A hot-as-sin Friar Tuck and a swashbuckling Maid Marian. How did I come up with these characters and their story? Read on to learn all about the “making of” Tempting the Maiden.
This series is all about flipping expectations while delivering plenty of action, adventure, and romance. So, it was a non-brainer to turn Friar Tuck into a hot young lion shifter who dreams of being a knight. The twist is, he can’t, because as the third-born son of a noble family, he has no choice but to enter a monastery. (That’s true, by the way, as basic medieval history tells us.) Poor Tuck! That also makes the perfect set up because it gives his character a lot to strive for and overcome. And, ha — “a lot” is an understatement if he’s going to win over the woman he loves!
My stories are all about tough, smart heroines, so there was no way my Maid Marian was going to sit around waiting to be rescued. I still wanted her personality to be realistic for the time period, so that’s where her backstory comes in. Surely, not every father in medieval times treated his daughters like so many head of cattle to be traded and bred. (Ugh! Good things times have changed…although the sad thing is, this persists in some parts of the world…) There had to be fathers who loved, respected, and sought to protect their daughters from the dangers of their world. And what better way to protect her than train her to protect herself?
Then there’s Marian’s unique shifter heritage…but I don’t want any spoilers here, so I’ll leave that for the story to explain! Suffice to say, she and Tuck are a match made in medieval art history! (I’m seriously considering writing a series about that shifter type in the future… Stay tuned!)
This story was fun to write because it’s its own story but also the series finale. That meant weaving together open threads from the previous two books with entirely new elements to create a great story AND a satsifying ending for everyone. Also, getting the characters out from behind the walls of a secluded abbey to a life-or-death finale in Nottingham provided a drive of its own. The same goes for the forbidden love aspect of the story. I love zipping through the chapters of stories like this and watching the barriers between star-crossed lovers gradually crumble and fall!
I love history, so I did (too much) research on medieval monasteries to get the layout of my fictional Winslow Abbey. I also sketched out the final climactic scene to get the layout right in my head. I’m a big fan of the movie The Name of the Rose so I couldn’t resist sneaking a library and scriptorium into this story as the unlikely launching point for a passionate romance. * Side note: The Name of the Rose is one of two Sean Connery connections to Tempting the Maiden. Read on for the second one!
STORY vs HISTORY
Of course, the Robin Hood legends are just that — legends, but I try to plausibly weave my stories into a backdrop of real events. King Richard really was imprisoned during this time period, his mother really was the legendary Eleanor of Aquitaine, and he really did return to England early in 1194. Men like Tuck really were pushed into becoming monks, and their lives were very much the eat-sleep-pray cycle he bemoans.
On the other hand, Winslow Abbey is a figment of my imagination, although it is modeled closely on monsteries of that era. And, as we know, Robin Hood is a legend, not a real person (probably a combination of several “big personalities” of the era). If you’re interested, you can learn a lot more about that in this BBC podcast on the subject!
But perhaps the biggest historical inaccuracy of my story is the idea of King Richard as a loved and respected king, in contrast to his evil brother, Prince John. Historians generally agree that Richard was a pretty bloodthirsty, ruthless man who was more interested in crusading than ruling England. (He was actually the third born son, so he didn’t expect to become king and only did so after the demise of his two older brothers.) He spent more of his youth in France than in England, and even as king, he only spent a total of six months in England over the last ten years of his life! The general consensus is that John did a pretty decent job ruling England after Richard’s death in 1199.
I know — what a bummer to discover that, especially after the way the Robin Hood legends cast King Richard the Lionheart as a hero! But, hey. I decided to stay true to the legend instead of history for that one. I think the key to a fun story is providing enough of the familar to make readers feel at home while flipping expectations in other, unexpected ways. In this case, the king falls into the first category! He’s just too fun a character the way the legends paint him to change.
MY FAVORITE SCENE
This book is full of my personal favorites, from the opening scene in which we see Tuck as a Crusader knight (at least in his imagination), to his first, knife’s-point meeting with Marian, to their first steamy night together. I guess the most satisfying scene was the end where everything comes together from all three stories, and in which Robynne and Daniel can finally reveal their outlaw-sheriff romance to the world.
As for my favorite mini-moment within a scene, that might just be the dramatic return of King Richard. I liked the Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie, but I really LOVED the ending when Sean Connery makes a surprise appearance as King Richard. That’s exactly who I was picturing as the king in my story, so I hope that comes through in the description and little hints in that scene!
Finally, I love the ironic humor in the final scene, where Robynne says if she does goes down in history, it had better not be as a man, and John Little hopes he isn’t remembered as Little John. Of course, that’s exactly what happened — but that’s also why I think my twist on the Robin Hood legend is a special one. I hope you agree. :)
What about you? What’s your favorite scene?
ICONIC ROBIN HOOD MOMENTS I Couldn’t Resist
So, now that the series is up to Book 3, I hope you’ve read them all and discovered those iconic Robin Hood moments I just had to include in this trilogy. Did you find them all? Spoiler alert for the answers ahead!
Thanks for reading the making of Tempting the Maiden. Make sure you don’t miss the bonus scene and other fun content in the Extras section of my website. If you enjoyed this story and series, please remember to spread the word and post a review. Thank you!