Monday, December 28, 2015

Medieval Monday Welcomes Ashley York and THE SAXON BRIDE.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and you're ready for a fabulous 2016. To prepare for the coming the New Year, Medieval Monday welcomes Ashley York with THE SAXON BRIDE's celebration, welcoming the new lord.

Blurb:
In war torn England the battle lines between Saxon and Norman are clearly drawn. The Saxons must fight for everything they have in the hopes of winning their country back from the Normans who are determined to break their resistance.

Rowena Godwinson, the sole remaining member of the defeated royal family, stands proudly against the Normans that would trample them underfoot but her nobility and grace make her an ideal pawn in the Norman King William’s play for power with the Saxon people. When he decrees she marry a powerful Norman knight, her subjugation appears to be complete. The handsome soldier with the kind brown eyes and gentle touch is a threat to her determination to defy the interlopers. Can she hold firm to her Saxon heritage and refuse to give in to his advances?

John of Normandy wants only to prove himself worthy of the king’s trust. He is rewarded for his service and loyalty with land, titles and a Saxon beauty for a bride. John balks at the marriage, driven by the secret guilt of knowing Rowena’s father died at his sword. However, John’s reluctance is soon replaced by a burning desire to please this woman and win her over as well as her people.

As their people look to them for guidance and peace, can John and Rowena find a love that unites all of England?

Excerpt:

Her response to his looks was quite disconcerting. She cleared her throat. "How do you find your manor after your long absence, my lord?"
John eyebrows shot up. She hadn't meant to find fault...or maybe she did.

"I was taken aback to find you do not care for the stores and such. Is there a reason you refuse to act as is your right as my wife?"

Her mouth opened slightly at the lie. "My lord, I have been given no such leave. Your king replaced me as chatelaine on his first visit here."

John searched her face before correcting her. "Our king."

"Yes." Rowena dropped her gaze. A slip of the tongue.

"You would accept this position then?"

She looked up but hesitated, not wanting to overstep her bounds. "It would give me great pleasure to be in charge of the running of the castle."

"Then run it you shall."

Rowena nibbled at her lip to hide her smile. Since the Normans had come, no one obeyed her unless they wanted to. The king had never come to meet with her but instead with those he had put in charge of her. Now John was giving her back her rightful place. Things were progressing better than she had hoped.

The young girl, Sarah, had replaced Ruth and was in front of the table offering a basket of almond-stuffed dates dripping with honey. Rowena returned her genuine smile. She was a lovely child. Serving the lord and lady was a big responsibility.

Offering the sweets to the new lord, Sarah's face fell as he declined with a shake of his hand.

"Oh, yes, please." Rowena hurriedly accepted the sweet. Sarah beamed in appreciation and moved on to the next table.

Rowena put the treat to her mouth and took a small bite. The honey smeared her lips. Quickly, John was leaning toward her, pulling her close. He licked her lips before kissing her. He was so tender that she was moved by the gesture and leaned into him, wanting the kiss to continue.

The burst of applause from those present in the hall surprised Rowena. She smiled in answer when they separated at last. Not all present looked happy with their display of affection. Noticing John had not yet moved away, she realized he was waiting for another kiss. She kissed him chastely. He frowned but pulled back.

The young man on her left caught her eye. He sat against the wall, his clay whistle on his lap. He had a small smile and looked at her expectantly. It was Cedric, the performer. Too shy to come to the table himself, he was apparently hoping Rowena would intervene on his behalf. She did not disappoint. Trying not to smile at his bashfulness, she turned back toward John.

"My lord…" Catching him unguarded, she was taken aback by the look of sadness she saw there. It passed so quickly, she wondered if she had imagined it.

"My lady?"

A ripple of delight washed over her at the title. She glanced away to hide her pleasure.

"Our performer tonight is a bit shy and hoping you would enjoy hearing his songs," she said. "He is very good. Will you address him?"

She tipped her head slightly indicating the man.

"Please." John smiled warmly at the performer and stood, facing those in hall. "Friends and visitors, let us rejoice in the blessing of music that God has given us by listening to…" realizing he didn't know the man's name, his composure fell slightly and he looked to Rowena to complete the introduction. "Rowena?"

