Sunday, April 24, 2016

Jenna Jaxon Launches Conflict Theme on Medieval Monday



Today begins a new theme for Medieval Monday--Conflict. And there's no better way to introduce it than with this dramatic, cliff-hanger from Jenna Jaxon's TIME ENOUGH TO LOVE.  Hold on!

EXCERPT:

Both knights had broken two lances on the torso—their scores were even. In order to win, one would need to either break a lance on the helm or unhorse their opponent. Either feat was possible, but highly improbable, given the lateness of the day and the weariness of the jousters. The best outcome would be for one lance to miss, giving the knight to break a lance victory. Another possibility was a draw if both men broke their lances on the torso. A draw would mean no victor; the debt of honor satisfied without a forfeit. That outcome might be best, but she could not help thinking in that case there would have been a great deal of effort wasted for nothing.
Geoffrey nodded slightly within his helm, as though acknowledging a strategy confirmed. Though the decision was unknown to her, she prayed it would make him the clear winner of the match.
In an instant, Geoffrey streaked down the lists. Alyse gasped at the ferocity with which Saracen raced toward his adversary. Lord Braeton drove his horse fiercely as well, but did not seem to reach the black steed’s breakneck speed.
Moments before the collision, Geoffrey angled his weapon upward slightly, aiming again for the helm and its additional points. Her heart flew into her throat. Should his lance glance off, as it had earlier, she would certainly be leading the first dance with Lord Braeton this evening. That prospect no longer held any delight for her, not after the physical pain this match must have cost Geoffrey—and Lord Braeton—and the mental anguish it had cost her. Had she not seemed so enthralled with the earl, mayhap the challenge would never have been issued. Or would not have been so avidly pursued by Geoffrey. If one of them were injured, it could surely be laid at her feet.
Geoffrey must win. He must.
The impact devastated both knights. Thomas’s lance splintered dramatically along Geoffrey’s right shoulder, twisting him around in the saddle and almost unseating him.
Geoffrey’s lance found its mark in the dead center of Thomas’s helm, snapping his head back with the force of the blow. An immediate cry of pain erupted from his helmet. Alyse bolted from her seat, raced out of the berfrois and onto the field.
* * * *

Thomas managed to pull his horse to a stop, and his squires ran to assist him as he dropped to the ground. Almost as quickly, Geoffrey leaped from his horse, cursing as he ran toward his friend.
’Tis my fault if he dies. I was angered at him. Christ, why did I not aim elsewhere and try to unseat him? Geoffrey could barely hold still as his squire removed his helmet. “Thomas! Thomas!”
Men had lowered his friend to the ground, where he lay motionless.
Dear God! The splinters—
He stared in horror at the long wooden slivers poking out of Thomas’s visor.
Sweet Jesu, have mercy. Holy Mary, mother of God, have mercy.
He fell to his knees beside him, afraid to touch him lest he drive the fragments deeper.
“Fetch the surgeon!” Geoffrey threw the command over his shoulder, his attention fixed on the still body. “Thomas.” He couldn’t be dead.

 BLURB:

When Lady Alyse de Courcy is betrothed to Sir Geoffrey Longford, she has no choice but to make the best of a bad bargain. The hulking knight is far from her ideal man, and although he does possess some wit and charm, he is no match for the sinfully sensual man she secretly admires, Thomas, Earl of Braeton, her betrothed’s best friend. 
From the first, Sir Geoffrey finds himself smitten by Lady Alyse, and, despite her infatuation with his friend, vows to win her love. When Geoffrey puts his mind to wooing Alyse, he is delighted to find her succumbing to his seduction. But when cruel circumstances separate them, Geoffrey must watch helplessly as Thomas steps in to protect Alyse—and falls in love with her himself.
As the three courtiers accompany Princess Joanna to her wedding in Spain, they run headlong into the Black Plague. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both the men she loves. But which love will survive?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Medieval Monday: Betrayal-Or Was It? DRAGON KNIGHT'S AXE, Mary Morgan



Medieval Monday's Betrayal theme ends this week, and I couldn't have asked for a more exciting way to bid it goodby than with an excerpt from my friend Mary Morgan's exciting DRAGON KNIGHT'S AXE.

EXCERPT:
Panic gripped Fiona. Something wasn’t right. Why would he leave her? She thought he cared with all the time they’d spent together. “Why in the hell did Alastair leave?” she choked out holding back the scream.

“He didn’t want to watch you die. Each day that passed took you further away. There was nothing he or any of us could do,” replied Brigid.

