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Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham - Book Tour + Giveaway

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Twelve Nights

The Theatre

London, 1592

When a player is murdered, suspicion falls on the wardrobe mistress, Magdalen Bisset, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon. The scandal-pamphlets vilify her. The coroner is convinced of her guilt.

Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. Her much-loved grandmother is too old and sick. Will Shakespeare is benignly detached, and her friend Christopher Marlowe is wholly unreliable. Only one man offers his assistance, but dare she trust him when nothing about him rings true?

With just two weeks until the inquest, Magdalen ignores anonymous threats to ‘leave it be’, and delves into the dangerous underworld of a city seething with religious and racial tension. As time runs out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer - for all other roads lead to the gallows.

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twelve-Nights-Heavenly-Charmers-Book-ebook/dp/B09ZRPGZL8/ 

US  - https://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Nights-Heavenly-Charmers-Book-ebook/dp/B09ZRPGZL8/


Excerpt
Twelve Nights is set in 1592, in the wild and glamourous heart of Elizabethan theatreland. The players are the superstars of their day, but one by one they begin to die in mysterious circumstances. Suspicion instantly falls on the wardrobe mistress, Magdalen Bisset, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon.

Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. Her much-loved grandmother is too old and sick. Will Shakespeare is benignly detached, and her friend Christopher Marlowe is wholly unreliable. Only one man offers his assistance – handsome, mysterious Matthew Hilliard - but dare she trust him when nothing about him rings true?

    With just two weeks until the inquest, Magdalen ignores anonymous threats to ‘leave it be’, and delves into the dangerous underworld of a city seething with religious and racial tension. As time runs out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer - for all other roads lead to the gallows.

 

Here’s an excerpt from the book. To set the scene: The constable, Edmund Stow, has told Magdalen he is convinced she is the murderer, and claims to have found a witness to prove it. Outraged, she asks how much he paid the ‘witness’ to malign her so. Stow has a dangerous temper and is filled with hate. Incensed by her audacity, he strikes her across the cheek and attempts to strangle her. She manages to escape, and soon after runs into the playhouse’s newest recruit, handsome Matthew Hilliard….  

 

‘There is an inn nearby, by the sign of the Golden Lion,’ he said gently. ‘It’s a reputable lodging house. You can rest a while, take a cup of wine. Perhaps you will allow me to clean the cut on your cheek before it becomes inflamed?’

    He did not wait for her response. He stood up and offered his hand, but she did not take it. In truth, she was in half a mind to decline his offer. She was exhausted and in pain and she longed to crawl into bed and sleep. On the other hand, if she returned to Silver Street bleeding and in disarray, Marie Mountjoy would denounce her as a disgrace. After a long moment’s hesitation, she gave a small nod, and allowed him to help her up. His hand closed around hers, and it was comfortingly strong and warm. For a brief moment she felt his grip tighten as if he might warm her cold fingers, but then he let go and stepped aside. 

    ‘If you will follow me,’ he said courteously.

    The inn was a clean and pleasant place, quiet in the early evening. He settled her beside the fire and went to speak to the landlord. Soon afterwards, Matthew returned with a bowl of warm water and a neatly folded linen cloth, and placed them on the low table. He hesitated for a moment, and she sensed his uncertainty.

    ‘Would you prefer I ask for a serving girl to tend to you?’

Their eyes locked and held. Discomforted, Magdalen quickly lowered her gaze.

‘It is no matter. You can do it,’ she replied.

‘As you wish.’

Kneeling down, Matthew dipped the cloth into the water and squeezed it out. His face was just inches from hers, his brow furrowed in concentration as he carefully bathed her cheek. She could smell the tang of beer on his breath, and lingering traces of tobacco smoke. And she could feel his fingertips against her skin. His touch sent tiny, feather-light shivers down her spine. Overwhelmed, she dropped her gaze to her lap again.

‘All done. The wound is not deep. It should heal without a scar.’ Sitting back on his heels, Matthew dropped the cloth into the bowl. Magdalen watched her blood bloom in the water, drifting clouds of rose red. She felt a strong sense of loss, of emptiness as he drew away from her, and she hid her confusion behind a wall of formality. ‘I am most grateful. Thank you.’

