The best way to introduce A Life Reclaimed by Olivia Rae is by sharing the endorsement I was honored to write:
“Britain’s era of Queen Elizabeth I springs to life in Olivia Rae’s A Life Reclaimed. Compelling and evocative, this story pulsates with vitality, haunting regret, and irresistible love as danger lurks at every turn. But how much can love overcome as the heroine craves family bonds the hero rejects? Through an undercurrent of secrets and betrayals, light still probes the darkness, while faith rises above all. Lively characters, high-stake challenges, and period details mark this as one novel you don’t want to miss.”
A Life Reclaimed is third in the Secrets of the Queens series. Books one and two are A Life Renewed and A Life Redeemed.
Check out two of Olivia’s six novels I featured in September, 2022 from The Sword and the Cross Chronicles series:
A Scoundrel, A Spy, and A Secret. Will She Ever Learn the Truth?
Desperate to avoid a second loveless marriage, Anne Howell hides out in a cave on the Welsh coast. If she can get to England, she should be safe from her stepfather’s long-reaching hand. She thinks her prayers are answered when she rescues a shipwrecked sailor, Thomas Armstrong, who agrees to help her, claiming he has ties to Queen Elizabeth I. Though she fears he may be an accomplished liar, she has no choice but to trust him, especially when a secret from her past puts spies on her trail and threatens to destroy her future.
Upon learning his true mother was executed in place of a dethroned queen, Thomas Armstrong sets out to find the cowardly monarch and avenge his mother’s death. Broke and in debt, he is finally on the verge of reaching his goal when his ship goes down in a storm and he ends up owing his life to the honest and forthright Anne Howell. He fears his quest is finished – until he learns there are those who would pay handsomely to have Anne in their possession, enough to clear his debt and enable him to pursue the revenge he seeks. But in helping Anne he has lost his heart, and now faces a devastating choice – remain loyal to his goal of avenging his mother or follow his feelings to an uncertain future with Anne.
Thomas Armstrong throws away his loving family when he discovers the truth they never told him. He abandons them in a fury of seeking revenge on the woman responsible for his mother’s death.
Growing up as a reject, then a victim of a loveless marriage, Widow Anne Howell longs for that kind of family.
While Thomas is on a mission to find someone to exact revenge, Anne is in survival mode as she runs from those seeking to harm her. After their paths cross through unusual circumstances, they journey side by side, still holding tightly to their respective secrets, not ready to trust anyone. Especially not each other.
Through crackling dialog, dangerous mishaps, and close calls, secrets eventually unravel as both Thomas and Anne learn what constitutes a real family.
Join me for some Q & A with author Olivia Rae.
Questions about A Life Reclaimed
What inspired your Secrets of the Queens series, and particularly A Life Reclaimed? How does A Life Reclaimed fit into the context of the first two in the series?
Olivia: The birth of A Life Reclaimed came out of the second book in the series, A Life Redeemed when Thomas was a boy. If I say too much more, I might ruin the plot of book two. Thomas drew me in as a child and I knew halfway through the second book that his story would have to be told along with Anne’s. Their stories were the logical end to the series.
This book is a different time period than The Sword and the Cross Chronicles. What are some of the intriguing things you learned or researched for the Secrets of the Queens?
Olivia: I knew quite a bit about English history before starting the first book in the series, but I didn’t know much about German history (for A Life Renewed, book 1) and Scottish history (for A Life Redeemed, book 2 and A Life Reclaimed, book 3).
One of the most interesting facts was learning about the Scottish border Reivers. Besides fighting with the English, the Reivers had many squabbles among themselves. Land was the most valuable commodity at the time and the people who lived between England and Scotland suffered. You had to be strong and tough physically and mentally in order to survive on the Scottish/English border.
You’ve used artistic license in this historical fiction, particularly regarding Lady Jane Grey. Which historical facts and situations did you want to keep and build around the story?
Olivia: I didn’t change the political power structure or the beliefs of different religious groups at that time. Many characters, in all three books, really did live and are portrayed as close to their true historical nature.
For example, in A Life Reclaimed, we meet Francis Walsingham who truly was Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster. Though Queen Elizabeth appeared to be tolerant of different Christian religions, Walsingham was not. If killing a few Catholics would further the queen’s agenda, he would happily carry out the task.
The true tale of Francis Throckmorton comes to mind. Walsingham tortured Throckmoton until he admitted he was involved in a plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and restore Catholicism as England’s true religion. Once Walsingham got the confession, Throckton was executed. To be fair, at other times, behind the scenes, Walsingham did use diplomacy in some cases.
What or who were the inspirations for your hero and heroine, Thomas and Anne?
Olivia: I could tell you for Anne, but I fear that would give away an important discovery in the story. For Thomas, I would have to say any person who lost trust in someone or something. I guess that could apply to all of us at one time or another in our lives. Thank goodness we have our savior, Jesus.
Did Thomas and Anne hijack the story or did they follow your original plan? Were there any surprises or unexpected forks in the road as you wrote?
Olivia: Believe it or not, this book went pretty much as planned. I did, however, drop a character from the story. In the first draft, Thomas had a sister. By the second draft she was history.
Do you have anymore books planned for this series? If not, then what is next?
Olivia: This is the end of this series, but I should never say never. The Sword and the Cross Chronicles was only supposed to be four books and later was expanded to six.
My next project will be to a sequel to my contemporary book, Joshua’s Prayer. Originally this was supposed to be a standalone story. As I said, never say never.
Back to Laura . . . On a similar note . . .
If you enjoy historical fiction–or small town Southern fiction–consider my re-launched novel All That Is Hidden, Set near North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains in 1968, the story spotlights 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 2022, I was named a semifinalist in Serious Writer’s Book of the Decade contest for All That Is Hidden. In August, All That Is Hidden became the winner of the Artisan Book Reviews Book Excellence Award.
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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.
Join me next time for a visit with author Rachel Hauck.
Meanwhile, have you read A Life Reclaimed or any books by Olivia Rae? Do you enjoy historical fiction from this time period? Answer in the comments below.