Please welcome Nicole Evelina here today to share about her book, Camelot’s Queen!
History remembers Guinevere’s sin, but it was Arthur who transgressed first.
Forced into a marriage she neither anticipated nor desired, Guinevere finds herself High Queen, ruling and fighting alongside Arthur as they try to subdue the Saxons, Irish and Picts who threaten Britain from every direction. Though her heart still longs for her lost love, Guinevere slowly grows to care for her husband as they join together to defeat their enemies.
Meanwhile, within the walls of Camelot their closest allies plot against them. One schemes to make Guinevere his own, another seeks revenge for past transgressions, while a third fixes her eyes on the throne. When the unthinkable happens and Guinevere is feared dead, Arthur installs a new woman in her place, one who will poison his affections toward her, threatening Guinevere’s fragile sanity and eventually driving her into the arms of her champion.
Amid this tension a new challenge arises for the king and queen of Camelot: finding the Holy Grail, a sacred relic that promises lasting unity. But peace, as they will soon learn, can be just as dangerous as war. As the court begins to turn on itself, it becomes clear that the quest that was to be Arthur’s lasting legacy may end in the burning fires of condemnation.
This highly anticipated sequel to Daughter of Destiny proves there is much more to Guinevere’s story than her marriage and an affair. See the legend you think you know through her eyes and live the adventure of Camelot’s golden days yourself – but be prepared to suffer its downfall as well.
The theme of this promo, More Than Friends, may as well be tailor-made for a discussion of Arthurian legend. In my Guinevere’s Tale series, Guinevere has three main loves: Aggrivane, whom she loved before meeting Arthur; Arthur, whom she married; and Lancelot, her infamous lover. But none of these is exactly as you traditionally think of them in my books.
Camelot’s Queen is the second in the series. It contains all three of Guinevere’s loves. In the beginning of the book, she’s fighting to overcome her star-crossed love for Aggrivane (get their back story in the first book, Daughter of Destiny, which I highly recommend reading before this one). There are two great scenes that show their ongoing love, how they will never get over one another, but this is my favorite:
Aggrivane had made no effort to cover his tracks. Following his footprints, deep and unmistakably stamped with rage into the muddy depths of the forest, I picked through clumps of mutilated leaves and swept past decapitated branches, the innocent victims of his anger, until I came to a small clearing at the edge of a stream.
His back was toward me as he faced the water. “You should not have come.”
“But you knew I would.” I couldn’t see his face, but I imagined how he would close his eyes and smile ruefully by way of answer. He was determined to ignore me, so I crossed the clearing in a few purposeful strides then tugged on his shoulder in a vain attempt to force him to face me. “What would you have me do, Aggrivane? Choose my former lover as my champion? How would that look to Arthur? To the court?” I was almost yelling, my voice raw.
He had to see reason. He had to know I’d had no other choice. Because I hadn’t, had I? I wrapped my arms protectively around myself. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure.
For a long while, Aggrivane said nothing, and sounds of the forest returned as the birds decided my outburst was not aimed at them. Then slowly he turned, his face a stony mask, but I saw pain reflected in his eyes.
“Yes,” he whispered. “That is exactly what you should have done—selected the one you wish to have always by your side, not a substitute to distract you from your true feelings.”
The candor of his words struck me to the core as surely as if he had buried an arrow deep inside my heart. Tears dampened my cheeks before I could find my voice, and I turned away. My mind was working feverishly to deny the truth of his words.
“I am no longer the girl you met in Avalon. My actions…” I took a deep breath. “Are watched by everyone.” I winced inwardly as I realized how close I had come to repeating Merlin’s words about my actions having consequences. “To have named you my champion would only have given my detractors something to use against me.”
“Did Lyonesse teach you that, how to make excuses for any subject?” Aggrivane spat, referring to the malicious woman I had lived with during the latter part of our courtship.
I whirled around, ready to retort, but he stopped me by holding up his hand.
“Everything you have said to me since I returned has been one gigantic justification.” His eyes narrowed, inspecting my face. Then he firmly gripped my shoulders, forcing me to look directly into his eyes. “Why do you refuse to acknowledge that you are still in love with me even to yourself?” His eyes searched mine so thoroughly I felt naked before him. “Do you know what I was about to say to you the day Camille interrupted us?”
I was about to reply, but he rushed on. “I was about to tell you that I was still in love with you. Married or no, neither of us can deny what flickers deep within no matter how hard we try to hide it or snuff it out.”
Aggrivane cradled my cheeks, and my heart cracked all over again, just as it had when my father separated us, just as it had when I futilely searched for his face in the moments after Arthur proposed. I closed my eyes, trying to deny what my heart so readily understood. My head spun with a million thoughts, the loudest being a voice shouting, No, this cannot be happening. He did not just say those words.
You are dreaming; this is not real, I kept repeating, but I knew it wasn’t true. I tried to force the feelings down, and I let out a strangled gasp as they nearly choked me. I did still love him, but to admit it, to say it out loud, would have been treason. And once I gave voice to those feelings, there would be no going back—no controlling the torrent that came with them.
The words were hanging on my tongue, each beat of my heart bringing them closer to my lips. I pulled away, head bowed and eyes on the grass slowly dying beneath my soles. I knew what I had to do, what had to be said, but every fiber of my being railed against it. I swallowed hard and forced myself to speak, my voice sounding foreign to my ears. “This has to end, Aggrivane. We can’t continue to live like this. I do not want to lose you, but there can be no illusions about what is or ever will be between us.”
