Monday, November 23, 2015

Medieval Monday ~ Betrothal by Jenna Jaxon

Welcome to Medieval Monday! During the next several months, I will be featuring different Medieval authors and their stories. Each month there will be a specific theme. This month’s theme is, “First Encounter with the Hero and Heroine.”
Jenna Jaxon is here today with her story, Betrothal.

My first guest is the multi-talented Jenna Jaxon with a reveal of Sir Geoffrey and Lady Alyse's first meeting from BETROTHAL.

The heart can choose, but can it also change?

Lady Alyse de Courcy has fallen in love with Lord Braeton, a nobleman in King Edward III’s court and a man to whom she has barely spoken. Fate, however, has decreed her betrothal to his best friend, Sir Geoffrey Longford—a handsome and imposing knight, yet hardly the man she wants to wed.

When Sir Geoffrey is bound in betrothal by his father, he could not have expected the beautiful stranger to win his heart the moment they meet. But Alyse’s infatuation with his friend casts doubt on whether she can ever return his regard and their wedding day is fast approaching…  Will he have time enough to win her love?

Mere seconds before she learned her fate. She could scarce affect an indifferent pose before the court when inside every inch of her quivered with anticipation of the name. His name, pray God, on the king’s lips.


In her mind, she heard the word.

The king straightened, glanced at her then at the man by her side.

“What say you then, Sir Geoffrey? Does the lady not speak fair? I vow she will make you a proper wife and a dutiful one as well.”

Alyse turned, until that moment unaware that Geoffrey Longford stood beside her. Chills coursed down her body as the king’s words echoed in her mind. The sensation of falling backward assailed her, as though she rushed away from the tall man at her side even as his figure loomed larger and larger in her sight.

Not Lord Braeton.

Her numbed brain repeated the phrase, trying to comprehend that instead he would be her husband. Geoffrey Longford.
God have mercy on me, for by the look of him, this man will not.

Fearful, she cringed as her gaze climbed higher, over his chest, over his chin, finally resting on the dark blue eyes turned toward her.

Geoffrey returned her appraisal, his gaze sweeping her figure as a smile crept over his face. “Your Majesty.” He spoke to the king but his attention remained fixed on Alyse. “When my father told me of the betrothal contract before I left his home, I resolved to play the dutiful son. Now, however, I find I do not wish to act that role after all.” His eyes held hers as he paused.

Dear God, does he mean to renounce me here before the entire court?

Alyse stared at the man beside her, willing herself to remain upright, despite the waves of ice and fire alternating through her body.

“Now I find I would rather play the ardent lover.”

An amused murmur ran through the Hall at his words. Sir Geoffrey grinned, his eyes sparkling with humor and something more. Despite the uneven light, Alyse saw an unfathomable promise in their dark depths. She took a shaky breath and looked away.

“I affirm Lady Alyse to be all that could be hoped for in a wife. Please you and God, we shall make the match and with all good haste.”

His self-satisfied tone and the thought of his outrageous teasing touched a contrary nerve in Alyse. She pulled her wits together and beamed brilliantly at her newly-betrothed lord. “Take care, my lord, for the wise women say, ‘Marry in haste, repent at leisure.’”

Sir Geoffrey raised a dark eyebrow while those around the banquet hall laughed. Heart pounding at her audacity, Alyse watched helplessly as he reached over and lifted her hand. “Such repentance could never be suffered too slowly, my lady, if ’twere your gentle hand that held mine through it.”

Laughter and applause washed over Alyse, who was struck absolutely dumb at the touch of his lips to her skin. Her heart pounded, and a strange roaring sounded in her ears; she wondered vaguely if she were about to faint.

Spellbound, she watched him, head bent over her now-smoldering hand, kissing it with an unhurried thoroughness that seemed to stop time. His lips scorched where they lingered, spreading a fire that consumed her body and mind. Had she the strength, she would have snatched her hand from his grasp to save herself from immolation. Other men had danced with her, held her hand, kissed it. They had never made her feel thus.

In a daze, she watched Geoffrey wrench his lips from her hand and stand, eyes widened as if amazed. His brows furrowed a moment then he spoke to the king. “May I ask, Your Majesty, when the banns will be read? I am sorely pressed to begin my repentance.”


