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6 December 2012

Writing the ultimate anti-hero - Samanatha Holt

I'm thrilled to welcome Samantha Holt to the Flight Deck today, to take us back in time and tell us all about her wonderful historical romance

Here's a taster:

England, 1088 As a rebellion sweeps England, Lady Annabel finds her home overrun by rebels. When it seems all is lost, a dark knight comes to her rescue, claiming to have been sent to protect her by her uncle. But Nicholas holds a secret about the job he was sent to do and it is a far cry from what Annabel believes it to be.
Their dangerous journey promises to test them both as desire and duty collide. While their attraction grows, Nicholas begins to question the dark life he has lived. But is it enough to change him and will Annabel ever trust again after learning the true nature of his sinful duty?

Ok Samantha, over to you, tell us how you came to write this story.

The Angel’s Assassin came about because I wanted to write an anti-hero. I’d attempted it before in The Crimson Castle but by the end of the story I had softened my hero. I loved him - he had issues, a past he regretted but he was plagued by guilt. Not the ultimate anti-hero to my mind. It worked perfectly for the story at the time but I still hadn’t fulfilled my need to write about someone who was genuinely soulless. I am fascinated by the idea of love being a catharsis for change and what could be more powerful than turning an anti-hero into a true hero?

It was going to be tricky. He needed to be bad - to have done terrible things - but he couldn’t be unlovable. He couldn’t be inherently evil. So what better way for someone to reveal their lack of conscience than to be a hired assassin? Nicholas kills without thought or reason, performing his job with an emotionless efficiency. And it’s his lack of emotions that ultimately saves him from being cast as a villain. He doesn’t do this because he enjoys it, to him it’s just a job. He grew up with no knowledge of love or companionship, and he had to fend for himself. To his mind, that is just what he is doing. But then he is introduced to Annabel. She is a complete contrast to the dark knight. She is bright, friendly, trusting and emotionally open.

As Nicholas spends time with her, she begins to draw out emotions that he didn’t know he could feel. This created some beautifully tender moments between them as Nicholas began to understand love and affection. And while Nicholas lacks a moral compass, he does have redeeming qualities. His is focused and determined, and ultimately incredibly heroic. Annabel recognises these qualities and begins to fall for him. It’s these qualities that prove to be his salvation. Did I succeed in turning Nicholas from anti-hero to hero? Will Annabel be able to forgive Nicholas for his terrible past? Well, you’ll have to read The Angel’s Assassin to find out! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this excerpt from one of my favourite moments.

The Angel’s Assassin Excerpt

Nicholas looked into her generous eyes, highlighted by the increasing sunlight, and found himself seated next to her.

“What is your name?”

He stared at her as he paused mid-bite. Withdrawing the bread, he shifted uncomfortably.

“My name is of no import, my lady.”

“I would know the name of my rescuer.”

He looked to the floor. “I am no rescuer, just a lowly knight doing his duty.”

“Your modesty becomes you, Sir Knight, but I would still know your name.”
Annabel awaited his response, the air between them growing uncomfortably thick.

He heaved a sigh. How was it that a diminutive woman had got the better of him?
“Nicholas,” he grated out reluctantly.

“Nicholas,” she repeated softly. “And I am Annabel.”

“I know, my lady.”

“Nay, Annabel. Not ‘my lady’. You have surely earned the right to address me as such.”

He shook his head, dropping his gaze to the ground once more. He could not bring himself to utter her name, not when he knew what was to come. “Nay, my lady, I am your servant and I will address you as a servant should.”

Annabel must have sensed she was fighting a losing battle as she protested no more and fell silent. Nicholas risked sideways glances at her as her as she nibbled delicately on the hardened bread, and he realised he took far too much pleasure in the sight of her ample lips moving with each bite.

Brushing the crumbs from her skirts, Nicholas watched, mesmerised, as she twisted her long braid over her shoulder. Tugging on the red ribbon that tied the end of the braid, it loosened, sending the length of her hair shimmering across her shoulders. It brushed the dirt and Nicholas felt his mouth dry as she touched a finger to his arm. Surrounded by a halo of hair, she glanced up at him, her mouth curling. Without a word, she tied the ribbon about his large arm and fussed with it until she was satisfied.

Nicholas touched tentatively at the ribbon and gave her a perplexed look.

“You saved my life, Nicholas. ‘Tis a favour from a lady to a knight.” She grinned at his confusion.

“You have received favours before, surely? I would expect a knight of your valour to have championed many a lady.”
He wondered if she was teasing him but her expression was completely guileless. He groaned inwardly. This woman probably believed wholeheartedly in courtly love. From his little experience he had come to conclude that it did not exist.

“For fear of disappointing you, my lady, I am sorry to admit that there you are mistaken. I have championed no ladies.”

“Well, ‘tis no matter,” she told him with a tender smile, “For you have championed me.”

Unable to bare her dazzling eyes any longer, he stood abruptly. Champion? He laughed inwardly. She had no idea of the kind of man he was, and he was thoroughly aware that he was far removed from the heroic knights that minstrels and poets spoke of.

He felt a pang of something, an uncomfortable sensation settling in his gut. Nicholas couldn’t name it but he didn’t like its implications. For all her naivety and gentle manners, this woman was going to be trouble. He felt threatened by her somehow, as if she had directly challenged him rather than quietly accepting his every word without question.

“Are you ready to continue on, my lady?”

Annabel sighed and stood, in spite of her obvious weariness. “I am in your hands, Nicholas. I will do whatever you command.”

Nicholas tried to tamp down on the desire stirring in his loins at her words and failed. Instead, he grunted and turned away, stomping off without checking if she was following. The sooner this job was over, the better.


Oh that was such a tantalising excerpt, Samantha. I really want to read it - and there's some good news for readers as well -
Samantha's bestselling novel, The Crimson Castle, is free from the
 5th - 7th December on Amazon:


So you can download The Crimson Castle and then purchase 'The Angel's Assassin, so in effect you're getting two great stories for the price of one! Magic.  Thanks so much for being with us Samantha, and wishing you much success with 'Assassin' and all your future writing.