Journeys: the Archers of Saint Sebastian
by Jeanne Roland
GENRE: Young adult crossover historical romance and adventure
It’s the 14th century, and the longbow is king. But in the northern European principality of Ardennes, archery isn’t just the nation’s defense. It’s the national obsession.
MEET THE JOURNEYS
12 young Journeyman archers, the best in the country
2 years of public competitions, in which looks count almost as much as ability
6 will win a coveted membership in the Archers’ Guild of St. Sebastian
1 will become the prince’s new Guardsman
15-year-old Marieke is as obsessed with St. Sebastian’s as everyone else in Ardennes. Only it’s the middle ages, and girls just don’t become elite archers. Except Marieke’s prospects as a girl aren’t promising either, after a well-timed kick from a mule has left her with a face that’s badly scarred and ruined for marriage. But when circumstances force her to leave her old life behind and flee to the guild for refuge, there are only two things Marieke really knows about the place. One is that a mysterious accident ended her own father’s time as a Journey. The other?
There are no women allowed inside St. Sebastian’s.
Marieke knows disguising herself as a boy and infiltrating the guild means embarking on a dangerous deception. But it may be her only chance to find out the truth about her father’s past and to stop a murderous plot from coming to fruition. When the dashing young Journeyman Tristan takes her under his wing as his squire, she’s got to stay – at least long enough to help him beat out his brutal arch-rival to win the competitions.
Keeping her identity a secret will be hard. Living in close quarters with a pack of gorgeous boys? That will be harder still. But the hardest thing of all will be keeping the vow she makes for herself: to see Tristan become the next Guardsman, without ever letting him find out she’s a girl – a girl, who loves him.
Part Robin Hood and part Princess Bride, with a pinch of Mulan and a dash of Cyrano de Bergerac in the mix, The Archers of St. Sebastian I: Journeys is a humorous action and adventure saga inspired by late medieval/early Renaissance Belgium and packed with romance, wit, and longbow archery. Perfect for young adults looking for an immersive read and for adults who love young adult themes, Journeys is an escape into the past that reads more like romantic historical fantasy than pure historical fiction.
Unrequited love? Ugly heroines who stay ugly? Friendship, coming of age, romance, adventure, and plenty of archery competitions? A unique setting inspired by the glorious city of Bruges, with a richly imagined world set within the walls of a male-only archers’ guild? Journeys: The Archers of Saint Sebastian has it all, so if you’re looking for a great escape, don your disguise and join Marieke as she enters the forbidden world of Saint Sebastian’s, and prepare to fall in love with the Journeys – that is, the twelve best and most beautiful archers in all of Ardennes, the Journeyman archers of St. Sebastian’s.
(Context: 15-year-old Marieke is disguised as Marek, and she’s serving as a squire to the Journeyman archer Tristan at the archers’ guild of Saint Sebastian. She’s in love with him, but she’s sworn an oath never to let him find out she’s a girl. In this scene, Marieke’s gone along with a group of the Saint Sebastian boys on a ‘hunt,’ only to find out that the quarry is a local beauty that Tristan’s long had his eye on).
In the center of the girls is a figure more impressive than the others. From her clothing, she must be from a family of rank. Her head is covered with a filmy veil, but she has a graceful line and I can tell without really seeing her two things at the same time: she’s lovely, and she’s the real reason we’re here.
As we cross the narthex, Tristan grabs a single white rose from an arrangement under the chapel icon, strips the leaves and thorns, and tosses them away. At the font, he stops for holy water, but to my surprise instead of dipping his fingertips into the water, he sticks his whole hand into the basin.
“What is he doing?” I ask the boy next to me, who turns out to be Gilles.
“Watch and learn, Marek. Watch and learn,” he says.
“Give the master some room to work, boys!” Jerome exclaims, putting his hands out as though to hold us all back from crowding Tristan, who is sprinkling the water all over his face and neck, and pulling the unruly lock of his hair down from his widow’s peak and over his forehead. I knew he did that on purpose!
He untucks his tunic from its waistband and pulls the neck open, and splashes more holy water onto his chest.
“What’s with all the water?” I ask.
“The fever of love, Marek!” Jerome says with admiration. “If you thought he was good drunk, wait until you see him sober.”
When he looks artfully disheveled, Tristan squares his shoulders and heads down the aisle, turning back before he goes just long enough to say, “Just follow my lead, Marek.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Roland hails from Davis, California, where she spent most of her youth lounging at the pool, soaking up the sun, and daydreaming. She had a key ring that read ‘I’m running away to join the circus,’ and her favorite moment of the day was when the local movie theater went dark, and the slogan ‘escape to the movies’ appeared on the screen. As an adult, her passions include all things melodramatic and beautiful — everything from classic movies, British romantic poetry, ancient tragedy and epic, to Italian opera. She is now a professor of Classics in a small midwestern town, where she lives with her Greek husband, her fraternal twins, and a Bernese mountain dog named Franco Corelli.
Amazon purchase link:
I blog as the Allegorical Traveler about Greek mythology at www.nepenthepress.com
I’m not a big social media person; the best ways to reach me are via my website, or Facebook
Jeanne Roland will be awarding a $40 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js