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Monday, November 16, 2015

Medieval Monday ~ Silverhawk by Barbara Bettis

Welcome to Medieval Monday! During the next several months, I will be featuring different Medieval authors and their stories. Each month there will be a specific theme. This month’s theme is, “First Encounter with the Hero and Heroine.”
Barbara Bettis is here today with an excerpt from her book, Silverhawk.
He’s everything a proper lady should never want; she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.
Sir Giles has come to England to kill his father, who seduced and betrayed his mother. First, however, he’ll seek sweet revenge—kidnap the old lord’s new betrothed. But when Giles uncovers a plot against King Richard, he faces a dilemma: take the lady or track the traitors. What’s a good mercenary to do? Both, of course.
Lady Emelin has had enough. Abandoned in a convent by her brother, she finally has a chance for home and family. Yet now she’s been abducted. Her kidnapper may be the image of her dream knight, but she won’t allow him to spoil this betrothal. Her only solution: escape. Rescuing the intrepid lady—while hunting traitors—is a challenge Giles couldn’t anticipate.  But the greatest challenge to Giles and Emelin is the fire blazing between them. For he’s everything a proper lady should never want, and she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.
(Sir Giles has been rescued from outlaws by Lady Emelin’s escort of soldiers and she’s insisted that she take the unconscious knight to her betrothed’s castle for treatment.)
Swollen eyelids, a puffy cheek, and bloody scrapes couldn’t hide the knight’s handsome features. Waves of midnight hair fell across his wide forehead to brush one side of his square, stubble-darkened jaw. Grit clustered on the high bridge of his nose. What shame such a strong, rugged man should be cut down. Her pulse fluttered, and she sucked in a sharp breath. Ashamed of such reaction, she squeezed shut her eyes.
Would Stephen have been so handsome, had he lived through the crusade? She hardly recalled what her youthful first betrothed looked like when he left, a hopeful squire at nineteen, to follow his foster father on King Richard’s journey. If only he’d returned from Outremer, she’d be wed now, with the family she craved.
She sighed, reached for her patient’s cheek—and found herself staring into the palest gray eyes she had ever seen. His mouth moved, and she leaned forward.
“What is it?” she murmured.
“Before…I…die…” came the hoarse whisper.
“Yes? What would you like before you die?” If it were in her power, she would provide the poor man with his wish. Drink? Food?
A strong hand gripped the back of her head, pulled her forward. That close, she saw his eyes weren’t flat gray, but clear, layered like a winter pond winking with ice. They were silver.
“To…kiss…a nun,” came the outrageous reply before his lips met hers.
The brush of his warm mouth robbed her breath for an instant. Then she snapped back with a gasp. And, with in-born reflex, slapped him. His head jerked, his eyes closed, and he lay motionless.
“Oh, Sweet Mary,” Emelin whispered, “I’ve killed him.” Leaning close, she saw his narrow, beautifully molded lips relax. His mouth curved at the corner.
At least he died with a smile on his face.
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Monday, November 9, 2015

Medieval Monday ~ Dragon Knight's Axe by Mary Morgan

This is the same Medieval Monday that features some of the best romance out there but now it’s with a twist. Each week a different author will be featured here with a “themed excerpt.” This month, all the excerpts will be about the hero and heroine’s first encounter. Today’s post is from Dragon Knight’s Axe by Mary Morgan. This is a great excerpt. Enjoy!
The closer he came, the more Fiona began to tremble. His face bore a deep crescent scar from his left eyebrow down below his cheek. This giant was a demon, and some actually crossed themselves as he passed them.
When he reached the platform, he narrowed his eyes and glared at the two men by her side. They instantly stepped away. As with everyone else, he was no different. He looked her up and down, though when he gazed into her eyes for a moment, Fiona saw confusion.
The demon spoke. “How much do ye want, Robert?”
“Ye cannot have her.” He spit onto the ground in front of the man.
The monster’s voice remained deadly calm. “And why would that be?”
“Ye have nothing to offer.”
Fiona saw the shift of color in the demon’s green eyes. It was enough for the man called Robert to back away.
“I dinnae want any trouble.”
The giant leaned his head down. “Would ye take these?” He pulled out a small pouch and opened it. Pulling out several stones, he held them aloft. “Amber from the Northmen’s homeland.”
Robert’s eyes went wide, but then he crossed his arms. “I will take the lot and a barrel of your whisky.”
The man arched a brow. “How do ye ken I have whisky?”
“Do ye take me for a fool, MacKay?”
“Nae, Robert, but only foolish if ye do not take my offer of ten stones and one barrel.”
The moments stretched out between the two men, and Fiona’s heart pounded in her chest. She was being traded for amber stones and a damn barrel of whisky.
Battled scarred, Dragon Knight, Alastair MacKay, has fled to the seas to separate himself from his powers that are connected to the land. Yet, when he rescues a woman from a slave trader in Ireland, he steps back inadvertently into a world filled with magic—taking on the role of protector and leading him on a journey to confront his greatest fears.
Research assistant, Fiona O’Quinlan loves translating ancient artifacts at Trinity College. When she falls asleep on an archeological dig, she awakens in another time. She soon discovers a Dragon Knight’s relic has been entrusted into her care. Determined to return the artifact to the Great Glen, Fiona is unprepared for the danger ahead—losing her heart and soul to Alastair “Beast” MacKay.
Will their love be strong enough to soothe the beast and heal the man? Or will Death swing its axe, leaving them lost for all eternity?
Buy Links:  Amazon     The Wild Rose Press    Barnes and Noble   iTunes