Her voice quivered. “Got it….umm…he abandoned me.”

Brigid sighed. “I believe he cared for you so much, he could not stand to watch you leave him.”

Fiona’s tone turned bitter as she clutched the furs. “When you care for someone, you stay with them until the very end. No matter what happens. What? Did he say good-bye, kiss me, and then just walk out of here? I hope to God our paths never cross again.”

“Do you really mean that, Fiona?” asked Aileen in a soft voice.

Closing her eyes, she didn’t want to look at either of the women. Her head throbbed, and her heart weighed heavy knowing that the only man she would ever love had walked away from her.

“Please leave,” she murmured.

When the door closed, she finally opened her eyes. She refused to let the tears fall, so she bit her lip and swallowed. Digging her hands into the furs, she kept trying to breathe. Everywhere she looked there was something that reminded her of Alastair. The plaid he had given her to stay warm, a sgian dubh for protection, and glancing around the room slowly, her eyes caught sight of something on the chair by the head of the bed.

Squeezing her eyes shut, she counted to ten. Yet, when she opened them, there was no denying it any longer and sadness engulfed her. As she tried to reach for the object, her vision became clouded, the tears streaming down her face, as she was unable to hold them back.

Grasping the chess piece, she clutched it to her chest. “Why, Alastair?” Sobbing uncontrollably, she realized that he had given her the Dragon King as his parting gift to her.

And Fiona’s heart shattered completely.

BLURB:

Alastair MacKay, a battled-scarred Dragon Knight flees to the sea to separate himself from his fae-given power connecting him to the land. But it is on land that he rescues a woman from a slave trader in Ireland. It is through Fiona he steps back inadvertently into a world filled with magic—taking on the role of protector and at the same time leading him on a journey to confront his greatest regret and 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:





Sunday, April 10, 2016

Medieval Monday: Ashley York's THE SEVENTH SON

Today's treat on Medieval Monday is from my friend, Ashley York's, terrific THE SEVENTH SON. In this excerpt from the newly released romance, the heroine, Tia, learns of a betrayal that will change her destiny.

EXCERPT:

"Tisa. Yer betrothal to the MacNaughton has been severed. Ye'll marry into the Meic Lochlainn clan of Inishowen. They'll be here in two days time."

The pain in her chest intensified with every word he spoke, like nails hammering into her heart, but her brain refused to understand his meaning beyond his first statement.

Your betrothal to the MacNaughton has been severed.

Her betrothal to Tadhg? They'd been betrothed forever. They grew up knowing they would one day be wed. Tadhg was all she wanted in a husband.

Her father's eyes never wavered from her face. Surely he measured her reaction as if he cared.

"Ronan came here to make the agreement on their behalf. He has been a great help to our clan."

The kind eyes seemed familiar but no. Those would have been the eyes of her father that loved her. A father that wanted her to be happy. A father that wanted her settled nearby. This? This was a man that cared nothing for her. A man that would rip away her future dreams of happiness. A man that would send her away from him. A man that would give her to strangers. Strangers that saw her as nothing more than...breeding stock.

No. She was more than that. She would not stand here and be handed off to a stranger and not even a word of protest.

"Why?" Damn her eyes. The tears swelled and her father became a blurry figure. "How?"

He looked away. "The MacNaughton broke our agreement."

Her jaw dropped. A slap to the face would have hurt less. "No!"

"After Moira died, Padraig sent word he would not see his son married to an O'Brien."

"And ye did not think to tell me this?"

Her head reeled with the implications.

"And Moira? Tadhg's mother is dead?" Her breath hitched. Moira had been like a mother to her. "When was she buried? I wish to pay my resp—"

"Ye will not! Padraig would not allow us to come. None of us." Her father finally faced her. "We are no longer welcome on his land. He wants nothing to do with us."

"Nothing to do with us? They are our kinsmen."

"No longer."

"Ye canna just let him cut us off like this."

"I was given little choice in the matter."

"Then go to him! Beg his forgiveness for whatever you have done!"

"I have done nothing wrong! 'Twas Padraig's doing. He chose to give me no reason. I will abide by his decree."

Tisa's mind struggled to make sense of what her father was saying. There must be something he was not saying. "Why would Padraig treat us like this?"

He looked past her. "It matters not. What does matter is that the O'Neill threatens us to the west."

"When will Seamus and Ian return?" Her only unwed brothers had been away going on two years now.

