QSFer Heather Rose Jones has a new free Historical Fantasy story out:
In the turbulent France of 1678, Hortense Mancini, Duchesse Mazarine takes on the disguise of a King’s Musketeer to pursue her love affair with Anne Lennard, Countess of Sussex. She crosses paths with a true Musketeer, and with Aphra Behn, English playwright and spy, both seeking to retrieve letters between the kings of France and England that could prove ruinous. Every disguise and plan is threatened by the arrival of a young woman who seeks to gain fame by besting a Musketeer in a duel—and now she has a chance to challenge two of them!
If it weren’t for the wager, Julie d’Aubigny would never have contemplated the mad scheme. And that was saying a great deal, for Julie had not merely considered, but engaged in many a mad scheme in her fifteen years.
“I can,” she cried, emphasizing the claim with a feint toward Sérannes’ shoulder, “and I will!” She finished with a complex pass and a triumphant touch.
He saluted her victory with an infuriating grin. “Your father may have taught you to ride and to fence and to shoot, but nothing—not even your noble lover’s influence—could put you in the uniform of the Musketeers of the Guard. That you are a girl is only the greatest of the bars. You haven’t the letters of recommendation nor the income. It isn’t enough to flourish a sword prettily!”
If any other man but the fencing master had smirked at her in that fashion, she would have challenged him on the instant. Sérannes did it only to goad her into mistakes.
“And how certain are you that I would fail?” Julie asked with what she knew to be a winning smile. It had won her the adoration of the Comte d’Armagnac, but she was uncertain of its efficacy on her current opponent.
Sérannes turned serious. “I had the great honor to train under the late Captain d’Artagnan, the greatest of the Musketeers. I do not take such matters lightly.” A hint of the smile returned, not a smirk this time but a challenge. “Let us say that I am certain enough that you may name the forfeit.”
Alpennia.com (free): Click Here
Heather Rose Jones writes fantasy, historic fantasy, and historical fiction, including the Apennia series with swordswomen and magic in an alternate Regency setting. She blogs about research into lesbian-like motifs in history and literature at the Lesbian Historic Motif Project which provides inspiration for her fiction.