Monday, November 2, 2015

Medieval Monday ~ The Irish Warrior by Ashley York

This is the same Medieval Monday that features some of the best romance out there but now it’s with a twist. Each week a different author will be featured here with a “themed excerpt.” This month, all the excerpts will be about the hero and heroine’s first encounter. Today’s quest is Ashley York. You’re going to love this excerpt. Enjoy!
Sean took a few steps into the woods, allowing his eyes to adjust. The shadowed figure of the mounted animal became discernible. It whinnied and backed further into the darkness.
“Hold!” Sean said. He struggled not to let his anger be heard. “Ye’ve bested me. Steal the horse but I’m for the coast. I need my things.”
“’Tis not stealing it if it’s mine.”
Not a woman’s voice. A young lad then.
“I paid for the use of it, son.”
“I’m not yer son.” The voice broke, confirming Sean’s suspicions.
“Nae. Ye’re not but I have quite a walk ahead of me. May I at least collect my belongings?”
A loud thud accompanied the bag that dropped at his feet. Sean stared at the sack. Arrogant little shite. The few items he’d collected to bring home were no doubt in pieces now. Anger simmered. He glanced toward the rider.
“My thanks. And will ye toss the weapons at me as well?”
“They’re mine now… the price for the use of my horse.”
Sean forced himself to appear calm. “I told ye I paid for the use.”
“But it wasn’t paid to me.”
Sean moved in closer but with every step, the rider retreated. If he could get his hands on him, Sean would teach him a lesson he wouldn’t soon be forgetting. By his size, the boy looked to be about ten.
“But I did pay for its use. An honest agreement between men. I had nae way of knowing it had been stolen. I had plans to return it.” Despite the blood racing through him at being outsmarted by some unknown, he shifted his tactics. He used his ever-so-amicable tone of voice but would not be letting the horse—or rider—get away. “When was the horse stolen from ye?”
The lad didn’t respond at first but the beast shifted, indicating uneasiness. “It was taken without my permission.”
Sean gave a small smile, moving closer as he spoke. “That’s what I said.”
“Nae ye asked when it was stolen from me.”
“Is there a difference?”
The lad tipped his head back as if looking heavenward in exasperation. Taking his eyes off Sean proved to be his mistake. With three long strides Sean closed in, yanked at the reins, and ripped them from the rider’s loose grip. Stepping clear, he waited while the courser jerked against the rope now held firmly in his grip. The rider, struggling to keep his seat, tossed about with the rough motion.
Definitely a young lad. Not even a curse uttered from the unexpected change of events.
“Damn it.”
Sean smiled and stepped in to put his arm around the horse’s snout to settle it down. He spoke in a quiet, calming voice. “Easy now, Roana.”
“Roana! What kind of name is that?” The lad threw his leg over the far side of its body in preparation for his escape.
The courser was not very tall. Sean wondered why he didn’t just jump off.
“The one I gave it! A handsome beast deserves a handsome name.”
He grabbed at the lad’s skinny arm, hauling him across the saddle, flat on his belly, facing him.
Sean offered a contented smile. “Did ye have somewhere to go?”
Blurb: Outcast and alone, Thomasina MacDonell is hell bent on finding her brother, the only person who can thwart their father's latest scheme to offer her as payment for his gambling debts. Disguised as a lad, she defiantly sets off on foot to locate him—never expecting to find a handsome, Irish warrior riding her beloved horse. The warrior's offer of help and unsolicited advice on how to be manlier sparks an intimate desire to reveal her more feminine side.
Rejected by the love of his life, Sean O'Cisoghe wants simply to return home and heal his broken heart. When a young "lad" steals the horse out from under him, he discerns the spirited woman may be in way over her head against her ruthless father. Finding her brother while keeping her would-be betrothed at bay, Sean must confront the fact that Thomasina has stolen his heart. Will Norman soldiers out for his blood and shifting clan alliances cut short their growing passion?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Medieval Monday with Sandra Jones

