Garret Kenning, the Earl of Therneforde, strives daily to conceal the strange secret that had plagued his family for generations. His home, Kenning Old Manor, is dominated by the last remnant of Kenning Castle--the Red Tower. The Tower has the strange capacity to transport people across time, and the constant possibility of peculiar arrivals encroaches on his freedom and his choices. Despite this worry, his life is ordered in comfortable lines with his aunt Lady Margery Kenning as his housekeeper, and his good friend and steward John Debray to support him.
As Therneforde begins to plan his future around marriage to a suitable spinster of his village, the arrival of a traveller from a distant past upsets all his arrangements. He is required, in the following weeks, to reexamine all his beliefs from his opinions of women to his life's most important choices.
Ysmay of Scarsfield's medieval world has changed with a single step. That one stride across the threshold of the Red Tower takes her to a new life, a new family and a new future in a world that is eerily familiar yet distressingly alien. New freedoms beckon, and she is reprieved from a difficult destiny. However, the challenges of adjustment may be too great and her hard-won peace is threatened by a suspicious newcomer to the village.
Reconciling the past and the present and confronting the future present huge obstacles to both Ysmay and Garret. As their world, and the people around them change, they will both require courage and tolerance, and their strength may lie in unity.
When Lady Margery sat at the pianoforte she emphasized the music as she spoke of the dance, and Ysmay began to comprehend the connections.
Then Therneforde was bowing before her. He had not touched her until this day. Or at least he had not touched her like this. He had offered his arm for her support. He had comforted her while she cried, he had held her hand just minutes ago. He had lifted her from the saddle, and he had placed a shawl about her shoulders occasionally. He had never, while lovely music played, taken her hand in his strong, hard fingers and guided her through the intricate steps of dance.
He wore no glove, as he would at the actual event, nor did she. Every bone and sinew, each muscle and movement in his hand was apparent to her. Her senses heightened by her emotional foray into her past, she was aware of a callous on his thumb, and a healing weal across his left palm. Ysmay even fancied she could feel the ink stain on his index finger. They dipped and turned, glided and whirled, but she was only aware of his hand. She ventured a look at his face, and saw something of the same awareness that she knew must appear on her own. Their glances met, strayed shyly and returned to fuse.
When the music ended, they halted. And they stood, hand in hand. And at last Lady Margery said, "That was very nice my dears! Ysmay, you are a natural dancer. Did you dance at your home?"
"Never, ma'am. My guardian would have entertainment but no dancing. He thought it a stupid activity as he thought music a waste of time. He threatened to burn my harp times without number."
The earl released her hand hurriedly, and stepped away from her side.
"Good gracious!" Lady Margery regarded her unblinkingly for a moment. "Well we regard music as a necessity. And now Garret will play, and we will undertake the country dance again. I can speak of the intricacies more easily as I help you. Then we will essay the cotillion; you will have no difficulty I am sure.
Ysmay displayed her surprise unreservedly. "The earl plays?"
Therneforde had already taken his aunt's seat at the instrument. He said nothing, leaving his aunt to explain. "Yes, Garret does play, did he not tell you? And he plays very well. And now that you know it, he may perhaps accompany your harp, and that will be a pleasure for us all."
Ysmay exchanged a long glance with the earl, one she did not fully comprehend, one that she would have to consider in the dark of night. She shivered at the thought of making music with him, or dancing with him again. There were sensations, things here afoot, that she had never before encountered.
This title is published by Uncial Press and distributed by Untreed Reads.