#MedievalMonday2016 Witch Power and Nature from Ruth A. Casie

The+Guardians+Witch+RuthACasieExcerpt from The Guardian’s Witch

The berries Lisbeth had gathered tumbled forgotten from her hands. A tremor touched her lips while the vision slammed behind her eyes. She didn’t doubt the vision’s truth. Sometimes a bright light, warm and comforting, accompanied the vision; other times the wind howled, cold and disturbing. Today, panic clearly filled the air.

She spun around trying to pinpoint a direction and abruptly stopped. Facing south, she licked her lips nervously and tasted the sweetness of fresh water. A rushing sound burst in her ears. The river. Her head snapped east toward the river path and she ran. As she careened down the narrow trail, the outstretched branches tugged at her dress, pulled off her shawl and clawed at her face and arms. She took no notice. The cadence of her footfalls beat out a mantra, not him, not him, not him. She rushed on faster, mumbling enchanted words under her breath.

She exploded out of the forest and stood on the riverbank as the bridge gave way, sending the horse and rider plunging into the angry current. Swiftly the horse surfaced and headed for shore with an empty saddle. She stood on the bank, still mumbling as she scanned the river until she glimpsed a clear red aura shining deep in its middle. Her relief was momentary when the blackness began to creep in. There wasn’t much time.

Quickly she pulled off her heavy dress and, wearing only her chemise, dove into the river. Save him was her only thought. Down she plunged kicking hard against the current. The usually clear water, now choked with mud, churned with debris. She screamed the words in her head and made her demands. In response, the current slowed and as the mud began to settle, a lifeless hand beckoned to her from below.

Desperate to reach him, she kicked hard toward the deep river bottom. She was a strong swimmer and reached him quickly. She pulled on his arm but he didn’t budge. Something pinned him in place. She dropped his hand and pulled herself around him. The murky water made it difficult for her to see what held him. She resorted to running her hand over every inch of his body to locate what kept him captive. Her lungs burned. She needed to surface but she pressed on.

Frantically her hands felt their way along his leg until she found his foot caught in the debris. She shoved the timber away. The exertion cost her precious time and air. With one hand she grabbed his shirt collar and kicked off the bottom. With her free arm she reached for the surface. She didn’t take her eyes off him.

The higher she got, the more the water cleared. The wild current fought to get free of her restraint. She didn’t think. She focused on getting Alex out of the water.

The hand holding Alex’s collar cramped, sending spasms of pain up her arm. She did not let go. The last of her breath spent, her lungs screamed for fresh air. She forced herself not to breathe. She was certain she would break free of the water soon. Alex’s weight pulled at her. She wasn’t making any progress. If she didn’t do something quickly they would be back on the bottom. She glanced up. The light was brighter. She was close now. She held her legs together and undulated like a graceful giant fish. Once again her free arm reached hard and pulled the water out of her way. One last hard kick and she exploded into the air as if propelled from underneath. Alex floated face down next to her.

She gulped for air, exhausted. There was no time to waste. She held on to him as the current pulled them toward the rapids and the steep falls beyond. She turned him onto his back and swam for shore. She dragged the large knight onto the bank where his warhorse stood snorting and stomping. Worn out but thankful, she collapsed next to Alex gasping for air. Her hand was on his chest.

He didn’t stir. She fixed her eyes on his chest but she didn’t see any movement. She scanned his face. A small trickle of water escaped his mouth.

She rolled him on his side and pounded on his back. Nothing. She pounded again. More water trickled out of his mouth. She reached inside his wet shirt. No heartbeat.

She kept the building panic at bay. Think. Calmness overcame her. She rolled him onto his back and knelt above him. She placed her mouth over his and gave him her breath. She’d given her breath before, when the blacksmith’s wife gave birth and the baby didn’t breathe. That day she had tried everything but nothing worked. She wanted to move the baby’s chest, just one breath. In desperation she breathed for the child. It worked then. It had to work now.

She felt the tingle at her lips and a dizzying current raced through her. She closed her eyes and gave him another breath. Her hand pressed hard against this chest. She searched for a heartbeat, the rise and fall of his chest, anything to indicate he lived.

He shuddered with a shallow breath. Reassured, she felt a faint but steady beat and sank back on her heels. She observed the deadly gray pallor on his face retreat. His arms twitched as they came to life. His face contorted in a spasm as he choked to clear his lungs. He pushed himself up coughing out the last of the river sludge and sucked in large quantities of air.

Relief surged through her. She rose, retrieved her dress lying in a pool of sunlight, and quickly slipped it on. She calmed the restless warhorse with her gentle touch and whispered words. When she ventured a glance at the knight, she found herself staring into his compelling gray eyes. His gaze was riveted on her face. A fresh spasm of coughing took him, and she turned to leave.

“Wait.” He struggled to get the word out.

She stopped and took a deep breath.

He shook his head. His eyelids slid closed and he fell onto his back. He was asleep before his head touched the ground.

Back Cover Copy from The Guardian’s Witch

Lord Alex Stelton can’t resist a challenge, especially one with a prize like this: protect a castle on the Scottish border for a year, and it’s his. Desperate for land of his own, he’ll do anything to win the estate—even enter a proxy marriage to Lady Lisbeth Reynolds, the rumored witch who lives there.

Feared and scorned for her second sight, Lisbeth swore she’d never marry, but she is drawn to the handsome, confident Alex. She sees great love with him but fears what he would think of her gift and her visions of a traitor in their midst.

Despite his vow never to fall in love, Alex can’t get the alluring Lisbeth out of his mind and is driven to protect her when attacks begin on the border. But as her visions of danger intensify, Lisbeth knows it is she who must protect him. Realizing they’ll secure their future only by facing the threat together, she must choose between keeping her magic a secret and losing the man she loves.

Buy Links: Amazon, BN, Kobo, iBooks

#MedievalMonday16 Freedom or Destiny

TheHighlandersFrenchBride_high+resToday, author Cathy MacRae brings us the blessings of freedom in spring, when winter has released its frozen grip. Or is it destiny that after great deprivation comes great bounty–after death and despair come hope and the search for love? Please welcome Cathy and leave her a few comments about her excerpt from The Highlander’s French Bride.

Excerpt:

Seagulls shrieked as they circled overhead. The promise of spring was in the warm breezes and the green grasses. Young boys hurried after their wooly charges as the sheep eagerly sought the new fodder, tiny lambs tottering behind their dams on shaky new legs across the rocky landscape.

Brother Padraig clasped Kinnon’s shoulder. “My friend, ye are doing the right thing. Some serve in the world by preaching the Gospel, and a few give themselves over to God in solitude and silence with constant prayer and penance.” He smiled. “Yet others are called to married love, mayhap bringing new life into the world. I pray ye find whom ye seek, but there are always places to tend the poor and needy in this world. Ye need not take vows to help God.”

Kinnon gripped the monk’s upper arm, conveying his thanks in the strengthening grip, the earnestness of his gaze. “I have no words powerful enough to thank ye, Brother. Ye have given me much to contemplate, and have healed more than my poor body.”

“Rest is a balm for the soul and healing for the body,” Brother Padraig quipped. “I will take good care of wee Angus. `Tis a good thing ye decided to leave him here. After these past months without battling the rats for the last of the winter stores, I fear we would have had an uprising amongst the monks had ye insisted he go with ye.” He grinned. “Take care, my friend. If possible, I would hear word of yer travels.”

Kinnon stared deep into the monk’s kind eyes, hesitant to bring himself to the moment of parting. But the gentle thumping of the waves against the boat’s waiting hull reminded him the time to tarry was over.

Ranald’s men-at-arms met him as the boat docked on Mull, a horse saddled and waiting for him. Kinnon greeted them warmly, wondering at the sense of freedom stealing over him. It had begun as a flash of clarity the moment he’d resolved to search for Melisende. At first he wasn’t sure if he simply needed to be certain she and her sister had survived and were doing well, or if he truly longed to be with Melisende again. But the idea that she could have married in the years they’d been apart struck his chest with a peculiar agony that was a curious mix of anticipation and fear. The thought of another man holding her, loving her, being the center of her life, sent strong jolts of alarm through him.

It was then he realized he had to find her—for himself, not so he could worry less, but so he could care more.

Blurb:

Heir to a lairdship, Kinnon Macrory is driven to prove his worth by fighting the English on the battlefields of France. His dreams of heroic valor are destroyed by the realities of war—the atrocities visited by fellow soldiers on the very people he is sworn to protect. Three years in a French prison for a crime he did not commit leave Kinnon longing for the one thing of beauty in his war-torn life—a young woman of great kindness and wisdom named Melisende.

Melisende de la Roche struggles to stay one step ahead of soldiers who would imprison her for helping an injured Scotsman wrongly accused of treason. She finds refuge in her uncle’s shop—until a chance encounter sends her fleeing into the unknown once again, haunted by the beguiling friendship with the troubled young Scotsman she is certain she will never see again.

Determined to find the woman of his dreams, Kinnon returns to France, only to discover a trail of clues to Melisende’s whereabouts. Their reunion will open the doors to passion, but half-truths and lies from the past could destroy the one thing they both are willing to fight for—each other.

Buy Link: Amazon

US VETERAN TAYLOR REYNOLDS

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Please welcome US Veteran Taylor Reynolds. She’s here to take us on a journey to life as a member of the US Army. Leave her a comment to thank her for her service, and let her know what you think of her story.

On July 17, 1996, at approximately 8pm, I got a haircut.

It’s probably not normal to remember something as mundane as a haircut, but this one was the prelude to a pretty significant life event.

On July 18, 1996, I left home at the age of 17 for Army Basic Combat Training.

And the night before, amidst the minor freak-out of “Oh my God I’m joining the Army tomorrow and I don’t know what’s going to happen and I don’t want to go to South Carolina during the summer and I can’t wait to start language school in California in the fall and holy crap…I don’t know how to put my hair up so it meets regulation…MOM!!!! I need a haircut RIGHT NOW!” my mom sat me down and chopped off my long hair so I didn’t have to learn how to make a bun.

Twenty years later, my hair is halfway down my back again, and I am very good at putting it in a bun.

It’s funny, the little tiny things you remember during the huge, momentous events. I can’t recall anything else about that night, but I knew I needed a haircut short enough to get me through the next eight weeks with no upkeep.

Being a soldier had a profound effect on me and I’m proud to write stories that feature military or veteran characters in everyday life. Well, sexy, everyday life in my books😉 Because though I enjoy reading about a hot SEAL rescuing a politician’s kidnapped daughter or an Army Ranger fast-roping onto an objective just as much as the next girl, I also love the story that portrays our servicemembers as our neighbors and coworkers, family and friends. As people who have taken a tremendous oath, but who are also just like you and me.

You can find my short stories at Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Taylor-Reynolds/e/B01A141YQI – or catch me online @authortreynolds, www.authortaylorreynolds.com, and http://www.facebook.com/authortreynolds

#MedievalMonday16 Jenna Jaxon and Love Amongst the Flowers

TETL+SET+CORRECT+COVERPlease welcome Jenna Jaxon with a flower bedecked excerpt from Time Enough for Love.

Excerpt:  Snipping the stems of a sweetly-scented pale lavender Apothecary’s rose, she started when a shadow fell over the flower in her hand. She looked up to find Thomas standing before her, smiling at her basketful of blooms.

“You wish to take a part of Knowlton’s Keep with us when we leave, my lady?”

Her answering smile masked the strange thumping that became the beat of her heart. “I hope you approve, my lord. I would dry the petals and use them to remind us of home while we journey so far from it.”

“Of course, my sweet. Whate’er your heart desires is yours.” He took a dark pink blossom from her and held it to his nose. “Sweet.” The warm brown eyes held her blue ones. “Thank you.”

Alyse stared at him, uncertain what he meant. “I beg pardon, my lord?”

He placed the rose in her basket. “’Tis what the dark pink color means. In the language of flowers. Thank you. At least,” he grinned at her, “according to my mother that is what it means. I am not sure how she came by this knowledge.”

Curious idea. “What do the others mean?”

He drew her arm through his and led her to a bush with snowy-white double blooms. “This is the Cheshire rose. The white blooms stand for purity.”

Alyse bent to smell the delicate scent. “I suppose that would be expected.”

Thomas took her shears and snipped the bloom, adding it to her basket. “Purity, for a pure heart.”

Beside the Cheshire grew a large bush of clear pink blooms. “And this?” She could not contain her eagerness. The names and meanings of the roses had stirred up the banked embers in her soul. Or perhaps the nearness of Thomas’s masculine body excited other, more passionate yearnings. Suddenly, the feel of his arm in hers filled her senses.

What was happening? Why this sudden lift in spirits?

She had been more melancholy of late, ever since Thomas had abandoned her bed. But it made no sense.

Did she not still love Geoffrey, heart and soul?

The thought sobered her. The sharp pang of sorrow that always stabbed her heart at the thought of him had dulled. Was she coming to regard Thomas as her husband and long for him as such?

“This is my favorite.” He clipped another pink bloom and held it under her nose. “What do you smell?”

Puzzled, she sniffed the showy pink blossom, but he moved the stem and leaves for her to smell instead. A wonderful scent assailed her, but one she did not associate with roses.

“Apples?”

A smile lit his face as he placed an entire stem of the flowers, leaves and all, into her basket.

“But what is it called?”

“Eglantine or Sweet Briar Rose.” He looked down at his thumb where a fat drop of blood welled. “The latter is probably the more apt name.” He smiled ruefully.

Seeing his glance, she took his hand and, without thinking, raised the injured thumb to her lips. She gently kissed the drop away, and he gasped. Their gazes met, his frankly searching hers for an answer.

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?

Buy Link:  Amazon

#MedievalMonday2016 A Storm of Nature and A Storm of the Heart

Silverhawk--new+cover (1)Please welcome author Barbara Bettis who takes us on a frightening journey through nature’s worst storm and straight into the arms of a storm of another sort. Would you go to the same lengths as Emelin? Please leave Barbara a comment.

EXCERPT:

(Lady Emelin has chosen a stormy night to launch an escape from her tempting kidnapper, Sir Giles)

She shivered against the increasing cold and hunched forward to search the path ahead. Why hadn’t she thought to bring one of the blankets? Clouds scudded across the sky. Still she urged the horse onward. She had come too far to turn back now.

Had Silverhawk regained consciousness? Discovered her absence? Imagine the surprise, when he awoke alone. She’d shown him she was not helpless. Satisfaction lightened the oppression she was feeling—from the approaching storm; that had to explain the growing dread.

Then, carried on bursts of wind, came voices. At last. She’d found them. She straightened, the discomfort of the cold and riding bareback forgotten as she urged the mare forward. Onward down the trail she rode. Once she called out, “Lord Osbert, Garley, I’m here.” No answer came.

In the distance, thunder rumbled, and white light knifed across the ominous sky. Please, not rain. Surely the good Lord wouldn’t be so cruel. Her throat constricted. She gulped. She would not panic.

Concentrate on deep breaths. If only her heart would stop clamoring to get out. A cold, fat drop struck, followed by two more, a dozen. Then the downpour hit

A jagged streak snapped in front of her. A rolling crash shook the earth. The mare tossed its head, danced aside. Emelin murmured, petted the animal’s neck in an attempt to calm it. But at the next sharp crack, it reared, and shot down the path.

Fisting the reins, she clung to its mane as the mount veered through the underbrush, away from the sharp zigzags of light. Branches struck her face, snatched at her skirts, nearly dragged her off. How she managed to keep her seat, she didn’t know. All she could think was, Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Don’t fall.

At last the mare slowed. Emelin squinted through wet eyes, reached out to knock aside a soggy branch, dripping leaves. Finally, the animal stopped, blowing hard, trembling. Emelin shook.

Breath came in gasps. Her mind could not form a coherent thought as cold wetness dripped from her hair to ooze down her back. The frightened flight of the horse had carried her far from the path. She was hopelessly lost.

All around, wind-whipped shadows dipped, lunged forward, then back. Another spear of lightning wrenched into a nearby tree. Her shout of surprise was swallowed in the earth-shaking roar that followed. The winded mare only shook harder.

Could they survive this nightmare?

Then through the rain-drenched night a huge black object hurtled up, rearing as it just missed her. Emelin screamed.

The monster swung around. Wet black tentacles wrapped around her, dragged her off the exhausted mare. She tried to struggle, but the iron hold wouldn’t allow it.

At last her feet touched ground, and the tentacles embraced her until she couldn’t breathe. It took a moment for the roar to dissolve into understandable words. “Are you hurt? Are you hurt? Tell me if you’re hurt.”

Silverhawk.

Her arms flew around his waist and she nodded against his soaked tunic. Thank God, thank God. She was safe.

BLURB:

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.

Buy Link: Amazon

#MedievalMonday Traveling Through Time and Nature with Mary Morgan

Please welcome visiting author Mary Morgan and travel through time with her to a celebration of nature from Dragon Knight’s Medallion. Please leave her a comment then share the title and link http://wp.me/p2d2BX-xJ of this post.

DragonKnightsMedallion_w8333_750Excerpt:  Some of the men and women were already dancing around the fire. She laughed when she spied Betsy twirling around.

Betsy waved her over. “Come dance with us.”

Aileen held up her hand in protest. “Oh, no…I’m fine just watching.” Turning blindly, she stumbled into Brian.

“May I have this dance, Lady Aileen?” he asked.

“I really shouldn’t, Brian.” He looked so dejected she decided to throw caution to the wind. “You know what? I haven’t danced in ages. I think I will take that dance.”

“I would be honored,” he said proudly, holding out his hand.

Aileen swallowed the last of her wine, before putting the cup on a log. Taking his hand, she gathered her dress and joined the others.

In no time at all, she found herself being swept away with the contagious merriment. Letting her shields slip just a bit, she relished the gaiety—twirling and singing. When Brian would gather her close, she would move away, spinning in a circle. On and on, around the inferno, laughter peeling out.

She felt young and carefree.

***

Stephen had gathered some food from Betha as he intended to be away all night. She and Donal had pleaded with him to join in the feasting, but he waved them off rather rudely. He wanted no part of the festivities.

Almost colliding with a couple, he swore softly. Placing the food across Grian, he shifted hesitantly. It was then he spotted…her.

His hand froze on the leather sack. Sweet Mother! What was she doing? And dressed like that? She was a Goddess of the flame. He watched as she was swung up into the air by none other than Brian. Then the man dared to slide her down against him.

Dark fury burst somewhere deep inside Stephen. “I’m going to kill him,” he rasped out.

The blood roared in his head, as he stormed across the open field, never hearing those who greeted him in passing—one hand held firm against his sword. He slowed his pace and Stephen waited as any warrior would. Let the enemy show himself, he thought.

When their dancing brought them nearer to him, he darted in front blocking their path.

They never saw him coming.

Aileen’s back slammed into his chest, and his arms grasped her instantly in a firm grip. “Hey, ouch!” She tried to move, but he held her solid against his body.

Brian skidded to a halt. “Greetings, Sir Stephen.” He went to grab for Aileen’s hand, when Stephen let out a growl of warning.

“What is your problem? Did you just growl?” demanded Aileen. She tried to pry herself loose, but he continued to hold her firm.

“Mine,” he snarled.

Instantly, Brian’s face went white. “Thank ye for the dance, Lady Aileen,” Brian

clipped out. Giving Stephen a curt nod, he stomped away.

“Bloody. God. Damn. Hell,” Aileen snapped.

Stephen released her, only spinning her around to face him. Something primal within him tore loose. He tried to reason with himself that this was insanity, though his mind and body wouldn’t yield. His gaze dropped to those lips—lips he had fantasized about for weeks.

Aileen,” he choked out before his mouth took hers in a plundering kiss. His lips moved over hers devouring their softness. The kiss became urgent, pleading in its need. His tongue sought hers, and the dance of desire seared their bodies. Raw passion took over his anger, and she opened fully, drawing him against her body. She took her hands and wrapped them around his head, threading her fingers in his locks and pulling him in deeper. Never in all of his life had he felt so right in someone’s arms.

When he broke from the kiss, his breathing was labored. Her eyes were dark with desire for him, and he shook with such need, it frightened him.

“By the hounds,” he uttered hoarsely. In one swift move, he picked her up. Carrying her to his horse, he ignored the hoots and remarks coming from the crowd. Placing her on Grian, he swung around in back, taking off through a large group of oak trees with only one clear thought in mind.

Blurb:

To right a wrong, two souls are brought together only to shatter when they are torn apart by the deeds of an evil druid.

Dragon Knight, Stephen MacKay’s powers are altered after the death of his sister. Now he is plagued with visions that threaten to destroy his soul. When Aileen Kerrigan falls through a time tunnel, he vows to keep her safe, despite the fact the beautiful but head-strong half-blooded fae could be the death of him.

When Aileen finds out her dad is a Fenian Warrior, she flees to a nearby ruin. Armed with the medallion her mother gave her, and a matching one belonging to a long dead knight, she is flung into the past and finds a handsome but surly warrior who is on a quest. Now it seems her future could be entwined with his, if she doesn’t kill him first.

Buy Links:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Apple iBooks   The Wild Rose Press  Kobo

#MedievalMonday16 ~ Ashley York on Nature in the Middle Ages

Cover art for Ashley York's The Seventh Son

Today, Ashley York returns to take us on a novel nature tour of medieval Ireland. Can you spot all the nature elements? Leave a comment and tell us what you see.

EXCERPT: The day Tisa arrived at her new home it was dark and stormy. They’d been keeping ahead of the impending rain the whole day. From the rise overlooking the sea, dark, angry clouds hugged the coastline, making it impossible to see the ocean. The sound of crashing waves pounding along the rocky shore made her stop. Her mount shifted beneath her as if wary as well. Darragh come up alongside and pointed out the little cluster of roundhouses nestled into the valley below.

“That is yer new home,” he said.

Several small buildings surrounded a larger longhouse in the center. It appeared quite peaceful despite the many barren trees no longer protecting it from the sea breezes.

“It looks peaceful.”

He snorted beside her. “Dunna be fooled. There is nothing about my father, including his clan, that is peaceful but ye’ve witnessed that yerself.”

His father had been relentless in keeping track of their whereabouts. He’d continued to impose on them, making lewd suggestions when they separated from the group at night. Tisa would almost believe she had become dulled by his comments. Almost.

“Darragh!” Aodh barked at his son. “See to the ships.”

Her husband sighed. “Father, I will see my bride settled before leaving her alone.”

Aodh laughed. A cruel laugh. The belittling laugh he often used with his son. “Afraid to leave her unprotected?”

Darragh turned to face the man that had come up behind him. “Aye, I will have her well protected before I venture off to see to yer ships.”

Aodh smiled at her. “But I’ve been so patient.”

“Then be patient about yer ships!”

Darragh took the reins of Tisa’s horse and led them both down the graceful hillside ahead of the others.

Tisa dared not breathe at this blatant show of disobedience. Once out of earshot, she whispered to her husband.

“Darragh, he is still not following.”

“I’ve shocked him into immobility.”

Blurb:  Drogheda, Ireland 1075

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 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 and meets his needs in the arms of others, 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 for Aodh who envisions himself the new 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 overthrow 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?

Amazon

US Veteran Kelli Heneghan

Please welcome US veteran Kelli Henegan. She’ll take us on a journey through Army nurses training, then give us a little info about her latest book. Here’s Kelli.

I was in college, studying to be a nurse, when I first considered that I could be in the military.  We had ROTC on our campus (Army and Air Force) and I was always a little envious of them.  My oldest brother had gone to Annapolis and I had an uncle who’d been a ‘lifer’ in the Air Force, so I knew the ups and downs of being in the military.

Back when I was graduating, our city still had some hospitals with their own nursing schools.  Locally, we had fifteen major hospitals, but there were twelve schools of nursing.  And we were hearing the rumblings that some of those hospital systems would be merging, and there would be hiring freezes.  Not good for a new grad with no nursing experience, who would now be up against all of these seasoned nurses.

So here was this Army recruiter telling me I could get everything I wanted, just by signing up.  It was called Direct Commissioning.  I didn’t have to do ROTC or boot camp.  I would be an officer and the summer after graduation, I would go to Officer’s Basic Course in San Antonio.
MILhospSo after a few conversations with my parents, I decided I had nothing to lose.  The recruiters helped me get my packet together and I did all the required physicals
and interviews.  I found out in January, 1994, that my packet was approved.  I had approximately two weeks to make my decision and be sworn in.  As luck would have it, my oldest brother, a graduate from Annapolis, was on leave around that time, and he was able to swear me in.  And then I sat back and waited for June, when I’d graduate and take that NCLEX exam.

July, 1994, I left Ohio for Texas and my Officer’s Basic Course.  I started having issues with my knee during OBC, and no matter how much training I did, it just kept getting worse.  Six months after getting to Ft. Hood, it ‘popped’ on the PT (physical training) test, during the 2 mile run.  Thus began the end of my military career.  I wound up with surgery and a medical discharge, with a disability rating, two years later.  My actual time in service: just a few months over the three year mark.

But I learned a lot in those three years.  I learned that nothing is out of your reach if you really want it.  I learned a lot about nursing—I’m still a nurse, almost 20 years after my discharge.  But most of all, I learned how to stand up for myself and fight for what I believe.  It’s served me well not only in my career as a nurse but also in my new career as an indie author.

Learning to Breathe Again, Book Blurb: She only wanted a place to stay and some time to heal; He was only trying to help out a friend. Bayleigh Morrow just wants to hide from the world for a little while, recover from all the knocks she’s been taking lately. What better place than small-town Texas, where she can reconnect with her brother, meet her new sister-in-law, and just be left alone?

Buy links: Learning to Breathe Again  Learning to Love Again

Find Kelli: Website, FB

#MedievalMonday16 Lindsey’s Conflict from Lane McFarland

Author Lane McFarland visits the Author Travels blog today. Please welcome her and leave her lots of comments about the terrific excerpt she gives us From her Scottish medieval romance, Lindsey.Lindsey_LaneMcFarland (1)

Blurb:

Who said life was fair? Certainly not Lindsey MacDougall. She rebels at a world dominated by men. Dressed in lad’s clothing, she manages her father’s stables, caring for, breeding and selling horses. Unwavering on performing her duty to the rebellion, Lindsey throws caution to the wind and secretly delivers missives behind enemy lines to the Scottish warriors.

Logan Ross uses his happy-go-lucky smile to warm the hearts of many willing lasses, but it also masks his pain—the pain of his birth. As a bastard son, he is unacceptable for any Laird’s daughter, including the spirited Lindsey MacDougall. However, she haunts his dreams. Determined to prove his worth, he throws himself into the middle of the rebellion, leading men into mortal danger.

After helping Logan escape from a brutal English dungeon, Lindsey fights her traitorous attraction to the virile highland warrior, vowing never to lose her heart to any man.

Excerpt:

The beefy guard waved his torch toward the back of the room. “Them’s the beggars goin’ to trial.”

Twisted shapes of four men, their wrists shackled to the wall and their feet barely touching the floor, came into sight. Lindsey’s chest tightened as if bands squeezed the life from her. “They’ll have to be cut down, sweets. They cannae eat or git fixed up hanging on the wall.”

The man swung his head toward her. His lip curled.

Her pulse pounded in her ears, and she trembled with rage. She wanted to pounce on him, grab his blade, and sink it into his gut. Straining to gain composure, she turned her back on the men and set her basket on the floor. Her hand trembled as she inhaled the putrid air and struggled to calm her nerves. She must maintain her heartless pretense, appear untouched by the savagery. Biting the side of her lip, she rummaged through the jars and extracted the healing salves.

Chains rattled behind her. Thumps of dead weight and groans indicated the guard had freed the men. As he marched from the cell, he cast a look at Lindsey and slammed the door. The lock clunked, and his booted footsteps grew quieter as he strode away.

Several men rushed from the huddled group to aid their fallen companions. Lindsey hurried to the first man and knelt beside him. She pushed his hair to the side and grimaced.

Logan.

Cora’s little bandits were correct.

His swollen face was blackened, and blood caked the back of his head. “Logan, can ye hear me? It’s Lindsey.”

His eyes fluttered. Moans of the injured men wafted around her. She jerked the basket to her side and brought out a flask of water, a soft cloth, and a jar of salve. “Look in my basket for more water skins,” she called over her shoulder to the other prisoners.

Logan’s friends, Adam, Thom, and Colyne lay unmoving. Dark dried blood and dirt smeared the men’s swollen, beaten faces. Their listless bodies attested to abuse and neglect.

“The commander takes delight in torturing them.”

Lindsey’s head snapped to the man who stooped beside her.

“Seems to hold a real interest in them.” He grabbed her basket and passed out containers to several others. They crowded around, snatching the bandages, salves, and potions she’d brought.

“Why?” she whispered. “What’s so special about them?”

The man squinted and indicated Logan with his head. “Collins couldn’t break him. I think that about drove the commander over the brink. He wanted to deliver information on the rebels’ stronghold to the king. Infuriated him that he failed to do so.”

The man bent over Adam and helped him sit.

While supporting Logan’s head, Lindsey held a flask to his parched, cracked lips and dribbled the liquid into his mouth. He sputtered, gulping at the water.

“Easy,” she said, giving him sips while she studied his disfigured face. “I’m here to help ye.”

One eye was swollen shut, the other barely open. His brown hair hung in filthy strands across his forehead, and a red irritated gash crossed his grimy cheek. She sat on the nasty hard floor and cradled his head in her lap. The medicinal salves would do little to heal him, but she had to try.