What is Medieval Monday? Fall in love with new stories and find new authors. Each Monday for the next 12 weeks another author will share the cover and excerpt from their story. Today it’s Sandra Jones’ turn.
His Captive Princess by Sandra Jones
Earned respect is sweet…but deserved revenge is sweeter.
Warren de Tracy was assured the Welsh village of Dinefwr would be an easy conquest, as would the widow of its fallen prince. Wedding her will appease the locals and win the respect of his liege, the usurper King Stephen.
Instead, Warren is ambushed, taken prisoner by a hooded Welshwoman with skin that glows like moonlight. If he must die at her hands, at least his honorable death will silence the whispers of disloyalty hanging over his name.
Princess Eleri has never seen a knight as stoic—and as eager to die—as Warren. She’d love to oblige the bastard, but something in his ocean-blue eyes stays her hand. Plus, suspicion nags at her, for the arrows that wounded him and killed his men are Norman, not Welsh.
A ghostly prophecy portends danger that thrusts the enemies closer together, where hate explodes into passion that won’t allow Eleri to surrender Warren to her vengeful clan. But returning him to his king breaks more than it mends…and for Warren, retaliation will be sweet, indeed.
Product Warnings
Contains a Norman warrior with a thirst for justice, a Welsh rebel princess with second sight and a steady bow hand, magical prophecies, and a plot of royal proportions.
“‘Your Highness’?” Warren jerked in astonishment, pulling against his bonds. The ropes chafed his raw skin, sending a fresh wave of pain down his arms. “You’re of royal blood?”
She leaned over him, reaching for his bonds. “Hush! In addition to your arrow wound, I trow your tongue has healed as well these past days. It would behoove you to use it less and just be grateful you’re alive.”
Her breasts hovered inches above his face. In fact, if he lifted his head, he could bury his face between them. What would she do, this spirited wench, if he chose to do so? He would’ve enjoyed finding out if circumstances had been different. “I’d rather be dead than be a prisoner. But first...I’ll kiss your feet if you’d scratch my nose.”
She made a choking noise in her throat that almost sounded like amusement.
He felt a tug at his ropes and the friction of a knife. By the saints, she was freeing him. He couldn’t allow it.
Air stung his raw skin as soon as one of his wrists came loose. With his one arm still useless in its restraints, he shot out his free hand and clutched her forearm. Using all his strength, he turned her over beneath him, wedging her between his torso and the bed. Nose to nose, he could make out her eyes gone wide with shock in the darkness. “No!” he growled. “Do not let me leave here alive.”
Suddenly, her warrior was upon him and his knife back against Warren’s throat. “Get off the princess, you cur!”
The woman’s blade touched his chest plate. She could dispatch him with ease. Her arms were strong and lean. Her body was far from frail, and he recalled her skillful defeat of his conroi. She twisted beneath his pelvis defensively, and the grinding of her soft mound awoke his sex. Shame heated his cheeks at his sudden need and dark desires. This one time, he would allow himself to speak his mind. “If you release me, Princess, I’ll go to Kidwelly and inform my commanders what has befallen my five men at the hands of you and your people. The king will strike at the subjects of Cantref Mawr with vengeance such as you’ve never known.”
Her expression shifted from stark panic to slow derision as her saucy lips curved up at one corner. “You think I don’t know what you’re capable of?” Her eyes flashed downward meaningfully, and he knew she’d noted the turn of his wicked thoughts. “You want to have your way with me. To tear my clothing from my body and part my legs. But you know nothing of my people, Norman. You haven’t even bothered to learn the language—” she broke off, slurring in Welsh at her vassal.
The burly guard grabbed Warren’s bandaged shoulder, twisting it back until bile climbed in his throat. “Umpff!” While he convulsed in pain, the woman slipped loose and turned him on his back, pinning his groin beneath two very sharp knees. He hissed through his teeth, “Par les saints!”
If he’d been successful in his mission, this devil-wench would’ve been his bride?
“You are my prisoner, knight.” She planted the flat of her hand against his neck, leaving no doubt of her desire for domination as her angry pulse drummed against his skin. “I am the Princess of Deheubarth, widow of Prince Owain ap Daffyd, murdered by your Norman peers. It will be my pleasure keeping you alive. We’re taking you to those who will do with you what they will. I care not. Until then, you are my dog. My captive. My slave. And you will obey!”
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Monday, June 15, 2015

