Thursday, January 10, 2013

Caroline, Countess of Ravensbrook & Giveaway

In Defense of Ladies Who Fence

By Caroline, Countess of Ravensbrook

Whose courtship and early marriage is told of in the steamy novel


by Christy English


 When I was but a girl, my father encouraged me to learn to wield a sword. Indeed, not just a sword, but a rapier, and a hunting knife as well. On the day before he left us to fight the Usurper, who most are polite enough to call Napoleon now that he is safely tucked away at St Helena, my father showed me first how to hold a sword. I, for one, have not forgiven the Usurper, for not only did his greed and avarice for power take away my father, it took away many a good man from his hearth and home, never to return again. We were fortunate indeed that my father did come back, but only after ten years, when I was a woman grown, and on the way to leaving the house myself, and forever. Upon my marriage, I have had occasion to return to my father’s house for visits, but the married women among us will know what I mean. Once the door to childhood closes, there is no way to force it open again, not even for the space of an hour.


But on the day before my father left us, when I was eight years old, he was polishing his cavalry sword. When I came upon him doing so, and begged him, he was kind enough to show me a few thrusts from the ground. Though, an officer without his horse might as well be dead already.


He was quick to tell me that, too.


After he was gone, I found an old cane which I polished assiduously and then began to brandish like a cavalry sword as he had shown me. I had begun to ride a horse by then, but once I picked up my cane, the sword of my imagination, only old Hercules, who had been wounded in battle and sent home to honorable retirement, could tolerate me on his back. We became fast friends, and indeed, Hercules became my first teacher.


When my father’s veterans began to find their way home to us in Yorkshire, wounded and defeated as they were, while the war raged on, a few saw me riding Hercules, who they remembered well, and watched as he and I made our way through our paces, stunted and short-armed as I was at the age of nine. They had seen a great deal of war, and not all of it on the battlefield. They would never speak to me of what they had seen, but it seemed they all believed that a woman should not be defenseless, that indeed, a woman who could cut her own throat was a woman who was always safe from the worst of fates.


I have met few women with the stomach to do so. Indeed, I am not entirely certain if I would have the stomach, or the fortitude for it. Whatever fate doles out, it seems to me that life always offers hope, but I did not tell my father’s veterans that. Instead, I let them teach me to fight, drinking in all they knew, and then some, so that each were challenging the other how to teach me yet one more hold, one more thrust, one more jab to the eye or the chin or the groin, the thrust that might one day save my life, should warfare ever come to Yorkshire, or should I have the misfortune, in my married state, be caught unawares in a nasty part of London.


This is of course unlikely for a gentleman’s daughter, especially for the daughter of a baron, but I did not tell them this. Indeed, they seemed to think my father’s title and position little enough protection in the world. Paul, my last and best teacher, was clear that no woman was safe, and that to carry my own blade, indeed more than one, and to know how to use it, was the only answer. I did not abuse him of this notion, but learned to fence like a gentleman from him, too, much to the chagrin of my husband.


Lord Anthony, Earl of Ravensbrook, has had many a sleepless nights at the thought of my wielding a blade. But he has seen me do so, and he has even witnessed a blade saving my life more than once, so by now, the third year of our marriage, I believe he is content to let me be. I have hopes that he will even agree to let me teach our daughter how to fight. Not on horseback, as I first learned, but real combat for a woman, in close quarters, hand to hand, when a woman has nothing but her wit and her blade to stand between herself and ruin.


Freddie is almost two years old, and I am enceinte again, so I have laid my weapons down. Indeed, there seems no harm in being quiet for a few months while the baby grows within me. I know already in my heart that she is a girl, and one less spirited than I, I think, for she is docile and delicate even as she rests within me, rarely kicking as Freddie did, but only turning over and pressing her foot or her hand to mine when I touch the side of my belly. But she is in there, and she waits to see my face just as I wait to see hers.


Anthony will no doubt wrap us both in cotton wool for the rest of our lives, and while I will indulge him for the most part, I will teach my daughter to defend herself. For no matter how doting her husband one day will be, there will come a time when she is alone, with only her blades to defend her. When that day comes, my daughter will be ready, as I was.


How to Tame a Willful Wife (Shakespeare in Love, #1)

 Description of How To Tame A Willful Wife:

 1. Forbid her from riding astride
2. Hide her dueling sword
3. Burn all her breeches and buy her silk drawers
4. Frisk her for hidden daggers
5. Don't get distracted while frisking her for hidden daggers...
Anthony Carrington, Earl of Ravensbrook, expects a biddable bride. A man of fiery passion tempered by the rigors of war into steely self-control, he demands obedience from his troops and his future wife. Regardless of how fetching she looks in breeches.
Promised to the Earl of Plump Pockets by her impoverished father, Caroline Montague is no simpering miss. She rides a war stallion named Hercules, fights with a blade, and can best most men with both bow and rifle. She finds Anthony autocratic, domineering, and...ridiculously handsome.
It's a duel of wit and wills in this charming retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. But the question is...who's taming whom?

Christy English
Author of How To Tame A Willful Wife
and the upcoming Love On A Midsummer Night
from Sourcebooks Casablanca

I'm delighted to announce that Author Christy English is giving a paperback copy to a lucky person on Layered Pages! To qualify your chance to win, please leave a comment about Caroline's post and why you would like to have a copy of Christy's fabulous novel in the comment are with your name and email address. The Giveaway will run through the 31st of January and the winner will be announced on February the 1st!


  1. I am intrigued by this book! I like the concept of a strong, self sufficient woman who LETS her protective husband swaddle her in cotton wool, and I just adore the instruction that he frisk her for blades but "don't get distracted while frisking her for hidden daggers". The potential scenes that phrase conjures are just ... PHEW!

    1. Thanks Annabel :) Anthony and Caroline don't start out as a love match, but there is a lot of fire between them from the beginning. I hope you enjoy the book. :)

  2. Oh, and by the way: email adress is

  3. I have heard rave reviews for this book. Sounds like a great read. Thank you for the giveaway.

    1. Thanks for coming by Marsha...I hope you enjoy the book once you get your hands on it :)

  4. Ooh, this sounds like an entertaining read- one I might not want to put down! :) I love strong heroines that go against Society and its strictures for women! Looking forward to reading this and seeing the battle of wills between Anthony and Caroline! :)
    Thanks so much for the giveaway!
    Jakki L.
    jakki36 AT yahoo DOT com

    1. Thanks for coming by and entering Jakki. I love strong women's always fun to see what they'll get up to next.

  5. I would love to read the rest of this story. It sounds like a great read.


    1. Thanks for coming by Trichie...I hope you enjoy the book :)

  6. I love the idea of restaging Shakespeare's plays in different time periods and taking the characters and turning them loose! I'd love to read this one!

    1. Thanks for coming by Teresa. Ever since I saw The Taming of the Shrew, I wanted to change it up...and Sourcebooks Casablanca let me. :) Needless to say I am thrilled. I hope you enjoy my take on the Bard.

  7. I would love to meet Caroline, a fitting successor to the passion of Alais and Eleanor. Huzzah, Christy!

  8. This sounds like a fun book to read. I love a couple who can give and take and continue to love. As much as the Taming of the Shrew is a great story, I would enjoy reading your version of it. Thank you for this chance to do it for free! sheabeforewilliamsATyahooDOTcom