"Cedric."

"Cedric." John lifted his cup.

Applause broke out with murmurs of excitement as the man stepped into the middle of the hall. A sudden hush fell like a blanket over the hall in anticipation of the entertainment as Cedric produced one long note from his whistle then cleared his throat. No longer the shy young man, he took over the music with confidence, having nothing more than his voice and a whistle.

Lifting his strong, clear voice, he told the story of the fallen soldier. He had been killed by an arrow and left to die alone by his companions. While he suffered the inevitable, it was a fallow deer that came to be with him. The story was enchanting and one of Rowena's favorites. She brushed away a tear and clapped enthusiastically. Cedric blushed as he bowed low. Next taking up his whistle, the pleasant music increased the peaceful mood that fell over the hushed crowd.

John wiped at her cheek, his touch light. "That song brought tears?"

Rowena dipped her head, shrugging a shoulder. "I think it is a lovely story. ‘Tis all."

"Ah, my wife has great sentiment." He took her hand in his. "I will remember that."

Find The Saxon Bride here:

Monday, December 21, 2015

Medieval Monday: Ruth Casie and THE DRUID KNIGHT TALES

Today I'm happy to welcome Ruth A. Casie to Medieval Monday. Ruth shares an excerpt from THE DRUID KNIGHT TALES. For a Christmas Treat, Ruth's offering it free!

Blurb

After a year of searching, Maximilian, the druid Grand Master, finds the sacred mistletoe destined for his soul mate shriveled and dead. He must journey to the Otherworld and tell the Ancestors of his failure.

Ellyn of Brodgar is an exceptional healer. But each healing kiss depletes her energy and brings her closer to death. Ellyn needs to find her own healing power before it’s too late.

Max and Ellyn are tossed into the Otherworld and have until the third sunset to appeal to the Ancestors or be lost forever. Together they find love, and as the last rays of the third sunset slip away, both are willing to sacrifice their hopes, dreams, and lives for the other. Do they have what it takes to escape the Otherworld and begin their life together? 
Excerpt

“You knew, didn’t you?” She waited but a heartbeat. “You made certain where I stood and when the portal opened you wished me a safe journey.”

“I knew once you spent time together and learned to depend on each other you both would make the right decision. Ellyn, I know you and Max are to face challenges in the future. I will be there, always,” Doward voiced with quiet determination.

“Thank you, Doward.” She placed her hand on his arm. “We appreciate your devotion and friendship.”

“I cannot change what is fated but I will do what I can—”

“That is more than anyone could ask.” There was nothing she could do about the future. It would unfold as it was destined. Unless…she shaped it. Gave it direction. Knowing what the future held allowed them to prepare for it. Every moment was precious and she would make every one count.

She saw Max up ahead and her chest squeezed tighter with pride and love. He was her heart and together they could face anything. She glanced at Doward beside her. With a friend like him maybe the three of them could shape their destiny rather than be at its mercy. It might take a lifetime but something inside her said it was worth a try. They caught up to Max and the others.

The Grand Master stood before the bonfire and removed his tunic for everyone to see the sacred runes tattooed across his back. He picked up a lit branch. With his other arm he gathered Ellyn to his side. She ran her hand down his back, which made his muscles flinch and his tattoos softly glow.

He bent to her ear. “The runes warm to your touch.”

“Perhaps it is a sign we are truly soul mates.” She kept her eyes forward.

The sign. Of course. He smiled and raised the torch. “Is there anything else you want to tell me?”

“Her name will be Rebeka.” She stared straight ahead, not meeting his eyes.

“Who?” he asked, a startled expression spread across his face.

“Our daughter. Arik’s soul mate.” A satisfied smile played on Ellyn’s lips.

“She will be a mighty woman,” he teased.

She looked into his eyes. “She will be the best of both of us. Now, finish the ritual. We have important things to…celebrate.” She stepped aside and planted her staff deep into the ground between them.

He covered her hand with his. The staff glowed but only for them.