Medieval Monday with Andrea R. Cooper

What is Medieval Monday? Fall in love with new stories and find new authors. Each Monday for the next 12 weeks another author will share the cover and excerpt from their story. Today it’s Andrea R. Copper’s turn.
Viking Flame by Andrea R. Cooper
Prequel to Viking Fire by Andrea R. Cooper
Bram has agreed to marry an Irish nobleman's daughter in exchange for land and his services fighting with the Laird Liannon's clan against rival Irishmen. However, Bram's intended does not stir his heart. Not like the Laird's daughter, Kaireen.
Somehow, he must not only convince the Laird to amend his marriage contract, but win the heart of the stubborn feisty Kaireen.
Near the beach, the man quit rowing and yanked out a knife.
Bram didn't move. "You go against your Captain's orders t--"
"You made it to shore. That's all we's promised." He spat at Bram's boots. "No one said anything about you living afterwards." When he dove forward, Bram ducked to the side and snatched the sailor's arm, pinning it to his side. When the sailor slung with his free arm, Bram increased the pressure until the man was on his knees.
“Cease, or I will break your arm.” If it wasn’t for his pledge to Morga, he’d have snapped the man’s arm already. Once his contract was signed with the Laird, then he’d be free to fight in Ireland—or at least against other Vikings and rival Irishmen. The man continued to struggle, “Or perhaps a leg as well? What will your Captain say if you return without your weapon and injured? Will he be merciful and allow you to recover or throw you to the sharks?”
“Heathen scum!” He twisted his body to escape Bram’s grip.
As he did, Bram snapped the man’s wrist backward and the first mate let out a howl before the blade came closer to Bram’s chest.
“Now, hand me the knife.” When the man glared at him, he increased pressure on the bent wrist. “Or this heathen might do worse so that not even the sharks would want you.”
The first mate gulped and released his hold of the knife.
Bram broke his hold and snatched the blade out of the air before it hit the water. “Tell your Captain, I will not forget his hospitality nor will any of my eight brothers.”
The man paled. “What brings you to our island? To rape our women and pillage our churches?”
“No.” Bram rose and tucked the small blade into his boot. “To find my bride.”
Buy Link - Amazon Only

Monday, June 8, 2015

Medieval Monday with Jenna Jaxon

What is Medieval Monday? Fall in love with new stories and find new authors. Each Monday for the next 12 weeks another author will share the cover and excerpt from their story. Today it's Jenna Jaxon's turn.

Passion never dies.
Lady Alyse Braedon frets over her renewed passion for Sir Geoffrey Longford, her first love. They have pledged their hearts to one another, despite the fact that both are recently widowed. Alyse worries that she has not properly mourned Thomas and cannot think herself as true wife to Geoffrey until she puts her feelings for her first husband to rest.

And then Thomas unaccountably appears in her bedroom. She is stunned and confused. When he begins to make love to her, however, she joyfully surrenders herself to his familiar caresses and expert ministrations...until Geoffrey arrives.

Faced with the dilemma of wanting two lovers, Alyse simply cannot choose--until Thomas suggests she doesn’t have to.  Instead he and Geoffrey will share her. The scandalous proposition awakens new hungers within her. Can she allow herself to abandon all she's been taught a proper woman should resist, and find pleasure with both her beloveds?

