Still tied to his desk in the Intelligence Office, Colonel Eden Maxwell has become increasingly disenchanted with both Oliver Cromwell and his own daily existence; and with the advent of new Royalist conspiracies, he despairs of ever getting away.
Then a brick hurled through the window of a small workshop sets in motion a new and unexpected chain of events. After all, who would want to hurt Lydia Neville – a young widow, giving work and self-respect to maimed war veterans considered unemployable elsewhere? But when the assaults in Duck Lane escalate, threatening the life and remaining limbs of some of Eden’s former troopers, finding the culprit becomes personal.
At their first meeting, Lydia finds Colonel Maxwell annoying; by their second, having discovered that he had arrested and questioned her brother in connection with the Ship Tavern Plot, she mistrusts his motives. On the other hand, it swiftly becomes plain that she needs his help … and has difficulty resisting his smile.
Solving the increasingly hazardous mystery surrounding Lydia is not Eden’s only task. Between plots to assassinate the Lord Protector and a rising in Scotland, he must also mend the fences within his own family and get to know his son. Life suddenly goes from mind-numbing tedium to frenetic complexity.
With reckless Cavaliers lurking around every corner and a government still struggling to find its way, Lords of Misrule is set against a time of national discontent and general failure. But readers of the previous books in the series can look forward to catching up with old friends as well as meeting new ones … while, against all the odds, Eden and Lydia find danger and reward in equal measure.
We’re pleased to welcome Stella Riley back to Romantic Historical Reviews to talk about the latest instalment in her Roundheads and Cavaliers series – LORDS OF MISRULE.
So here, finally, is the book I’ve been asked for more times than I can count since I started re-issuing the Roundheads & Cavaliers series. Affectionately known as “The Eden Project”, the story starts about eight months after the end of The King’s Falcon on the day Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector… and our hero is in a very bad mood.
I didn’t find Lords of Misrule an easy book to write. Eden’s age (he’d have been thirty-five in 1654) defined the period in which the story had to be set if he wasn’t to be well on the way to his fortieth birthday before finding his happy ending! So here we are in the period between the start of the Protectorate in December ’53 and the Rule of the Major Generals in the summer of ’55…and national affairs aren’t going any better than Eden’s private life.
The Lord Protector’s reign didn’t exactly begin in a blaze of glory, and by the time Cromwell finally called Parliament, his popularity was registering at several points below zero. And the Cavaliers weren’t doing any better. They hatched endless failed plots to seize London or Scotland or to assassinate Cromwell – while, in Paris, Charles II and Ned Hyde created the Sealed Knot to coordinate Royalist conspiracies…but it never actually did anything.
As a consequence of all this, much of Misrule revolves around Eden’s developing relationship with Lydia Neville and the seemingly inexplicable dangers surrounding her. The workshop in Duck Lane is a lorinery – a place where bridles, bits, stirrups, and other pieces of harness are made – and where Lydia employs disabled ex-soldiers. She’s twenty-seven years old, nobody’s fool and, as Eden soon discovers, has a spine of pure steel.
Fans of Gabriel Brandon will enjoy meeting him again as, with the utmost reluctance and a good deal of irritation, he takes his seat in Cromwell’s first Parliament. Toby Maxwell plays a much larger role than previously – attracting women like flies and rarely inclined to brush them off. And there are numerous other guest appearances; Dorothy Maxwell, Luciano del Santi, Ashley Peverell, and Sir William Compton – to name but a few.
Through the latter stages of Lords of Misrule I’ve also had my first taste of audiobook creation with the Rockliffe series. This has been a roller-coaster ride; exhilarating, sometimes scary, and quite intense. It has also been an immense pleasure working with Alex Wyndham. All three audios were released within a three-month period – Alex having chosen to work on them back-to-back in order to “stay in the zone.” No one who has listened to anything he’s done will need to be told how supremely talented he is. His performances throughout are outstanding – with The Player, thanks to the numerous subtleties and narrator-traps woven into the text, being particularly impressive. I’m looking forward to collaborating with him again later this year when we’ll be getting to grips with A Splendid Defiance. Meanwhile, I’m contemplating a fourth (and probably final) book in the Rockliffe series.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stella Riley trained as a teacher in London and after living in numerous UK locations has now settled in Kent.
She enjoys Amateur Dramatics, dancing, reading and travel.
After a long break in her writing career, she has published her back-catalogue as e-books. A Splendid Defiance, The Black Madonna, Garland of Straw and The King’s Falcon will shortly be joined by Lords of Misrule, Book 4 of the Roundheads & Cavaliers series. When not writing, she enjoys travel, the theatre, dancing and reading.
For all the latest information or merely to drop in for a chat, join her at https://stellariley.wordpress.com