Her father's eyes rounded in pain. "I dinna wish to upset ye but yer brothers will not be returning. They died in battle against the O'Neill."

Tisa cried out. "When?"

"We received the news spring last."

"Again ye decide to keep this from me? Do ye think I am a child? If that is the way of it, 'tis because my own father kept me from the truths in life, shielding me as if I would break."

"Ye brothers went against my wishes. My anger was at them, not ye."

"Be angry then. Be sad. Be devastated! But dunna keep me from the truth."

"A great loss." Her father closed his eyes against the pain.

Her own heart cried out. They were much older than her as were her sisters. The MacNaughton's were closer in age and felt more like family. Brighit was like her own little sister.

"I must make decisions that ye may not wish to abide by—but ye will. The O'Neill will not back down. We need an alliance with a strong clan. I need men I can count on, who will fight with me against them."

"The MacNau—"

"They will not fight for us now. 'Tis not their land that is threatened." He shouted the words, his nostrils flaring. "They have broken our agreement, daughter. We are defenseless. Ronan was good enough to make a new alliance for us."

"At what cost to us?" Tisa knew the answer as soon as she asked the question. The way Ronan had looked at her, assessing her worth as a mate.

"You will marry their tanist."

"So I am to be exchanged for the promise of protection?"

"Ye will have a place of prominence in their clan."

"I do not care about prominence! I want the life I had always been promised. The life I was raised for."

"That life is gone, Tisa. This is the life ye will have."

"I do not accept this...betrayal."

"Ye have no choice."

 
BLURB:    Drogheda, Ireland 1076

The sixth son bears a curse as certain as the seventh son bears a blessing. When Tadhg MacNaughton’s betrothed is ripped from his arms and married to another, he believes the legend is true.
 
Tisa O'Brien's life slams into a downward spiral at the news she is no longer betrothed to the love of her life but married to the tanist of a warring, prideful clan with dangerous political aspirations—the Meic Lochlainn. She faces her destiny with all the strength and dignity of her Irish heritage despite dealing with a husband who resents her, fighting off the lustful advances of her father-in-law, Aodh, and longing for the husband of her heart.

Tadhg MacNaughton makes a deal with the devil to ensure the survival of his clan as he is commanded to fight with Aodh who envisions himself the new Brian Boru, High King of Eire. Up close and personal, Tadhg must witness his true love's marriage and remain silent even as it rips him apart. When a sinister plot to over throw King William of England led by the exiled Leofrid Godwin and Clan Meic Lochlainn comes to light, Tadhg is faced with saving his clan or endangering his sister and her Norman husband.

An Irish beauty and a warrior betrayed—doomed in love from the start or does fate have something else in store for them?

Buy at:
http://www.amazon.com/Seventh-Son-Norman-Conquest-Book-ebook/dp/B01BZ36LS0/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460317849&sr=1-3&keywords=the+seventh+son

 

 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Liz Flaherty Brings Her Latest Harlequin Heartwarming EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE


I am such a fan of Liz Flaherty's outlook on life.  Liz thinks one of the things that keeps you young when you quite obviously aren’t anymore is the constant chances you have to reinvent yourself. Her latest professional incarnation is as a Harlequin Heartwarming author and she is enjoying every minute! 

She's joining us today with a glimpse of her latest Heartwarming romance, as well as some wonderful memories. Welcome, Liz. I'm so glad you've stopped by for a visit.

Thanks so much for having me here today, Barb!
          
 Since I’ve reached a certain age, I tend to write about it a lot. Even when I’m not writing about it, I mention it and sense an eye-rolling “here she goes again” from behind my back.
         
 But I’m writing this from a hotel lobby in Chicago. The traffic is crazy outside the front windows and I can hear delightful accents from a phone conversation taking place across the lobby. British, and a lot of “lovelys” in the conversation. There is no quiet to be had here, so I’m not looking for it, just embracing the joyful noise that seems to abound.
           
Last night, we had dinner at the Hard Rock Café. The food was good, the service good, and the two teenage girls here with my daughter and me seemed to enjoy themselves. After dinner, the girls were perusing tee shirts in the gift shop and Kari and I were standing near the end of the bar waiting.
         
The band started. Speaking of joyful noise.
      
 The girls were shopping.

I beamed my way through “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” with thoughts of Bette Midler careening through my mind. Then they sang a Maguire Sisters song and I remembered my sister singing “Sugar in the Morning.” And then it was some serious Bill Haley and the Comets, whom I don’t really remember but whose music reverberates through my very soul.
          