Buy Link: Amazon

            The familiar voice tugged at the edges of wakefulness. Had Geoffrey returned so soon? The sound did not have his deep tone. Yet ’twas a voice she knew well, rich and sensual.
            “Do not fret, sweet. ’Twill be all right.”
            Alyse struggled to open her eyes, though the heavy lids fought against her.
            The bed dipped as someone sat beside her. . Good. Thank the Lord. Geoffrey had returned. Although she would swear it had not been he who had spoken.
A soft hand cupped her face, and she pressed her cheek against it, luxuriating in its warmth. She smiled and her eyes fluttered open at last.
            The man seated on the bed had shoulder-length honey-blond hair and warm, beguiling brown eyes. He also defied fashion and wore a thin mustache and beard. His eyes brightened when he noticed she was awake and his mouth turned up in the lazy smile she had come to know so very well.
            “Thomas.” The name came out a croak. Holy Father, had she conjured him with her guilt and longing? She shrank back into the pillows.
            His smile widened and he caressed her, running one long finger along her jaw. “Aye, sweet Alyse. ’Tis I. Do you feel better now, my love?”
            “Better?” She must be dying to see such an apparition. Or mayhap she was already dead and in heaven.
            “Aye. You do not shiver as you did a moment ago. I hoped that meant you felt warmer.” He picked up her hand and kissed the knuckles.
            Warmth flowed through her, soothing her, making her body tingle with that single touch of his lips.
            “Is it really you?” Strength welled within her and she struggled to sit up.
            “As ever I was.” He smiled, his gaze sweeping down her body. His eyes darkened with the desire she remembered well.
            “Oh, Thomas.” She threw her arms around him, sighing when they embraced the hard-muscled chest she had lain upon so often. “I thought you dead, my love. Did I but dream?”
            “Shhh, my sweet. I am here now.” He stroked her head then pulled it back to peer into her face. “I will always be with you, love.” He sank his mouth onto hers, and she melted at the touch of his insistent lips.
            Like coming home.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Medieval Monday with Kim Headlee

What is Medieval Monday? Fall in love with new stories and find new authors. Each Monday for the next 12 weeks another author will share the cover and excerpt from their story. Today it’s Kim Headlee’s turn.
King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court (#KASIWC) by Kim Iverson Headlee
Morgan le Fay, 6th-century Queen of Gore and the only major character not killed off by Mark Twain in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, vows revenge upon the Yankee Hank Morgan. She casts a spell to take her to 1879 Connecticut so she may waylay Sir Boss before he can travel back in time to destroy her world. But the spell misses by 300 miles and 200 years, landing her in the Washington, D.C., of 2079, replete with flying limousines, hovering office buildings, virtual-reality television, and sundry other technological marvels.
Whatever is a time-displaced queen of magic and minions to do? Why, rebuild her kingdom, of course—two kingdoms, in fact: as Campaign Boss for the reelection of American President Malory Beckham Hinton, and as owner of the London Knights world-champion baseball franchise.
Written as though by the old master himself, King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court by Mark Twain as channeled by Kim Iverson Headlee offers laughs, love, and a candid look at American society, popular culture, politics, baseball...and the human heart.
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Nook | iPad/iPhone | Kobo | Smashwords 
Social Media Links:
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Book of the Day (3/3/15) | Goodreads |
Character interview of Queen Morgan on Love My Kindle |
Screenplay excerpt featured on the blog of Diana Rubino |
Excerpt from Chapter XIV: Defend the Banner!:
The wench’s smile looked indulgent, if a bit saddened. “Queen Morgan, may I offer an observation?”
“Pray, proceed, Darla, as I seem to have paid for it.”
“This is about a man—the dishy one you’re always coming in here with.”
“Brilliant. Yes, the dishy one. Dishy, and treacherous.” I took a long pull of bitters.
“Lor’ love ye, madame; but all men are treacherous! If you’re lucky, that’s all he is.”
I reflected, through another draught, upon this spot of rough wisdom. Of all the men I had ever known, biblically or not, in this century or any other, the only man I could not label as “treacherous” was Sir Galahad, and we all know what happened to him. For the couple of you who might not be privy to the story: in brief, Sir Galahad drank from the Holy Grail and fell down dead, reportedly because his soul was so pure that Our Lord God bustled him straightaway to heaven. The fact that Sir Galahad had always acted so damned self-righteous that his Grail-hunting companions had wearied of his holier-than-thou ways probably had nothing whatever to do with his demise. I said:
“I have treachery aplenty in my life, Darla.” Free agents, not-free agents, other players, managers, coaches… the list seemed endless. “I do not need more from Sandy Carter.”
“But you do need his love.”
I shook my head. “With love like that…”
She was not listening, but had looked toward the line of tall windows fronting the street, across which arched the words “nnI dleiftuO” and, in a revolving pattern of white, blue, and red tube-lights, “NEPO.” I would have taken umbrage at the offense—the server’s, not the fact that the words in the windows appeared backward to my vantage—but I had imbibed too much beer to care.
Darla said, “You need his love… and he needs yours. Look.”

