Spanning more than two centuries in Ireland, Castle on the Rise unites the legacy of three women who must risk mending their broken places for life, love, and the belief that even through the depths of our pain, a masterpiece of a story can emerge.
When Laine Forrester travels overseas to attend her best friend’s vineyard wedding, she expects to find the bride on the brink of a fairy-tale life. But after a series of unforeseen setbacks, it seems the storybook lives they’d imagined are suddenly ripping apart.
With hopes of resurrecting a happy ending, Laine agrees to accompany the newlyweds to the groom’s home in Ireland—never expecting she’d be the one drawn in by its wide-open moors, backroads bordering the Irish Sea, and a mysterious castle that dares to keep its secrets hidden.
From the storied streets of Dublin to the shores of the Emerald Isle, Laine is drawn in to the land and its rich history. The castle ruins whisper stories of Issy—a photojournalist battling through the 1916 Easter Rising, and Maeve—the castle’s lady of legend, fighting for survival through the 1798 rebellion that started it all.
Praise for Castle on the Rise:
“Enchanting and mesmerizing!” —PATTI CALLAHAN, New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis
“Castle on the Rise perfectly showcases rising star Kristy Cambron’s amazing talent! Perfect pacing, lovely prose, and an intricate plot blend together in a delightful novel I couldn’t put down. Highly recommended!” —Colleen Coble, USA TODAY bestselling author of Secrets at Cedar Cabin and the Rock Harbor series
“Cambron’s latest is one of her best. Gripping and epic, this intricately woven tale of three generations seeking truth and justice will stay with you long after the last page.” —Rachel Hauck, New York Times bestselling author
- Second in the Lost Castle series (The Lost Castle, Castle on the Rise, The Painted Castle)
- Can be read as a stand-alone, but best if read in order
- Sweet romance set in three time periods: present day, World War I/Easter Rising, and late 1700s
- Full-length novel (over 110,000 words)
About the Author
KRISTY CAMBRON is an award-winning author of historical fiction, including her bestselling debut The Butterfly and the Violin, and an author of Bible studies, including the Verse Mapping series. She’s a passionate storyteller who travels to speak at events across the country, encouraging women to experience a deeper life in the Word through verse mapping. Her work has been named to Publishers Weekly Religion & Spirituality TOP 10, Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations. Kristy holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing and has 15 years of experience in education and leadership development for a Fortune-100 Corporation, working with such companies as the Disney Institute, IBM/Kenexa, and Gallup. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, and can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read. Visit Kristy online at kristycambron.com; Instagram: kristycambron; Twitter: @KCambronAuthor; Facebook: @KCambronAuthor; and Pinterest: Kristy Cambron.
Read an Excerpt
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.
— Isaiah 43:2 (nkjv)
Present Day Les Trois-Moutiers Loire Valley, France
Fairy-tale weddings never included rain on the guest list.
Or snow — and they had both.
November possessed an obstinate will, and Laine Forrester defied every raindrop that dared linger upon the leaded-glass windows on her best friend's wedding day. Misty hollows clung to the autumn landscape outside the estate house at the Domaine du Renard vineyards and shadowed corners of the guest suite inside. Even as the clock nudged toward evening and they'd begun fitting Ellie in her bridal gown, the sky refused to relent.
By the time Laine escorted Ellie along the road to Château des Doux-Rêves — "The Sleeping Beauty," as the castle was affectionately known — a thin layer of white had frosted limbs of wild plums that lined the road on both sides. Snowflakes drifted down to greet them against a palette of winter grays and violets.
Even with a stunning landscape, Laine now wished they'd thought better of the walk beforehand, as a tea-length bridesmaid dress of satin and lace was not winter's favorite companion. Each time the wind shifted, it sent those pretty little flakes straight down her bodice, and she was forced to reconsider the whole France is romantic notion she'd built up in her mind.
"Ellie — you're sure you don't want the driver to take us to the chapel steps? I'd hate for you to have to walk all this way."
"And miss this view? Never. I told the man to drop us off at the front gate or I'd refuse to pay him. And I meant it."
Laine had to admit, her friend was wearing the bride image well.
