Castonbury Park: the Spanish Connection by Joanna Fulford

Today we’re welcoming Harlequin Historical author Joanna Fulford, to talk about Book 7 (of 8!) in the Castonbury Park series!  Comment for a chance to win a copy…

Redemption of a Fallen womanRedemption of a Fallen Woman is the seventh book in the Castonbury Park series and is due for release in February. Hoping to save his family from ruin, my hero, ex-soldier Harry Montague, reluctantly returns to Spain to seek vital information about the death of his brother, Jamie. On arrival in Madrid, Harry meets fiery Spanish beauty, Elena Ruiz. Elena is a fallen woman whose chequered past is about to result in her being incarcerated in a convent. Among her transgressions are the two years she spent with a guerrilla group, fighting the French.

The ideas for this story arose from the years when I lived in Madrid. It was the base for subsequent explorations of Iberia, including the wonderful cities of Seville and Cádiz which feature in the book. My travels often took me up-country as well. One weekend, quite by accident, I discovered Patones, a small hillside village in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama. I suspect that most people find Patones by accident. Even by modern standards it’s pretty remote, but at the time of the Peninsular Campaign (1808-1814) it was truly isolated. In spite of their best efforts, Napoleon’s forces never did find the place so it was spared the ravages inflicted on other villages and towns. It must have been an ideal base for guerrilla fighters during that conflict. Years later the memory of that trip gave me the idea for my heroine’s backstory.

The word guerrilla means little war. Although it was an old established method of fighting, the term was first coined in Spain during the Napoleonic Invasion. The guerrillas used hit-and-run tactics in their insurgency against the occupying French. A French sniper called Mignolet wrote home: “We are surrounded by 40,000 Spanish brigands whom we must fight every day – and the situation gets no better, but worse…”

Mignolet’s pessimistic assessment reflects the part played by the local topography. Spain is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe. At its centre are high plains crossed by mountain ranges and rivers. It’s a wild and spectacular landscape, but it’s also ideal terrain for guerrilla warfare. There were numerous bands involved, each with its own agenda. My guerrilla leader, Juan Montera, is fictional, as is the brigand, El Lobo, but they are representative of the different groups in action at the time.

Being undisciplined irregulars, the guerillas were of little use in open battle against cavalry. Where they really came into their own was in providing accurate military intelligence. Wellington had good cause to be grateful for this. After Talavera, for example, he marched off with a force of 18,000 men to attack what he believed to be a detachment of 10,000 French troops. The ‘detachment’ turned out to be three army corps numbering well over 50,000 men. But for a timely warning from the local guerrillas it is likely that Wellington and his force would have been annihilated. Fortunately, he was able to retreat in time.

Spain has been accurately described as a beautiful blood-soaked land. It has shaped my hero and heroine in different ways, and created the deep emotional conflicts that they must resolve. It was fun to go with them on that journey. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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19 Responses to Castonbury Park: the Spanish Connection by Joanna Fulford

  1. Barbara Elness says:

    I really enjoyed the post and the discussion of the guerrilla fighters in Spain during the Napoleonic war is very interesting. I think it will make for a fascinating story and I’m looking forward to reading it.

  2. Karen H in NC says:

    I have a few of the books in this series and I was wondering if there is a place where all of the titles and authors are listed.

  3. Lori h says:

    This book sounds intriguing. I will add it to my TBR pile. Enjoyed the interview.
    Thanks,
    lorih824 at yahoo dot com

  4. Betty Hamilton says:

    Lve the F/C! Would love to win a copy!!

  5. diane says:

    This book sounds wonderful, Joanna! I love stories about the Napoleonic War in Spain.

    I have a book Intelligence Officer in the Peninsula by Julia Field, the letters and diaries of Edward Charles Cocks. It is made more poignant by the fact that he died in the war, but it also gets tedious. He LOVED to muse on about military tactics, when I wanted to know more about the mistress he kept and never wrote about at all.

  6. Fascinating post. I find the subject of the importance of the guerrilla fighters during the Peninsula Wars intriguing. I have so enjoyed the Castonbury Park series and I know this is going to be another stellar episode in the series!

    One wonders how many female guerrilla fighters there were during this period! I think we might be surprised at the number!

    • I think you’re right, Louisa. Unfortunately no-one seems to have kept an accurate account of how many women actually were involved. I’m glad you’re enjoying the Castonbury Park series.

  7. Amanda McCabe says:

    I can’t wait to read this one either!! I can’t believe we are almost to the end of the series…

    • I know what you mean, Amanda. And it was such a delight to read the whole series from start to finish, especially after having seen all the tanatalising snippets beforehand. Authors do get some privileges.

  8. bn100 says:

    Nice cover. Thanks for sharing.
    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)Com

  9. librarypat says:

    How lucky you were to be able to live in Spain for two years. Just visiting a place for a few days or weeks is not enough to get a good idea for the place and the people.
    I didn’t realize guerrilla was a spanish term. Guerrilla warfare has worked and is still working most effectively.

    I find it interesting that incarceration in a convent was used as a punishment. I know in earlier times, it was a sort of punishment, but more recently, it was supposed to be a life in service to God.

    Thank you for an interesting post. I hope the release of REDEMPTION OF A FALLEN WOMAN does well.

    • Many thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Spain is a magical place and yet most people never get beyond the coastal strip. It’s such a shame because there’s so much more to see. The country truly repays exploration.

  10. Kristen says:

    This sounds like a wonderful read and the history is so different than most.

  11. Pingback: In memory–Joanna Fulford » Risky Regencies

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