Sep 13, 2022 | Book Reviews

Like many young girls do, author Olivia Rae claims she “spent her school days dreaming of knights, princesses and far away kingdoms.” Nowadays, she writes about them. Visiting European castles and forts in her travels provided additional inspiration, resulting in two series: The Sword and the Cross Chronicles, and Secrets of the Queens.

Her efforts paid off in numerous accolades as a finalist or winner, including American Fiction Awards, Golden Quill Awards, Illumination Awards, Book Buyers Best Awards, Christian Indie Awards, and more.

Salvation is first in a series of six in The Sword and the Cross Chronicles: Salvation, Revelation, Redemption, Resurrection, Adoration, and Devotion.

Hope Knight Press, 2015


She Only Wanted To Be Left Alone.

With the death of her husband, independent Lady Breanna Durville is finally free of male control and happily waits the birth of her child…alone. But her late husband’s cousin, Lord de Beaufou has come to claim his rights to Durville Keep and to her hand in marriage. If that is not enough to deal with, her brother has sent a peasant to watch over her. She has but one plan. Get rid of them both! 

But He Swore To Never Leave Her Side.

Tormented by his past, Royce Canwell leaves the unrest in the Holy Land and returns to England to fulfill an oath to a friend–go to Durville Keep and ensure all is well with man’s sister. But upon arrival Royce discovers Lady Breanna’s situation is more precarious than he expected. Though he longs for a simple life in which to heal his wounded soul, he finds himself sacrificing his hopes, his dreams, and even his heart to give Lady Breanna the future she wants and deserves.

The Sword and the Cross Chronicles . . .   Let the journey begin.


My Thoughts

Twelfth century England came alive for me in this riveting piece of historical fiction.

Lady Breanna Durville, now pregnant as a widow, doesn’t want any man’s help in running her estate. Yet two men show up: 1) her husband’s cousin, Lord de Beaufou, who wants her hand in marriage for his own gain and ownership of Durville Keep, and 2) Royce Canwell, a peasant friend of her brother’s, sent by him and sworn to protect her. She’s not happy with either option. She deems neither as trustworthy.

Another complication: the first option seems to have the king’s stamp of approval.

Royce is a broken man after leaving the Holy Land. When he arrives to keep a promise to his mentor, he discovers Durville Keep—and Lady Breanna—in more turmoil than he’d anticipated. He’s skilled at farm work and blacksmithing, but does he have what it takes to deal with Lady Breanna? 

Breanna is no wallflower. She’s quite capable of taking charge—sometimes to her own detriment. A strong woman, yes, but I thought her own stubbornness and demeaning nature was going to do her in. 

However, the constant action, snappy dialog, the tug of romance despite class differences, plus the twists and turns kept me reading. The medieval language is manageable and adds to the flavor. Faith is artfully woven in. If you enjoy a good, clean historical romance during the times of knights and ladies, this one’s for you. 

Join me for some Q & A with author Olivia Rae.

Author Olivia Rae

Questions about Salvation

What inspired you to write stories set in Medieval times?

Olivia: I have always been interested in the time period and have done a lot of research in English Medieval history (1100 to the 1600). A long time ago while I was researching, I came across a story about a knight who fought against Saladin’s army in the Holy Land. Though he and the Crusaders lost the battle, his story stayed with me a long time.  

A few years later, I created a new story for the avenging knight in my book Revelation, which inspired my whole Sword and the Cross Chronicles. 

Where do your story ideas usually originate from—character, plot, setting, theme, research, or a combination? Share an example or two or how your stories grow from seed, particularly Salvation.

Olivia: Salvation was originally written after Revelation and originally was published as a novella.  Since Revelation started in the year 1191, I knew Salvation has to begin earlier in history. I did a lot of research on King Richard’s life for Revelation and thought wouldn’t it be fun to place him in the first book before he became king. So Breanna and Royce’s story was developed around Richard I. 

The story begins in 1186, three years before Richard ascended the throne. The novella was quite popular and I later added a few scenes to make it a regular book. However it still remains the shortest book in the series. 

How well did you know your hero and heroine, Royce Canwell and Lady Breanna, at the outset? Or did you primarily get to know them as you wrote?

Olivia: I usually do character sketches and create a plot before I write the book. I wanted to tie both Breanna and Royce to Julian, who is the hero in book two. Hence, Breanna became Julian’s sister and Royce became the man who returned to England to fulfill an oath he made to Julian who saved his life. 

Did the plot stick to a pre-determined plan or did it evolve? What did you want in the story from the get-go? Were there surprises as you wrote?

Olivia: My characters always take on their own lives and often they bring unexpected twists to the story. However, in Salvation, being such a short book, I stuck pretty much to their GMC (goal, motivations, and conflicts). When the book needed to be expanded, I turned my attention to a secondary character who was infatuated with Royce. 

What kind of research and/or travel did you do in preparation to write? How many European castles and forts have you visited?

Olivia: My research for this book grew out of the research for the second book in the series. However, when I was in England, I had the privilege of going to the Temple Church in London where William Marshall ii buried in the nave of the church. The church also has many Templar knight effigies. 

