This week’s spotlight is on Jacqueline Church Simonds. Jacqueline Church Simonds is an author and publishing consultant. Her first published book was CAPTAIN MARY, BUCCANEER, a historical adventure novel loosely based on the real pirate women Ann Bonney and Mary Reade.
Simonds has done the usual authorly wanderings in life: she was a lady’s companion, a sound and lights roadie for a small Southern rock band, and managed an antiques shop. She’s sold everything from computers to 1950s pulp magazines to towels and baby clothes. The one constant in her life is a love of words, books and writing. She sold some short stories and poetry early, but didn’t pursue it until later in life.
She has had a life-long love of King Arthur and was always drawn to novels about that great hero. Finally, she sat down and wrote stories from her own point of view.
She lives in Reno, Nevada with her husband and beagle.
Let’s take a look at her book, THE MIDSUMMER WIFE, Book One of the Heirs to Camelot series
After a nuclear attack on London that heralds The Time Foretold, Ava Cerdwin, the anxiety-ridden high priestess in charge of fulfilling a 1500 year old prophesy, must assist the heirs of King Arthur and Merlin in healing the devastated country. The descendants of Britain’s great men of legend have kept the myths and relics for 61 generations, but no one is quite clear on what they must do next. Nothing goes as planned: Ava falls for the wrong heir, the panic attacks are getting worse, the complex obligations of reincarnation are straining old relationships, and Morgaine and her henchwomen are trying to kill them. Somehow, some way, Ava has to make the Healing happen, or Britain is finished. The Midsummer Wife, Book One of the Heirs to Camelot, is an Urban Fantasy that combines Arthurian lore, love, and a race to a breathtaking finish.
Here’s an Excerpt:
Duke Drunemeton, the first son of the first son of the first son ad nauseum cleared his throat. “Erm, yes. But—and I realize this is obvious—I note you’re not a first or second son.”
“Not all families of the lineage are under the same structure, Your Grace.”
“It never occurred to me until this moment that there were any other families…Cousin,” he said with his lips curled up at the corners.
Ava laughed. No one told me he has a sense of humor! Maybe this will turn out all right, after all. “We’re related so far back, you probably have more genetic history in common with your chef than me.”
“May I ask the sire your branch comes from?”
“Not the sire,” she said. “I’m descended from Anya’s daughter, Arianrhod.”
He looked somewhat nonplused. “And the House of Arianrhod is commanded to do…what?”
“Fulfill Mother Anya’s vision for her line―to see the descendant of King Arthur return, served by the descendant of Merlin’s wisdom.”
He swallowed hard.
Ava had read that outside of the Sacred Grotto, no one in the families was permitted to speak those words aloud. “Almost fifteen hundred years ago, Anya, a priestess and healer of the Rus, fell in love with both Merlin and King Arthur, and eventually had sons by both. You, Duke Drunemeton, are the descendant of Merlin. The Earl of Steadbye, whom I hope to meet soon, is the descendant of King Arthur.”
He gasped. “How do you—?”
Ava rushed on, “Duke Drunemeton, these are The Days Foretold. As was written in the books you guard, this in the hour ‘when the King and Merlin shall come again and, with the Oathstone, heal the Land and its People.’ And as you are well aware, the ‘Once and Future King,’ as the author T. H. White called him, is in waiting nearby. All we need do now is locate the Oathstone. Then we can help Britain heal and regain its place in the world.”
The duke stood up slowly and walked like a mechanical toy around the desk. He stood over her, radiating both fear and outrage. “How? You can’t possibly…” He was struggling to steady himself.
Have I gone too far, too fast?
“Who are you?” he demanded.
“Ava Cerdwen—Arianrhod’s heir.”
Ava decided a strategic retreat was in order. She stood up and drew her purse strap over her shoulder—the universal gesture that the interview was over. “I can see you need time to consider what I’ve said. My driver will stop back here tonight in case you want to reach me. I won’t be far. We’ll speak again when you’ve had time to let this sink in. I know it’s a shock, keeping a secret for so very, very long, then discovering others know, too.”
She rested her fingers gently on his arm, which was swathed in an expensive camel hair jacket. There was a momentary spark, as if she had just run across the thick Aubusson carpet in slippers before she put her hand there. It was unexpected, but also another hopeful sign.
He paled, and she could feel him tremble.
“Don’t let fear overwhelm you. We must act as we’ve been trained to do since birth—and soon.” She turned and walked out of the office.
Ava could feel his raw emotions behind her. He was paralyzed with fear and confusion.
Not good at all.
She went out of the house, emotions zinging between terror and…well, not triumph. But ever so slightly hopeful she had succeeded in starting the critical dialogue. She was amused all over again at the car her “chauffeur” chose―a black 1930s Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. Who rides around in such a thing? Well, me, I guess. The duke appeared in the rainy forecourt. His eyes were a bit wild. “Ava!” he shouted. The duke seemed to realize he was attracting attention from the pair of sodden gardeners nearby.Stepping closer to the Rolls, he whispered, “How do I know I can trust you?” Smiling confidently at him, she slid into the car. It started up immediately. She said to his mind: Because we are family
“Sex, magic, and power collide in this [Urban] Fantasy that begins when a devastating terrorist attack on modern London sparks the long-foretold return of King Arthur to heal Britain. Simonds boldly continues the Arthurian saga into the present day, as heirs to Arthur, Merlin, and the woman both men once loved struggle to understand and fulfill their destinies and outwit the sinister agenda of the sorceress Morgaine.” ~ Lisa Jensen, author Alias Hook and Beast: A Love Story
“Imaginative, mesmerizing, and emotionally complex, Simonds’ unique story boldly expands the Arthurian legend into exciting new territory. The fantastical elements—rituals from old Celtic religions, dark magic, forces of fate—are well drawn and skillfully integrated into a contemporary setting. And then there’s the romance… the palpable chemistry between Ava and Ron (the Arthur heir), complicated by their respective destinies, makes their relationship a riveting read.” ~ Mary Fan, author of Starswept, Artificial Absolutes
Special Notes: Cliffhanger ending; MC Ava Cerdwen has an anxiety disorder; Ron Steadbye is biracial (British-Zimbabwean); tattoos play a part in the story; non-Christian/pagan religion featured; sex-positive romance, but not erotica.