The story of Michael Kent and Sarah Hughes begins in Dancing Priest, the first novel in the Dancing Priest series. And while other narratives will stream through the series, the love story of Michael and Sarah remains the core.
They meet at the University of Edinburgh. She’s an art student at the University of Southern California, studying a year abroad with her brother David Hughes. She and Michael share a class in medieval church history; he sees her sitting a few rows away and is instantly smitten. He introduces himself after the class, she thinks she’s been hit on for the fourth time that day; and she dismisses him with an Anglo-Saxon profanity, believing his statement about studying for the priesthood to be a come-on line.
But they both get passed that, and at a school festival, dance what comes to be known as the “last tango in Edinburgh.” And it’s during that dance that the dancing priest of the title is born.
Dancing Priest is the story of how Michael and Sarah find each other, lose each other, and then find each other again. In the process, they are both growing and maturing, Sarah moving steadily toward the faith that divided her from Michael and Michael learning that the priesthood of study and preparation may not be the same as the priesthood meeting life on the streets.
In A Light Shining, the second novel in the series, Sarah almost becomes the main character. She and Michael are married, living in San Francisco, and soon expecting their first child. And then comes The Violence, a planned and coordinated terrorist attack on Britain’s royal family, Michael’s brother Henry, and Michael and Sarah. The attack on a very pregnant Sarah is thwarted by their two adopted son, Jason and Jim, but Michael almost dies. Sarah goes through childbirth while Michael is in surgery. And while he’s recovering and still unconscious, she assumes responsibilities far beyond the typical new young mother.
In Dancing King, the third in the Dancing Priest series, Sarah becomes one of the narrators of the story – the arrival in London, the upheavals with palace staff, the creation of a new staff, and the growing attacks by people determined to drive Michael and Sarah from the throne.
Sarah is self-confident and assured, but she is also shy. She’s also slightly terrified at dealing with all of her new responsibilities. Physically, she’s about 5 feet 7, golden-brown hair, brown eyes, with high cheekbones. Michael thinks she’s absolutely dazzling. Her favorites clothes to wear are jeans and a man’s dress shirt (which is what she was wearing when she and Michael first met).
She also is an artist, with an artist’s soul and temperament. Sarah had been on her way to establishing a successful career in painting when she met Michael again and married him. She will continue to paint, in addition to all of her new responsibilities. Her painting style is Realism; people often think her paintings are photographs.
At the very beginning of Dancing King, as the family is leaving their life in San Francisco and flying to London, the man who will become Michael’s chief of staff is sitting on a jump seat across from Michael and Sarah in the car to the airport. Reflecting on the events detailed in A Light Shining, what he says about Sarah and her husband is the key theme of the book:
“This young woman, this young queen with a new baby sitting across from me in the SUV, had been the pivotal player. The PM knew that. I knew that. And I had had to insert myself into her fear, confusion, and shock. I didn’t expect to be inserted into the middle of her faith. And her husband’s faith.”
Photograph by Andrei Lazarev via Unsplash. Used with permission.