You met him in By The Sword; you saw him fall at the Battle of Worcester. It is now 1654, three years since the fateful battle of Worcester. Let’s take a moment to have a chat with Kit Lovell, a friend of Jonathan Thornton’s, where he’s been for the last three years – and if he can ever forgive himself…
AS: It’s 1654, England has been under the rule of Oliver Cromwell for the last three years, and things are looking pretty grim for the supporters of the late Charles Stuart and his son, currently in exile in France. I have with me one of the King’s most loyal supporters, Christopher Lovell.
KL: Please call me Kit, everyone does.
AS: I believe things have been tough for your family since the defeat of the royalist cause, Kit?
KL: They certainly have, Alison. My father and I took the royalist side in the wars of 1642-1648. Father died in the defence of our home and I went into exile. Most of the estate has been sold off and my step mother and my sister live in the ruins of the family home. I send them what money I can make off gambling and …other means, whenever I can, but I’m afraid I’ve not been very much help to my family.
AS: What became of your brother, Daniel, who followed you to the Battle of Worcester?
KL: I don’t wish to talk about Daniel. He was lost at the battle of Worcester in September 1651. Stupid young fool thought he would follow in my footsteps. Not particularly worthy footsteps to follow in! My step mother blames me of course…
AS: So what have you been up to since the battle of Worcester?
KL: Oh, I spent an uncomfortable few months as a prisoner but managed to escape. Since then I’ve drifted between Paris and London, trying to make whatever money I can to keep body and soul together and a decent pair of boots on my feet.
AS: I hear you have something of a reputation with the ladies?
KL: Now don’t believe everything you hear, Alison. It’s true I have managed to land a wealthy widow as a mistress who keeps me in the manner to which I am accustomed and obligingly gives me the time I need for my other occupation.
AS: Which is?
KL: Cards and, oh yes, planning the overthrow of Cromwell’s regime and the restoration of the King.
AS: Any success?
KL: Well, I’m very good at cards but every plot to overthrow Cromwell is foiled by that master of spies, John Thurloe. Cromwell picked a wily man as his Secretary of State. Trouble is it’s hard to know who’s in Thurloe’s pay and who can be trusted these days! Even the most loyal of the King’s men may have good cause to turn coat. Let’s talk about women…that’s my favourite subject…
AS: You told us about your mistress, do you have any other women in your life?
KL: I take it you are referring to that infuriating music teacher, Thamsine Granville? I rue the day I ever saved her life!
AS: What happened?
KL: The stupid girl had just lobbed a piece of rock at the Cromwell’s coach. If she’d been caught…well I shudder to think what would have become of her.
AS: Why would she have done such a thing?
KL: Thamsine is like me, the flotsam of war. Her family also paid a price for supporting the King. In her case she found herself thrown out of her home and living off the streets of London. If I hadn’t saved her that day she would have been forced into prostitution just to keep herself alive. Now I’m stuck with her.
AS: What do you mean?
KL: Look, my life is… complicated. I’ve got a job to do and she’s a distraction I don’t need. I’ve got the girl some work at an inn, what more does she want?
AS: You, perhaps?
KL: I don’t want romantic attachments, Alison. Anyone who gets involved with me is just going to get hurt. I use people for my own ends and she may find she’s no different.
AS: What do you mean you “use people”?
KL: Is that the time? I really must get going. My friends are meeting at the Ship Inn and I’m expected. Perhaps I will see you there?
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London 1654: Kit Lovell is one of the King’s men, a disillusioned Royalist who passes his time cheating at cards, living off his wealthy and attractive mistress and plotting the death of Oliver Cromwell.
Penniless and friendless, Thamsine Granville has lost everything. Terrified, in pain and alone, she hurls a piece of brick at the coach of Oliver Cromwell and earns herself an immediate death sentence. Only the quick thinking of a stranger saves her.
Far from the bored, benevolent rescuer that he seems, Kit plunges Thamsine into his world of espionage and betrayal – a world that has no room for falling in love.
Torn between Thamsine and loyalty to his master and King, Kit’s carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. He must make one last desperate gamble – the cost of which might be his life.