A Legend to Love – Falling in Love, One Legend At A Time
Legend To Love
Legend of Love is part of a group of authors who have reimagined legendary stories and legendary lovers in a Regency setting.
The concept was the brainchild of Cora Lee and she features in this quarter’s edition of Love’s Great Adventure magazine which is out today!
To find out the background to her story, you’ll have to grab the magazine which is free to subscribe.
It’s my pleasure to introduce the series. You can check out the stories and some ‘new to you’ authors by picking up the sampler set from your preferred retailer.
Find out more about the individual stories below.
Elizabeth Ellen Carter
The Promise of the Bells
The Promise of the Bells is based on the legend of Dick Whittington and his Cat.
What appealed to me was the ‘meta’ nature of the story. Dick Whittington was a real historical figure who was, indeed, three times the Lord Mayor of London during the 14th century. He survived the reign of two kings – no mean feat in those days when to be seen too close an ally to one faction meant you were an enemy to another – and was a great philanthropist by endowing St Thomas’ Hospital for unwed mothers.
The children’s legend of Dick Whittington and his cat came more than three hundred years later, first popularlised in the 18th century as a salutary tale of kindness, sacrifice and perseverance and beloved by children and adults ever since.
And the legend has a cat! What’s not to love about a heroic cat!
The Promise of the Bells follows young Richard Whiting who comes from a poor family but he’s given a golden opportunity – to move to London to further his education. On the way there, he is befriended by Lord Ambrose and his young daughter, Catherine ‘Cat’ Swanston, and Richard and Catherine become sweethearts.
In order to make his fortune, Richard is pulled into a different life but the young couple vow beneath the tolling bells of the churches of London to always be there for one another.
Years later, now an up-and-coming barrister, Richard learns that Catherine needs help. Her father is missing, and His Lordship’s business partner refuses to provide any information. It will take Catherine’s bravery and Richard’s legal cunning for there to be a happily ever after…
The Lady And Lord Lakewood
My legend is the Lady in the Lake, who was said to possess Excalibur and gave the sword to Arthur to protect Camelot.
I’ve created a prequel of sorts to the Arthurian legend, giving the Earl of Lakewood the duty of protecting young Arthur. I’m having a blast weaving in some of the knights who were connected to Arthur later in life, and interweaving legend with the Regency world.
A man on a quest to save the heir of his dearest friend. A woman in possession of an enchanted weapon. Can they protect the young duke from those who are out to kill him?
Almost from birth, Vivienne has known that one day she would play an important role involving a family heirloom, a sword called Excalibur. Her uncle Merlin says she’ll know what to do when the time comes—but she had no idea the man she waited for would be so handsome, so powerful.
Richard, 5th Earl of Lakewood, must save Arthur, the new young Duke of Camelot, from a woman seeking revenge. Killing Uther, Arthur’s father, wasn’t enough; now she’s after Arthur. A series of mysterious clues leads Lakewood to an even more mysterious woman, Lady Avalon. What role does she play in this battle, and what’s this spell she’s cast on Lakewood’s heart? Her distraction might just lead to his death.
When the Marquess Returns
When the Marquess Returns is based on the legend of Romulus and Remus.
One of my favorite aspects of working on this project—besides getting to work with some amazing authors—was the opportunity to indulge in my fascination with Rome. When deciding on which legend I would choose for A Legend To Love Series, I instantly thought of the tale of Romulus and Remus. There are several slight variations of the legend, but for the purpose of When the Marquess Returns, I followed the most well-known, adding my own twists, and, of course, a Happily Ever After.
In Roman mythology Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were the sons of Rhea Silvia and Mars. According to legend, their story begins even before their conception when Rhea Silvia—the daughter of King Numitor, was forced to become a Vestal Virgin after her uncle, Amulius, overthrew the king.
