Templar Treasure in Scotland?

ForbiddenLegacyPlease welcome Diana Cosby who will take us on a journey to 13th century Scotland in search of lost treasure with a look at her novel Forbidden Legacy ~ The Forbidden Series # 1.

Fascinated by the Knights Templars, I was thrilled at the opportunity to write The Forbidden series.  After hundreds of years, many questions remain about where the Templars fled, what treasure they took, and how were so many valiant knights able to disappear without a trace. In The Forbidden Series, I weave my character’s journey, where they face challenges, and in end fall in love, around these questions and more.

Story ideas come to me in numerous ways.  With Forbidden Legacy, the first book in The Forbidden Series, the hero, Stephan MacQuistan, Earl of Dunsmore, woke me up demanding I write his story.  I spent the next year and a half researching the Knights Templars, and continued researching while crafting Forbidden Legacy.

With an alpha hero, I knew my heroine needed to be strong, and Lady Katherine Calbraith, a fierce, independent woman, was born.  I added tension to the story by forcing her and Stephan into a marriage of convenience, in a setting of Scotland at war.

As a major plotter, I enjoyed weaving in the fascinating history of the Templars into my story along with my speculation as to where their fleet and many of the Brotherhood could have escaped to prior to the arrests beginning in France on the 13th of October, 1307.  In this myth-rich topic, the question of where they could have hidden their treasures still intrigues many today.

I hope you enjoy Stephan and Katherine’s journey where they are forced into a union neither wants, and throughout their danger-ridden adventure, secure the Templar treasures from prying eyes, and in the end find love.

Sincerely,

Diana Cosby

AGC(AW) USN, Ret.

Blurb: A Knights Templar, Sir Stephan MacQuistan desires no bride, only vengeance for a family lost and a legacy stolen.  A profound twist of fate tears apart the brotherhood he loves, but offers him an opportunity to reclaim his legacy – Avalon Castle.  Except to procure his childhood home along with a place to store Templar treasures, he must wed the unsuspecting daughter of the man who killed his family. To settle old scores, Stephan agrees aware Katherine is but a pawn in a dangerous game, not a woman he will ever love.

Follow this link to read an excerpt.

Buy Links:  Amazon  Barnes & Noble  BAM  Google Play  iTunes  Kindle  KOBO  Kensington Publishing CorpNOOK

Diana CosbyAbout Diana Cosby: A retired Navy Chief, Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense.  Books in her award-winning MacGruder Brothers series are translated in five languages.  Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.

After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world.  With the release of the third book in The Oath Trilogy and the e Box Set of the MacGruder Brothers series, she is now preparing for the release of the first book in The Forbidden Series, Forbidden Legacy, on 16 August 2016!

Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.

www.dianacosby.com or contact Diana on Facebook.

 

 

#MedievalMonday Water Water Everywhere and . . . Oh My What’s That from Lane McFarland’s Elspeth

Excerpt:

ElsbethExhausted from a sleepless night spent on the unforgiving ground, Elsbeth curled on her side with Mum’s little wooden cross clutched in her hand. She stared at the campfire’s dying embers glowing through charred wood and ash. It would be light soon, and the group would continue their journey to Stonecrest.

Conflicting emotions churned her stomach like turbulent tides. Her heart fluttered at the memory of riding with Brandon but squeezed when she recalled his violent nature. She closed her eyes and tried to conjure Fabien’s image, his light hair and smiling face. But Brandon’s dark eyes and boyish grin emerged before her.

Wishing to get the man out of her head, she rose and wrapped her blanket around her shoulders. Bea slept beside the orphans, and Brandon’s men lay clustered in the small clearing. Elsbeth tiptoed from camp and strolled along a narrow dirt path, winding through trees and down to the loch. Brisk air blew off the water, and chill bumps peppered her skin. She rubbed her arms and tugged the blanket tighter about her neck.

Dawn bathed the awakening forest in golden hues, and fog wafted off the tranquil loch. A black-throated diver floated across the pond. The industrious bird disappeared beneath the surface, leaving nothing but ripples in its place. As she’d done so many times beside Da’s loch, Elsbeth studied the calm water and tried to guess where the creature would re-appear. Moments passed. Not even an air-bubble crested. Without so much as a splash, the creature bobbed to the top with a wiggling fish in its black bill.

Wistful memories of playing with her sisters while Mum and Da rested beneath a shade tree surfaced. Three long years had passed since she’d last seen her family. She was homesick and longed for those precious, carefree days.

The sun stretched, sending its warming rays through an arbor of branches and leaves. Brushing aside her melancholy, Elsbeth continued along the light-dappled trail. A thunderous roar drifted on the wind, and she hurried downhill to view the water cascading over a stone ledge. Mist off the noisy flow dotted her face, and a rainbow of blue, red, and yellow arched from one side of the falls to the other.

She hiked her skirt, hopped to a flat stone, then another, and landed on a grey boulder positioned before the falls. Stretching her legs, she settled in to enjoy the stunning view.

A torrent poured over the shelf’s edge into a deep pool. Spray wafted from the churning white water, sprinkling lush vegetation bordering a trail that snaked alongside the basin and disappeared behind the falls. Her gaze traveled across the deluge to the far side. Pleased to see the trail continued, she wondered what creatures stole behind the wall of water.

