The biggest challenge in writing The Assassin’s Redemption was to take a villain from an earlier book and turn him into a likable hero. Though Joseph carried the story, Aislinn became a heroine and an essential point-of-view character in her own right. The oldest of my series’ female leads, Aislinn is the only one to have a love-interest younger than she is.
“I choose my own friends.”
Age at the time of this story: 29
Physical Characteristics: 5’4” tall, 110 lbs, strawberry blond hair, blue eyes
The daughter of a shipyard laborer, Aislinn Rede had a happy childhood in Ampleforth until her father passed away when she was twelve. Left to the care of her Aunt Riona, a scullery maid at Caledon Castle, Aislinn joined the lowest class of royal servants in 1570. She spent long, hard days toiling in the kitchen and cleaning the stone behemoth that became her new home.
Five years later, Aislinn was promoted to become a lady-in-waiting to Queen Marguerite (Meg), and the two formed a close bond of friendship. Aislinn was Meg’s confidante and companion on every occasion and served as nursemaid to the prince and princess when they were born.
Though intelligent and quick-witted, Aislinn came to the castle with little education—a situation Meg set about to remedy. Over the years, under Meg’s influence, Aislinn gained knowledge of music, botany, astronomy, mathematics, history, and art through reading and conversing with her mistress.
“A scullery maid seldom becomes a queen’s lady-in-waiting, but the gods favored me. You’ll never find a kinder mistress than Meg, for she’s as tenderhearted as she is beautiful, yet as strong as an iron spear.
My tasks now are light compared to what they were. Instead of turning spits over blazing fires or scrubbing filthy floors, I spend my days caring for my lady and reading books, riding horses, or playing cards or chess. Amusements and pleasures abound. My place is usually reserved for titled women of breeding; I have the comforts of royalty, pleasant work, and no royal responsibilities. Why would any commoner give that up?
One condition of my employment is that I cannot marry, for the cares of a husband and children of my own would supersede the needs of my mistress.
However, I’ve met no one for whom I’d consider leaving the queen.
My time serving Marguerite has made me too fussy. I have met many excellent gentlemen, but my place as a servant sentences me to partner with a commoner of the lowest means. I’m not interested in a grabby, uncouth laborer who thinks he’s doing me a favor by noticing me.
Give me a gentleman in commoner’s garb. Someone with a skill that sets him above the others of his station. Then I might turn my eyes from Meg and her castle to consider a humble home of my own.”
“After all, what do ten days matter?”
Age at the time of this story: 35
Physical Characteristics: 5’7”, blue eyes, light brown hair
Marguerite is a French princess who comes to Caledon in 1575 for an arranged marriage to Prince Edward Grenleigh. Marguerite arrives with the promise of a yearly stipend to Caledon from her family in France for as long as she lives. This makes her an essential source of income for the Grenleighs and a valuable asset in the war against Langdon. But Marguerite barely has time for an exchange of pleasantries with her future husband before they marry.
Marguerite is intelligent and capable, fascinated by the sciences and mathematics, well-read and well-educated—characteristics Edward finds threatening. She has little in common with her husband and avoids him as much as she can. Marguerite becomes the mother of Prince James and Princess Katherine, and she does her best to steer their education and upbringing and to shield them from their father’s narcissism.
Marguerite has few attendants at the castle, since Edward sent her entourage home to France after the wedding. Her best friend and confidante is a former scullery maid six years her junior.
“Father arranged my marriage to Prince Edward of Caledon, but he never mentioned it to me until the details were settled. Father assured me that Prince Edward is handsome, but there’s far more to a husband than his looks. I was livid that Father would send me to a foreign land to wed a stranger.
In self-defense, I sought any information I could find about Caledon before I boarded the vessel that would carry me to her unknown shores. Not much exists in writing beyond myths: tales of gods and goddesses, dragons, kings, and a legendary stone, the Dragon’s Fire. To think I should become a princess of Caledon!
And one day, its queen. I’ve lost track of the line of succession for the French throne, but I’m a long way down it, and had resigned myself that I would never wear a crown.
As my ship approached the forbidding, mist-draped coastline, Caledon appeared everything I had read about in the legends. I could almost see the winged dragons soaring over the cliffs.
But now, facing the imperious castle carved into the rock high above the water, my courage fails me. What do I know of Caledon? Stories. Nothing more. Yet I shall be bound to love, honor, and obey the prince of this country whose customs I do not know and whose people I do not understand.
My entourage of ladies-in-waiting know how to cheer me when despondency pursues me. Knowing my little quirks and preferences, they seek ways to make me comfortable. So long as Edward proves a kind husband, with my friends at my side, I shall try to be of service here, and eventually, I shall be happy.”
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