However, Rhea Silvia soon became pregnant and gave birth to twin sons. Seeing this as a threat, Amulius ordered the infants to be drowned in the Tiber River. But the servant charged with the gruesome task took pity on the infants, placed them into a basket onto the Tiber, where they were carried to safety. They were found by a she-wolf, who suckled them until they were discovered by a shepherd and his wife, Acca Larentia, who raised the boys.
After learning their true identity, Romulus and Remus attacked King Amulius, and restored their grandfather to the throne. On April 21, 753 B.C., the twins decided to found a city on the site where they had been saved as infants. However, they became engaged in a petty quarrel after which it is believed that Romulus killed Remus.
My story is called Lady Soldier and it’s based on the legend of Hua Mulan, the Chinese woman (dressed as a man) who went to war in lieu of her elderly father. She served for twelve years and was very heroic. There are a number of versions of this tale since it’s been around since 386-536.
I used the version called The Ballad of Hua Mulan as the inspiration for my tale. In that version, as opposed to the Disney one, she has a younger brother and older sister. In the Ballad, her parents support her decision to go to war in her father’s place and she was also already trained in archery and other arts of war before enlisting.
Using that legend as my dropping in point, I diverged from the story somewhat as I wanted to limit the time frame to less than a year and set it in the time of The Peninsular Wars. It was a lot of fun figuring out how she could act heroically and be in the midst of the battles depicted in the story. I also enjoyed creating her two male companions in the regiment.
As this was a romance, I had to find a way to be sure the heroine found her hero and for them to be forced to be around each other. I hope I pulled it off in a way people will enjoy.
I loved the idea of this series since we all have heard so many legends and I knew it would be a challenge to adapt them to the era and make them fresh and new. I knew a lot of the authors of this series before Cora had the idea and knew their work would be excellent. For the ones I wasn’t familiar with, I’ve enjoyed getting to know them and their books. I also love that we cite references to each other’s characters as well. That was super fun to try to figure out a natural way to work them in.
Between Duty and the Devil’s Desires
I was pleased and honored to be asked to participate in this Regency romance project. The other participating authors are some of my favorite authors and favorite people in the romance business. And adapting the world’s most romantic legends into Regency romances? What’s not to love!
My novel, Between Duty and the Devil’s Desires, is based on the Tristan and Iseult legend. Most people, whether they love opera or hate it, have heard of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. I was fortunate enough to see a performance of the opera at the Bayreuth Festival, which is the venue for which Wagner wrote this opera. A tenor with whom I performed many times in Salzburg sang the role of Tristan, so it was a particular treat to see this ancient love story played out to Wagner’s incredible score.
But the legend of Tristan and Iseult is not a German. The heartbreaking tale made popular in the 12th century was derived from a Celtic legend. There is even a Drustanus Stone in Cornwall with an engraving referring to Drustan, the archetype for Tristan. The story appears in the Welsh triads and in the Mabinogion—11th century compendiums of early Welsh legends and poetry. It is believed the fatal love triangle between King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot is based on these legends.
After defeating the Irish knight Morholt, Tristan travels to Ireland to bring back the fair Iseult for his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall, to marry. Along the way, Tristan and Iseult accidentally ingest a love potion and fall in love with each other. (In some versions no love potion is needed, they simply fall in love.)
Upon arrival at his uncle’s castle, Tristan is honor-bound to leave his beloved Iseult to be married to the king. In some versions, King Mark discovers their betrayal and, in a violent rage, mortally wounds Tristan. In other versions, Tristan sails away and eventually marries another woman named Iseult, even as he continues to love Iseult. Whilst saving a young damsel from six knights, Tristan is struck with a poison lance. He asks his squire to send for Iseult, who is known far and wide for her healing powers. He tells the squire to sail back flying white sails if Iseult has agreed to come to his aid, but to fly black sails should she refuse.
As Tristan lays dying, his jealous wife tells him the sails on the horizon are black. Heartbroken, Tristan dies. When Iseult arrives and finds him dead, she drinks poison to join him in eternity.