“Hail, Guardians, we thank you for the power of air, fire, water, and earth.”

“For all you have given to us, we thank you for the year,” the congregation replied.

“For the new year we make this oath. We pledge ourselves to the Guardians, the Ancestors,” he looked down at Ellyn, “and to each other. May our hearths and homes be safe and strong for another year.”

“For all you offer us, we give thanks for the year to come.”

He tossed the torch onto the pile and listened to the people shout with enthusiasm. He gathered Ellyn into his arms. “To hearth and home, my love.”

They sealed their pledge with a kiss.

 
Amazon: http://bit.ly/DruidKnightTales



Thursday, December 17, 2015

MOON DARK: Patricia Barletta Shares Her New Historical Romance

I'm happy to welcome Patricia Barletta today with a glimpse of her new historical romance, MOON DARK.  

Patricia will be awarding winner’s choice of an ebook from Lachesis Publishing to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please see below.

Blurb:
Lady Sabrina Dunfield is desperate. Widowed and destitute, she must rely on the dubious benevolence of her secretive uncle, an art collector living in Venice. Determined to make her way and provide for her young son, Sabrina is forced to take on clandestine and dangerous errands for her tyrannical relative. But when a mysterious shadow man saves her from an assassin’s blade, she knows she must do everything in her power to keep her son safe.

Alessandro D’Este, Prince of Auriano, is cursed. Doomed to live a life half in shadow, he is determined to free himself and his family from the evil that stalks them. When Alessandro saves the English woman’s life, he is captivated by her beauty and shocked at her ability to touch him in his shadowy form.

When Sabrina meets Alessandro in his human form, heady attraction sparks between them. She has no idea he is her shadowy savior, and she wonders what her life might be like with this charismatic man. Alessandro has never met a woman who affects him this way. Although life has taught him to trust only family, Sabrina might be the key that could deliver him from the diabolical darkness.

Excerpt:

Venice, 1797

Someone—something—was following her.

Lady Sabrina Barclay hurried between the close-set houses of the humble sestiere of Santa Croce. She caught movement from the corner of her eye—down that narrow alley to the right, another to the left, even across the slippery tile rooftops. The motion was too quick, too nimble for a human. A shuddery twinge tiptoed down her back.

The alley opened into the Campo di Rigali, ringed by the plain stucco walls and dark windows of the houses. She halted in the shadows. Her destination was the chapel across the tiny square. Anxiety gripped her as she thought about crossing the open space to get there.

She peered into the deepening twilight. Nothing moved in the dusk. A line of laundry strung between two windows hung motionless. She could see no one lurking in the shadows. Of course she was alone. Everyone was out on the canals or celebrating in the Piazza San Marco. This was the time of the spring Carnevale.

Sabrina picked up her satin skirts and hurried across the cobbles, past the carved stone well. At the chapel’s wooden door, she glanced over her shoulder. As she did, her half mask caught on the hood of her black wool cape. She wanted to pull off the frippery of green velvet and yellow feathers, but instead, she pushed her hood back. No one went unmasked during Carnevale, and she had been told to remain anonymous. If anyone learned her identity or discovered the purpose of her errand, her son’s safety, her entire world, would be in peril.

Something skittered in a dark corner. Her hand tightened on the door pull of the chapel, the decorative ridges digging into her palm. She peered into the shadows. Only a rat. She grimaced in distaste.

An olive oil lamp flickered on in one of the small windows. Its pale light cast the animal carvings on the stone well into relief and threw the well’s shadow across the paving stones. She pressed back against the door and hoped no one could see her. With a click, shutters closed over the light. Stillness. Gloom. Yet she sensed eyes watching. Not from the windows. From somewhere else. She glanced up to the roofline of the houses but saw no silhouette against the dark, ethereal blue of the Venetian sky. An owl winged silently away into the night. The distant snap of a Carnevale firecracker startled her, prompting her to move.

Uneasy, she slipped into the chapel and leaned against the plain wood of the closed door. The sense of watching eyes receded, and she forced a breath into her lungs.