Aggrivane cleared his throat and shuffled his feet. I didn’t dare look up. I knew by his silence that his expression would rend me beyond repair.
“If that is what you wish,” he said, clearly struggling to keep his voice steady. “But promise me one thing.”
I answered without hesitation, “Anything.”
I suddenly remembered how he had looked the night we first kissed, the way the wind rippled his black locks into shining waves and how his dark eyes twinkled like the stars in the midnight sky. I would have given anything to be able to go back to that moment, to start things over and live the life destiny had stolen from our grasp.
“Promise me no matter how much you love your husband or esteem your champion, no matter how many others you burn with passion for, you will reserve a small place in your heart only for us. It can be in the darkest depths of your soul, but I need to know there is some part of you no one else can touch, a place that is purely mine.”
I stared at him, wishing I could tell him such a place already existed, sealed from all others by wounds that would never fully heal, scars that marked me as his as clearly as if he had carved his name into my heart. But all I could do was nod and wipe away the tears as they fell. “I promise.”
His smile was as tender as his touch as he ran his fingertips down my cheek from my temple to jaw. “So do I.”
As he embraced me one last time and kissed my forehead, I knew my love for him would haunt me forever.
Then there is Arthur, who is of course, Guinevere’s husband. We all know that. But neither of them planned on marrying one another, and both had dreams that involved other people (you’ll find out who Arthur wished to marry in this book). But still, they grew to love each other. This is from their wedding night, when they are still very much strangers:
“If you had it to do over again, would you choose me?”
How could he even ask me such a question? He was the king. What was I going to say—no? “Would I have a choice?”
Arthur stepped toward me, hand outstretched. “Of course. You’ve always had a choice.”
I stepped away from him. “Have I? You asked for my hand in front of the entire court of Dyfed, already having secured my father’s agreement.”
Arthur dropped his hand, balling it into a fist at his side. “Guinevere, I understand your pain. You are not the only one who has lost something. I had a completely different life before I became king—plans, dreams which will never be fulfilled. This is a duty I never asked for.”
“Neither did I.”
“But you’re here now.” His smile was tender.
Before I could respond, he leaned in and kissed me gently. Then he pulled back and searched my eyes as if looking for permission to continue.
My tension eased, shoulders sagging as I realized he was right. I was here now, with my husband. No matter what had come before, I’d made my promise to him. I had a duty now, to him and to my people. In answer to his questioning eyes, I kissed him back, with equal tenderness and no small amount of awkwardness.
He ran his hands over my hair, down my neck and shoulders, to my waist as our lips danced, gradually learning one another’s pace and preferences. When his hands reached my hips, he removed my shift and lifted me effortlessly. We made love with the uncertainty of strangers, the act slowly forming a bond between us even as we struggled to find pleasure in our forced coupling.
When it was over, Arthur lay his head on my chest and his breathing slowed to the even pace of a dreamer. I kissed the top of his head.
“I suppose being married to you will not be so bad,” I whispered before closing my eyes.
And then there is Lancelot. I’m not going to tell you why this happens (you’ll have to read the book to find out), but this is the moment where Guinevere and Lancelot become lovers.
As he had promised that night in the inn, Lancelot was there for me no matter when I needed him. At first, he’d merely listened as I confided my fears, holding me when the panic was overwhelming and letting me cry when the guilt surfaced. Sometimes I fell asleep in his arms. When I woke in terror in the dark of night, it was not Arthur I sought but my champion.
One night, months after we had returned to Camelot, I slipped into Lancelot’s doorway, breathless and sweating, heart still pounding from the vivid nightmare in which Elga had succeeded in killing both of us at Badon. I was so happy we were both alive I didn’t even greet him. I ran over to where he lay drenched in moonlight and kissed him, waking him from a sound sleep. He never tried to push me away, merely smiled into my kiss and drew me to him. Peeling away my sticky shift, I bit his neck, letting him know I no longer wished our relationship to be chaste. He responded by tangling a hand in the hair at the nape of my neck and pulling me on top of him. His face was buried in my breasts as I moved against him, welcoming his touch as though I was starving without him. And maybe I was. It had been ages since Arthur had touched me.
When we had finally sated our hunger, he laced his fingers in mine and smiled. “I knew you cared for me. Finally, so do you.”
Have I got your attention? I do hope so. As I said earlier, I recommend reading the first book, Daughter of Destiny, first. You might be able to read Camelot’s Queen on its own, but you will miss many of the relationships and motivations built up in the first book, which may lead to misunderstanding or frustration, and I want you to have a pleasant reading experience. But whether you read both or jump straight into this one, please know this is not your mother’s Arthurian legend; I have very much put my own spin on a classic story – but I hope you enjoy it all the same.
Buy Camelot’s Queen now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, or Kobo!
Nicole Evelina is an award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel is Camelot’s Queen, the second book in an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view.
Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, took first place in the legend/legacy category of the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. Her upcoming novel, Been Searching for You (May 10), a romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests. Later this year, she will release Madame Presidentess (July 25), a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America’s first female Presidential candidate, which was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.
Nicole is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.
Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for the The Historical Novel Society, and Sirens (a group supporting female fantasy authors), as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Broad Universe (promoting women in fantasy, science fiction and horror), Alliance of Independent Authors and the Independent Book Publishers Association.
Her website is http://nicoleevelina.com. She can be reached online at: