Monday, October 31, 2016

Medieval Monday Welcomes Laurel O'Donnell--along with The Angel and the Prince

We have a real treat on Medieval Monday. Popular award winning author Laurel O’Donnell joins the weekly fun with a glimpse of her tantalizing story The Angel and the Prince.

Welcome Laurel. So glad you're here.

Excerpt:

The sun was hot on Bryce’s bare shoulders.  His arms were bound before him and his feet were tied from ankle to ankle, the rope running beneath the horse he rode.  None of this bothered him, even though they had been riding all morning.  His mind was absorbed with his captor.  He could not stop staring at her riding so primly at the head of the army.  Rage consumed him.  He could feel the ropes around his wrists digging into his flesh as he clenched and unclenched his hands.  The disgrace of being captured by a woman!  Even as he thought this, his mind raced, trying to figure out a way to escape.  Still, he could not tear his eyes from her.

If the Wolf Pack ever saw him now, how they would laugh!  The great Prince of Darkness captured by a woman!  The thought of those men mocking him made Bryce clench his teeth.  Damn, he thought.  What was I thinking?  Every sense in my body was shouting a warning!  But I ignored my instincts.  She was so quiet, so deceitful.  How did she ever over power my sentries?  He gritted his teeth in frustration.  Enough of this, Bryce thought.  It is over and done.  I must not dwell on it.  There is nothing to do but wait until an opportunity presents itself.  And it will.  I will be ready for it.

She brought the army to a halt and dismounted.  His eyes followed her every movement as she stopped and spoke with one of her men, a man who towered well over her.  How can they allow themselves to be led by a woman, Bryce wondered.  He saw her pause and he swore that she glanced at him before disappearing into a small glade.

Suddenly, there was a tugging at the rope around his feet.  He glanced down to see two of her men undoing the rope.  His gaze assessed them quickly.  They were fully armored, except for their helmets.  He could outrun them, but he could never outfight them, especially with his hands bound.

He allowed them to pull him from his horse and he fell to the ground with a thud.  They hauled him to his feet and shoved him forward.  His legs ached from being immobile for so long, and he almost stumbled.  He quickly righted himself when he heard a chuckle from one of her men behind him.  He briefly wondered where they were taking him, but another shove answered his silent question.  They were heading toward the glade.  As he walked past the army, he noticed that many heads turned to regard him.  There was resentment and anger in their eyes, and Bryce had a moment of satisfaction.  They should hate me, he thought.  As I hate them.

He was led through a small glade until he saw her standing near a tall tree.  He stopped, frozen by the thought that she had summoned him.  What does she want of me, he wondered.  More torture?

The knights shoved Bryce to the ground at her feet.  Dirt and dust filled his mouth, making him gag.  He spat it out, easing himself to his knees, rubbing the dirt from his eyes with his bound hands.

The knights behind him placed a rope around his neck and handed the other end to her.  For a moment he wondered if he was going to be hanged, but then he saw her tie the end of the rope around the base of a tree.  Did she intend to keep him leashed like some sort of pet?  When she finished, she ordered the knights away.

Bryce turned to watch them depart, then swung his head back toward her, his eyes scanning the clearing curiously.

They were alone.

She was either very brave, or very, very foolish.  She had cursed his thoughts from the moment he had seen her stepping from the mists like an angel coming down out of the clouds.

She turned away from him and Bryce felt a surge of frustration – how could he tell what she intended if he could not see her face?

He stood.  Taking a large step, he came up behind her, chuckling softly.  “You think tying me to this tree will save you, Angel?”


Blurb:

In this exciting medieval romance, the French lady knight known as the Angel of Death wages a battle of wills and desires against her dreaded enemy -- the English warrior known as the Prince of Darkness. Those who whisper her name in fear and awe call her the Angel of Death. She is a French warrior, dedicated to fighting the English. In place of glittering ball gowns, she wears shining armor. Instead of practicing the gentler arts, she wields a killing sword.

He is an English lord known as the dreaded Prince of Darkness. He is sent by his king to find and destroy their most hated adversary -- the French warrior known as the Angel of Death. Little does he know that his hated enemy is no man at all, but a beautiful woman who will challenge his heart and honor at every turn. Forced to choose between love and honor, The Angel and the Prince wage a battle of wills that challenges everything they have ever believed in.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Bambi Lynn Brings MASK OF THE HIGHLANDER to Medieval Monday

The talented Bambi Lynn has another exciting tale for us today. MASK OF THE HIGHLANDER. Bambi shares her talent for description and tension-building in this excerpt.

EXCERPT:
They rode out shortly after dawn. The hills were covered in a mist so thick, Kenna could barely see her horse's ears through the fog. The mare shied often at the close proximity of Ty's stallion. The beast, as dark and menacing as his master, snorted and pawed the ground whenever they stopped.

Three starving villages remained on Vass lands. Ty insisted the villagers would want to see their laird, returned home from defeating the English. They had visited each in turn. The arrival of the laird drew the ragged villagers from indoors, but if he expected a hero’s welcome, he would be disappointed. The tension in the air was thicker than the fog, each village worse than the one before it. By the time they reached the third, he did not even dismount.

He was cordial enough. His scowl of contempt did not seem directed at the villagers but at the squalor in which they lived. However, they did not know that. A glower from Laird Vass was enough to strike fear into the hearts of the most stout of men, regardless the cause.

She glanced over at him as he pulled his horse to a halt at the crest of a hill. Her heart tripped. Dare she hope that war had changed him? Was he right and truly a different man, or did he play some game to distract her, to lull her into relaxing her aegis. Then he would strike.

He stared off into the distance, beyond the grassy plain toward the border of his lands and her father’s. But his gaze was unfocused. Lines of worry creased the corner of his eye, his mouth. She had never known Ty Vass to worry about anything except his own pleasure. His raven-dark hair caught a breeze and swirled around him.

Kenna caught her breath. He had not seemed so handsome before, not when he was beating her, forcing himself on her. Those memories, nightmares she had relived again and again, began to fade. She saw the man he could be, a man she would be proud to call husband.

She gave herself a shake. Verra well. She would play along, see how his homecoming played out. Kenna wanted nothing so much as peace in her life. Peace between their clans, and peace within her own house…

…and heart.

"Come." She spurred her mare forward. "I have something to show you."

He did not speak, but Kenna sensed his stallion behind her. Her mare swished her tail overmuch, drawing strange sounds from Ty’s war horse. Soon enough she found herself scanning the brush, searching for an opening she had not seen in years. She had last come here on the eve of her wedding. It seemed a lifetime ago.

She paced her mare back and forth along the same gnarl of overgrown vines until she spotted it. "Here." She pulled her leg over the horse’s neck and slid to the ground. She knelt in the grass, still damp from the morning’s fog and coaxed the vines apart, revealing a wooden door, barely hanging on its hinges.

She grinned over her shoulder at him, but her smile fell instantly. He watched her with a look akin to lust. She hesitated, old fears skittering up her spine, but reminded herself of her vow to give him a chance. She would never trust him, never love him, but by God she would make peace. Besides, there was nothing he could do to her here that he could not do to her elsewhere.
She knew little of his upbringing, but what she did know was enough to turn the heart of any woman who had loved a child. Ty’s own mother had died birthing him, a feat his father found pleasing. To have sired such a braw laddie as could rip a woman asunder to take his place in the world. There was a son t’ be proud of.

Kenna shuddered to imagine the lessons Ty has been taught growing up. As bad as her husband was, his father was worse.

With a faint smile, she turned away and concentrated her efforts on opening the door. After struggling for several moments, she felt him behind her. His presence engulfed her, trapping her against the massive expanse of his chest.

He reached a beefy arm around her and gave the door a great shove, heaving it into the darkness.
Kenna was fully aware of what lay beyond and had no fear of the close interior. Daylight guided her to a small table where she found flint and a candle, enough to illuminate the inside of the small cottage.

Ty ducked and stepped through the door, filling the inside and staring around in surprise.
Kenna followed his gaze, fully aware that he stood between her and the door. She tried to ignore it, taking in the broken stool, the crockery piled in the corner, the cold hearth. She took calming breaths, using the wobbly table as support. She was trapped in close confinement with him, her grandfather’s hated enemy and the man she feared most.

Relief flooded her when he moved from in front of the door and further into the room. He is changed, she told herself. Please, God. Let it be so. The ice around her heart melted a little when he turned a wondrous smile on her.

"What is this place?"

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I discovered it as a child. It was my secret place." She plied him with a sad smile and shook her head. "I have not been in years."

He circled the room, no more than a few paces with his gigantic stride, until he stood beside her. The door was at her back, so she could still escape if needs be. For once she did not flinch when he lifted his hand.

BLURB:
Kenna dreads her husband's homecoming like the plague. The man she married is vile and cruel. She has prayed every day of his absence he would be killed in the fighting, freeing her from a life of brutal torment and a loveless marriage. But the man on her doorstep has changed. This man is kind, gentle and sparks a fire in her she never felt in the early days of her marriage.
Ty is returning home after years fighting in France. He yearns for the arms of his beautiful wife and to finally meet the daughter he has never known. But can Kenna forgive the man she married and love the man he has become?

BUY LINKS:



Sunday, October 16, 2016

Ruth A. Casie's THE MAXWELL GHOST Travels to Medieval Monday.

Just in time for Halloween, best selling author Ruth A. Casie has a marvelous novella featured in the current collection, ONCE UPON A HAUNTED CASTLE.  Here’s an exciting excerpt from THE MAXWELL GHOST her new work using Medieval Monday’s current theme featuring travel.
Excerpt:
He and Laura were targets in the swift moving water. He needed to get farther downstream, away from the marshland. He cursed himself for worrying about her propriety rather than her safety.
The sound of splashing from up river grew closer.
“Wrap your arms around my waist and try not to lose your seat.”
They reached the far bank and raced along the river, the raiders not far behind.
“You need to let me down,” she yelled at him in the wind. “You can go faster without me.”
“Keep down,” he said between clenched teeth and pulled his sword. They raced on, the land a blur as they flew by.
The spray of water from his horse’s pounding hooves turned into small clouds of dust as they came out of the marshland into the meadow. His horse couldn’t maintain this speed much longer. They reached the area where the river dog-legged to the right. A dense fog hung low in the forest. Jamie let loose his battle cry then veered into the woods.
They raced on. Out of the mist his men charged and dashed past them set to do battle with the reivers close behind them.
Jamie and Laura raced on. Laura glanced over his shoulder.
“Rider behind us.” Jamie urged his horse on faster. If they didn’t stop soon, the poor animal would collapse.
Another glance. The man was gaining ground. Think, she told herself. Sunlight bounced off Jamie’s sword. Could it work? It had to.
“Put your sword on your left shoulder then make a quick half-turn to your left and face the rider. Don’t stop, charge,” Laura said as she lay as close to his horse as possible to give Jamie more room to maneuver.
“Don’t look. It’s not going to be a pretty sight.”
She closed her eyes tight.
Jamie followed her instructions. The sound of the horse’s hooves echoed in her head as he completed the maneuver and his horse sprang forward. With the full weight of the charging horse behind his sword, he hit the raider in the chest. The man fell to the ground. His disembodied head rolled somewhere in the mist.
Jamie turned his horse again and continued into the woods. Laura sat up. The trees sped by. She began to panic at the tall hedge row that loomed in front of them.
Their direction didn’t waver. Rather than slow down, the animal gathered speed. Jamie crushed her in front of him and held her head against his chest.
“I won’t let anything happen to you. Hold me.”
The sensation of flying through the air frightened and exhilarated her at the same time. For a moment, her heart stopped. How they landed without the horse falling or them being thrown was beyond her, but they did.
The horse slowed to a halt, lathered and blowing hard. His men were soon with them.
Back Cover Copy
In Ruth A. Casie’s The Maxwell Ghost, traitors, deception, murders and ghosts run rampant at The Maxwell’s Caerlaverock Castle. Jamie Maxwell Collins, a man of reality not magic, serves Lord Herbert in exchange for his own farm.  Laura Reynolds, Lord Herbert's distant cousin comes to the castle to solve the murders and put the ghost to rest. The two, long-time friends find their destinies intertwined with hidden passions, but all is in jeopardy when Laura becomes the murderer’s next target. Jamie will find he needs some ghostly assistance to save Laura and declare his love. 
Buy Links: Amazon/Kindle, iBook, BN, KOBO   

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Joe Cosentino's PAPER DOLL Now in Audiobook



One of our favorite blog guests, Joe Cosentino, author of the popular five Jana Lane mystery novels, visits today to talk about the release of PAPER DOLL the audiobook. It's narrated by Charissa Clark Howe.

 Welcome, Joe.
Hello. I’m ready for my close-up! Okay, I’ll admit it. I want to play Simon Huckby, Jana’s comical old world agent, in a television series of my five Jana Lane mystery novels. I wrote a pitch, treatment, and pilot teleplay. While I wait for producers to beg me to sign with them, I decided to create an audiobook of PAPER DOLL, the first Jana Lane mystery. It was like going home again revisiting the first novel, which I wrote two years ago, using my professional actor insider knowledge of show business.
 PAPER DOLL is the fictitious story of Jana Lane, America’s most famous child star until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. Now a thirty-eight-year-old beauty and mother of two living in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York, Jana’s flashbacks from her past turn into murder attempts in her present. 
 The local suspects include Jana’s down-on-his-luck husband with a dislike for living off the fruits of his wife’s young labor, Jana’s sister and male friend (who both have eyes for Jana’s husband), Jana’s show business father, her deranged loyal fan, and Jana's young Guy Friday who covets her fame and shares an uncanny resemblance to Jana. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana visits the California movie studio she once called home. 
This sends her on a whirlwind of visits with former and current movie studio personnel. It also leads to a romance with the son of her old producer—Rocco Cavoto—the devilishly handsome filmmaker who is planning Jana’s comeback both professionally and personally. With Rocco’s help, Jana uncovers a web of secrets about everyone she loves, including the person who destroyed her past and threatens to snuff out her future.
In PAPER DOLL I share my love of movies and moviemakers with my readers. I have always been fascinated with ex-child stars like Hayley Mills, Shirley Temple, Patty Duke, and Brooke Shields. My heroine, Jana Lane, is an ex-child star who has lost her self-esteem as an adult. Through the course of the book, Jana not only solves the mystery of her past, but also reclaims the courage and fortitude she had as a child. This is an important message for all of us.
In thinking back to all the quirky characters, humor, drama, plot twists and turns, hidden secrets, and shocking ending, I realized I needed a very strong actress as audiobook narrator. Charissa Clark Howe captured the essence of Jana Lane perfectly, and she also did a fine job with all the other characters in the novel: Brian (Jana’s husband), Rocco (Jana’s producer), Jackson (Jana’s best friend), Mark (Jana’s greatest fan), Tamara (Jana’s sister), Scott (Jana’s father), Simon (Jana’s agent) and more. Balancing humor, romance, and mystery perfectly, she hit every beat. I couldn’t wait for the ending, and when it came I was totally surprised! 
Since the novel takes place in 1980, Charissa’s delivery evoked that wonderful period. I could see the hairstyles, makeup, jewelry, fashion, as well as hear the music of that era. When listening to the audiobook, make sure you have a good block of free time before beginning. Once you start, you will be listening until you finish this captivating mystery/romance. Charissa’s narration will put you smack in the middle of the action.
Then you’ll want to read the other four Jana Lane mystery novels. Sorry, they aren’t available on audiobook, only in ebook and paperback. In PORCELAIN DOLL (Wild Rose Press), Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, America’s heartthrob Jason Apollo. 
The other suspects include Jana’s James Dean type young co-star, her older John Wayne type co-star, her children’s Eve Harrington type nanny, the film’s gossipy makeup and hair artist, a local reverend trying to stop the film’s production, and Jason’s agent. In SATIN DOLL (Wild Rose Press), Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana plays a US senator in a new film, and becomes embroiled in a murder and corruption at the senate chamber..
She also embarks on a flirtation with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. Jana rubs elbows with senators on both sides of the aisle, a lobbyist, and a Washington reporter. In CHINA DOLL (Wild Rose Press), Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, enchanted by her gorgeous co-star Peter Stevens, and faced with murder on stage and off. In RAG DOLL (Wild Rose Press) Jana stars in a TV murder mystery series and once again life imitates art. She is also reunited with Chris Bruno, the detective who got away. RAG DOLL releases on November 16.
I do have three other books on audiobook. DRAMA QUEEN, the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), is narrated by Michael Gilboe. It’s a comedy mystery about a college theatre professor (like me) who uses his acting skills to impersonate others and uncover murder mysteries. 
It makes me laugh every time I hear it, and I continue to marvel at how well Michael performed all twenty-three characters! The surprise ending shocks me each time too. DRAMA QUEEN was voted Favorite Mystery of 2015 in the Divine Magazine Reader Poll. The second book in the series, DRAMA MUSCLE, received a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention. DRAMA CRUISE, book three, releases on December 1. DRAMA LUAU will follow.
Also, the talented actor Joel Leslie, who has quite a following in the audiobook world, is narrating my THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND (releasing in November, Dreamspinner Press), and A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (releasing in December, Dreamspinner Press) which takes place on the gorgeous island of Capri.
So grab the popcorn, curl up in your movie seat, and enjoy the audiobook of PAPER DOLL, the first Jana Lane mystery. As they say, your first is always special.


PAPER DOLL, the first Jana Lane mystery
by Joe Cosentino





Bestselling author Joe Cosentino won Divine Magazine’s awards for best mystery novel, best humorous novel, and best contemporary novel of 2015. He is the author of the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise (Lethe Press); the Cozzi Cove beach series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out (NineStar Press); and the romance novellas: In My Heart anthology (An Infatuation & A Shooting Star), A Home for the Holidays, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press). As an actor, he has appeared in principal roles in film, television, and theatre opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Upcoming novels are Drama Luau and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings. http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Amazon Best-Selling Author Cathy MacRae Visits Medieval Monday With Her Latest, THE SAINT

Amazon best-selling author Cathy MacRae has joined the World of DeWolfe Pack on Kindle Worlds with her latest exciting work, THE SAINT. And today on Medieval Monday she's sharing a glimpse of her new story.

EXCERPT
“You will ride with us,” Geoffrey informed her, changing his mind once again. Simon and Walter gave him startled looks and his neck warmed. “The Church teaches us to care for women and children,” he reminded them. He returned Marsaili’s furious stare. “And those unable to fend for themselves. ’Tis not safe for you to travel alone, and you will be under our protection until your journey ends or you are passed on to another for safe-keeping.”
“Here’s a miracle for yer impending sainthood, Lord de Wylde! ’Tis a miracle no one has kilt ye out of a fit of total aggravation for yer interfering ways. I told ye I dinnae need yer care, and I meant it!”
“I heard you, and you do,” Geoffrey intoned evenly, reining in his building annoyance with supreme effort. Never had anyone—much less a woman—gainsaid him as this woman did. “I am used to having my orders followed to the letter, so let me speak plainly. You will ride with us until we reach my estate at Galewood, which is not far from the Scottish border. At that time, escort will be arranged for you that will take you to your destination. No other options, opinions or attempts to sway a change in my order will be entertained.”
He paused, waiting for the woman to explode. Her cheeks flamed, her neck arched, and sparks flew from her clear blue eyes. Impressive! The only drawback was the thinning of her full lips, marring their lush perfection. And, of course, ’twas now likely she had a full arsenal of vindictive words ready to hurl at him.
“Do I make myself clear?” he asked, forestalling her tirade.
“Ye amadan!” she hissed. “Ye dinnae care what damage ye cause. I have reason to not ride with ye, or any man. I willnae have my journey impeded by such as ye.”
“Such as me?” he returned, curious as to what specific fault she found with him.
She waved an arm in the air, encompassing everyone in the room. “Ye have two horses where four would give better service pulling that wagon. Yer driver is elderly and likely not capable of demanding the best of what nags he has. And two men are an impressively small guard for a landed English lord.” She cast a look at their booted feet. “And, ’twere it not for the gold spurs ye wear, I’d find myself wondering at their abilities.”
Stung, Walter rose to his full height. “The three of us are completely formidable, milady,” he informed her, his voice rising with each word.
“Everyone knows the might of The Wolfe rides at our back,” Simon added with a nonchalant shrug. “It has been quite some time since anyone was foolish enough to challenge us.”
Marsaili drew back, a chill coursing up her spine at the thought of these men aligned with the formidable baron, Lord William de Wolfe, the king’s champion.
She suppressed a shudder. “Nevertheless, there are but two of ye now, unless milord fights from his chair. Though he has a commanding presence, I have yet to see him without his cane.”
“Despite our grievous faults, the fact remains you are safer with us than without us,” Geoffrey clipped. “Make yourself presentable and begin your sojourn with our lackluster party by helping with a few of the chores. We will bide the night here and leave at first light.”

Blurb:
Following in the footsteps of his uncle, the famous Lord William de Wolfe, Geoffrey de Wylde was counted among the greatest knights England had ever known. Revered for his justness and strict adherence to the chivalric code, he was known as The Saint.

Fleeing the unwanted attentions of her late husband's brother, Marsaili de Ville runs headlong into the path of The Saint. She wants nothing more than to reach the safety of her family's home in Scotland before Edmund de Ville’s henchmen capture her, but Geoffrey de Wylde insists on becoming her protector, slowing her flight and putting her unknowingly at risk.

As her past catches up with her, Marsaili will find more than a safe haven in The Saint’s arms. And Geoffrey de Wylde will discover his code does not tell him what to do with a woman who has been accused of murder, yet has captured his heart.

Buy link:
Amazon Kindle Worlds: https://www.amzn.com/dp/B01LMHIC4K

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Medieval Monday: A Glimpse of Jenna Jaxon's SEDUCTION AT THE CHRISTMAS COURT


I'm welcoming the talented Jenna Jaxon to Medieval Monday as October gets underway with the new theme of 'Travel.' Jenna brings us a glimpse of SEDUCTION AT THE CHRISTMAS COURT. Just the title makes me want to zip on over to pick it up!  (And don't you want that fireplace!)
EXCERPT:
The cold, crisp air burned the inside of Alyse’s nose on the second day of their journey to Havering. Geoffrey had insisted they move slowly to accommodate young Thomas and his nurse, Ysa, a young girl from the village whose husband had been taken by the pestilence and whose babe had been stillborn. Grief stricken, the girl had come to dote on Thomas as though he were her own. They now rode together in the cart, bundled alongside numerous trunks and goods that would last them the month they would spend at court.
Alyse had chosen to ride Mirabelle and now relished the cold that stung her cheeks and made her impatient to move swiftly. Under its blanket of snow and ice, the countryside looked like a new world as the morning sun glinted off the dazzling white. She squinted at the glare and turned to Geoffrey, mounted on Saracen. The big black stallion pranced along, snorting as if he too was impatient for a gallop.
“Shall I race you to that oak tree yonder, my lord? Are you as ready for adventure as your steed or overtired with your journey?” Alyse grinned at her husband who constantly surveyed the landscape. Although the pestilence had left the land bereft of people for the most part, of those who had survived many had become lawless, roaming the countryside, robbing travelers and ravaging outlying villages.
Geoffrey quirked an eyebrow at her. “You are in fine fettle this morn.” He glanced once more across the still land, but nothing stirred. “What forfeit will you pay when I am the victor?”
Laughing at the arrogant flare of his nose as he arched his neck,  Alyse blew him a kiss. “Another of these, save it will have more substance.”
“I’ll take that wager, my lady. ‘Twill be my pleasure to claim your lips when we two are done.”
“And what will you forfeit to me, Lord Longford, when I best you?”
A grin immediately split his face, blue eyes brightening. “What would you ask of me, fair lady? Another feat of Hercules?”
Alyse laughed in return and a warmth spread through her heart, for he reminded her of their early days of courtship. “Nay, my lord. I think those days are put to rest.” Still, what could she ask of him? There was nothing he would deny her an she ask for it. At least she thought not. “If I am the winner, I beg…a lock of your hair.”
The startled expression on his face brought on a fit of giggling from Alyse.
“You want me to cut my hair?” The horror in his voice sent her into fresh peals of laughter.
“Not all of your hair, Sampson. One lock only.” She cut her eyes toward him to find him dragging his fingers through his dark hair, as if to assure himself it still remained on his head. “I want to make a keepsake token, like the one I gave you.”
“Aye. I can bear to be shorn thus.” He stole his hand to the breast of his dark green tunic, to rub the spot above his heart where her favor, a small blue silk bag with a lock of her black hair, lay. His eyes twinkled. “An I lose this wager, of course.”
During their conversation they had walked their horses much closer and the massive oak tree seemed to tower over them.
Not waiting for a signal, Alyse tapped Mirabelle hard with her heel and the mare shot away at a gallop.
“Ahhh.”
Geoffrey sounded farther behind her than she expected. He would not remain so for long. She leaned almost flat over the horse’s withers, urging her mount to greater speed. A quick glance over her shoulder showed Geoffrey and Saracen closing the gap at a frightening pace. They were but yards from the goal if only Mirabelle could keep her lead.
BLURB:
Lord and Lady Longford have journeyed to the Christmas Court of King Edward III in the year 1349 to wait upon the king and take place in some Yuletide merriment. However, when Geoffrey is called suddenly into the king’s service again, Alyse must remain at the court, attending the queen and dissuading her rebellious sister from a disastrous action. When rumors of Geoffrey’s death arise,  Alyse fends off an old suitor who pays court to her once more. But how long will he take “No” for an answer?
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