Friday, 13 August 2010


THE LOVEDAY VENDETTA published in hardback by Headline this month is the eleventh in the Loveday series and takes the family drama to the second generation of this passionate, daring and adventurous family. But they have not only inherited the family’s headstrong and wild-blooded traits that govern their tumultuous lives, they also have to face the curse of their ancestry and fight their own demons to conquer dangerous adversaries to recover their stolen heritage and uncover the truth behind the murder of a loved one…

The orphaned Bryn, who is Captain Adam Loveday’s ward, is determined to bring the murderer of his mother and brother to justice and reclaim his inheritance. His quest not only places his own life in danger but also that of Rowena Loveday, the oldest of the Loveday siblings. Rowena is no complacent captive to her kidnappers, she is a formidable adversary towards anyone who would seek to destroy her reputation, when already she has faced the censure of the scandals created by her notorious parents.

Here is an extract. Bryn has recovered some of his memory about his childhood and has finally discovered the location of his family home on Exmoor

Bryn paused at each track leading off the main route across the moor. None felt familiar so he continued on his way. Finally he recognised an ancient oak split by lightening, whose shape had frightened him as a child, and which marked the border of his land. The tree was white as a phantom with it’s bark long rotted from its trunk. Further on he entered a hazel wood where the trees were dense. None had been coppiced in recent years and ivy held many of the trees in its stranglehold. Through neglect little light penetrated the overhead canopy and the tree bark and stones beneath were thick with moss. It smelt of damp and decay.
With growing trepidation he urged his gelding through the water to where a hamlet of some nine house should exist. The wattle and daub thatched cottages had been raised to the ground. From the scorch marks on the stonework that remained standing they had been destroyed by fire. A feral cat with a dead rat in its mouth ran across his path and darted into the bracken. What disaster had struck here? And what had happened to the people who had worked on Willow Vale land?
It was not the only shock he was to discover. The surrounding fields were filled with yellow ragwort that would have poisoned any livestock. Yet the greatest blow of all was when the house came into view. Or what was left of it. Only the north wing remained. The rest was a fire-blackened ruin without a roof, paneless windows and tumble down walls. Brambles were growing through the lower mullions and molehills made the once immaculate lawns of the gardens look like a drunken ploughman had tilled the ground.
He was appalled by the vision of so much destruction. There was nothing here that made him feel this had once been his home. It was as though every part of all that was good and beautiful from those hazy childhood memories had been rent asunder. His hopes for his future were brutally desecrated. What answers could he possibly find here? A cold finger scratched along his spine and he shuddered. Someone had just walked over his grave. Or someone from the grave was beckoning to him? He glanced through the trees to the tall church tower on the edge of the manor land.
On his approach he had not believed he could be more shocked than by the sights he had previously witnessed. Yet clearly nothing here had been regarded as sacred. The flagstones were covered with rotting leaves that had blown inside over several years. The pews erected by his grandfather had been destroyed, scorch marks on the lime washed walls testament to the fires their wood had provided. Pottery shards and mildewed sacking, their innards of stuffed straw long rotted from the time they had served as mattresses. For a time the church must have provided a sanctuary for the homeless villagers. Darker stains on the walls had him reeling back in horror. They were covered with splatterings of long dried blood. Murder had been done here. Nothing else could explain the number of bloodstains, or the pitted marks where bullets had slammed into the walls.
He covered his mouth with his hand as nausea rose to his gullet and with difficulty he swallowed it down. Why was there so much destruction? Clearly his heritage had meant nothing to his stepfather. What Carforth could not wrestle from the estate legally he had made sure that Bryn would never benefit from the riches he himself had been denied. But at least Bryn still had the land. He forced himself to focus on that. Carforth could not take that part of his inheritance. With keen wits and hard work fortunes could be remade and properties rebuilt.
Desolation swept through him. He had come here to find answers to his past. Instead he had found desecration and a sinister mystery, which boded ill concerning his family and those who had relied upon them. He was swamped with guilt. Should he have tried harder to trace his family and home? Would he have been able to prevent whatever disaster Carforth had wreaked here? There was no doubt in his mind that his stepfather was the cause of the destruction. How many lives and livelihoods had been lost because of his own unwillingness to face his past? Therefore did that not make him responsible?
As though felled by a slingshot he sank down upon his knees in the churchyard and held his head in his hands. Remorse smote him. What price his neglect – his cowardice? He wept for those he believed that he had betrayed.
The sun was low in the sky when he emerged from his torpor resolved to seek justice and avenge those who had suffered when it was his family’s responsibility to protect them. Reparation must be made or he would never feel worthy to carry the Bryant name with pride.
He staggered to his feet and stared up at the church dedicated to St Michael. He drew the dagger from its sheath at his waist and raised it high, the hilt forming the sign of the cross. 'I swear by all I hold sacred and in the name of St Michael that I will right the wrongs done to our vassals and bring to justice whoever is responsible. So help me God.’
He closed his eyes focussing upon his vow. The archangel St Michael had led the good angels in the battle fought against Lucifer and his followers. He prayed now for the strength to rid the world of the devil who had invaded Willow Vale and defiled all that had been decent here.
Too late he heard the footfall behind him and before he could turn to confront the intruder pain flared through his skull and he receded into darkness.