It is with great pleasure I welcome author Anna Belfrage to “Every Woman Dreams.” Anna is releasing the sixth book in her highly acclaimed The Graham Saga. Today, Anna brings us a short reflection on love and how it assists us in facing life’s many trials. She has also included an excerpt from “Revenge and Retribution.”
Love is king!
I am a sucker for love. As a consequence, I cannot imagine writing a book that does not contain a sizeable portion of love – albeit I generally avoid the mandatory complications of a romance as it drives me CRAZY when he and she are torn apart, both of them believing the other no longer cares for them. (This is when I will peek at the ending, needing reassurance. Idiotic, I know, as a romance also should have a happy ending, but just in case, I check) My characters are often torn away from each other, but at least they have the comfort of knowing somewhere their man/woman still loves them, will do anything to see them safe.
When I began writing The Graham Saga – years ago – I had in my head a laughing young woman named Alex Lind, a woman with short curly hair and deep blue eyes. She was wearing jeans and red Converse – which was a major problem, as my novel was set in the 17th century. Hmm. Maybe I should save this apparition for another book. The shadowy man who was to be the protagonist of the series, Matthew Graham, shook his head. His eyes were glued to the laughing woman, at present dancing on the spot to “It’s Raining Men.”
“I want her,” he said.
“But she’s not from your time,” I protested, looking at him. Matthew was leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest. His hitherto so vague form was suddenly fleshing out, bright hazel eyes meeting mine as he jerked his dark head in the direction of the woman.
“It’s her or no one.”
He went back to staring at her, a smile tugging at his long mouth. No matter his linen shirt was worn and dirty, his breeches had seen far better days, and he was in serious need of a bath and a shave, he looked quite mouth-watering – but unfortunately (or not: after all, I am happily married, and Matthew Graham doesn’t exist except in my VERY active imagination) his attention was riveted on her, this as yet unknown Alex.
“You heard me,” he said, beginning to fade away, all six feet and plus of him.
“Stop!” I yelled. “I’ll think of something.”
“You do that.” He gave me an encouraging smile.
Obviously, Matthew was smitten. A serious case of what the French call a coup de foudre, love at first sight. Some people scoff at the idea of something as ridiculous as immediate love, but personally I am not that certain. I believe some of us are lucky enough to meet the one and only, and the moment our eyes connect, we are done for.
As all of us know, there’s a major difference between saying “I’m in love with you” and saying “I love you.” The first statement describes a heady phase, no more, but if we’re lucky it morphs into the permanence exuded by the last statement, a commitment that extends – potentially – over a lifetime. It requires guts to love with all your heart. It leaves you very vulnerable, which is why wounds to the heart take such a long time to heal. But there is nothing as wonderful, as empowering and as liberating as to love someone unconditionally. It gives us strength when we need it the most, it gives us wings and allows us to soar. No wonder I’m a sucker for love…
One day, Alex-in-my-head caught sight of Matthew. At the time, he was fleeing for his life, scrambling up a dilapidated ladder to hide behind a crumbling chimney. Dogs bayed, horses snorted, and the loud voice of the officer called his men to order, instructing them to find the fugitive and apprehend him.
“Fugitive?” Alex whispered, leaning forward.
“He’s just escaped from prison,” I explained, throwing a worried look at one of the soldiers who was studying the ladder.
“Is he a criminal?” She didn’t seem too bothered by the notion, incapable of tearing her eyes away from Matthew’s crouched body.
“No. But I’ll let him explain it to you in person.”
“You will?” She gave me a brilliant smile. “Now?”
“He’s sort of busy at present,” I pointed out. To my horror, the roof gave way, and a surprised Matthew was sucked into the house.
“Fix it,” Alex told me. “Make sure he makes it out okay.” Blue eyes hovered uncomfortably close to mine. “It’s him or no one.”
“He’s in the 17th century!” I protested.
“Well then put me there as well. He needs me!” Her face softened. “And I need him,” she added in an undertone, “I’ve needed him since well before I was born.”
Turns out Matthew and Alex were right. They were born three centuries apart, they should never have met, and yet they are each other’s missing half. Without her, he would be diminished. Without him, she wouldn’t quite know how to breathe. And no matter that by now they are well past their youth, the fire between them still burns, still scorches their hearts – as can be proved by the excerpt below from Revenge and Retribution, the recently released sixth book in The Graham Saga.
