Linda Windsor's Brides of Alba series makes for great reading so grab yourself Healer & Thief and enjoy a trip back in time.
Over to you, Linda:~
Brief physical description
Caden is a typical warrior build with a wild mane of blonde hair and gray eyes. Yet his facial features resemble Simon Baker, the Mentalist. Sorcha has red hair, moss green eyes and is tall for a woman and slender of build. As I envisioned her, I saw the red-haired gal who was a main character on 24 for a while-- Annie Wersching, I think. She was attractive without being glamorous, at least in character. Actually, the cover artist captured both characters magnificently, including their flight into the treacherous stormy night...where they nearly lost their lives to nature rather than their pursuers. Strengths and weaknesses
Caden is a fearless warrior overcome with shame. But his last wife has made him shy of women and spirits. The beautiful witch had caused him to be possessed by something so terrible, it still haunts him. He can never forgive himself for what he almost did under her spell, which was fueled by his own envy and greed.
Sorcha's heart is too big, especially when it comes to children who have been abducted like she was and face the prospect of being sold into slavery. It leads her to make unwise decisions with finances and her future.
Quirk (if any)
Caden's discomfort with a spirit world he doesn't understand. Give him an enemy he can see and slice in two with his sword and leave spirits to priests and wizards.
Sorcha does get a thrill out of successfully relieving an oafish bore of his purse. It's an art form she's mastered as well as her bardic training.
Your inspiration for the character
Caden is loosely based on Jacob in Scripture. His envy of his elder brother and greed was enough to allow himself to be manipulated by his wife into betraying his family in book one. In THIEF, it was very hard to turn this shame-filled villain into a hero. The auld Scottish proverb "Love of our neighbor is the only door out of the dungeon of self" proves to be Caden's theme and a wonderful life lesson for us all. Sorcha, on the other hand, is a Robin Hood of sorts. Her needs are small. She doesn't steal for her own gain, but for the sake of abducted children like she'd once been. And like Robin Hood, she's been cheated of her rightful inheritance by her father's enemy. Her cause is noble, if her methods are not.
Background to the story
This setting is Arthurian Scotland like it's rarely been portrayed--through the eyes of the Grail Church. It is 6th century in King Arthur's Alba (ancient Scotland). The Brides of Alba's Arthur is the only historically documented arthur, which was a title for more than one battle lord during the late 5th. and 6th. centuries. Merlin was also a title meaning king's advisor or wise man, so that there were more than one arthur and merlin only makes sense. These men would have had to have lived over one hundred years each to have accounted for all the deeds and stories attributed to them.
This historical Prince Arthur of Dalraida is the only arthur who actually bears the given name. Prior to this, it was forbidden by penalty of death to call the arthurs and merlins, or any prominent leader, by their given names due to high assassination risk. (See Nora Lorre Goodrich's excellent nonfiction books on Arthurian characters and the Grail Church.) My Arthur protects his Queen Gwenhyfar's land of Gododdin on the highland borders, leading the British kings in holding rebellious Picts in the north and the Saxons invading on the east at bay. He tries throughout to unite the British and Pict tribes against their mutual enemy, while the British Celtic church under the Archbishop Modred vies to maintain its independence from the Roman one. Add to this muddle that the Arthurian characters--and some of my fictitious ones--are descended from the Grail Church's centuries of matchmaking two ancient and sacred bloodlines in hopes of producing a new messiah-like leader to save their people from the pagan hoardes. Imagine the stir of the surviving royal Davidic bloodline of Judea preserved through the Irish nobility and the apostolic line of British nobility alive from its intermarriage with Jesus's first century family and followers can, and does, cause. Some things are best left in God's hands, but mankind learns the hard way.
The O'Byrne Brothers and their unusual brides: In the midst of the above turmoil, the brothers O'Byrne find a love and faith to sustain them. Ronan, the eldest, is healed of bitterness spawned by clan war when he falls into the hands of a beautiful HEALER. Their love fulfills a prophecy of a family breech and a peace beyond understanding.
Which brings us to book two, THIEF.
It's already seen from the character description that Caden is a broken man filled with guilt and shame. So when he's offered a mission into enemy territory to fetch his benefactress' abducted daughter, he sees it, at best, as helping someone out and maybe a second chance to live a good life. At worse, he gets his death wish to be put out of his misery.
But the larcenous and lovely Sorcha doesn't want to be rescued. She is engaged to a wealthy nobleman who will indulge her passion to save kidnapped British children from Rome's slave markets and return them to their homes. She needs neither Caden, nor his God...though she find both intriguing.
But treachery is afoot, not just against Sorcha, but Caden as well. Framed for the murder of her betrothed, the two have little choice but to flee for their lives and leave their future to chance...or to the God Caden is trying to serve.
Thanks so much, Linda :) You always provide such fabulous detail in these posts - so appreciate it.