My story is a bit of a role reversal. My heroine, Miss Elegy Perkins, is the toughest governess in England. She is sent by her cousin, Lady Margaret Vines, to do what several of said cousin’s male relations have been unable to do three times. To secure a payment large enough to fund her secret dream, Elegy must fetch Major Lord Devlin St. George, Earl of Hadley, to finally marry Lady Margaret, to whom he has been betrothed for fourteen years. Do Elegy and Devlin fall in love along the way?
Does Elegy walk away from Devlin to achieve her dream? Does Elegy and Devlin’s romance meet a better fate than that of Tristan and Iseult? I guess readers will have to wait and see.
A Gift From A Goddess
I was delighted to have the opportunity to work with a great group of authors on this project. My submission, A Gift From A Goddess, is based on the legend of Pygmalion and Galatea. George Bernard Shaw wrote a play titled Pygmalion. In Shaw’s play, the girl is metaphorically brought to life by two men who teach her to speak like a lady—the goal for their masterpiece is for her to marry and become a duchess. The movie My Fair Lady was based on Shaw’s play, which is one of my favorites. I didn’t want to write a reworking of the play, however, so my story is more about the transformation of love and the mending of hearts by the possible hand of Aphrodite, with an added dash of mystery and suspense. After his wife is murdered, Sculptor, Lord Lewis Chesterton, wants nothing more to do with women or society. But then a new model, Hebe Fenchurch, who has also fallen from grace due to a family scandal, comes to pose for his sculpture of Aphrodite.
The myth of Pygmalion and Galatea is one of the most influential and inspiring ancient Greek myths, and became the main theme for theatrical plays, movies and artistic paintings. Pygmalion was a talented Greek sculptor from Cyprus who had become disenchanted with women and avoided their company. He dedicated himself to his work and soon created Galatea, a beautiful statue of a woman from ivory. As Pygmalion worked on the statue, it became more beautiful to him than any woman that had ever lived or been carved in stone. He found himself applying the strokes of hammer and chisel with increasing affection. When his chisel finally stopped ringing, there stood before him a woman of such perfection that Pygmalion, who had professed his disdain of all females, fell deeply in love.
The goddess of love, Aphrodite took pity on the young sculptor and, when Pygmalion went to her temple to pray, the goddess gave him a sign. As the offering burned on the temple, the flames shot up one, two, three times.
Pygmalion arrived home, wondering what to make of the strange manifestation. When he entered his studio, however, and saw the statue, all other thoughts were banished from his mind. He ran to his statue and embraced it. She was no longer inanimate, but alive. The goddess, Aphrodite, had given life to the statue; whose name was Galatea.
Her Wild Irish Rogue
HER WILD IRISH ROGUE is my retelling of the legend of Cuchulainn and Emer of Irish mythology.
Cuchulainn (pronounced “Cook-Hullen”) is the mighty warrior hero of the Ulster Cycle, an amazingly good-looking young lad who defeated entire armies with his wild berserker rages. He fell in love with the beautiful daughter of Forgall the Wily, Princess Emer, who possessed the six gifts of womanhood: beauty, voice, sweet speech, needlework, wisdom and chastity. However, she declared she wouldn’t have him until he completed a series of heroic tasks.
So Cuchulainn traveled to the castle of Scatha, where that famous Scottish warrior woman taught him all she knew. When he went back to claim Emer’s hand, her father, Forgall the Wily, sought to defeat his daughter’s suitor. In the end, Forgall was defeated by his own trickery and the two lovers were united.
In HER WILD IRISH ROGUE: After the Battle of Waterloo, Captain Stephen Killian of the Inniskilling Dragoons travels to war-weary Paris, where a typically reckless act of bravery makes the Duke of Wellington notice him. The Duke sends Stephen to Lord Forgall the Wily, Wellington’s spymaster. Can a fierce, outspoken warrior learn the subtle tradecraft of a spy?
Lord Forgall’s most trusted assistant is his beautiful daughter Emma. Her grace and charm wins her the confidence of the rulers and diplomats who have gathered to carve up Napoleon’s former empire. The last person she needs by her side is a hot-headed former cavalryman who is definitely not known for his self-control!