The chapel was small and dim and appeared to be deserted. The backless benches marched in formation to the sanctuary, where the carved white marble altar and the altarpiece behind it seemed to be waiting in holy repose. The sanctuary light glowed like a benevolent red eye. But she felt no sense of peace.

Gathering her courage, she pulled up her hood and hastened to a bench halfway down the aisle. Her soft dancing slippers made no noise on the marble floor. The muted swish of her satin skirt and petticoat sounded loud in the quiet. She had dressed as if she were attending a ball. Instead, she was here in this dark chapel on an errand that she had to complete.

The scent of incense and beeswax hung heavy in the air, still chilly despite the warming days of early summer. She shivered and hugged her woolen cloak closer as she sat. Pulling off her gloves, she folded her hands in her lap, bowed her head, and pretended to pray.

Her errand was to be conducted in secret. If someone followed her . . . No, she would not think of that. She must focus on what she had to do: Retrieve the note. Deliver it.

But first she needed to be sure she was alone. She listened for a footstep, a whisper, a breath—anything that would indicate another’s presence in the shadows. She heard nothing.

Sabrina glanced around in the dim light. The chapel was tucked into a quiet, working-class corner of Venice. No songs of gondoliers, no greetings of acquaintances passing on the canals, no shouts of Carnevale merrymakers reached her here. The silence was unnerving, but it assured her of solitude. A bank of votive candles cast a soft glow to the left of the altar. Shadows flickered along the frescoed walls and made the saintly figures portrayed there appear to dance. The stained glass windows, which would have sparkled like jewels during the day, were dull and dark, foreboding. Instead of safety and refuge, the dim chapel held an air of menace.

She turned from those unsettling walls and windows to the altar and the crucifix hanging there as if she were beseeching the Almighty, but no prayer formed on her lips. She waited, forcing herself to be patient, her fingers curling into her skirt. She just wanted to be done with her errand. Furtively, she glanced left and right. She saw no one.

She ran her fingers beneath the rough wood of the bench until she touched a small piece of folded parchment affixed to the underside. Prying the small square from the wax, she rolled it into the palm of her hand. Her errand was almost complete. She released a silent breath.

About to bow her head again, she saw the candle flames jump from a draft. The hair on the back of her neck prickled. Someone else was here. She sensed a presence that curled icy tentacles around her heart. A presence that triggered a frail wraith of memory: Evil.

Run. The word exploded in her brain.

She gasped, snapped her head to the right. A shadowy black figure stood beside her. Before she could move or think, it lunged and shoved her off the bench. She cried out as she landed with a teeth-jarring thud on the marble floor. The breath in her lungs whooshed away.

A stiletto skimmed past her ear and thunked into the bench before her. It quivered in the wood, mere inches from her nose. The metal blade gleamed black and menacing. She scuttled back, only to be blocked by the bench behind her.

The dark figure had moved to the aisle and seemed to hover inches above the floor. It was a human-shaped shadow, but more—denser, blacker, canceling all light within its outline. Its eyes glowed like molten gold. They stared directly at her, and for a moment, she could not move. Could not breathe. Those eyes were frightening. Beautiful. Hypnotic.

She tried to suck in enough air to scream. Only a whimper emerged from her throat.

The figure pointed to the door. Run. There is danger here. The words growled loudly inside her head.

With a leap, the figure rose into the darkness of the vaulted ceiling and disappeared.
 
Sabrina gaped up and blinked. Shock froze her. She tried to gather her wits, blinked again. That shadow thing had pushed her aside, saving her from the deadly blade and certain death. Her blood went cold.

Run. The shadow’s voice jabbed through her head again.

As she scrambled up, she realized she had dropped the message. Frantically, she searched for the little white square. She had to retrieve it. She shook out her skirts, skimmed her shaking fingers beneath the bench, over the cold marble of the floor.

Nothing. The note was gone.

Abandoning her search, she picked up her skirts and fled to the door. Behind her, she heard a strangled cry and a sickening thud, like a body hitting the floor from a great height. Then silence. The sense of evil snuffed out.

She escaped into the deep twilight of Venice. The sky still glowed cobalt, but the city was dark. The sliver of moon shed little light. Shadows were deeper, blacker. Sabrina rushed back across the square and entered an alley so narrow that the stucco walls of the houses were barely far enough apart to allow two people to pass each other. She checked over her shoulder. Someone could easily trap her. She hurried on, wanting only to reach her gondola.

In this modest part of the city there was little Carnevale celebration, so no one strolled the alleys, no old men sat outside to chat. She was alone. The solitary patter of her footsteps seemed much too loud as she hastened to the canal where her gondolier waited. The relative safety felt very far away.  

Somehow, someone had learned of her errand. The errand that was to be performed in secret—to collect the note and deliver it to the uncle of her late husband. She had failed him. He would be displeased. Sabrina didn’t want to imagine what form that displeasure might take, but she would do everything she could to protect her son from him, the man who allowed her to live beneath his roof.

And she would protect her son from the person—the evil—who had tried to kill her.

But someone—something—had saved her life. A shadow with eyes of molten gold who could speak to her inside her head. The creature intrigued her, awed her, captivated her. Frightened her with its strangeness.

Her stomach lurched. Fear from what was behind her overcame her apprehension of the scalding reprimand that lay ahead. Damning her voluminous skirt and petticoats, she raced the rest of the way to her gondola.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Patricia Barletta always wanted to be a writer. That was right after she realized that becoming a fairy ballerina or a princess wasn’t going to happen. But being a writer meant she could go places in her head and be other people as much as she wanted. She could even be a fairy ballerina or a princess!

As a native of the Boston area, Patricia has been inspired by its history, which influenced her stories, and probably had an impact on her decision to become a high school British Literature teacher so she could pay the bills. She received a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree at the fabulous Stonecoast program in Maine. And now she’s an author writing about dark heroes, feisty heroines, magic, and other fantastical things.

Find out more about Patricia Barletta and her books on her website: www.patriciabarletta.com.

Connect with Patricia Barletta on facebook: Patricia Barletta on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patricia.barletta.3?ref=br_rs
 

Buy Link:
Lachesis Publishing: http://lachesispublishing.com/?product=moon-dark


RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAYhttp://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f1473


 
 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Medieval Monday: Glimpse a Cristes-mæsse Celebration from Kim Headlee's SNOW IN JULY

Today's Medieval Monday spotlight on Celebrations is, appropriately, a Cristes-mæsse celebration from Kim Iverson Headlee's SNOW IN JULY. As Kim explains, Cristes-mæsse is the ancient Saxon word for Christmas.

SYNOPSIS:
Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre has been granted what every man wants: a rich English estate in exchange for his valiant service at the Battle of Hastings. To claim this reward, the Norman knight must wed the estate's Saxon heiress. Most men would leap at such an opportunity, but for Alain, who broke his vow to his dying mother by failing to protect his youngest brother in battle, it means facing more easily broken vows. But when rumors of rampant thievery, dangerous beasts, and sorcery plaguing a neighboring estate reach his ears, nothing will make him shirk duty to king and country when people's lives stand at risk. He assumes the guise of a squire to scout the land, its problems, and its lady.

Lady Kendra of Edgarburh has been granted what no woman wants: a forced marriage to an enemy who may be kith or kin to the man who murdered her beloved brother. Compounding her anguish is her failure to awaken the miraculous healing gift bequeathed by their late mother in time to save his life. Although with his dying breath, he made her promise to seek happiness above all, Kendra vows that she shall find neither comfort nor love in the arms of a Norman…unless it snows in July.

Alain is smitten by Lady Kendra from the first moment of their meeting; Kendra feels the forbidden allure of the handsome and courtly Norman "squire." But a growing evil overshadows everyone, invoking dark forces and ensnaring Kendra in a plot to overthrow the king Alain is oath-bound to serve. Kendra and Alain face a battle unlike any other as their honor, their love, their lives, and even their very souls lie in the balance.


EXCERPT:
The pewter goblet hit the trencher with an ungodly clatter. Bloodred wine seeped across the white table linens, reminding Kendra of what Del’s blood must have done the night he was ambushed.

