Life is a Series of Unexpected Coincidences
ALICE MARTIN was born in San Francisco, California, to a Welsh-American mother and an English-American father. At the age of two her family moved to London where her father, an architect, rebuilt houses in the war-ravaged city. She returned to America with her mother and elder brother, Dennis, when her father went missing and was presumed dead. In 1969, her mother died of cancer. Dennis left Dartmouth College to take care of Alice, who was now 15, and to start a clothing design business while Alice finished high school and went away to college in New York.
Fascinated by medieval history, Alice took degrees in history and received a doctorate, which led her to a chair in the history department at Brown University and later, a summer fellowship in the city of York.
During this time, Alice met and fell in love with two men: Tarquin (Quinn) Radcliffe, and Donovan Tryst. Quinn was a cellist and musical prodigy; Donovan Tryst an archeologist and the son of a wealthy New England family. Her love for these men brought her to places in her soul she never thought existed and made her consider whatever future she had more carefully.
"Tallis' Third Tune" and "Scarborough" are available for sale as trade paperbacks at most online bookstores and as e-book downloads at Amazon.com.
A Prodigious Talent and Sorrow
TARQUIN (QUINN) RADCLIFFE is the son of Dr. Andrew Radcliffe, tenor, and professor of music, and Dr. Jane Salimbieni Radcliffe, a psychiatrist. Born in York, England, his parents immigrated to the United States in 1962 where they taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and Jane had a medical practice.
At an early age Quinn showed exceptional talent as a musician and by the time he was 15, performing as a guest soloist with orchestras and symphonies throughout Europe. Before he was thirty he was named Music Director and Conductor of the Royal Symphony Orchestra.
Quinn's relationship with his parents was stormy and it was his friendship and then romantic relationship with Alice Martin that kept him grounded until he had to make a decision about his future.
"Scarborough" and "Tallis' Third Tune" are available for sale as trade paperbacks at most online bookstores and as e-book downloads at Amazon.com.
A Baptism by Fire
GEORGE ASCALON was the son of Aubrey Ascalon, former earl of Grasmere and Bishop of Carlisle. George received the title and honor of Grasmere when his father relinquished them to enter the church. George was knighted by his father at Carlisle in September 1199, and at the order of the Bishop of Carlisle took up Crusade in 1200, and was subsequently shipwrecked near Crete en route home, and found himself in Constantinople, destitute. He became a mercenary to earn the money for his passage to England. George was a witness to the sack of Constantinople in April of 1204 and finally returned to England, disgraced and traumatized by the events in the Byzantine capital. Upon returning to Cumbria, he was charged with fulfilling a promise his father made to a distant lord, and George reluctantly accepted the challenge – to vanquish an evil presence at Eskeleth in Arkengarthdale. George was victorious and returned home to face more challenges from different adversaries.
Never judge a woman by first appearances...
JOANNA called 'Fletcher' was the common-law wife of a fletcher who lived in the town of Grasmere within the Ascalon county of the same name. She was saved from immolation by George Ascalon, Earl of Grasmere in the autumn of 1204 upon his return from the East Roman Empire and took her into his household at Skelwith Castle out of compassion for her situation. The townspeople of Grasmere assumed she was a witch because of her airs and knowledge, her manners, which were unusual traits in most low-born women.
Known for her quick temper, wit, and ability with arms, Joanna accompanied George on his journey to Eskeleth in Arkengarthdale. She witnessed and took an indirect part in The Three Challenges. It was during their journey to Eskeleth that Joanna revealed her true identity and that her family fell from grace due to her father's betrayal of the King of England.
The scion of a house imploding . . .
FRANCESCO DI ALESSANDRO GUIDI DA ROMENA was born posthumously to Albera da Susiana, the widow of Florentine count Alessandro Guidi da Romena. Alessandro was murdered on Christmas Day in 1302 and when the news spread, "church bells rang in thanksgiving," according to the chronicler Giovanni di Sandro. Alessandro's death began a struggle for control of the Romena fortune and Albera sought sanctuary at the church of Santa Croce in Florence. It was here that Francesco was born sometime in the late winter or early spring of 1303. By this time Francesco's paternal uncle, Tommaso Guidi da Porciano, seized control of the Romena legacy. As a result of the inter-familial conflict, Francesco spent his childhood in flight, traveling from one of his mother's castles in the Romagna to the next to escape his uncle's army and assassins.
At the age of sixteen, Francesco went to England and sold his services as a mercenary to King Edward in his battles with the Scots. In 1327, backed by an army, Francesco returned to Tuscany and challenged his uncle, making Porciano sue for peace.
Peace was tenuous. Despite receiving his inheritance and signing an accord with Porciano, Francesco had other enemies. Francesco entered a contract of marriage with the daughter of a powerful Florentine family in order to protect his Tuscan castles and lands but then repudiated the lady and took instead Serafina da Guistini, the illegitimate daughter of Alessandro's business partner and heiress to the lordship of Montebuoni.
Needless to say, conflict continued over the Romena legacy.
An ignominious birth that brought certain consequences . . .
SERAFINA DA DURANTE GIUSTINI was born to Ginevra Salvemini, one of the reputed and famous beauties of Florence in the early fourteenth century, and Durante Giustini, the lord of Montebuoni. Durante was the business partner of Alessandro da Romena in a wool company. He was accused of Alessandro's murder and was exiled from Florence despite his protestations of innocence. It was said that Alessandro and Durante quarreled over Ginevra and his enemies sought to ruin him.
While in exile, Ginevra and Durante met in secret and two sons and a daughter were born of their relationship. The sons died in childhood of plague, but several years later Serafina was born. As heir to the lordship of Montebuoni, she was considered as great a matrimonial prize as any noblewoman of Florence despite the circumstances of her birth and her father's exile.
At the age of eight, Serafina was betrothed to a son of the powerful and wealthy Peruzzi family, Niccolo Peruzzi. The Peruzzi were the Giustini family's bankers and their influence with the government of the Florentine Commune secured Durante's pardon when Serafina was fifteen. To reclaim his fortune and secure his future, Durante sought the help of a Tuscan nobleman named Gherardo Ranieri, the count of Verrucole. The contract with the Peruzzi was broken and Serafina was betrothed to Ranieri.
Serafina refused to marry Ranieri but she was forced into the marriage and was kept the forested mountains of the Garfagnana until Ranieri's sudden death a year later. She returned to Florence a wealthy widow and subsequently married Francesco da Romena. Their union started a civil war in Florence the like of which hadn't been seen in the city since the Guelf and Ghibelline conflict of the thirteenth century.