#MedievalMonday16 Party Hardy with Jenna Jaxon’s Seduction at the Christmas Court

jenna-jaxon-seduction-at-the-christmas-courtEXCERPT: No sooner had they taken their seats than the mummers appeared, bringing a great crash of applause from the courtiers and a low hum of murmuring. The King pounded the broad arm of his ornate, high-backed chair. Queen Phillipa sat smiling, still clutching the small silk bag Alyse had given her.

The guisers were indeed disguised in peculiar clothing. One wore the headdress of a Turk and green and yellow striped pants; his shoes were scarlet and turned up in a curving point with bells sewed onto the tips, so he jingled each time he took a step.

Alyse smiled and clapped until her hands ached, but finally settled herself on the bench. The mummers’ play had ever been her favorite part of the Christmas festivities at home at Beaulieu, the fanciful costumes the best part of the performance.

Several other characters now entered the Great Hall, one a knight in white with a huge wooden sword. That would be St. George. Four others, dressed in even more outlandish garb, would be the foolish knights and the Doctor followed them all, in oversized black robes, his long sleeves dragging the ground.

The court chattered excitedly as the mummers spread out all over the hall, talking and laughing with the courtiers.

With a sigh, Geoffrey smiled and grasped her chin, raising it so he could steal a kiss. His warm lips brushed hers, stirring her inner warmth as his touch always did.

“This entertainment will be tedious. I would much rather retire for a good night’s bedding right now,” he whispered, the puff of his breath tickling her ear and sending prickles of excitement down her neck.

She laced their fingers together. “’Twill be finished ‘ere long, my love. Then you can wield your weapon with a vigor yon knights cannot.”

He laughed and drank deeply. “Aye, sweet Alyse. My skill with both weapons outshines any other knight.”

“As you will not want me to be judge of that, I think, I will demur to your claim, although I will test your skills again with the one blade ‘ere the night is done.”

At Geoffrey’s bark of laughter—so loud it turned heads on the dais their way—Alyse settled back to watch the mummers, her cheeks burning, but a pleasant anticipation building within as well.

The mummer playing St. George took the center spot in the Great Hall and began a sing-song rhyme that soon had the court laughing at its nonsense. A stream of knights—played in turn by the other mummers—approached, made their rhyming challenge, and were quickly slain by St. George, whose wielding of his sword became swifter and swifter. He slayed the knights in such short order that by the time he faced the final knight, he did no more than look at the Turkish knight than the man fell down, his toes jingling softly as he landed on the soft rushes covering the floor.

A burst of laughter and applause followed that performance as the quack Doctor shuffled forward, his “magic potion” in a large bottle, gripped in his hand.

Thoroughly engrossed, Alyse laughed and clapped her hands. She held her breath and leaned forward as the Doctor poured the potion down the throats of the slain knights, spoke his own rhyme over them, and one by one, they began to twitch and dance, the rush-strewn floor seeming to come alive as they did. The room resounded with merriment as all seven knights revived.

Loud applause burst out from the courtiers, many of whom threw gold and silver coins onto the floor.

Geoffrey tossed a gold florin to the Turkish knight. “For my lady’s pleasure,” he called.

The man nimbly caught the coin and made a deep bow. “Thank you, my lord.”

With a lecherous grin, Geoffrey grasped Alyse’s arm and urged her to rise. “And now allow me to attend to my lady’s pleasure as well.”

BLURB:  Alyse and Geoffrey, 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 part in some Yuletide merriment. However, when Geoffrey is suddenly called into the king’s service again, Alyse must remain at the court, attending the queen and persuading her rebellious sister to accept an unwanted betrothal. When rumors of Geoffrey’s death arise, Alyse fends off an old suitor who wants to renew an old friendship. But how long will he take “No” for an answer?

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#MedievalMonday16 A Wedding Challenge from Barbara Bettis’ A Lady of the Forest

51226theladyoftheforest_w11020_750-1 In this excerpt, Henry has interrupted the wedding celebration at Stonehill Castle to challenge Mortimer’s right to marry Kate.

[Henry and his two friends] stalked into the hall where the lord held forth at the high table before the household left for the chapel. Kate sat at his right, the priest at his left.

“Sir Mortimer.” Henry’s voice boomed above the din. “Stand and answer my challenge.”

Mortimer lifted his head. “Lord Henry. Sit, break your fast before I wed my lady.” His oily tone did not match his hard set of jaw and narrowed eyes.

Henry ignored the words and continued across the floor. Mortimer rose but before he could speak, Henry leaped onto the dais.

“You have no right to demand Lady Katherine in marriage.” It took all Henry’s determination not to glance at Kate.

“I have an order from the king, granting me this holding and the lady as my bride.”