 The girls came out of the gift shop. They stood and waited. I pretty much ignored them. Finally Kari asked if we could sit somewhere and listen since we’d just had dinner there.
          
You bet.
          
The band played music all the way through Motown, surf, and British Invasion, with doo wop thrown in for flavor. Except for about three songs, I knew all the words or thought I did. There was a twist contest, which I came nowhere near winning, but everyone was up and moving. There wasn’t an eye-roll to be found
         
 Remembering. Feeling. Not wanting it to be over.
          
Cole Porter grew up around the county seat where I live. Cole left, though, moving to the Big City, and wrote...oh, so many songs. Most of which don’t really resonate all that much with me, although they did with my mom and dad. Hearing “Begin the Beguine” still makes me catch my breath because it was Mom’s favorite.

 But I remember always knowing about Cole Porter. I remember growing up in Miami County, Indiana, where Nothing Ever Happens. (I still live there—I’m really good with nothing ever happening, thank you very much.) 

So when I invented a lake in central Indiana as a setting for at least one Harlequin Heartwarming book, the former mayor of Peru named the lake—Miniagua—and Cole Porter named both the book—Every Time We Say Goodbye—and most of the businesses on it. We have, to name a few, the Silver Moon Café, the Anything Goes Grill, the It’s De-Lovely Salon, and...you get my drift. It’s a contemporary story, not historical, but with the writing of it, I got to feel a lot of the things memory gives you. I didn’t want it to be over. There was a lot of joyful noise going on with it. It’s the story of...well, here’s the blurb, which explains it better than I would.

He had her at "hello again…" 

After the prom night accident that had stolen the innocence of his small lakeside hometown, Jack Llewellyn had run. The guilt—especially facing his high school sweetheart, Arlie Gallagher—had been too much. Now he had no choice. He was back in town, and on Arlie's radar. 

Arlie couldn't believe that after all these years, she still had him under her skin. He was such a changed man…a responsible business owner, a single parent. Would he understand the changes she'd gone through, the secrets she lived with? She was ready to forgive him but was he ready to forgive himself? And did they have to say goodbye this time?

Buy links:

Liz would love to hear from you at lizkflaherty@gmail.com or please come and see her at:              http://lizflaherty.net/ 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Medieval Monday:FREE Today--The Outcast Highlander from R. L. Syme



On Medieval Monday, I'm happy to welcome USA Today Bestselling Author R. L. Syme who has a wonderful gift for everyone--THE OUTCAST HIGHLANDER. Just follow the link she's given, below, and you can get your gift copy! FREE.

Today's Betrayal excerpt is from that book, which is the first in the Highland Renegade series.

 EXCERPT: 