Her mind wandered back to Brandon McLeod. It aggravated her that he affected her so. She must keep her distance, but accomplishing such a feat while traveling with him would not be easy. Once Da arrived, she would leave the commander’s care and return home with the orphans. Until then, she would endeavor to stay away from the man.

Sadness washed over her and seeped into her heart. By all accounts, the plan should give her a sense of resolution, but the thought of leaving Brandon caused lonesome emptiness.

Something burst through the falls and dove into the deep pool.

Elsbeth gasped. She drew her legs beneath her bottom, poised to sprint. Her heart raced, and her gaze darted across the rippling water.

A man emerged.

Brandon.

Her breath caught at the sight of his broad shoulders and chiseled muscles. Black hair covered his sculpted chest and abdomen. He shook his head and droplets sluiced along his bronzed skin.

She swallowed, and her interest roamed lower, but the water’s shadowed darkness concealed his…other attributes.

He ran a hand through his wet hair as he waded in the basin.

She couldn’t look away. Curiosity and more than a twinge of disappointment piqued. Her eyes strained, and she craned her neck to have a better angle.

He raised his head, and his eyes locked on hers.

Heavens! He’d caught her admiring him. What the devil was wrong with her?

His boyish grin returned. “Good morn, Sister.”

 

Blurb:

Elsbeth MacDougall recoils at the violent Scottish rebellion and the bleak plight of orphans. Vowing to protect the homeless, she embarks on a journey to Scone and sets her course to become a nun, sheltering children from the cruelties of war. But when Brandon McLeod arrives at the Abby, he shakes her convictions and stirs provoking emotions she buried long ago.

After English soldiers murder his family, Brandon McLeod determines a course of revenge and leads numerous clans in Scotland’s fight for freedom. Bent on the annihilation of English oppression, he is resolved to a life of solitude, vowing never to marry and chance the pain of losing loved ones again. However, that was before he met the enchanting Elsbeth.

Buy Link: Amazon

 

#MedievalMondays2016 Nature Hides a Surprise in Bambi Lynn’s Mask of the Highlander

MaskoftheHighlander_E_cover_200EXCERPT

It was late afternoon by the time they arrived at the dilapidated cottage. The door was nearly impossible to find amidst the overgrowth, even to one who knew where it was. Ty halted his stallion nearby and helped Kenna down from her own horse.

She eyed him with the suspicion that had been growing steadily since they passed the first village. She had made no comment as they skirted the ramshackle huts, but her cheery prattle had diminished considerably. By the time they passed the second, she had clammed up like a mute and said nary a word. Since leaving the third village behind them, she had made no effort to hide her uncertainty.

Ty would have found her wariness endearing had he not known the source, but at least she did not cower from him in fear. The hate and loathing she had shown at his homecoming was gone, leaving only doubt and caution. He could not be more proud than to have a wife of such strength as Kenna Cleary Vass.

She stood there, looking back and forth from him to the hidden door. “What are we doing here?”

Her voice trembled. Ty ached to soothe her concerns, but nothing he could say would accomplish that. Soon enough she would trust him, and if not sooner, then later.

He smiled and jerked his head toward the mass of brambles that hid the cottage. “I have something for you…inside.” He reached through the brush and pushed the door open. Without waiting, he went inside and began lighting candles. By the time she joined him, the room was bathed in a soft glow that revealed a hideaway very different from the one they had visited the last time.

Kenna stopped just inside the threshold, a gasp of surprise the only sound in the small cottage. Ty busied himself starting a fire in the hearth, giving her time to look around. He squatted before the fire, staring at the growing flames. He ached to see her face, to know if she was pleased with what he had done.

He tensed when he felt her behind him. His body was already so hard for her. His craving surprised him at times. He was like a man starved, and she the only sustenance that could satisfy him. His skin tingled when she placed her hand on his shoulder.

“You did this?”

He stood, towering over her and filling the small room. “Lá breithe shona dhuit,” he whispered.

She frowned at the phrase. “It’s my birthday?” He nodded. She looked around with newfound surprise. “And all this…is for me?”

‘All this’ was a complete transformation of the sanctuary she had escaped to as a child. Gone were the few pieces of broken furniture, the cobwebs, the decades of dirt and neglect. The place had been scoured until nary a ball of dust remained, even the tiny window allowed in a scant amount of the remaining sunlight. The decrepit furniture had been replaced with a table, two short stools and a bed frame, a fresh inviting tick nestled inside. A bundle of primroses filled a vase in the middle of the table, filling the room with a spicy, comforting fragrance that reminded Ty of spring.

He smiled down at her. “I suppose fairies must have fixed the place up since the last time ye were here.” He took her hand and lifted it to his mouth, pressing a soft kiss to her palm. “D’ye like it, then?”

Tears sparkled on her lashes, and he could tell she had trouble speaking. He almost laughed. That must be a first. She laid her palm against his cheek, smoothing the patch that covered his eye and staring deep into the other one.

“No one has ever done anything like this for me. Thank you.”

He cocked his eyebrow at her, pressing her with his most devilish grin. “I hope ye have some other way of showin’ yer thanks?

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

Amazon US:   Amazon UK:   Apple:   Kobo:   Nook:   Scribd:

#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?

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