Warren Blake is an accountant at the pinnacle of his career. After accepting a new position he decides to settle in the scenic Cotswold village of Walmsley Hackett. A village with a colourful history of myth, old wives tales and mystery.
One morning during his train ride into work, Warren notices a small quaint church which he becomes enchanted with. Curiousity compels him to find the church and when he finally does, he discovers an unmarked grave in the corner. Feeling sorry for its occupant, Warren becomes a frequent visitor.
Little does he know that the young man inside the coffin needs a champion and Warren is chosen.
What follows involves a ghostly medieval joust, witchcraft, love, and Warren risking his life.
Publisher: Kindle Worlds
Heat Level: 2
Romantic Content: 2
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: 36-45
Tropes: Class Differences, Hurt / Comfort, Slow Burning Love
Word Count: 65000
Setting: UK, Cotswolds, Cheltenham
Languages Available: English
Suddenly, a patch of mist marred his path, and Warren shivered. It was as if the droplets of water were crawling over his skin, tasting it, testing it. A sweet fragrance filled his nostrils, and he was sure he could hear the vapour hiss as it delved beneath his collar. A small branch came out of nowhere and thrashed Warren’s face, but he kept going. The fog enveloped the scratch, which stung like tiny needles plucking at his flesh before the pain disappeared, soothed into non-existence.
Argo stopped, rigid, and puffed loud and deep, his ears twitching in all directions. Warren could feel the rise and fall of his steed’s chest under his legs and was afraid to urge the beast anywhere until he settled. Warren breathed deep, too. Something was ahead and he had no idea what it was. His arms shook from adrenaline, and a bead of sweat ran from his brow.
Thump, thump, thump. His heart stuttered, torn between turning tail and forging on.READ MORE
Argo’s ears abruptly focussed forward. Then he snorted and surged ahead. Warren ceased to be the master and became a passenger. Argo seemed to know where he was going. It was as if Warren were on a train with a single-track line, and someone had removed the brakes.
Argo puffed in excitement and upped his pace. It was all Warren could do to hang on.
To save his skin, Warren leaned against Argo’s neck and put his trust in his charger. All he could hear was the one-two-three, one-two-three thunderous beat of his horse in canter. One-two-three, one-two-three. Argo’s thick black neck surged forward in time with the beat. One-two-three, one-two-three. Long strands of mane licked at Warren’s face, and he grabbed a handful to steady himself. He almost lost his seat when Argo took off over a fallen tree and burst out of the woods into a clearing.
With a whinny and a rear, Argo announced his presence. His front legs pawed the air. Warren clung to the saddle and prayed.COLLAPSE
I love my fairy tales and ghost stories. Then again, I truly love literature, especially Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. I read the original text back in high school and I just fell in love.
What has that got to do with Secret of the Manor? A lot!
Warren Blake is one of those lucky bastards whose career success gives him the option to retire at forty. He had planned, he worked hard, he made amends where needed, looked at life with eyes wide open, and worked his arse off. (Sorry for the language folks, but I have to address those who cannot comprehend retirement at forty.) His plans worked to his advantage and now he has another set of plans in the works.
Buy a house in a quiet, little town and bide his time. It worked until he spies a picturesque little church, stumbles upon an unmarked grave and gets thrown into a dimension that ruins his plans for the future.
Warren finds himself in a time trap where he is a knight and is the chosen champion to save someone he knows nothing about. To top it off, a dratted swan is making his life in the past and present times frustrating. Also, he apparently has to learn how to wield a lance to survive a joust. His warhorse is willing and able, he is just too modern to fight properly.
Wait! Hold on! What is going on?
The humdrum life of Warren is suddenly thrown into a dimension of paranormal proportions. As typical of Clavelli, the slow build up and the vivid imagery gets the readers to a place in their minds that reminds so much of Ivanhoe but with a paranormal twist in the form of a witch's curse. Where is the romance? Well, you have to read it, right? Not only is the other main character the unlikeliest introduced, but he is also not the ghost.
Clavelli has this art to her storytelling. It is a different approach than what most are used to, but there is a reason to the pace and once everything is laid bare, only then can you realize the beauty and mystery of her tale. There is a whole lot going on and briar roses are just one of them.
Note: Just like her previous story, Dakota Skies, there is a characterization in the horses involved. Horse lovers out there, you'll be surprised with just how these tales revolve around the horses.
Oh, and Warren?
Seriously! You have to ask?