“Bring them forward.” The fat man reached across his table and picked up a charred leg of some animal. Broc had never seen a sheriff eat in court before and hoped this was a sign of his gluttony. Men with deep desires always had a price.
The front guards stepped aside and Elizabeth walked between them, leaving Broc in their midst. With his broad sword strapped to his back, it wouldn’t have taken him long to cut through them if he’d had to. Most of them were boys, even compared to his own years, but more importantly, they were not well-fed nor well-trained. The soldiers were in use elsewhere and those who remained filled what boots they could.
They would be quick fodder if someone threatened Elizabeth.
“My lord and sheriff.” Elizabeth’s voice wavered, but she executed a perfect curtsey, staying near the floor until he bade her rise.
Until he got a good eyeful of her spilling décolletage, more like. Broc shuffled uneasily. She played a dangerous game.
“Rise, lady.” The sheriff burped and set down the leg of fowl. A wild turkey, by the look of it. Large, browned skin, dripping with fatty juices. He licked his lips like the lecherous fool he was and leaned over the table. With a smile, he followed her rise.
“I’m here to beg you for the release of my husband, Lord Andrew de Moray, Twelfth Viscount of Avoch and Strathaven, servant to the king.”
Broc held his laugh in. Servant to which king? The sheriff would assume Edward, who had taken the rule of Scotland along with England. But when Andrew said it, he meant Robert Bruce, whom he considered to be the true King of Scotland.
The sheriff only leered at Elizabeth and grinned. “I’ve heard of your coming, lady. I trust you were safe, even with your company.”
“I am safe.” Elizabeth turned to the dungeon door and cringed visibly. “I’ve heard of my husband’s capture and impending doom. I wish to bargain for his life.”
“And what did you bring to bargain?”
Elizabeth straightened and lifted her chin. This was at least not the posture of a woman who planned to prostitute herself for her husband. For that much, Broc relaxed.
“I have a suit of armor made by Spanish monks in the 11th century for my lord’s father.”
The sheriff pulled a knife from his side pocket and began to pick his teeth. “Yes?”
“And enough gold and silver to fill three chests, but I’m sure I could get more.”
He kept picking his teeth, flicking pieces off the blade to toss at various courtiers. Each one looked disgusted at the act, but smiled in return. He had these men well-trained
“You’ll have to do better than that.”
“My lord is wise, as always.” Elizabeth turned to Broccin and a hint of regret passed across her face.
She was about to offer herself.
Broc’s hand went immediately to the hilt of his sword, but before he could draw, ten long spears had come down around him. Each tip was so close to his neck, if he moved in any one direction, he would be a dead man.
“I have as my captive, the leader of the renegade group of Highland warriors that have been falsely raiding and plundering in my husband’s good name.” Elizabeth sank into another curtsey. “As a token of my good fellowship, rather than having him killed upon capture, I offer him to you in exchange for my husband’s release and the clearing of his good name.”
Broc couldn’t breathe. If there hadn’t been ten sharp edges within striking distance of his throat, he would have pushed forward and demanded she speak sense.
Beneath the spears, a boy snuck forward and twisted rope around Broc’s hands. Suddenly, the knot was so tight, he couldn’t move at all. The spears raised and one of the guards pulled his sword from its sheath, and tossed it forward.
The long weapon slid all the way through the circle of guards, almost to Elizabeth’s side, and she glanced back in her curtsey. Broc met her eyes and seethed, but her countenance did not change.
“They call themselves the Mac Ri Albannach.” Elizabeth over-pronounced the Gaelic like a true English, then returned to the refined, long tones of the court. “Sons of the Rightful King.”
Broc snorted. They did no such thing—they didn’t need to call themselves anything. But to the English, there was nothing more fearsome than an organized group of rebel warriors from the unknown mountains. He struggled against his bonds and one of the spears sliced into his shoulder.
The cut was deep and the hot, thick blood flowed down his back in double time.
“I hear tell there’s a real man behind this legendary Highlander who raids English strongholds and beheads shire magistrates.” The fat sheriff stood and walked around the table.
“I had friends at Carlisle.” The fat man spat from outside the circle of armed guards. “Friends who were killed by some band of rebels, intent on savagery and filth.”
He pulled Elizabeth to her feet. “And yet you captured this man? How do you intend to prove it was him and not your husband who led these raids?”
“Ask them.”
The sheriff called out. “Bring the raider out.”
From the corner of the room, a man in chains was pushed forward. Broc’s heart sank. The man they’d assumed dead, Tearny MacDonnogh, was almost no better off than if they had indeed killed him. His once muscular frame was now emaciated, with skin hanging from his arms. He was bare to the waist and the scars of beatings reminded Broc of just how long it had been since they had been to Berwick.
“Is this the man who led you at Carlisle?” the sheriff asked. “And is he leading the Mac Ri Albannach?”
Tearney’s greasy, matted hair swung around his face as he nodded. His eyes were half-closed and his mouth hung open, but he managed to make his affirmation known.
The sheriff cackled and threw Elizabeth to the ground. “I’ll be knighted for this for certain.”
With broad gestures, he pointed to Tearny and then the dungeon door. “Release both of them to her care, as we agreed. And take this one down to the bowels. I want the smithy to make him special chains with double-thick cast and no slack.”
He took his captain of the guard by the throat. “And by God, he had better be who she says he is, or it’s going to be your head on a silver plate instead of mine.”
“He’s the man, my lord.” The captain scratched at his throat where the fat hands had gripped him. “He bears the marks from Lord Hobble’s double-bladed Arabian weapon. I saw the scars on his arm.”
Broc swallowed. He did bear such a scar, and he had been the one to kill the perverted English lord in the battle of Carlisle, but only because the man had nearly killed Andrew and was about to disembowel him when Broc discovered and beheaded the man.
He was outnumbered, his weapon lost to him, bound, and soon to be imprisoned. Fighting back now would only mean Andrew’s certain continued imprisonment and possible death. At least if he kept quiet like a captive, he could know Andrew was free. Even if it meant he would rot in the dungeon himself.


The Outcast Highlander begins the Highland Renegades series of medieval romance novels by USA Today bestselling author R.L. Syme (also writing as Becca Boyd). Please visit http://rlsyme.com today to get The Outcast Highlander for FREE! Happy reading!