Her heart clenched. When she’d last seen him, the days spent with the fear of English hostilities and devastation as constant companions had not yet arrived. The soldiers had not yet destroyed her carefree way of life. They had not been concerned with the next raid or protecting the clan from enemy invasion. Instead, Lindsey and Logan enjoyed each other’s company, held the same love for horses, and had become fast friends.

He groaned. “Lindsey?”

“Aye, it’s me.” Her voice caught as she answered.

His good eye narrowed, and he grasped her wrist, his grip surprisingly strong for someone so battered. “What the hell are ye doing here? This is no place for ye, lass.”

“The Sassenachs are taking ye and yer men to the east coast in two days.” She spoke softly to him while dabbing his grimy forehead and bearded cheeks. “Yer caravan will not make it to the ship. Have faith. Stay strong. I have a plan.”

Buy Link:

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/j98zrvd

#MedievalMonday16 Conflict Among the Highland Gods from Bambi Lynn

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00068]Please welcome visiting author Bambi Lynn with an excerpt from her novel Gods of the Highlands

The Comyns stood little chance against the demi-gods they faced. Lucan was a formidable warrior, but both Tanis and Cam could defeat ten or twenty men alone. Sirona’s heart staggered as she watched them. A group of Comyns clustered around Cam, another attacking Tanis. She thought she saw Rhain amongst them but it was hard to see.

She spurred her horse around the edge of the fray, shouting to no avail. Her cries were drowned by the clang of steel against steel and the shouts of fighting men.

On the opposite side, Fergus had set his sights on Lucan. Their swords clashed like hammers on anvils, ringing in her ears and threatening to split her head open. They were vicious and ruthless in their efforts, but in the end, a mere mortal was no match for a man with the blood of the gods coursing through his veins.

She spotted Rhain in the melee, locked in combat with her brother. She ignored Màili’s demands to pull back to the relative safety of the trees, renewing her plea for them to stop. Suddenly, the battle between Tanis and Rhain came to a violent head.

“No!” Sirona screamed as she slid down from her horse. She hit the ground hard and dropped to her knees, crying out in pain. When she looked up, Rhain lay motionless on the ground. Over him stood a blonde woman, no taller than Tanis’ shoulder. She was dressed like a shield maiden of the old Norse legends. She faced Tanis with a fierce expression, her sword held before her, its lethal blade catching the sunlight and setting off a blinding glow.

Tanis grinned at her like an idiot before she attacked him, forcing him to the defense, a position he was not used to. She sliced at him, jabbed her blade at his most tender areas, screamed at him in a language Sirona could not understand but, by the woman’s tone, recognized as the vilest of insults.

It seemed the battle would never end, that neither opponent tired. But with one fatal mistake, the mysterious pixie-woman gained the advantage. Before Sirona could blink, the woman had Tanis on his back, his sword hand empty and the tip of her weapon at his throat.

Sirona had had enough. She hiked up her skirt and tore across the grass to where the woman held her brother at sword point. “Stop!” she called. When she reached them, she flung herself between Tanis’ prone body and the warrior woman. “Please,” she begged.

The rest of her family seemed to gather their senses as well and within seconds, the strange woman found herself staring down three more Highland blades. For a moment, no one spoke.

It was Màili who broke the silence. “Bitch,” she fairly spat at the other woman. She lifted her chin, silently daring the blonde woman to make a move.

“Whore,” the woman sneered back. After another long moment of tense silence, she sheathed her sword and turned away.

With a sigh of relief, Sirona gave Tanis a quick once over to be sure he was unhurt, before giving into despair over Rhain’s fate. Dreading what she would find, she looked over her shoulder to the spot where she’d last seen him lying at Tanis’ feet.

Both Rhain and the woman were gone.

Blurb:

They grew up orphans, relying on each other to keep the secret of their heretical powers from the other members of their clan. Now a vengeful pagan god is after them, using them in his relentless pursuit of a soul so powerful, its possessor will be able to command Lucifer himself. Camulus is unbeatable in a fight, but cannot defend his heart from a fallen goddess. Sirona can heal with nothing more than a touch. When she is captured and her secret discovered by a rival clan, only the laird’s youngest son can save her from being burned at the stake. Tanis commands the elements, but meets his match in a celestial being from heaven who is anything but angelic. Lucan can create anything…except life. That he must do the old-fashioned way. Together these cousins must band together if they have any hope of defeating the god of death and ensuring a bright future for themselves and their kin.

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