As a servant rushed to right her goblet and blot the stain, she leaned against her carved, tall-backed chair on the dais of Edgarburh’s feast hall, certain she had imagined the voice that had startled her.

She wished Del’s condition could be righted as easily.

Her seat gave her the best view of the Cristes-mæsse festivities, which at present consisted of a muzzled, scruffy bear being goaded through its awkward paces by an equally scruffy man to the raucous amusement of the crowd.

Kendra couldn’t share in the laughter.

With the tip of her dagger, she chased slices of stewed apples around her trencher, racking her brains for something—anything—she hadn’t yet tried to help her brother, either to heal his wound or cure the fever and cough invading his lungs.

Invasion. She gave a soft snort. Not three months earlier, Del had risked his life in the service of King Harold against the invading William of Normandy. Del had been one of the lucky few to survive the battle, only to be cut down on their father’s lands by one of William the Bastard’s knights. The enormity of the outrage still blazed within her heart.

Even greater kindled her wrath over the decree accompanying the coronation announcement: she must wed one of these ruthless Norman warriors.

This very day, her father was paying court upon the new king, offering his—though not his daughter’s—acquiescence to the betrothal in hopes of currying favor enough to present his complaint about Del’s attacker. He possessed the knight’s shield, though the coward had eluded capture. Waldron kept the shield locked in his quarters, for he couldn’t risk losing his one tangible link to the Norman swine.

Kendra’s heart had screamed the truth, although her father had refused to hear it: Sir Delwin Waldronson had fought for King Harold, his attacker was one of William the Bastard’s retainers, and justice would be denied.

***
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BUY & TBR LINKS
Worldwide Amazon Kindle link – http://getBook.at/Snow_in_July_by_KIH_Kindle
Worldwide Amazon Paperback link –http://myBook.to/Snow_in_July_by_KIH_paperback



Monday, December 7, 2015

Medieval Monday: Jenna Jaxon Vistis With BETROTHAL

The talented Jenna Jaxon visits Medieval Monday’s Celebration  with a celebration of the winners of the joust in the terrific BETROTHAL. This scene takes place at the dance after presentation of the winners. 

Blurb:

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? 

Excerpt: 

As the champions met at the end of the Great Hall, the trumpeters sounded the fanfare once again. Alyse flanked Princess Joanna as she stepped forward, Lady Carlyle on her other side. The gentlemen came forward to claim their ladies and lead them into the middle of the Hall. The musicians struck up a stately carole, and the three couples formed pairs, one following the other, creating a line that moved gradually around the Hall. She and Geoffrey were the center pair and slowly trailed behind the princess and her partner.  

 Acutely aware that this was their first dance together, Alyse found it almost impossible to keep her eyes forward as propriety demanded. She darted glances at Geoffrey as they moved through the deliberate steps, her blood singing with each glimpse of his elegant figure. Hand and hand—the heat they generated threatened to set her ablaze—they stepped to the slow beat, now forward, now backward, slowly making their way around the Great Hall. Again, the yearning overtook her to belong to this man utterly and intimately. To be his in every way possible before it was too late. But for the grace of God, tonight could have been too late. He could have been killed today, and she would never have known the joy of belonging to him completely. 

 She wanted to remember every moment of this dance, to be able to savor each one later, but the flickering light, the heat of the chamber, the intensity of the music and her own thundering heart worked to make the dance a swirl of impressions—riotous and fleeting. When the music ended, Alyse’s head still reeled. 

Geoffrey turned smartly toward her and bowed low, and she curtsied in return. Then he took her hand and kissed it. Her breath came faster, and her heart thudded in her ears as a full flush of heat rose in her face. The touch of his lips on her skin fought like fire and ice: she first burned then trembled as chills raced through her body. She barely heard the thunderous applause and cheers of the assembly.  

BUY LINKS: 
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CF6UZFW?*Version*=1&*entries*=0 

FREE ON THE FOLLOWING SITES: 
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ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-betrothalbook1timeenoughtolove-1208629-161.html