Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Welcome Jenna Jaxon ... and Bethrothal

  Please help me welcome my friend, Jenna Jaxon! Isn't that cover to die for??? Jenna is here with an excerpt and even a giveaway! She talks about jousting, one equine event I've never been tempted to try!
Joust in Time!

Thank you so much, D’Ann, for hosting me on your blog today!  I hope you and your readers enjoy this little look into the dangerous and delightful sport of jousting!

Knights on horseback, racing full tilt toward each other with lances fixed may be the most iconic image most of us have of the middle ages. 

Jousting was one of the most popular and dramatic of entertainments during the long medieval period.  They were major events at tournaments where knights were pitted against one another for honor, for glory, and for prize money.  These “sporting events” probably grew out of military games or exercises and may even have roots in the Roman games at the Coliseum.


But the jousting I’m talking about today is the form found in the mid-14th century--the time period in which my medieval romance Betrothal, Book I of Time Enough to Love is set. 


At this point in its evolution, jousting was as much training exercise as it was entertainment. A Vespers Tourney, held on the eve of a major tournament, was a chance for young knights bachelor and their squires to demonstrate their prowess before an assembly of more experienced knights.  And the business of jousting always gave knights a chance to hone their skills before a cheering audience.


On the opening day of a tournament, there was a formal procession out to the lists (the barriers that defined the field of combat).  This procession could be quite elaborate.  I read an account (which I cannot find at the moment) in which the procession consisted of 25 ladies on horseback each accompanied by a knight in armor, tethered to the ladies by a silver chain, who then walked from the castle out to the lists (at lease a couple of miles).


Once out on the field, the spectators were seated in a grandstand called a berfrois, built a story above the lists.  The knights were assigned to brightly colored tents, called pavilions, where they rested, waited, and got into their armor in preparation for the joust.  The armor they wore weighted about 60 pounds and was actually so well articulated the knights had much more mobility than we would believe.  This Youtube video demonstrates the mobility and shows a exhibition joust as well. 


Just imagine the impact of that lance!  Ouch!


The horses used in jousting were specially trained warhorses called destriers.  Originally brought to England by William the Conqueror, this breed of horse had a rounded body with a broad back bred for strength.  They had long, powerful legs trained to trample the bodies of fallen enemies (they would also bite and kick on command).  The colors of these massive horses ranged from black to brown to bay and gray and they measured up to 24 hands high.


For jousting, destriers were fitted with a covering called a cloth comparison. The fabric covers the horse from head to tail and is emblazoned with the knight’s colors and possibly his heraldic design.  Check out this video demonstration of how to dress a horse for a joust. 


Once attired in the comparison, the horse and knight made quite a sight racing down the lists, hurtling toward their opponent.

As with any contact sport, the potential for injury in jousting was great. There were many documented deaths.  The most famous was king Henry II of France, who was killed when a lance broke on his helmet and a long wooden splinter pierced his eye and entered his brain. 


Eerily, just recently, a similar fate befell a modern day jouster. Paul Allen, a re-enactor, was killed during the filming of a Time Team segment on Edward III’s round table.  Allen, who had no jousting experience, suffered the exact same fate as Henry II.  His opponent struck him on the helmet and a long sliver of the shattered balsa wood lance penetrated his helmet and pierced his eye and brain. 


With such a rich heritage of jousting, is it any wonder that I incorporated a joust and as many details of it as possible into Betrothal, my medieval romance?  You’ll find the procession--which becomes a serious conflict in the book--the joust itself, and a stunning injury that threatens the happiness of the hero and heroine.


I hope you enjoyed this little look into one of the most popular contact sports of medieval times!  If you leave a comment telling me what your favorite contact sport is, you’ll be entered to win a book of your choice from my backlist today, and entered in the Release Week giveaway of a $25.00 gift certificate.  Please remember to leave your EMAIL ADDRESS! J

Blurb for Betrothal:


Lady Alyse de Courcy has fallen in love with Lord Braeton, a nobleman in King Edward III’s court and a man to whom she has barely spoken. Fate, however, has decreed her betrothal to his best friend, Sir Geoffrey Longford—a handsome and imposing knight, yet hardly the man she wants to wed.