“And you are surprised?” Matthew blew into her nape, tickling her.
“She was pretty harsh,” Alex said, “and Betty generally isn’t.”
“Except when it comes to Ian. Surely you’ve noticed how protective she is of him?”
“Protective? She was flamingly jealous!”
“And you wouldn’t be?”
“You know I would,” she grumbled. She still was, a wave of puce green washing over her whenever she thought of Matthew and his first wife, Ian’s mother. “Are you?” she asked, pummeling at her pillow. Occasionally, she wanted to claw Kate Jones’ eyes out as well, she reflected, in particular when Matthew was too attentive to her.
“Am I what?”
“Jealous.” She could feel him laughing behind her.
“Is it William Hancock that has caught your eye?”
“William?” Alex twisted round to see him. “What would I see in William?”
“I don’t know,” Matthew said, “but he, I think, is overly fond of you.”
“He is? Oh, don’t be silly. He looks at me with mild disapproval most of the time.”
“I know, aye? I see it in how his eyes follow you around, and how he lets his gaze linger a wee bit too long on your bosom and your arse.” It came out in a very dark voice, and Alex smiled.
“So you are jealous.”
“Not as such,” he replied with a yawn. “Not of him.” He sounded very dismissive.
“So who?” she said, now very wide awake.
Matthew groaned and pulled her down to lie against his chest. “Sleep, aye?”
“Who?” she repeated.
“Of John,” Matthew admitted sulkily. “I don’t like it that I wasn’t your first.”
Alex rubbed her face against his chest. “Idiot. I was twenty-six when we met.”
“Aye, and I still don’t like it. I would that no one but me had ever touched you, taken you, loved you.”
Alex struggled up to sit, making the whole bed sway.
“I’m glad that you weren’t.” She smiled at the way his eyes narrowed. “Otherwise, how would I have known just how lucky I was?” She kissed him: a long kiss. “Very lucky,” she said, licking her lips.
“Very,” he agreed huskily.
For more information about Anna Belfrage and her books, visit her website!
For a somewhat more visual presentation of The Graham Saga, why not watch the book trailer?
From Anna Belfrage’s Website: The Graham Saga…
This is the story of Alex and Matthew, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him.
It all began the day Alex Lind got caught in a thunderstorm. Not your ordinary storm, no this was the mother of all storms, causing a most unusual rift in the fabric of time. Alex was dragged three centuries backwards in time, landing more or less at the feet of a very surprised Matthew Graham.
In a series of books we follow the life and adventures of the expanding Graham family, both in Scotland and in the New World – and let me tell you it is quite an exciting life, at times excessively so in Alex’ opinion.
Sometimes people ask me why Alex had to be born in the twentieth century, why not make her a woman born and bred in the seventeenth century where the story is set? The answer to that is I have no idea. Alex Lind is an insistent, vibrant character that sprung into my head one morning and simply wouldn’t let go.
Seductively she whispered about terrible thunderstorms, about a gorgeous man with magic, hazel eyes, about loss and sorrow, about love – always this love, for her man and her children, for the people she lives with. With a throaty chuckle she shared insights into a life very far removed from mine, now and then stopping to shake her head and tell me that it probably hadn’t been easy for Matthew, to have such an outspoken, strange and independent woman at his side.
At this point Matthew groaned into life. Nay, he sighed, this woman of his was at times far too obstinate, with no notion of how a wife should be, meek and dutiful. But, he added with a laugh, he wouldn’t want her any different, for all that she was half heathen and a right hand-full. No, he said, stretching to his full length, if truth be told not a day went by without him offering fervent thanks for his marvelous wife, a gift from God no less, how else to explain the propitious circumstances that had her landing at his feet that long gone August day?
Still, dear reader, it isn’t always easy. At times Alex thinks he’s an overbearing bastard, at others he’s sorely tempted to belt her. But the moment their fingertips graze against each other, the moment their eyes meet, the electrical current that always buzzes between them peaks and surges, it rushes through their veins, it makes their breathing hitch and … She is his woman, he is her man. That’s how it is, that’s how it always will be.