The glow. The confident smile. The little kick in her step as they walked ... all of it, down to the vintage 1930s bridal gown they'd found just days before, waiting in a shop window in Village Saint-Paul — the eclectic block that was home to some of Paris's best tucked-away treasures. Ellie had paired it with a loose-braided chignon at her nape in twists of ebony. It was in deep contrast to Laine's shorn and newly platinum style, but an equal complement to the wine and deep plums in their bouquets.
The bride draped a lavender-gray stole across her shoulders — the something old and something borrowed from her husband-to-be's grandmother. And despite a few noticeable shivers shared with Laine, Ellie seemed at peace — very unbride-like.
Even un-Ellie-like, come to think of it.
It seemed they'd flipped personalities, and Laine's usual steadiness had been replaced with a skittishness in every second breath. She trailed behind, ready to save the bride from falling into a snowbank.
"I still think Quinn would take issue with this. Does he know you opted for a hike through the forest before exchanging vows?"
"Who's going to tell him now?" Ellie challenged, angling her heel around a tiny patch of ice.
"Of course I wouldn't say a word. But it doesn't feel the least bit honorable to make you hike in those shoes — or in the snow, for that matter. We'll be the traditional something blue when we do get you to the chapel. Wraps only cover so much, you know."
"It's just a dusting." Ellie smiled one of those knowing grins that said she was listening, but just. "And you're not complaining. I can take it if you can."
"I know you, Ellison Carver. You're being gracious like your Grandma Vi taught you, but then you'll do exactly what you want to anyway."
"And I know you, Laine. You're as enchanted with this walk as I am. Admit it. All those years spent haunting the back rooms of your grandfather's antique shop mean your imagination is waking up again. And for a self-proclaimed history buff, a castle has to be the ultimate temptation. You're just mother henning me, but we're almost there. See?"
Laine lifted her gaze to the ghostly cutout of stone through twilight and trees. She exhaled low — like she'd held that breath for too long and the shock of beauty finally drew it out.
It did remind her of the vintage shop.
Of books that told stories ... Instruments that played melodies ... They were no less an art form than an ages-old castle whose spires touched the sky.
Ancient walls seemed to climb and crumble at the same time, six stories against the clouds. A moat surrounded the ruins, its waters still as glass. Tree limbs waved and creaked with the toying wind. And at the grove's edge stood a tiny chapel, with cobblestones leading to an open door, its candlelight inside glowing warm and inviting behind stained glass.
"I know what you're thinking," Ellie whispered. "It's freezing. I'm Ms. Clumsy, and the heels are a few inches too high for anything good to come of it. But I need to stand up next to Quinn. You know — tall versus petite-ish genes and all. I want to look that boy in the eye when I say 'I do.'"
"Actually ... I was going to agree with you. How many times in life does a girl get to live a magical moment like this?"
Laine paused, the kiss of candlelight through the trees making rhetorical questions sink deeper into her heart than they should. She bounced back a smile that wouldn't be questioned, no matter what was silently fracturing her on the inside. "I'm defenseless with this view."
"You and me both. I remember the first time I saw it, and it felt the same." Merlot lips spreading a soft smile across her profile, Ellie hooked her elbow around Laine's and leaned into her shoulder. "I just realized ... this is the last time we'll be together before I step through that door and become a Mrs. too. Any final advice?"
Laine accepted a wedding in France, though beautiful, for what it was: an escape from the life crumbling back home.
Now was not the time to share her brand of advice. Or brutal honesty. The story of a broken marriage and uncertain future would have to wait its turn. Maybe she could come clean when Ellie and Quinn returned from their honeymoon. Or in the spring, when life had settled down. By then, Laine and Cassie would be back home — in a new home.
She could face the truth when it felt safe to pick up the pieces and start again.
It was a battle, but Laine shoved the ache away. She held on to her smile with everything she possessed and stood back, marveling as Ellie dropped her train — satin and lace absorbing the glow of light from the chapel door. They paused together, the snow drifting in a dance around them.
"Live every moment," Laine whispered into the twilight. "That's what you said to me when I walked down the aisle, remember? I gift it back to you. Fix every second of this night in your heart. Protect it, and visit it often."
"Live every moment. Yes." Ellie half laughed, then paused and cast her gaze off in the distance. She creased her brow. Deep. Like she was lost somewhere else for a breath.
