Dr DuLac series Book 2
A haunting medieval time-slip
Echoes of the past resonate through time and disturb medievalist Dr DuLac as she struggles with misfortune in the present. She and Rev Rory have escaped to the island of Madeira on a secondment from their posts, yet they are not to find peace – until they can solve the mystery of the shard of azulejo and the ancient ammonite. Viv’s search brings her into contact with two troubled women: a noblewoman shipwrecked on the island in the 14th century and a rebellious nun at the island convent in the 16th century. As Viv reaches out across the centuries, their lives become intertwined, and she must uncover the secrets of the ominous Dragon Tree in order to locate lost artefacts that can shape the future.
This is an extract from the opening of my book, The Dragon Tree. It comes after the Prologue which describes the volcanic activity 5 million years before that has built the island of Madeira and thrown up a mysterious fossil ammonite. Dr Viv and Rev Rory (the ‘hot priest’) are struggling to cope with a tragedy that’s befallen them and Viv finds comfort in the fossil left to her by her late parents …
Viv rubbed her fingertips over the roughness of the ancient ammonite in her left hand, trying to get her head around what Rory just said. She shrugged his hand off her shoulder and took another slug of red wine. A little splashed on to her ivory silk top. But she didn’t care.
“What? Rory! Fly off to a volcanic island somewhere in the Atlantic for a year? No way! How would that help?” She slammed her glass onto the side table next to the French windows of the old rectory. This time the splashes hit the antique Indian carpet. Rory stared at it for a moment, then took a deep breath.
“Hey, it’s not some desert island away from civilisation, darling. It’s Madeira.” Rory’s voice was quiet, strained, and she could detect the suppressed frustration in his voice, the disappointment. She could almost feel the tightness in his chest, the air between them was so tense. He ran his fingers round his stark-white clerical collar as though it was suddenly too tight. “But it’s your decision.”
She drew in her ragged breath and looked down, frowning, and noticed that her gel nails, blood red against the fossil stone, were already beginning to chip. Surely it had only been a week? Or maybe two? Oh God, they looked so tatty, so ugly. And she’d only just been able to face getting her hair and nails done again, after what had happened. Only just pulled herself up, pushed herself out of bed in the mornings, forced herself out of the house.
OK, so she’d let herself go. Unsurprisingly – surely she could forgive herself that much. And yet she’d always been so careful to be groomed, professional, her trademark amongst some of her more casual, even scruffy, faculty colleagues. Well, after all, it was her armour, her defence against her self-doubt. That imposter syndrome she felt about her academic work. How had she managed to convince the university that she should have that senior role? Yes, she knew she was clever … but that clever? She really wasn’t sure any more.
Now she couldn’t even keep her gel intact for a week. That couldn’t be right. The emerald-green-haired girl at the new nail bar had said it would last two or even three weeks. She’d go in to complain tomorrow. If she could summon up the strength.
The brain fog drifted across her mind. Try to refocus. Away from that niggling little voice in her head. So … Rory’s announcement.
“You’re expecting me to make a big life-decision, Rory! For God’s sake! I can’t even manage to decide what I fancy to eat next, let alone decide to make a new home somewhere.”
Thank you, Julia Ibbotson and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and the concept of time. She sees her author brand as a historical fiction writer of romantic mysteries that are evocative of time and place, well-researched and uplifting page-turners. Her current series focuses on early medieval time-slip/dual-time mysteries. Julia read English at Keele University, England, specialising in medieval language/ literature/ history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. After a turbulent time in Ghana, West Africa, she became a school teacher, then a university academic and researcher. Her break as an author came soon after she joined the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme in 2015, with a three-book deal from Lume Books (Endeavour) for a trilogy (Drumbeats) set in Ghana in the 1960s. She has published three other books, including A Shape on the Air, an Anglo-Saxon timeslip mystery, and its two sequels The Dragon Tree and The Rune Stone. Her work in progress is the first of a new series of Anglo-Saxon mysteries (Daughter of Mercia) where echoes of the past resonate across the centuries. Her books will appeal to fans of Barbara Erskine, Pamela Hartshorne, Susanna Kearsley, and Christina Courtenay. Her readers say: ‘Julia’s books captured my imagination’, ‘beautiful story-telling’, ‘evocative and well-paced storylines’, ‘brilliant and fascinating’ and ‘I just couldn’t put it down’.
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