My mind went wild and I knew I was going to write about such knights. Though I didn’t primarily go to England to do research, I did gain a lot of information on King Richard, Prince John, and the Templars. 

I had to laugh when you asked me how many castles and forts I have visited.  My answer according to my family: Too many. Visiting historical sites always get my creative juices going. 

Questions about writing

What books have been most influential for you as a writer? Was there a book that sparked or confirmed your desire to be a novelist?

Olivia: This is a hard one. I cannot say there was a book that made me want to write. I do have a book that made me want to read. I was a struggling reader as a child with mild Dyslexia. In eighth grade, I took a speed-reading class. Believe it or not, it clicked and made me become a better reader, but not a speed reader.  

It was then I discovered the English version Désirée by Annemarie Selinko. The tragedy and romance in the story had me hooked. The story is about the life of Napoleon’s first love, Désirée.  I guess it is why I am so drawn to write historical romances. 

Are you an outliner or a pantser? Share a little about your novel writing process, and the length of time it takes to complete a book.

Olivia: I definitely plot first though often the characters speak to me and something is usually added that I didn’t expect.  It usually takes me 4 to 6 months to write the first draft. It would be safe to say I am good at writing a book a year. I wrote one contemporary and that took me from start to finish six months. 

Please share something about a current project or the direction you want to go.

Olivia: I am finishing up the edits on the last book in the Secrets of the Queens series. This third book, A Life Reclaimed, deals with Thomas who was a young boy in book two, A Life Redeemed. He’s all grown up, but still getting into lots of trouble. Of course, there is a mystery just like in the other books in the series. I found this book to be the most challenging as I had a lot of loose ends to tie up from all three books.

Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

Olivia: Write what you love and develop a thick skin. The business is tough, but the rewards are great. 


Back to Laura . . . On a different note . . .

If you like historical fiction, you might enjoy my recently re-launched novel All That Is Hidden, Set near North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains in 1968, the story highlights the bond of family and the connections of a tight-knit community. Northern exploitation threatens as a father’s hidden past catches up to him and tests family ties. Learn more and watch the trailer  here.

In June, I was named a semifinalist in Serious Writer’s Book of the Decade contest for All That Is Hidden.

Additionally, in August, All That Is Hidden became the winner of the Artisan Book Reviews Book Excellence Award.

I invite you to join my monthly newsletter for updates, freebies, and giveaways. Sign up and I’ll send you a free gift:


Olivia Rae Bio

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 Angel Awards,  New England Readers’ Choice Award, Golden Quill Award, American Fiction Award, Illumination Book Awards, and the Southern Magic Award. She has also been a finalist in many other contests including the National Readers’ Choice Awards.  She is currently hard at work on her next novel. Learn more on her website here.


Join me next time for another visit with author Olivia Rae.

Meanwhile, have you read Salvation? What books have you enjoyed with a medieval setting? Answer in the comments below.

Ever reading,


Coming soon: A Hundred Magical Reasons, a novel

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  1. Anita Klumpers

    I lived and breathed “Ivanhoe” all during my upper elementary and middle school years. Since then I haven’t read much fiction based in the Middle Ages (oh, except the Hugh Singleton series by Mel Starr). I have studied the time period though and it fascinates me. This looks like a great series to get back into the historical fiction of the era!
    As always, I enjoy the interview and the format. Very informative and enjoyable way to discover new books and a variety of authors.

    • Laura DeNooyer

      Yes, this series is definitely a great gateway into the Middle Ages. I hope you give it a try!
      So glad you enjoy the interviews and format.

    • Olivia Rae


      I know what you mean with Ivanhoe. I think that is the same time I fell in love with the time period. I hope you will check out my series.

  2. Olivia Rae


    I know what you mean with Ivanhoe. I think that is the same time I fell in love with the time period. I hope you will check out my series.

  3. Elizabeth Daghfal

    Funny, the idea of the Middle Ages always feels dark and dusty to me, with peasants living in squalor and mud. And yet I loved 3 Musketeers, Camelot, Robin Hood, Princess Bride. I’m thinking my history teachers must have emphasized the “backwardness” of the time, the wars, the claim that they believed “the world was flat.” (From my understanding, that was actually false–something someone in the 1800s made up to make Christians seem stupid.)
    Anyway, this series sounds like something that would bring that time period to life and light, like those other stories I’ve loved.

    • Laura DeNooyer

      Yes, definitely. Olivia Rae brings the Middle Ages to life!

  4. Olivia Rae

    Thanks, Elizabeth for the great comments. I so agree with you. I do hope you check out the series.

  5. Laura

    I’ve only read a few books set in this time period, but I might have to get back into it with this book. The characters and the premise are interesting. Thanks for featuring this book on your blog.

    • Laura DeNooyer

      Yes, this is a good one to get you into the swing of things in that time period. I hope you try it!

    • Olivia Rae


      I hope you will read one of my books. I do hope you fall in love with my knights.



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