Funny, she always did that just before she ...
"Oh — no tears!"
Laine rushed forward a step and dotted impending tears with her gloved pinkie before Ellie could ruin her wedding photos with mascara tracks. "I'm so sorry. What did I say?"
"Nothing!" Ellie blinked, turning her face up to the night air as Laine continued patting and fanning. "It's nothing. I'm just so glad you're here, that's all. With everything moving so fast and getting married without Grandma Vi ... It's a lot to manage on my own."
"Well you're not on your own. You have Quinn. You have me and Cassie — that little flower girl in there who loves her honorary Auntie Ellie more than anything. And there's a chapel full of guests who are probably wondering where in the world we are. All that love makes me sure Grandma Vi's watching over you right this minute. So no tears, darling. At least not until after Quinn sees you, heels and mascara intact."
"You're right. No tears now. Not even the happy ones." Ellie inhaled deep, then let it out in a fog of frozen breath.
Being a head taller and a shade older, Laine couldn't help it; she had everything necessary to give her friend an effective maternal glare. And she did. Staring down her nose with just enough pert to warrant her concern. "Are you sure you're okay? I want this to be perfect for you."
"It already is perfect. His family is here and so is mine. And I get to become his wife. What else could I need?" Ellie bit the corner of her bottom lip, alerting Laine that a sweet little request from her best friend was likely to follow. "Except maybe to get on your good side so I can convince you and Cassie to stay a bit longer?"
"How long is a bit?"
"Oh, up to Christmas? Or a couple of weeks at least? It seems like such a long trip to stay only a few days. And I know you're still looking for a new job, so there's no vacation days to request. Don't answer now — just think about it. It can be your wedding present to us. Quinn knows I'll want my best friend and her daughter here as long as possible. And he has an almost-niece now too, so I'm sure I can convince him with that angle."
Ellie had said it tongue in cheek, but she didn't know how right she was. Staying through Christmas wouldn't be a problem. As far as home was concerned, Laine and Cassie could stay on forever. It was everything after the staying that had her chewing her thumbnail these days.
"We can talk about all that later. Right now you have an appointment I won't dare let you miss." Holding out the bridal bouquet put an end to it. "Let's go get you married."
Laine winked as Ellie took the flowers in hand, nudging a little spring back in her blushing-bride status. They eased into step with one another as they neared the chapel stairs, where Quinn's grandfather — the enigmatic estate winemaker, Titus — would be waiting to walk her down the aisle, despite blindness having taken hold. Laine paused and tugged Ellie's elbow as movement at the side of the castle ruins caught her attention.
A man in a sharp-cut black suit stood out against the backdrop of silver and stone. He cut a path through the trees, until she had a clean view of his profile. There was something familiar but still foreign about him. Coal-black hair. Tall. Broad shouldered ... Like she'd seen him before somehow but still knew she'd not.
"Ellie, who's that? Another wedding guest?"
"Him." Laine pointed out the figure coming their way. "If we're late, then he really is. He's headed for the chapel too — like he's here for a wedding but just decided to take a stroll through the snow?"
"That must be Cormac."
"Quinn's older brother, from the side of the family I haven't met. I've only seen photos. He lives with their father in Dublin. They have a younger sister too — Keira — but all I know is she's in London and rarely visits ... I never dreamed he'd come all this way."
"Is it that surprising he would come to his brother's wedding?"
"It is if they haven't seen each other but a time or two in years. When we moved up the wedding date, Quinn and I just decided to keep it simple — family and friends on the estate, and some from the village in Loudun. And you, of course. But Quinn must have invited him."
The man strolled through the snow at an even pace, scanning the envelope of woods on all sides. Until he caught sight of them shivering in evening gowns, with bouquets that had taken to trembling in their hands, and quickstepped in their direction.
He stopped before them, the glow from the chapel resting upon his shoulders.
There was no doubt in the light: He was every bit a Foley in the eyes and face, but in his mannerisms was clearly a walking opposite. Where Quinn was laid back — wearing worn-in pub tees and lugging around a beat-up guitar case — Cormac appeared buttoned up. Clean cut. Musicless. As frozen as the evening air around them.
"Ye must be Ellie." He stepped forward, tall like his brother but with a much deeper brogue, and clasped the bride's free hand in both of his. Ellie tried and failed to cover what must have shocked her speechless.