“I say the order does not exist.” A murmur rose from the people seated at the lower tables. Calling the lord a liar meant a fight. But no sounds arose of benches scraping back. Perhaps the soldiers awaited a signal. Henry stepped closer. “Produce this writ. Let me examine the seal.”

Dull red moved up Mortimer’s neck; his nostrils flared.

Henry sucked in a breath of satisfaction. He had him now. “You cannot. The people of Stonehill have been mistreated and their lady driven into hiding in fear for her life. You’ve lied and cheated, and you’ve taken part in a treasonous attempt to overthrow one of the king’s barons.”

He hadn’t known what to expect from Mortimer, but it wasn’t the self-satisfied upturn of the man’s mouth. Dread scraped a cold trail along Henry’s spine.

“You may be another baron and a pet of the king,” Mortimer said, “but that don’t make you always right, and that don’t keep you from facing a fight when you accuse an honest man of wrongdoing.”

He motioned to the priest, who stood and withdrew a section of parchment from a leather satchel beside him on the bench. It contained no seals.

Henry clenched his teeth. Why in the devil’s own hell hadn’t he considered the priest as the knight’s accomplice?

The churchman opened the document and at a nod from Mortimer, read. “Sir Mortimer of Corbeau, in gratitude for service, is granted the holding of Stonehill in Nottinghamshire…”

A loud buzzing in Henry’s ears blotted the words that followed. Satan’s backside! The writ existed. The parchment was stained and tattered, not the official document often used to dispense favors, but he’d seen Richard direct a clerk to scratch out such awards after a battle. They were rough and hurried, yet they carried the weight of the king’s power.

And they always carried his seal.

Where was the seal for this order?
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#MedievalMonday16 Yummy Celebrations in Mary Morgan’s A Magical Highland Solstice

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Excerpt:

Cormac’s stomach protested fiercely as he descended the stairs. He had eaten little on his journey with Eve—happily content to watch her munch on an apple, or nibble on bread and cheese. She chatted between bites, her hands flying about to match her liveliness. When she complained he had not eaten anything, he relented. He watched in fascination as she wedged cheese and apple slices between the two pieces of bread she tore off for him. It was the most glorious meal he had ever eaten. However, his heart almost stopped beating when she nearly cut her finger with his sgian dubh.

As he attempted to snatch the blade from her hand, she smacked him away, informing him she knew how to handle a knife.

He chuckled at the memory and nearly collided with the golden-haired beauty coming toward him.

“Yikes! I’m sorry, Cormac.” She grabbed his arm, trying to steady the trencher with her other hand.

He lifted the item from her hand as it was about to tumble free. “My pardons. My thoughts were elsewhere.” Inhaling the aroma, he asked, “Wild boar with mushrooms and onions?”

“You have guessed correctly, Laird Cormac.”

He arched a brow. “We are feasting grandly with only a few days before the Yule?”

Eve glanced over his shoulder and behind her before stepping close, as if she was about to pass along some great secret. “They’re experimenting with new mushrooms and herbs from Cathal. I heard it on good authority that a certain laird must approve the dish.” She gave him a wink.

Cormac inspected the dish and then lifted his finger.

“You wouldn’t dare,” she protested, smacking his hand away.

Lifting the trencher high over his head, he replied, “Remember, I am the laird, aye?”

Eve fisted her hands on her hips and glared at him. “And because you are the leader of the clan, you must show some respect.”

His gaze raked over her face and settled on her lips. “I will concede defeat, but only if ye grant me a kiss.”

Her cheeks flushed as she looked around the corridor. “Here?”

“Aye.” As Cormac stepped closer, Eve moved backward.

“What if…someone sees us?”

Cormac’s smiled turned predatory. “All I asked for was a kiss, nae to plunder your body.”

When her back hit the wall, she parted her lips. “One kiss only?”

He arched a brow, understanding her meaning. “I beg for only one. Yet, later, I shall demand many more.”

“Then take your kiss, my laird,” she whispered.

Slowly, Cormac lowered his mouth to hers, and a moan of pleasure slipped through her lips. Powerful, hungry desire spiraled through him as her tongue invaded him, seeking, stroking. He growled, taking all she had to offer. When one of her hands wrapped around his neck, he deepened the kiss. He was lost in her touch, her lips, and Cormac burned for more.

Finally breaking free, Cormac found he was the one trembling.

“Is your arm getting tired?” she asked, breathing heavily as her hand slipped across his shoulder.

“Nae.”

She gave him a gentle push back and stepped away from his embrace. “Good. I’ll relieve you of the trencher, though I’ll make sure to place it near you.”

Obliging, Cormac handed her the trencher of food. As he strolled away, he said, “Ye may inform Moira and the others I approve of the meat.”