Loving a spy is dangerous business. Trusting a spy is foolhardy. But when a plot to upset the peace talks threatens to re-ignite the turmoil of war, can Killian and Emma join forces to catch the culprits?
Sarah Gee Heino
The Rogue of the Greenwood
My title is “Rogue of the Greenwood” and my story is based on the Robin Hood legend. Be prepared for some twists, though! My hero is a very reluctant Robin Hood. Local legend says he is the great-great-great-grandson of the famous outlaw, but Robert Locksley refuses to believe that. His own grandfather was a bit of a loose screw who thought that he was the reincarnation of Robin and embarrassed the whole family by prancing about Sherwood in tights and stealing from his neighbors. Robert has returned from war and plans to make the family respectable again, retiring in peace at his family estate. He’s in for a rude awakening—and a few archery lessons from his childhood nemesis, a very fiery Marianne Maidland!
I’ve been having so much fun with this book. I love the Robin Hood legend in all its many incarnations, but I have to say I will always be partial to the Errol Flynn version. (And the Disney version with swashbuckling animals!) I love digging into research, so I can assure you I’ve spent way too much time tracking the history of the legend and studying the evolution of the characters we associate with it today. The Robin Hood character has been around for nearly a thousand years, so you can bet there is more than one “official” version of him.
Luckily, I have a ringer. A very good friend of mine grew up in Nottingham! In fact, one of her relatives was actually the Sheriff of Nottingham for a time! How cool is that? We have spent many hours going through her old photos, souvenirs, maps, and postcards from home. I feel as if I have a bit of an insider’s knowledge of how Sherwood smells, the rugged lands around it, and the enormity of the famous Major Oak where the “real” Robin Hood is reported to have taken shelter with his Merry Men. My friend says you can fit 19 children in the opening at the base of that tree!
I’m really looking forward to all the Legendary Heroes in this series. My author friends have come up with wonderful tweaks and turns for their heroes and heroines. We’ve had fun sharing our ideas with each other and allowing our characters to mingle a bit, making cameos in each other’s books. I can’t wait for readers to get to join in the fun with us!
Wendy La Capra
His Duchess at Eventide
The Legend: of The Return of Odysseus. How I used it: My story, His Duchess at Eventide, is a Regency twist on the Return of Odysseus, with a little more romance and a lot less bloodshed.
Lord Cheverly (my Odysseus) returns from eight years of war, a shipwreck and six years in the captivity of a brutal pirate, in disguise, only to discover his wife is entertaining suitors.
Penelope believes herself a widow, though she sometimes dares to dream. She will do anything to protect her son, including pretending to entertain suitors and enlisting the aid of a mysterious sea captain to discover the suitor’s true intent. When the captain awakens something in Penelope she thought long dead, she begins to suspect he is no stranger. What follows is danger, a little angst and some steamy loving.
I’ve felt so fortunate to be a part of this group of ladies who share a passion for history and whose talent I’ve long-admired.
Lord Cheverley never wanted to go to war, but when he eloped against his father’s wishes, his furious father forced him to choose—either take a naval commission, or have his marriage annulled. Devastated physically and emotionally by seven years of war, a shipwreck and six years in the captivity of a brutal pirate, Cheverley returns to England to find that the courts have declared him dead and his wife is entertaining suitors. Should he demand his rightful place, disrupting his family’s lives, or should he return to sea, seeking vengeance against the pirate? He sets out to find the answer in disguise.
Penelope once believed in love, but then the man who swept her off her feet deserted her, leaving her and her unborn child utterly alone. Now a widow, she will do anything to protect her son, including enlisting the aid of a mysterious sea captain to uncover the true intentions of her devious suitors. When the captain awakens something in Penelope she thought long dead, she begins to suspect he is no stranger. But, as they peel back the layers of a deadly plot, can this broken family heal their wounds in time to save what really matters?