Monday, May 25, 2015

Medieval Monday with Barbara Bettis

What is Medieval Monday? Fall in love with new stories and find new authors. Each Monday for the next 12 weeks another author will share the cover and excerpt from their story. Today it’s Barbara Bettis’ turn.
The Heart Of The Phoenix by Barbara Bettis
Some call him a ruthless mercenary; she calls him the knight of her heart. 
Lady Evelynn’s childhood hero is home—bitter, hard, tempting as sin. And haunted by secrets. A now-grown Evie offers friendship, but Sir Stephen's cruel rejection crushes her, and she resolves to forget him. Yet when an unexpected war throws them together, she finds love isn’t so easy to dismiss. If only the king hadn’t betrothed her to another.
Can be cruel
Sir Stephen lives a double life while he seeks the treacherous outlaws who murdered his friends. Driven by revenge, he thinks his heart is closed to love. His childhood shadow, Lady Evie, unexpectedly challenges that belief. He rebuffs her, but he can’t forget her, although he knows she’s to wed the king’s favorite. 
And deadly 
When his drive for vengeance leads to Evie’s kidnapping, Stephen must choose between retribution and the love he’s denied too long. Surely King John will see reason. Convict the murderers; convince the king. Simple. Until a startling revelation threatens everything. 
To find out more about Barbara Bettis and her books check out her blog.
Buy Links: Amazon  The Wild Rose Press
Excerpt: The Heart of the Phoenix
At first, Evie thought it was the thud of her headache. Then the pounding came again, louder. She groaned and turned over. Opening her eyes told nothing; the blackness in the cabin was impenetrable. 
“Marie?” Her voice rasped in a dry throat. Blasted tears.
No one answered. The girl must still be on deck. Evie might as well have left Marie behind, for all the assistance the maid provided. With a groan, she swung her feet over the side of the bunk and felt her way along the wall toward the sound of another insistent knock.
“A moment,” she called. “I’m coming.” Who had the nerve to wake her in what must be
the middle of the night? Hah. Need she even wonder? Her toe collided with something, and she yelped as she landed on her knees on the wood plank floor. Just what she needed. A broken foot.
The door burst open, bringing with it a dim light. “What’s wrong?” Stephen’s deep voice filled the room. “Where’s the damned lantern?”
“If I knew, I would have lighted it.” Blasted man. Did he think she enjoyed stumbling around in the dark? He acted as if she did so just to plague him.
Holding a shielded ship’s lantern high, he stepped toward the desk. “Here it is. Where’s that lightskirt who’s supposed to be your companion?”
“Leave Marie alone. I wanted privacy and gave her permission go above.” Never mind that Evie had just complained about the same thing. He had no right to do so.
“What do you want?” she asked. “Is something wrong?”
“A little late to ask that, isn’t it?” He bent to coax the cabin lantern to flame.
“Oh, for the love of heaven. Stop plaguing me. Why are you here?”
“I thought you’d like to know the identity of our fellow passenger.”
“At this hour? Could you not have waited until morning?” Sweet Mary, preserve her patience. He was the most maddening man alive.
Light flared in the cabin’s shuttered lantern, throwing a shadow across his face, reminding Evie of another reason he should not be here. Her body instantly throbbed to life.
She pressed her palms against her stomach and inhaled. Calm. She needed calm. He was not the most beautiful man she’d ever beheld. He did not possess the power to heat her blood to boiling.
He did not care that she thought of him night and day.
That much was true, for certain.
“I have news that will make the rest of your trip joyful.”
His words centered her whirling mind, and Evie eyed him warily. What news could possible make her happy right now?
She ventured a guess. “You are leaving? Your second in command, the delightful Sir Macsen, will accompany me the rest of the way home?”
“Much better.”
Evie could tell Stephen was angry now by the way he glowered and roared in that whispery sort of way no one else could hear, but left her with no doubt of his displeasure.
“Your betrothed.” He bent and scooped her off the floor.
“What? What about him?”
“That’s the identity of the illustrious lord who’s sharing passage with us.”
“You’re drunk. And put me down. I’m perfectly capable of getting up on my own.”
“Be quiet. You have blood on your leg.”
“Of course I do. I tripped and fell trying to answer your pounding when you could easily have opened—” His words finally penetrated her throbbing head. “I’m bleeding?”
Oh, blast. The contents of her—empty—stomach churned. She attended the villagers’ hurts, bound the cuts and scrapes of servants and their children. The sight of their blood bothered her not a whit. But her own? Black spots danced at the corners of her vision, becoming larger and larger until she heard Stephen’s voice.
“Evie, Evie. What the hell?”
His voice echoed so far away. If she didn’t know better, she’d vow he sounded alarmed. Perhaps she’d close her eyes for a moment. As the ringing in her ears crescendoed, she recalled
his words. Betrothed.
Her betrothed was on board?
Dear Lord, just let me die.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hot for Friday

