Hi guys, we have Nicki Bennet & Ariel Tachna popping in today with their upcoming re-release All for One, we have a brilliant guest post and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! ❤ ~Pixie~
All for One
Nickie Bennett & Ariel Tachna
Aristide, Léandre, and Perrin pledge only three loyalties in life: their king, their captain, and their passion for each other. So when the musketeers discover a plan to accuse M. de Tréville of treason, the initial impulse to kill the messenger, Benoît, is tempered by their need to unmask the plotter. But their first two suspects, the English ambassador and Cardinal Richelieu, prove to be innocent, forcing the musketeers to delve deeper into the inner machinations of the French court.
Meanwhile, Aristide finds himself falling in love with the ill-fated messenger, a blacksmith without a home who rouses all of his protective, possessive instincts. Benoît, however, has no interest in any man. Torn between desire and duty, Aristide must find a way to protect the king and clear his captain’s name—all while heeding the demands of his heart.
How All for Love Became a Series
by Nicki Bennett & Ariel Tachna
When we were finishing the original draft of Checkmate, we didn’t plan on writing more than one book. We’d told Christian and Teo’s story, and as much as we both love the characters, we didn’t think following them back to England would add anything significant. We did want to show Christian’s growth in diplomatic circles, though, so we started an epilogue to wrap up the story with Christian’s posting as the English ambassador to the French court.
Many historians have suggested that Louis XIII was gay, or at least bisexual, which naturally led us to describe his reaction to the handsome new English ambassador. That wasn’t something Teo would deal with well, and we needed a way to show this rather than telling it. In looking for a character Teo could interact with at court, the obvious answer was a musketeer, in their traditional role as protectors of the king. And so Aristide was born, originally as little more than a sounding board for Teo’s jealousy.
Our original readers were thrilled with the idea of bringing the Royal Musketeers into the story. As history buffs, and in Ariel’s case especially French history buffs, we’re both quite familiar with Dumas’s novels and the various film versions of them. A chance to write our own take on the dashing and swashbuckling musketeers was too enticing to resist.
Of course it didn’t take more than a few chapters of musketeers to fall totally in love with them, and to find the ways in which these were our musketeers, not imitations of Dumas’s (but that’s another blog post). As much fun as it would be to write nothing but the erotic encounters of three handsome, brash, daring musketeers (come on, we can’t be the only ones who think that, no matter which film version we’re watching or which translation we’re reading—or even reading the original French), it wouldn’t have made a book worthy to be a sequel to Checkmate. That required a plot, and a plot required interaction with characters outside their immediate circle—an adventure!
Any good adventure is going to end with at least one sword or bullet wound, which means we’d need a healer. Why create a new one when we already had Raúl, with his somewhat mystical skills and ability to somehow be exactly where he needed to be at the opportune moment? And since Benoît’s message hints at political intrigue, suspicion would naturally fall upon France’s traditional rivals, chief among them the English—and the new English ambassador. Then there’s Christian’s entourage, which hasn’t grown any, just grown up. We had a lot of fun with Esteban, Teo’s ward, letting him be a sounding board for Benoît, who really didn’t know what to do with Paris or the musketeers or anything that was suddenly happening in his life.
All for One is very much its own book, not a continuation of Checkmate, but while we spent the bulk of the time focused on the new characters and their relationships (oh, their complicated relationships!), linking the books loosely gave us a chance to catch a new glimpse of two of our favorite characters (Teo and Christian) five years down the road, and to fall a little more in love with the surprise couple from Checkmate. And that in turn led to the third book in the All for Love series, Stronghold, which will come out later this fall.
“Can you describe the gentleman who engaged you?” M. de Tréville asked.
Benoît closed his eyes and tried to bring up the picture of the man he had seen only once, in a shadowy inn in Dijon. “He was of medium height and build,” he began slowly, “perhaps as tall as myself, but not as broad through the shoulder. He had dark hair, what little I could see beneath his hat, and a heavy moustache and goatee, but his cheeks were shaven clean. He was dressed finely—gentleman’s gear, not a merchant or the like, nor yet a servant, but beyond that, I could not say.”
“He sounds like a Spaniard,” Léandre suggested.
“France is no longer at war with Spain,” Aristide rejoined. “Her Majesty the queen is King Philip’s sister, remember. What reason would a Spaniard have to stir up trouble with the musketeers?”
“What reason would any foreigner have to stir up trouble among us,” Perrin retorted, “unless this plot is not about us at all, but about the king, as M. de Tréville suggested? A distracted guardian is worse than no guardian at all.”
“There are no doubt many who would be glad for any weakness among the king’s protectors,” M. de Tréville said. “The English, the Dutch, the Hapsburgs—France may not be at war, but that does not mean she does not still have enemies.”
“What need is there to seek foreign enemies when there are others much closer at hand?” Perrin interjected. “I am still not convinced the cardinal isn’t behind this all. He is ever trying to destroy your influence with the king to advance his own.”
“Nor is he the only force within France who would see the king brought low. Les ducs de Guise have surely not forgotten fifty years of rebellion,” Léandre suggested.
“True, but they have a good Catholic king again with a cardinal as an advisor,” M. de Tréville reminded him. “Short of taking power for themselves, they have what they wanted all along.”
“So it’s most likely whoever is behind the plot is foreign, then, not just using a foreign go-between,” Léandre mused.
“I’d look to the English—I don’t trust this sudden desire on their part to make peace,” Perrin added. “It could well be a cover for some new plot against the crown.”
“Anything is possible,” M. de Tréville agreed, well versed in the layers of intrigue upon intrigue practiced in the ruling courts of Europe, “but apparently the new English ambassador is personally responsible for saving the life of King Philip from an inside plot. It hardly seems likely he would work so hard in that respect in one country only to come to another to create mayhem.”
“Isn’t his bodyguard Spanish?” Aristide asked. “I spoke with him, briefly, when vicomte Aldwych was presented to the king. It could mean nothing, but if the ambassador is friendly to Spain, he could be more apt to wish peace with Spain’s allies as well.”
“Teodoro Ciéza de Vivar,” M. de Tréville said. “Said to be quite wicked with the sword. Beyond that, I know nothing of them except that the ambassador comes from a diplomatic family. Appearances certainly suggest he is interested in peace with France as well as with Spain, but his first loyalty will be to England, just as ours is always to France. Unless you have anything else to add, Benoît, I think our best course is simply to watch and wait, ever vigilant but without acting until we know more.”
About Nicki & Ariel
Growing up in Chicago, Nicki Bennett spent every Saturday at the central library, losing herself in the world of books. A voracious reader, she eventually found it difficult to find enough of the kind of stories she liked to read and decided to start writing them herself.
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When Ariel Tachna was twelve years old, she discovered two things: the French language and romance novels. Those two loves have defined her ever since. By the time she finished high school, she’d written four novels, none of which anyone would want to read now, featuring a young woman who was—you guessed it—bilingual. That girl was everything Ariel wanted to be at age twelve and wasn’t.
She now lives on the outskirts of Houston with her husband (who also speaks French), her kids (who understand French even when they’re too lazy to speak it back), and their two dogs (who steadfastly refuse to answer any French commands).