The Wicked Cousin – a brief extract

It was a long moment before Sebastian could make his lungs work. Finally, he groaned, ‘Hell, Adrian. That is truly evil.’
‘Take it or leave it,’ grinned Lord Sarre. ‘This way you have eight weeks in which to refuse all other wagers whilst allowing your reputation to die a natural death.’
‘You have a very devious mind,’ grumbled Sebastian.
‘I know. Well?’
‘I think I must be mildly insane.’ Mr Audley held out his hand and, when his lordship grasped it, said, ‘All right. I agree. But if something goes disastrously wrong and I end up at the altar, don’t be surprised if I shoot you.’
‘You’re not a complete idiot, Sebastian. If you end up at the alter, it will be because you want to.’

THE WICKED COUSIN – ROCKLIFFE BOOK FOUR

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THE  WICKED  COUSIN  is now available for pre-order

Sebastian Audley has spent years setting every city in Europe by the ears – so the rumour that he is finally returning to London is the hottest gossip of the Season.
In Cassandra Delahaye’s opinion, love affairs and duels, coupled with a name for never refusing even the most death-defying wager, suggest that Mr Audley is short of a brain cell or two.
As for Sebastian, he had known that living down his wild past in a society with an insatiable appetite for scandal would be difficult;  what he hadn’t expected was to find himself the target of a former lover’s dangerous obsession.

Available now to pre-order from Amazon  The Wicked Cousin at Amazon UK
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Mortuary Swords

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Basic cut-and-thrust broadswords favoured by cavalry officers and used throughout the Civil Wars were made in England between 1625 and 1670.  They had a wooden or corded grip,  a metal basket-hilt to protect the hand and usually a two-edged blade between thirty-three and thirty-four inches long.  In 1645, two hundred of them were made for the New Model Army at a cost of five shillings each – hard to believe these days.

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The main point of interest in these swords lies in the basket-hilt.  These were frequently decorated in some form or other; a coat-of-arms, a man in armour, intricate patterns of leaves – presumably whatever the purchaser wanted and was willing to pay extra for.  (It is reasonable to assume that the five-shilling ones, being mass-produced, were plain.)
But following the execution of Charles l in January 1649, a new trend was born.  Basket-hilts started to be engraved with small portraits of long-haired men with pointed beards; faces bearing a striking resemblance to the late King.  And these blades – which were only made in England – soon became known as mortuary swords.

It’s impossible to know how many were made but authentic 17th century examples are now very rare. However, a few days ago I was lucky enough to acquire one – to be honest, something I’ve wanted for years but never expected to own – so hence my excitement and this post.

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When you hold a significant piece of history in your hand, it’s hard not to speculate about its own particular story.  I know that my sword would have been made around 1650 and that it almost certainly belonged to a cavalry officer.  I can guess that its first owner was probably a Cavalier because it seems unlikely that the Roundheads wanted Charles l memorabilia.  And because my sword has seen some action – though not a great deal – I can wonder if it was at Dunbar in 1650 or Worcester in 1651.
Its edge is still extremely sharp, its point thoroughly wicked … and it is still capable of doing a great deal of damage.  And the weight of it gives me a healthy respect for the strength and stamina of the men who wielded weapons like this whilst on horseback.

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