Matthew leant forward again and peered at her throat. ‘Are they finger marks? Dear God, did Stow try to strangle you?’

She nodded, angry with herself. Stow had shown himself to be unstable, dangerous. So why hadn’t she treated him with more respect? Yet again, she had said the first thing that came into her head. She had aggravated the situation, and aggravated Stow. How could she have been so reckless?

‘And yet you escaped?’ Matthew asked.

‘I… I kneed him in the …’ Magdalen couldn’t meet his eye.

Her blushes were spared by the arrival of a young girl bearing jugs of beer and wine. Matthew thanked her, and she rewarded him with a coy tilt of the head and a winsome smile, but he didn’t seem to notice. The girl drifted away, clearly disappointed. Magdalen took a sip of her wine, and caught hints of sugar, cinnamon and ginger.

‘Hippocras?’ she queried, surprised. Such a drink was usually reserved for special occasions. 

‘Aye. They celebrated a wedding here recently.’ Matthew tried his beer. ‘I couldn’t decide which to choose, the landlord has so many different brews. I settled on Angel’s Food. It was the only one I felt I dare mention in your presence.’

Magdalen thought of the beers Marlowe liked to drink: Father Whoreson, Go-by-the-wall, and Lift-a-Leg. She smiled to herself.

Matthew was studying her over the rim of his cup.

‘Let me help you,’ he said suddenly.

‘But you have helped me.’

‘Not this. I mean with Stow.’

‘Thank you for your kind offer, but unless you happen to know who murdered John Wood…’ She shrugged her shoulders, the gesture heavy with despair. Dragging the jug of hippocras towards her, she refilled her cup and quickly downed it.

‘Why doesn’t Burbage petition the Lord Chamberlain to clear your name?’ Matthew persisted. ‘He is patron of the troupe. Surely it is in his best interests to avert a scandal?’

Magdalen shook her head. ‘A player died on Burbage’s stage. The whole of London is talking about it. Someone must hang for it. Justice must be seen to be done.’

‘And you are to be the scapegoat?’

‘It would seem so, yes.’

Magdalen poured more hippocras. Matthew refilled his cup of Angel’s Food, and they sank into a heavy silence, each lost in their own thoughts.

‘You could run away to sea,’ Matthew said at last.

Magdalen assumed he was jesting. ‘And become a pirate!’ she replied, brightening at the thought. ‘Attacking Spanish treasure ships and seizing their gold? They do say there are women amongst their crews.’

‘You would be a pirate if you kept all the treasure for yourself, but if you donated half of it to the Queen, she would dub you a merchant adventurer and bestow you with a knighthood. It all comes down to perspective, doesn’t it?’ Matthew ran a hand through his thick dark hair; a quick, irritated gesture.

 

Author Bio –

I was born and raised in Yorkshire where my father inspired my love of history from an early age. He is a born story teller and would take us to the top of Iron Age hillforts, often as dusk was falling, and regale us with stirring tales of battles lost and won. Not surprisingly, I went on to study Classics at university, and still love spending my summers on archaeological digs. For me, there is nothing more thrilling than finding an artefact that has not seen the light of day for thousands of years. I find so much inspiration for my novels from archaeology.

I have had a variety of jobs over the years, including working for the British Forces newspaper in Germany, and at the BBC. When our family was little, the only available space for me to write was a small walk-in wardrobe. The children used to say, ‘oh, mum’s in the cupboard again’.

I have written four historical novels: The King’s Daughter explores the story of Aethelflaed, the Lady of the Mercians. The Saxon Wolves and the Saxon Plague are both set in fifth century AD, a time of enormous upheaval and uncertainty in Britain as the Romans departed and the Saxon era began. My latest is something a bit different. Twelve Nights is a crime thriller set in sixteenth century London, and features William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.

I now live with my husband in the Hampshire countryside. Like many others during the pandemic, we decided to try growing our own fruit and vegetables – with mixed results! We can only get better!

 

Social Media Links –

Facebook:  Penny Ingham Author Page | Facebook

Instagram: Penny Ingham (@penny.ingham)

Twitter: Penny Ingham (@pennyingham) / Twitter

Website: Penny Ingham (wordpress.com)

Giveaway to Win a PB copy of Twelve Nights (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


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