The Castilian Pomegranate (The Castilian Saga, Book 2): Coffee Pot Blog Tour
An enraged and grieving queen commands them to retrieve her exquisite jewel and abandon their foundling brat overseas—or never retur
Robert FitzStephan and his wife, Noor, have been temporarily exiled. Officially, they are to travel to the courts of Aragon and Castile as emissaries of Queen Eleanor of England. Unofficially, the queen demands two things: that they abandon Lionel, their foster son, in foreign lands and that they bring back a precious jewel – the Castilian Pomegranate.
Noor would rather chop off a foot than leave Lionel in a foreign land—especially as he’s been entrusted to her by his dead father, the last true prince of Wales. And as to the jewel, stealing it would mean immediate execution. . .
Spain in 1285 is a complicated place. France has launched a crusade against Aragon and soon enough Robert is embroiled in the conflict, standing side by side with their Aragonese hosts.
Once in Castile, it is the fearsome Moors that must be fought, with Robert facing weeks separated from his young wife, a wife who is enthralled by the Castilian court—and a particular Castilian gallant.
Jealousy, betrayal and a thirst for revenge plunge Noor and Robert into life-threatening danger.
Will they emerge unscathed or will savage but beautiful Castile leave them permanently scarred and damaged?
Sexual content, violence
Maria de Molina shows Noor just what qualities make a good ruler.
The Alcázar was disturbingly quiet once the king and his men had left. With Robert had ridden all of his men, including Rhys, who’d muttered something about always having wanted to see a Moor fire a bow from astride a horse.
The queen spent the first few days closeted with Father Pérez and the king’s privado, emerging only as the latter rode off with his retinue, making for Burgos with various royal dispatches.
“My husband brought me a gift,” Queen Maria said, gesturing for Noor to rise from her reverence. Noor had been sitting in a shaded corner of the gardens, sewing a shirt for Robert out of the finest linen she’d ever seen. It helped to concentrate on making him something, a garment he would surely return to wear.
“A gift, my lady?”
“Well, beyond the most precious gift of all—his time and company.” For an instant, the queen looked starry-eyed and very young. “Come,” the queen said, “I’ll show you.”
Maria de Molina rarely strolled. She strode, always in a hurry, and Noor had to trot to keep up with her as they passed through courtyards and rooms until they were at the queen’s apartments. Queen Maria led the way to a small room right at the back.
There was nothing but a large birdcage in the room.
“My gift,” Queen Maria said, and at her voice, the two occupants of the cage spread their black-and-white wings and cawed before hopping over to sit on the perch closest to her.
“Magpies?” Noor approached the cage. “Are they tame?”
“Tame?” Queen Maria laughed. “They are tame when they so desire.” She opened the cage and extended her hand, and one of the birds settled on it. Its plumage glittered in the sun, white and black shot through with green.
“Handsome, isn’t he?” she said, stroking the magpie over its back.
“It’s a magpie,” Noor said with a shrug. “Aye, they are pretty enough, but they are also carrion eaters.” The bird cocked its head, bright eyes studying her.
“He feels insulted,” Maria said with a low chuckle.
“He’s a dumb creature,” Noor replied, although the gleam in the bird’s eyes had her moving back a bit. It looked as if it was considering just where to peck her.
“Magpies are beautiful, intelligent birds,” Maria said. “That is why the kings and queens of Castile favour them as pets, why we name our daughters after them.” She returned the magpie to its large cage, crooning something softly to it before bending down to a covered basket standing on the tiled floor. She produced a newly hatched chick, a trembling little creature that was all damp tuft and nothing much else. With a little smile, Maria set it down in the magpie’s cage.
“No!” Noor gasped. “You cannot—”
Too late. The magpie was already pecking at the chick, whose unformed wings and feet twitched frantically.
“Beautiful, intelligent and ruthless—just as any successful ruler must be,” Queen Maria said, watching as the magpie devoured the chick. “I dare say the gift is intended to serve me as a reminder of that.”
\Noor couldn’t tear her eyes away from the feasting magpies, both birds tussling over the poor chick—or what remained of it. “I prefer somewhat less aggressive gifts,” she said, and the queen laughed.
“Of course you do. After all, you are not a queen. Now,” the queen continued, leading the way out of the room. “What did you think of your uncle?”
“It is difficult to form an opinion of a man one has but spoken to once,” Noor prevaricated. “But it speaks to his character that people like you, mi reina, and Don Alonso are devoted to him.”
“Devoted?” the queen’s brows rose. “Alonso is not precisely devoted to my husband, even if I trust him not to betray him.”
“His wife is devoted to you,” Noor pointed out. “Well, more than devoted: Malena loves you like a sister. If nothing else, that ties Alonso de Guzmán permanently to your side—and that of your husband.”
Queen Maria nodded a couple of times. “One must take one’s allies where one can find them,” she said. “God knows we need them.” For an instant, her shoulders sagged.
Queen Maria gave her a wan smile. “These last few days, mediating between Sancho and that firebrand of his brother . . . it is right exhausting.”
“I’ve only seen Infante Juan from a distance.”
“Well, one does not necessarily need to be close to identify him,” Queen Maria said. “The man dresses in more colour than a rainbow.”
“They do not see eye-to-eye? The king and his brother?”
“They do not,” Maria said curtly. “Dear Juan feels defrauded of an important role and an even more important future—one he would have had had it been his nephew rather than his brother who was crowned king.”
“Ah,” Noor said.
Maria turned away. “We breed our men to be proud and strong, to be ambitious and greedy. We raise them to reach for what they want, to take by force that which they feel entitled to. Thus we have brought forth the men required to retake our lands from the Moors, but such men are rarely content. And when it comes to princes . . .” She shuddered. “A king should not have too many sons—King Alfonso experienced that first-hand when his brother rebelled against him. And then Sancho rose against his father, and now here we are: a kingdom ruled by an usurping uncle, a royal brother who vacillates between supporting his crowned king or the nephew who could have been king. Thank God Sancho only has one surviving brother!” She clapped a hand to her mouth, crossed herself and muttered a prayer or two. “I liked Jaime and Pedro,” she said defensively. “I even like Juan—sometimes. But to be king is to be lonely, and I wish that Sancho could at least trust his brother to be there for him.” She arched a brow at Noor. “Your king is served well by his brother, is he not?”
“Aye, he is. As was his father before him.”
“As is Alfonso of Aragon by his.” Maria sighed, her hand fluttering down to her belly. “Should I be blessed with more sons, I will raise them to love and support each other.”
As will I, Noor thought but did not voice it. After all, her potential sons would never be kings, would never require as much brotherly support as a king did.
She accompanied the queen to her private chapel and knelt down beside her. In silence, they prayed as a beam of sunlight danced across the gilded and gem-encrusted crucifix that hung on the western wall.
This novel is available on #KindleUnlimited
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.
The Castilian Pomegranate is the second in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain, a world of intrigue and back-stabbing.
Her most recent release prior to The Castilian Pomegranate is The Whirlpools of Time in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode!
All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.
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Book Title: The Castilian Pomegranate
Series: (The Castilian Saga, Book 2)
Author: Anna Belfrage
Publication Date: 1st October 2021
Publisher: Timelight Press
Page Length: 400 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Twitter Handles: @abelfrageauthor @maryanneyarde
Instagram Handles: @annabelfrageauthor @coffeepotbookclub
Hashtags: #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #Medieval #medievalspain #CoffeePotBookClub #BlogTour
Tour Schedule: https://www.coffeepotbookclub.com/post/blog-tour-the-castilian-pomegranate-the-castilian-saga-book-2-by-anna-belfrage-abelfrageauthor