"Um ... yes. Cormac is it?" She nodded, her sweet smile dwarfed by the nervous bobbing motion of her chin that didn't stop right away.
"Nice to finally meet ye." He offered the slightest shadow of a smile to Laine as he released the bride's hand. "I hope 'tis alright that I came without the RSVP. 'Twas last minute, an' the flight was delayed 'cause of this weather. But by the looks o' things, I see I made it just in time."
"Yes, of course ... Quinn will be so happy you're here."
"Welcome to the family," he added, with an artful deflection of the groom, and what Ellie alluded may signal family troubles. "I'll just see ye inside then." He tipped his head in a respectful nod to them both, then stepped in the chapel without another word.
"Well, if married life brings surprises," Ellie said, smiling, "I suppose we're starting right now."
"You'll have to tell me what that was later."
"If I even know myself."
A raised bouquet and a groom's grandfather later, the bride was ready. And in a tiny chapel with candles flickering, Laine's four-year-old twirling as a fairy flower girl, guests standing in a semicircle, and a besotted groom grinning his life away at the altar, Laine watched as two people united their tomorrows.
It was hushed and hopeful — every bit the fairy tale that had nothing to do with a storybook castle looming in the background and everything to do with the surrendering of one heart to the other. No matter what stories and secrets tomorrow held, Laine knew one thing for sure.
She wanted to believe in love again. Needed to believe in it.
Even as candles flickered low, and a newly married couple kissed at the altar with loved ones gathered around. And an estranged brother of the groom, brooding in the back, seemed to usher in a host of questions about Quinn and Ellie's potential for a fairy-tale future.
In the midst of all that mattered for those dear to her, Laine could have sworn Cormac's hallmark Foley greens dared to glance her way — more than once.
What in the world could she make of that?CHAPTER 2
December 27, 1915
26/27 Abbey Street Lower Dublin, Ireland
"Are these seats taken?"
It was the Abbey Theatre's opening night performance of A Minute's Wait — anyone with a ticket must have known all seats were occupied for a sold-out show. But Issy knew that voice too well to overlook it. She'd been attempting to tuck a wisp of her cinnamon-colored hair that had escaped the pins at her nape but abandoned it and looked up instead.
Standing in the aisle of the U-shaped balcony. The electric lights cast a glow on the clerical dress of a vicar instead of the customary white tie the other gentlemen wore. So the rumors they'd heard about the elder O'Connell brother were true. In the many months Sean had retreated from Dublin's social circles, he'd stepped headlong into the role of clergy.
Problem was, he resembled anything but the guilelessness of the uniform.
His hair was quite smart, the burnished brown combed back off his brow in a more mature style like he'd decided to take life with a more deliberate manner, beginning with the comb. With eyes the cool sea blue he shared with his brother so direct in focus on her, it seemed they were alone in a crowded room. Seemingly indifferent to the high spirits around them, Sean ignored the sniggering of ladies in opera dresses who eyed him from a row in front. And though Issy hadn't expected to see it again — maybe not ever — he gifted her with a smile she could only read as genuine.
The entire portrait smacked of forgiveness, and surprise triggered a flutter in her midsection.
"'Tis the first time I do believe I've ever caught Lady Isolde Byrne without a reply."
"I've never been Lady Isolde to you, and I don't mean to start accepting a title now."
"Who would dare leave ye alone at the theater?"
"No one with intention at harm, I assure you." Issy recovered, patting a gloved hand on the velvet seat back of the aisle-side chair. "This one is Honor's, but she's been detained for the moment. And the other was to be Rory's, but I daresay my brother's meeting has run late on Dame Street, so it appears we've lost our escort. Won't we be the scandal of the ladies' parlors tomorrow?"
"Well, we can' be havin' that, can we now? I could be persuaded to abandon my seat all the way in the back an' join ye up here."
"Please." She pulled her knees back so he could scoot by her.
Sean slipped into the inner seat. And before Issy could fret over finding some measure of polite conversation, he leaned close, engaged her without a veil of awkwardness between them. Like they'd last seen each other the day before instead of six months prior.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Castle on the Rise"
Copyright © 2019 Kristy Cambron.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.