Scarlett didn’t seem like a particularly nice or likeable woman, so is it any wonder if Rhett finally had enough?

  • Sounds like a great story. I just bought it on Amazon!

  • Thanks, Oberon. I enjoy a good cry, so I go for tragic love stories. We can’t get them in romance fiction, probably nowhere in today’s pop culture. But there are always novels, legends, movies, and real-life romantic tragedies from the past.

    To answer your question: Well, there aren’t any literary classics in which I’d turn a tragic ending into an HEA. The closest I can come is this.

    Though it’s too new to be a classic, and I’m not sure it’ll ever become one, George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” contains a romantic relationship I wish had ended happily. It’s the love of Jon Snow and Ygritte. It really hurt me when she died.

    I wish the author had brought back to life both of them. Not just one!

    Good luck!

    • Oberon Wonch says:

      Hi, Mary Ann! Nice to “see” you today! I’ve stayed away from the whole Game of Thrones because of hearing about so many great characters getting killed off. Well, at least in the TV series. Is the book the same?

      I love that you enjoy tragic love stories and still adore romances, too. There is room in the world for all of it, isn’t there?

      Thank you for visiting with me in the lair!

      • Oberon – The HBO series follows the books very closely – except they’ve added more sex. LOL. The books aren’t nearly as graphic – but in terms of killing off characters, the series is right on target.

    • Mary Anne – I’m a fan of Game of Thrones as well. I think there were multiple romantic relationships in the series but I can’t think of a single one that the hero/heroine didn’t get killed (except that Lannister incestuous duo and we won’t go there). What REALLY bothered me is that in the book Robb Stark’s pregnant bride wasn’t at the Red wedding. She was visiting her mother. I figured her child would grow up seeking revenge for his father’s murder. But in the show, she is killed along with her husband. I think there are more dead actors than still living ones at this point.

  • Kate Sparks says:

    Love that this period is again being written about!!

    • Oberon Wonch says:

      Me, too, Kate! For a while there in the mid 2000s I despaired of ever finding a new medieval romance. But you can’t hold back a good love story, so authors fought to bring medievals back to readers.

      There’s nothing like a strong, noble warrior who fights for his lady love, is there?

      Thank you for chiming in!

  • Oberon Wonch says:

    Thank you, Donna, and all the Banditas for welcoming me to The Lair and allowing me this opportunity to share a bit about my writing. And thank you, everyone who stopped by, whether you commented or not. I had a great time chatting with everyone!

    Happy reading, all!