Book Boyfriends Cafe 

Hot for Fridays Weekly Blog Hop 

Find fifteen more authors on the blog hop!
Mel Curtis,
Dayl Devore,
Jennifer Wilck, 
Zrinka Jelic,
Alice Orr,
Victoria Adams,
DC Stone
J.J. DiBenedetto,
Ari Thatcher,
Suz deMello,
Lyssa Layne,
Susan Ann Wall,
Cathy Carson,
Kelly Collins and
Mona Risk

Here's my hot kiss. From my recent release, Knight of Rapture

Knight of Rapture Information
  “Hold me. Don’t let me go,” she said as she nuzzled his neck and sank into his strong embrace. “Love me,” she whispered in his ear and felt him shiver. She wanted to feel his arms around her, his lips touching hers—she wanted him to bury himself deep inside her and shout her passion to her world and to his.
They sank to the ground and held each other close. She was afraid to let him go, afraid the emptiness would find her, afraid of losing him, again. With an unending thirst, she focused on his mouth, the shape of his lips, the kisses that they promised.
His hand stroked the side of her body from her breast to her thigh, claiming it for himself. She stretched and molded her body to the contours of his, the way he liked. One stroke of her breast and she tugged on his shirt. He didn’t hesitate. He obliged her and pulled it off. Her hand played down the familiar hard planes of his chest. Her eyes widened when she saw the marks. His back and chest were covered with intricate symbols. How hadn’t she seen them before? “These weren’t here.” She traced them with her finger.
He stopped her hand and brought it to his lips. “For six months I tried to find you. He tilted her face to his. She closed her eyes and felt the tingling traces of Dark Magick that thrummed around him.
She moved away, a concerned expression on her face. “What have you done?”
He pulled her back into his arms. “I did whatever was necessary. Now be still and let me hold you.” She settled against him.
“I’ve tried to remember holding you, feeling you before I love you, reliving every moment with you.”
She put her head on his shoulder. He opened her nightshirt and stroked the top of her chest then, with trembling hands, touched her breasts. A low moan escaped her lips. She tipped her face to see his eyes.
“Why are your eyes closed?” she asked.
“I’m seeing if you are as I remember.” He laughed softly.
“Better,” he said as he bent and kissed each breast.
She pulled his head away and kissed him. He ignited a flame inside her that set her on fire. A delicious shudder pulsed through her.
The muscles on his chest danced as her fingers lightly traced the runes. “This rune is for the Great Mother.” Her finger poised over the sign. “Thank you, Great Mother,” she said as her lips brushed against his skin. She watched it deckle in gooseflesh. Her finger moved on. “This is our sign.” Encouraged by the hooded passion she saw in his eyes, she kissed the rune and moved on. The tips of her fingers traced down his chest. “Here it is again.” The rune was below his navel. Another kiss. Her fingers trailed down further.
He pulled her up and rolled on top of her. Her body instinctively arched against his. “You are mine.” His warm breath brushed against her face. Two heartbeats passed. “Do you hear me? You’re mine,” he said more urgently.
“Yes.” Her voice was an intimate whisper. His lips tugged into a sideways grin.
It was the smile that made her bones go limp. It was his magick.
“Forever,” was all he said as he settled between her legs. Every inch of him was hard and ready. She focused on his lips while her hands ran over his body. The insistent need to touch him consumed her.
“Love me, Arik. Now.” She wanted to taste him, smell him, feel him.
He bent down and let his lips brush gently across hers. Arik soothed and calmed her with his touches and kisses only to build her heat and her passion. Tiny licks of pleasure shot through her while his erection pressed against her.
He slipped inside her and she let out a sigh of relief. “I please you,” he said his voice rough with passion.
She answered him by wrapping her legs around his hips and pulling him closer. Heat rippled through her body as combustible desire ran through her with every stroke. As the last wave peaked, they both found their release.