“Play ball!” is one of my favorite sentences, ever, even though I don’t use it at all in my medieval historical romance, TORCH IN THE FOREST, because Lady Eleanor’s and (oh, be still, my heart) Lord Hugh’s story is set in 1272 in England. The only “balls” they used were for bowls, as in lawn bowling, where lots of intrigue and flirting took place in the garden—oh, yes! No servants to overhear….or to catch a glimpse of a subtle caress of a velvet sleeve…
But, I digress (as you well know, we writers are prone to that!). As a diehard baseball fan (yes, for a milestone birthday, my dear husband offered to take me anywhere in the world, and I picked….are you ready for this….watching the Yankees play in Yankee Stadium, before they tore old stadium down. It was awesome!), I love the game, and from March through October, there are always games to watch, reassuring in their adherence to tradition.
Lady Eleanor, my heroine in TORCH IN THE FOREST, also adheres to tradition—her family’s motto of Honor et Fides, honor and fidelity, even though that arrogant Lord Hugh (he of the intense blue-eyed gaze) dismisses her protestations about not knowing who the criminals are who are poaching in the forest—and that the poaching must be all her fault, because she is a “mere woman”—and thus, her lands should be taken away from her by her liege lord.
Back to baseball—there’s something endearing about watching these young guys in their baseball uniforms playing their hearts out for their teams. (Spoiler alert: Lady Eleanor plays her heart out, too, once she realizes what is really going on with that condescending Lord Hugh.)
Many of my friends think baseball is so, so boring—“Like watching paint dry,” they say. But, for me, just as the encounters are for Lady Eleanor with Lord Hugh, it is all about the strategy, anticipation, and grit. In baseball, players have to be on their toes (literally, even) to keep in mind all the critical facts about each batter.
What field does he usually hit to? (calls for the shift—and Lady Eleanor learns to shift quickly when Lord Hugh is involved) Does he go for the first pitch? (Lady Eleanor is smart enough NOT to do that.) What are the catcher’s signals to the pitcher and what will it mean for the hit? (Lady Eleanor knows Lord Hugh is not going to pick up on her signals, because he’s sure she’s a ninny—little does he know—ha!) Even when he tries a run-down (also known as a “pickle”) Lady Eleanor has the upper hand and trounces him. Then, when all the bases are loaded, with two outs, and it looks as if the opposing team could win, the catcher makes an amazing throw to second, and the runner is out on a steal (stealing a base, not a heart 😉). Lord Hugh is sure he’s going to win, but Lady Eleanor makes an amazing throw of information to him, and he is vanquished. Who ends up stealing whose base—er—heart?
There’s drama in every minute in baseball, and I hope you find some drama in TORCH IN THE FOREST—bases loaded and the tying run is on third….and the winner is…..!!!
Just for your viewing fun, here is Angel player Shoehei Ohtani, a baseball legend in his own time (Lord Hugh thinks HE’s a legend in his own time—but, Lady Eleanor pitches him the last strike!)
Growing up in Europe and seeing castles on a daily basis made me sure I wanted to live back in the Middle Ages. Since that wasn’t likely to happen, being a child of the 20th century, the next best thing I could try to do was to write about this enthralling period in history. Having studied medieval history in college, I loved doing the research about how people really lived and spoke and dreamed and loved, and so TORCH IN THE FOREST came to be, thanks to my dear husband, who encouraged me to write about Eleanor and Hugh. When I’m not writing, I’m reading, or traveling. I love hearing from readers and am happy to do book club conference calls!
Young widow Eleanor of Strathcombe has never a met a more infuriating man than her arrogant neighbor, Lord Hugh of Wykeham. First he accuses her of being responsible for the poachers running rampant, then he begins feuding with her over the control of their forest boundaries. Not about to give in to him, Eleanor strikes back. But unsettling feelings confront her as she deals with Hugh, feelings she never felt in her brief, loveless marriage.
When Lord Hugh returns from the Crusade to discover his forest is being poached upon, he’s justifiably furious. Knowing that his people would never betray him, it’s clear it must be that Lady Eleanor whose lands border his–a woman who obviously has not the faintest idea about how to run an estate and is too busy fluttering and dithering about to take care of business. Sure that she will quickly succumb to his demands, Hugh is astounded when instead she stands up to him. And as the attraction builds between them, he’s forced to realize that his assumptions about Eleanor were all wrong. But he’ll have to learn trust to win this young widow’s heart…