When Sir Geoffrey is bound in betrothal by his father, he could not have expected the beautiful stranger to win his heart the moment they meet. Nevertheless, the fascinating Lady Alyse has done exactly that, and his feelings for her only grow as he learns more of her gentle yet spirited nature. But Alyse’s infatuation with his friend casts doubt on whether she can ever return his regard and their wedding day is fast approaching…

Will he have time enough to win her love?


Excerpt for Betrothal:


“What do you require of me, Majesty?” Her mouth so dry she could taste sand, Alyse fought to speak in a normal tone. With a sigh of relief, she dropped into a deep curtsy, hiding her face in the folds of her skirt. If only she could remain bowed thus before His Majesty for the remainder of the evening.


King Edward laughed. “Obedience, Lady Alyse, as I require of all my subjects. As your father requires of his daughter.”


Her heart thumped wildly in her breast. That could mean but one thing.


“Rise, my lady.”


She did so on unsteady feet. “I am ready, as always, Your Majesty, to obey my father as I would you.”


Holy Mary, let it be Lord Braeton.


King Edward lifted an eyebrow toward Alyse. “A very pretty answer, my lady. And are you ready to accept your father’s decree for your betrothal? His messenger has today reached me with the contract, as I am to stand in his stead in this matter.”


Alyse took a deep breath and hoped her voice did not tremble. “Yea, Majesty, I will obey my father.”


King Edward nodded and leaned over to whisper something to Queen Phillipa, who sat beside him, heavy with their twelfth child.


Mere seconds before she learned her fate. She could scarce affect an indifferent pose before the court when inside every inch of her quivered with anticipation of the name. His name, pray God, on the king’s lips.




In her mind, she heard the word.


The king straightened, glanced at her then at the man by her side.


“What say you then, Sir Geoffrey? Does the lady not speak fair? I vow she will make you a proper wife and a dutiful one as well.”


Alyse turned, until that moment unaware that Geoffrey Longford stood beside her. Chills coursed down her body as the king’s words echoed in her mind. The sensation of falling backward assailed her, as though she rushed away from the tall man at her side even as his figure loomed larger and larger in her sight.

Not Lord Braeton.


Her numbed brain repeated the phrase, trying to comprehend that instead he would be her husband. Geoffrey Longford.


God have mercy on me, for by the look of him, this man will not.


Fearful, she cringed as her gaze climbed higher, over his chest, over his chin, finally resting on the dark blue eyes turned toward her.


Geoffrey returned her appraisal, his gaze sweeping her figure as a smile crept over his face. “Your Majesty.” He spoke to the king but his attention remained fixed on Alyse. “When my father told me of the betrothal contract before I left his home, I resolved to play the dutiful son. Now, however, I find I do not wish to act that role after all.” His eyes held hers as he paused.

Dear God, does he mean to renounce me here before the entire court?


Alyse stared at the man beside her, willing herself to remain upright, despite the waves of ice and fire alternating through her body.


“Now I find I would rather play the ardent lover.”


An amused murmur ran through the Hall at his words. Sir Geoffrey grinned, his eyes sparkling with humor and something more. Despite the uneven light, Alyse saw an unfathomable promise in their dark depths. She took a shaky breath and looked away.


Author Bio:


Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance.  Her historical romance, Only Scandal Will Do, the first in a series of five interconnecting novels, was released in July 2012. Her contemporary works include Hog Wild, Almost Perfect, and 7 Days of Seduction.  She is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as a member of Chesapeake Romance Writers. Her medieval romance, Time Enough to Love, is being published this summer as a series of three novellas.  The first book, Betrothal, released on April 19th.


Jenna has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets.  When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director.  She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage. 

She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

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  1. Hi, Jenna! I've always been fascinated by jousting! A more modern sport (football) is my favorite contact sport, though. :) I guess I'm a modern girl! lol

  2. Hi, Kristina! Thanks for coming by! I think of jousting as a cross between football and NASCAR, just the drivers don't spear the opposing teams. LOL They're all pretty dangerous. :) There is definitely something to say for being a modern girl!

