Today’s Wednesday Writers guest is Olivia Rae, author of the historical romance A Life Renewed- a reimagined story about Lady Jane Grey. She’ll be sharing about the book’s interesting history and the twist she put on it to create something new. Welcome, Olivia!
The Tragedy of Lady Jane Grey
By Olivia Rae
Many years ago while touring the Tower of London, I learned the tragic story of Lady Jane Grey. After the death of King Edward VI (King Henry VIII’s son), the English Crown should have gone to his older half-sister, Mary Tudor. But King Edward VI was a Protestant and relied heavily on his regent, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. Mary was a Catholic and declared illegitimate when King Henry VIII divorced Catharine of Argon, Mary’s mother. Dudley persuaded Edward VI to change the order of succession so that another Protestant relative would become queen: his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, who happened to be married to Dudley’s youngest son.
When young Edward died, Dudley quickly moved to put fifteen-year-old, Jane on the throne. But the English people would not have it and nine days later, Mary Tudor became the queen of England. Poor Jane (who never wanted to be queen) was executed for treason.
Soon after learning this tragic tale, I started to read everything I could get my hands on about Lady Jane Grey. Not only did she have a tragic death, but she had a sad life. Her parents looked upon her as a tool to be used to gain prominence at court. She never wanted to marry John Dudley’s son and, at first, fought to deny the English Crown. She was highly educated and a devoted Protestant. Even at a young age, she died with dignity. The prologue in my new book, A Life Renewed, includes Lady Jane’s exact last words. Her very last sentence she quoted Jesus. “Lord into your hands I commend my spirit.” It is astounding that such a young woman would die with so much grace and faith.
Moved and inspired, I decided to give her life. In my book, Jane doesn’t die, but is whisked away to a French Convent where later she is rescued by a couple of German lords. Does she live happily-ever-after? Not right away. She’s used by a German prince and stalked by the English assassin, Asher Hayes. But love and faith do conquer all in fiction. And yes, my Lady Jane Grey does get a chance at a happily-ever-after life.
A Life Renewed
By Olivia Rae
In 1554, Lady Jane Grey, “The Nine Days’ Queen” was executed for high treason.
But what if, instead of feeling the blade on her neck she secretly survived?
Escaping execution, Lady Jane hides as a peasant girl in a principality in Germany. She loves the simple life and never wants to return to England. But her benefactor, a power-hungry German prince, wants to march on London and place her on the English throne again, thereby increasing his dominance in Europe. If she doesn’t agree to his plan, her beloved childhood nurse will be put to death. Desperate for help, Jane must put her trust in the mysterious spy Asher Hayes.
Asher Hayes is done rounding up Protestants for “Bloody Mary” and wants nothing more than to live a quiet life as a farmer and expunge the blood of many from his hands. Except Queen Mary isn’t done with him yet. She throws his father, mother, and sister into prison on false charges in order to force him to accept one last mission – find and kill Lady Jane Grey. But when Asher discovers Lady Jane isn’t a threat to the throne as he believed her to be, he faces a devastating decision – does he sacrifice his family for the woman who reigns in his heart?
February 12, 1554
Tower of London
John Feckenham, chaplain to Queen Mary, donned his heavy black cloak before clasping his sweaty palms together. He dropped to his knees and offered up one last prayer for the poor soul whose death this day would ease many minds. All this could have been avoided had Lady Jane Grey returned to the true faith. Perhaps then Queen Mary would have held off the executioner’s blade. Yet, she had not.
He would miss their lively doctrinal conversations, for Jane did have a quick mind. A pity they could not continue in this fashion for another month or so. But he had failed to make Jane see the errors of her Protestant faith, and she would not give up the Church of her great-uncle Henry VIII for the true Catholic religion. Jane even made Feckenham promise to give her prayer book to the queen when all was over and done, the hope being that Queen Mary might see the light and turn away from the Pope and Rome, thus saving her body from the flames of hell.
John placed his cap upon his head and slowly made his way to Gentleman Gaoler’s quarters where Jane had been staying since she had been deposed. Though a satisfactory place within the Tower, it still held an unfortunate view of the Tower Green where Jane’s scaffold had been constructed.
Sir John Brydges, Lieutenant of the Tower, was waiting by Lady Jane’s door. A grim line creased his lips. Within the house, the weeping and wailing of Mrs. Ellen and Mrs. Tilney, Jane’s attendants, twisted Feckenham’s heart. All knew their parts to play. The question was, did the fair Lady Jane?
John followed Sir Brydges into the room. “It is time, madam,” Brydges said kindly.
The woman flinched as if Brydges’s words were a hard lash. Dressed in the black gown and dark French hood Lady Jane wore at her trial, the dry-eyed woman finally nodded. In her hands she held a new prayer book and a crumpled piece of parchment, lest she forget the memorized words. As she departed the home and walked to the scaffold, her lips moved slowly, though no words could be discerned—almost as if she were rehearsing the lines to a tragedy.
Few were present to watch this spectacle unfold; after all, Lady Jane did have royal blood coursing through her veins and her death was not subject for public display. All walked on in silence until they stood at the scaffold steps. She turned; her gaze locked with his. “God grant you all your desires and accept my own hearty thanks for all your attention to me. Although indeed, those attentions have tried me more than death can now terrify me.”
Her words swirled through Feckenham’s head and tied his tongue. Before his voice returned, she had ascended the scaffold stairs.
Want to read more? A Life Renewed is available at Amazon
About the Author:
Olivia Rae is an award-winning author of historical and contemporary inspirational romance. She spent her school days dreaming of knights, princesses and far away kingdoms; it made those long, boring days in the classroom go by much faster. Nobody was more shocked than her when she decided to become a teacher. Besides getting her Master’s degree, marrying her own prince, and raising a couple of kids, Olivia decided to breathe a little more life into her childhood stories by adding in what she’s learned as an adult living in a small town on the edge of a big city. When not writing, she loves to travel, dragging her family to old castles and forts all across the world.
Olivia is the winner of the Golden Quill Award, New England Readers’ Choice Award, Southern Magic Contest, and the American Fiction Award. She is an Illumination Award Gold and Bronze medalist. She has also been a finalist in many other contests such as the National Readers’ Choice Awards, and the National Romance Fiction Awards. She is currently hard at work on her next novel.
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