Eve glanced over her shoulder at him. “Now why would I lie? You haven’t tasted the food?”

“Och, but I have, fair Eve. From your lips.”

“You’re incorrigible.”

Cormac roared with laughter. “I shall leave it to ye to help me make amends for my bad habits, Lady Eve.”

She snorted and walked into the Great Hall.

“By the hounds…what have ye done to me, sweet lass?”

Blurb:

Laird Cormac Murray has witnessed how love destroyed his own father after the death of his mother, and he vows to never take a wife. Yet, when he comes upon a bewildered lass traveling alone, he finds his heart will no longer listen to his mind. In the end, Cormac risks everything to claim the love of a woman not of his time.

Eve Brannigan loves helping others and baking. After winning a contest, she is stunned to learn that the Clan Murray has requested her assistance to cater to their guests during the holiday season. When a lost path in Scotland leads her to a handsome but gruff Highlander, Eve fights the temptation to allow love to enter her heart for the first time.

Can the Fae and the magic of the Yule season bring together two souls who have forsaken love? Or will tragedies from the past separate the lovers forever?

Buy Links: Release day 12.2.16

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#MedievalMonday16 Anticipation is key in Sherry Ewing’S Hearts Across Time

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Please welcome Sherry Ewing to help us travel to the middle ages where we anticipate a wedding celebration through the eyes of the groom.

Excerpt:

The golden sun began to peek over the ocean horizon, splashing the morning sky with a thousand shades of pink and orange. The further it rose, the more color splattered across the cloudless sky until all traces of the earlier shades vanished. ’Twas obvious, the perfect day was a gift from the heavens and a priceless tribute to the woman Riorden would call his wife for the rest of his life.

Riorden was in no rush to head down to the Great Hall.  There was no need. Katherine and her ladies had insisted ’twas bad luck to see the bride afore the wedding. He had never heard of such a custom, but who was he to tempt fate? Nay, he dare not look upon her, if such an occurrence would displease God, and in His wrath, He would wrench Katherine back from whence she had come.

Patrick brought Riorden a small repast, along with water to wash and fresh garments Lynet had lovingly sewn for his wedding. He was not surprised when he saw the tunic. Gilded fabric had been embroidered and used as trim on the deep blue cloth Katherine herself had chosen, saying the color would match his eyes. He smiled, wondering how she would look in the golden material he had chosen for her. He supposed, he would find out soon enough.

A knock roused Riorden from his musings of his lovely lady. Opening the door, he saw Aiden standing there, also dressed in his finest.

“What…no sword?” Riorden inquired in jest. He also was to leave his sword within his chamber, although he stowed a small, serviceable blade in his belt.

Aiden appeared completely ill at ease. “Nay! Amiria refused to allow such in the chapel. God’s wounds, Riorden…I feel as if I am only but half dressed.”

A chuckle rumbled inside Riorden. “Do not be so troubled, my friend. The mass and ceremony should be no longer than an hour or two. Surely, your sister will allow you your blade afterwards.”

“Ha! Easy for you to say. She made it clear she does not trust me.”

“Let me guess,” Riorden mulled over. “She hid it from you, did she?”

“My twin knows me only too well, I am afraid,” Aiden muttered miserably. “Dristan has hidden hers, as well. At least he managed to get her into a dress, instead of boots and hose.”

“Knowing Amiria, I am sure she will in no uncertain terms let me know of the sacrifice she has made, on the behalf of my lady, to appear in such.”

Aiden at last smiled knowingly. “You can count on it.”

“Why are you here? It cannot be time, as yet, is it?”

“Damn, I almost forgot my purpose,” Aiden cursed. “Dristan asked that you come to his solar. He will then accompany you to the chapel at the appointed hour.”

“Then let us be on our way, since I am all but done here,” Riorden said, and they made their way up to the third floor.

He had just taken the last step on the tower stairs, when he halted his progress to peer down the passageway toward Lynet’s chamber. Intent on listening to the bubbly laughter of his soon to be wife and her friends, he began to hear a strange haunting melody, most likely coming from the machine Kat called a cellphone. She was so close, and he found he had missed her company this past eve, more than he would have thought possible.

He took a step in the direction towards where, in his heart, he wanted to be until he felt Aiden tugging at his arm.

“Come on, Riorden. You shall see her afore you know it.”

 

Blurb:

Bestselling author Sherry Ewing presents this special edition box set getting 5 star reviews that is combining Katherine and Riorden’s complete story from For All of Ever and Only For You in Hearts Across Time: The Knights of Berwyck, A Quest Through Time Novel (Books One & Two).