  3. Hi, D'Ann! Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to meet your fabulous readers. I hope they enjoy blood sport--'cause jousting had plenty of blood in it. :)

  4. Enjoyed your post Jenna...and of course I liked the pictures too. lol Always makes the post more intriguing to me :) Congrats on your latest release...enjoyed the excerpt!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Christine! This one was a lot of fun and the joust figures largely in Betrothal. Thanks for coming by!

  5. Fascinating. I went to a medieval fair last summer and they had jousting. The "knights" were from TV show I don't watch- full metal jousting or something like that. Anyway, watching it was fantastic and the thunk went one got hit and then the 2nd thunk when he hit the ground - ouch.

    Great excerpt also.

    For a change I'm going to include my email :-)

    1. That sounds like a so cool outing! I'll have to see if they have one in my area. I know there's a renaissance fair, but I'll hope for medieval. I'm planning to go to Medieval Times this summer too. :) Love that! And thanks for tweeting! Good luck, BTW! :)

  6. Nothing like a knight with a big lance ;) Great interview!! I love stories about knights and this one was great!

    1. LOL! You are SO right about the big lance, Nancy! I'm thrilled you liked Betrothal! Thanks for coming by and tweeting!

  7. What Nancy said....

    Mock combat was really less formality and a lot deadlier in the Dark Ages leading up to the medieval period. Just a thought..

    Great post--great author!

    1. Yes, the melees were as close to real combat as you could get--they were popular in the Dark Ages but finally petered out during King Edward III's reign (I think). Yes, dark and dangerous times indeed!

      Thanks so much for coming by, Angelyn!

    2. Yes, the melees were the closest you could get to real combat. They eventually petered out during Edward III's reign (I think). The Dark Ages were dark and deadly!

      Thanks so much for coming by, Angelyn! :)

  8. 24 hands high? What breed was that?? Holy smokes! I won't buy a horse over 17 hands, too far to the ground and I'd need a ladder to reach the stirrup. LOL

    Awesome post, great research!!
    sherifredricks @charter .net

    1. Destriers were huge apparently and strong--had to be to carry the knight and all that equipment! They are apparently breeding a modern day version of the destrier(which is extinct)-- a Clydesdale with a Quarterhorse that stands 20-24 hands high. I'd like to see one of those!

      Thanks for coming by, Sheri! :)

  9. Always love you posts. Very informative.

  10. Very informative, Jenna. Enjoyed the excerpt!

    1. Thanks, Jerri! Glad you enjoyed it!

  11. Wow, Jenna. What an amazing post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    My contact sport of choice is Hockey, lol.

    1. I don't even have a contact sport I like, unless it's fencing. Well, I will watch football sometimes. :) Superbowl, you know. LOL Glad you enjoyed the post!

  12. Jenna, that's facinating. I don't blame you at all for using a joust. In fact I don't see how you could not use it. Tweeted.

    1. I didn't have it in originally, but as soon as it occurred to me (a V-8 moment to be sure) I started researching and rewriting. :) Now it's at the center of the conflict of Betrothal. Thanks for coming by, Ella, and tweeting.

  13. The jousting show they had on TV (the History Channel, in the US) last year looked grisly. I couldn't even keep my eyes open for the commercials, let alone watch the show. But people go for that kind of thing. I think a modern day joust is MMA fighting. I don't watch that either. :) Great, well researched article, Jenna. Always fascinating reading what you write.

    1. How did I manage to miss that show? i wonder if it's on Netflix? I'd love to check it out! It does seem a bit grizly to think how badly jousters could get hurt. (But I would like to take a peek at it!) Thanks so much for stopping by, Patricia!

  14. Oh my God, I love that cover!

    1. Thank you, Shawn! So do I! Thanks for coming by!

  15. This article rememinds me of a show on the Histroy Channel last year or the year before that showed a lot of things about the Middle Ages. For the life of me I can't remember the title, but it was a great series. The one on jousting was just scary. Shows a true test of courage... Actually all forms of war and sport back then did.

    Congratulations, Jenna!!

  16. One of my favorite movies, A Knight's Tale, has the best jousting scenes. I love the Medievel period and wish more authors wrote in that time period. Thanks for sharing, Jenna!

  17. Informative post. Love little historical tidbits like that. My favorite contact sport is Rugby!