I’ve always loved fall, with its crisp, clean smells, cooler weather, and leaves turning a myriad of colors. More importantly, I have a special fondness for Halloween since it’s my birthday. As a young girl, I loved dressing up as everything from a princess to a vampire and trick-or-treating with my friends in our neighborhood. As I got older, I participated in scavenger hunts and had sleepovers with all kinds of games, scary movies, and lots of cake.
For my latest medieval historical romance, I decided to include a little about All Hallow’s Eve, which meant researching customs in England during the 14th century.
My heroine Kallen has been raised in an isolated convent, where the good nuns only acknowledged a handful of special holy days. As her traveling party stops at a castle, she is exposed to the quaint customs of All Hallow’s Eve.
At the feast, my hero Griffith introduces her to solteties, which were special sweets created for feasts and made of a sugar paste in the shape of flowers, hearts, or cherubs. Kallen has never eaten a sweet before, and she instantly decides this is her new favorite food.
All Hallow’s Eve was used as an excuse for those of the opposite sex to pair up. Their hostess, Lady Katharine, gives all the single females (including Kallen) an apple to peel in a single, long strand. As Kallen peels, she repeats after Lady Katharine these words:
I pare this apple round and round again,
My sweetheart’s name to flourish on the plain.
I fling the unbroken paring o’er my head
My sweetheart’s letter on the ground to read.
Though Kallen does as requested and tosses the peel over her shoulder, it lands on the hero’s boot. Lady Katharine deems the peel unreadable (it’s supposed to form a letter), so she next escorts Kallen to the fire. She spies several women her age counting out hazelnuts and placing them in front of the fire’s grate. They solemnly chant:
If you love me, pop and fly;
If you hate me, burn and die.
Lady Katharine tells her that each nut is named. When one jumps from its place, the named nut signals the man who will be the girl’s future husband.
But their hostess has a new test to find Kallen’s true love. A snail is brought forth and set at the edge of the fire’s ashes. Lady Katharine deems that the snail squiggles an S. The only man Kallen has known is the priest who came to the convent and now a few men who are escorting her to her new home—none of whom has a name beginning with S.
Or do they?
I enjoyed researching these quaint customs and letting my readers discover these historical tidbits through Kallen’s eyes.
Kallen de Mangeron grew up in a convent, her noble family never knowing of her birth. When a new Mother Superior informs them of her existence, they send trusted knight Griffith Sommersby to escort her home.
Griffith’s heart broke when he lost his wife and infant son during childbirth, and he’s kept his feelings locked away from the world—until he meets Kallen. He soon learns her dark secret—that she sees auras around people—which allows her insight into their actions and personalities.
Now Quentin, bastard brother to the king, decides to harness Kallen’s gift in a plot to win the throne. Will Quentin successfully use a kidnapped Kallen as his political pawn, or will Griffith be able to stop him before Kallen changes the course of England’s history?
Buy Link: http://amzn.com/B015JB79KI
Lauren Linwood’s historical romances use history as a backdrop to place her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire for one another grows into the treasured gift of love. Her romantic suspense novels feature strong heroes and heroines who unite to defeat a clever antagonist and discover a deep, abiding love during their journey.
A native Texan, Lauren is an avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan who manages stress by alternating yoga with long walks. She plans to start a support group for House Hunters addicts—as soon as she finishes her next piece of dark chocolate.