|The Author at Shakespeare's Birthplace|
Courtney J. Hall lives with her husband and a stolen cat in a fixer-upper in suburban Philadelphia. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that I don’t belong where I am. I live in the United States, in suburban Philadelphia, and have since the day I was born – but something out there, something elusive, has always been tugging at me. Beckoning me. Trying to get me to follow it, find it, whatever it was. And I finally figured it out.
It was England.
I’ve always been an Anglophile, with a love of the history and an attachment to the Union Jack even before it became a ubiquitous home décor trend. I’ve always been partial to tea, tiny pastries, and gothic architecture. But I thought that was just my taste. Just things I liked. It wasn’t until my husband and I finally ventured across the pond and I stepped off the plane at Heathrow that I knew.
My body might live in the States, but my heart and soul belonged to England.
It felt like coming home after a long trip. My instincts came roaring out. I knew how to ride the Tube, where to get on and where to get off. I recognized street names, buildings and places I’d never seen before, not even on TV. Getting off the train in Stratford-upon-Avon, I somehow managed to walk directly into the village. My husband swore it was because I looked at maps, but I don’t. At least nothing more recent than the 1572 Braun & Hogenberg map, which wouldn’t be all that helpful to me in 2016. I just knew. It was in my head, in my heart. In my bones. I’d come home.
|The Author at Tower Bridge|
It was, hands down, the best week of my life. Better than any spring break or senior week. Better than any Caribbean vacation. Better than my honeymoon (but don’t tell my husband). I saw thousand-year-old palaces and the tombs of history’s greatest kings and queens. I walked in Anne Boleyn’s footsteps and saw portraits painted by Holbein. I ate lots of delicious food and talked to some wonderful people. And every new experience reiterated that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I loved it. Getting back on the plane at the end of the week was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
People ask me why I don’t just move there. While I’d love to, there are still a few important things holding me here. But if anything ever happened to change that, I’d swim there. Just try and stop me. It’s my home – I just don’t live there.
Some Rise By Sin
Cade Badgley has just returned from an overseas diplomatic mission when he learns that his father is dying. Cade has no interest in filling his father’s shoes, but the inheritance laws of sixteenth-century England leave him no choice: he is the new Earl of Easton, with a hundred souls dependent on him, a rundown estate, and no money in his coffers. A friendly neighbor offers to help, but at a cost: Cade must escort the neighbor’s daughter Samara to London and help her find a husband.
Samara, a tempestuous artist, would rather sketch Mary Tudor’s courtiers than woo them. But her beauty, birth, and fortune soon make her the most sought-after young woman in London. As Cade watches her fall under the spell of a man he has every reason to distrust, he must balance his obligations to Easton against the demands of his heart and the echoes of a scandal that drove him away from his family twelve years before.