People born under the sign of the Ox are known for their honesty, dependability, strength, determination and diligence. Oxes are also supposed to have great patience, but something must have gone wrong with me. Learning patience has been one aspect of my life’s journey. I’m getting better. Honest.
Let’s all hope the Year of the Ox will be an improvement over last year!
The Spotlight is on Alina K. Field’s latest release, Fated Hearts, a Regency romance variation on the bard’s Scottish play, Macbeth. Alina tells how this all came to pass:
In 2020 I had the opportunity to participate in a project with several other authors, retelling tragic stories as Regency-set romance. My contribution to the Tragic Characters in Classic Literature Series is a retelling of Macbeth. The real Macbeth had a fairly successful (though of course, bloody) reign in eleventh century Scotland, even making a pilgrimage to Rome.
More dramatic are Shakespeare’s hero and his lady, characters truly unfit to star in a Regency romance novel. Not only do they not have a Happily-Ever-After, they both die!
And so, with the complete artistic license and abundance of hubris we series authors are claiming, I set about bringing Lord and Lady Macbeth back from the dead and setting them in Regency England.
Fated Hearts takes place twenty years after Macbeth’s and his lady’s “demise”, i.e., the failure of a disastrous lawsuit, allegations of infidelity, and a divorce that sent Macbeth off to fight in the wars with France and his wife into a hole of depression that has taken years to climb out of.
With Napoleon vanquished, Macbeth is on half-pay in London, seeking employment. His ex-wife has traveled there also, on the chance of confronting him and introducing him to the daughter he disavowed. Meanwhile, an old villain has also appeared to plague them. Older and wiser, they meet again in London in March 1815 during the worst of the Corn Riots, in a week that ends with the arrival of news that Bonaparte has escaped from Elba.
Fated Hearts, A Love After All Retelling of the Scottish Play
A Regency Romance, part of the Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series
by Alina K. Field
Heat rating: R
Everything he believed to be true was a lie.
Plagued by hellish memories and rattling visions of battle to come, a Scottish Baron returning from two decades at war meets the daughter he denied was his, and the wife he divorced, and learns that everything he’d believed to be true was a lie. What he can’t deny is that she’s the only woman he’s ever loved. They’re not the young lovers they once were, but when passion flares, it burns more hotly than ever it did in their youth.
They soon discover, it wasn’t fate that drove them apart, but a jealous enemy, who played on his youthful arrogance and her vulnerability. Now that old enemy has resurfaced, more treacherous than ever. When his lady falls into a trap, can he reach her in time to rescue this love that never died?
The beginning of Fated Hearts
Friday, 3 March, 1815
A crush was what they called these suffocating occasions, and the term was apt.
Major Finnley Macbeth, Scottish baron and late of his majesty’s Highland Brigade, shifted his weight from the leg that still ached like the devil, and scanned the room for his quarry, an undersecretary in the Home Office who he’d met at the army’s winter quarters in Frenada.
From his spot near a damask covered wall, he measured each breath, trying to calm his rising unease. The heavy scent of perfume mixed with fine beeswax and hothouse florals unsettled more than his stomach. The shimmering silks and waving plumes threatened to stir the disquieting visions plaguing him lately.
Fire, explosions, rain, the screams of men and horse.
He squeezed his hands into fists. These were not the hellish memories of the recent past, dammit, but rattling visions of some battle yet to come.
Or not. Foretelling the future was for Travellers and crones, wasn’t it? Not battle-hardened men like himself.
He inhaled slowly, holding the breath for a count, and then eased the air out. Best keep his purpose in mind—he was here to track down Sir Thomas Abernathy, lately arrived in London, and rumored to be attending this rout.
His gaze swept the room, seeking the distinctive bald pate. In spite of his own forty-three years, his eyesight was still keen enough to make out a sniper or spot the dust of a fleeing stag. Keen enough as well to relish the deep décolletages and clinging, delicate, almost transparent skirts on display this night, a vision far more cheering than the one the Sight was showing him.
A more modestly clad woman stood alone halfway across the ballroom, her back turned to him, surveying the room as he was doing.
A memory stabbed him, laced with an old shame. He’d once known a lass with hair like this, so abundant, so near to black. The lady tonight had crowned all the loveliness with dark feathers, like a glorious cormorant. His hand itched to pull out those feathers and rake his hands through the tumble of hair, as he’d once done…
He caught a steadying breath. It couldn’t be her. He’d simply been without a woman too long.
And these visions plaguing him of he knew not what? That foolishness grew from naught but fatigue, the wages of war, and the steady company of too much death. Napoleon had been defeated. He must put the memories of battle and that more distant passion aside. The lovely lady with feathers atop her head was only a stranger wondering where her man had got to.
Yet he couldn’t turn away. As he watched, she pivoted one way, and then the other, allowing a glimpse of dangling earbobs and a firm chin.
Drawn to her, he stepped out on his bad leg just as she turned.
Pain shot through his hip. The room threatened to fall away but he held onto the pain, let it shore him up whilst he swore a silent curse.
Award winning and USA Today bestselling author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but prefers the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California, where she shares a midcentury home with her husband and a spunky, blond rescued terrier. She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring. Though hard at work on her next series of romantic adventures, she loves to hear from readers!