Sometimes all you need is to just believe…

For All of Ever: Katherine Wakefield has dreamed and written of her knight in shining armor all her life. Yet, how could she have known that when she and her three closest friends take a dream vacation to England that they’d find themselves thrown back more than eight hundred years into the past? Riorden de Deveraux travels to Bamburgh answering the summons of King Henry II. But nothing prepares him for the beautiful vision of a strangely clad ghost who first appears in his chamber. Centuries are keeping them apart until Time gives them a chance at finding love. Will the past of one consume what their future may hold, or will Time take the decision from them and hurdle Katherine forward to where she truly belongs?

Only For You: Katherine de Deveraux has it all but settling into her duties at Warkworth Castle is not easy and downright dangerous to her well-being. Consumed with memories of his father, Riorden must deal with his sire’s widow. Yet how could he know how far Marguerite will go to have the life she feels they were meant to live? Torn apart, Time becomes their true enemy while Marguerite continues her ploy to keep Riorden at her side. With all hope lost, will Katherine & Riorden find a way to save their marriage?

Buy Links – available in eBook and paperback

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Y3XWmL

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Kobo: http://bit.ly/1UxFUv3

 

#MedievalMonday16 Elisabeth Hobbes celebrates May Day (We won’t tell her it’s December)

21205blacksmiths-wife-coverExcerpt from The Blacksmith’s Wife by Elisabeth Hobbes

Thundering beats on the door roused them from their bed as men from the villagers came to claim ale from Hal as Lord Danby’s representative. He allowed himself to be taken away, leaving Joanna in the hands of Meg and the other women to gather flowers and greenery from the moors and bind them into wreaths.

The women arrived on the village green at midday. Raucous, uncontrolled games were taking place amid cheers and catcalls of the onlookers already well into the ale, but stopped as they appeared.

‘Crown the queen!’

The call was taken up and repeated by everyone present. Girls giggled and blushed, young men freely ogled them and Joanna felt hands in her back pushing her to the front of the crowd.

Hal appeared from among the men. He took her by the hand and turned her to face everyone. A crown of twisted greenery was placed on her head to cheers and good-natured whistles from everyone watching. Pipers began to play and dancers found their partners.

‘I thought the May Queen was supposed to be a maiden,’ Joanna whispered to Hal.

He held her waist tightly as he led her to the circle. ‘This year I thought I’d exercise my rights to choose.’

‘You can do that?’

‘I can do what I like, I’m their lord’s son,’ he joked. He put one hand on her back, the other to her cheek and looked into her eyes. ‘I cannot give you tournaments and pageants to delight you, but I wanted to give you something to remember.’

She covered her hand with his. ‘You have,’ she said. ‘This is enough.’

She realized as she said it that she spoke the truth.

The dancing and games carried on long into the night. As the sun set Hal and the men carried brands from the forge and lit the bonfire. More barrels of ale were tapped and the ox that had been roasting all afternoon was speedily eaten.

As groups and couples began to disperse to find their own diversions Joanna sat alone by the fire, warming her hands and yawning. She’d danced until her calves burned and drunk far too much wine. Her bed called her. Hal had vanished a while before, called away by the miller, and she was becoming tired of waiting. She walked home and was halfway to the door when she noticed light coming from the forge.

Curious, she walked across the dewy grass. The door was partly open, but no sound came from within. Cautiously Joanna pushed the door wider and peeped around it.

Hal was standing by his workbench. In the dull glow of the furnace Joanna could only see his back.

‘What are you doing?’ she asked.

Hal jumped at her voice. He strode towards her, blocking her entry into the forge.

‘What’s wrong? Why won’t you let me in?’ she asked.

‘Nothing’s wrong. I’m coming now,’ Hal said. His voice was guarded. He took hold of her arm and tried to turn her away.

He was so obviously hiding something. Determined to find out what Joanna twisted from his grip and pushed past him. Her blood drained slowly away, leaving her cold to the bone as she recognized her own drawing pinned to the beam above the furnace.

‘That’s mine!’ she hissed. ‘How did you get it?’

‘You dropped it on the moors,’ Hal said.

She remembered the day, but that had been over a week ago and he had kept it all this time! Furious, she lunged and ripped the drawing from the wall. She rounded on Hal.

‘How dare you keep it,’ she stormed. ‘You had no right to do that.’

She pushed roughly past him and wrenched the door open, stumbling out into the darkness.

Blurb: A passion forged from fire 

Rejected by her favored knight, Joanna Sollers knows she will never love again. Especially when the man she’s now forced to marry is none other than her beloved’s half brother!

For blacksmith Hal Danby, marrying Joanna makes his lifelong dream of entering the Smiths’ Guild possible, even if the secrets in his past mean he’ll forever keep his distance. But everything changes with one stolen night, and in the arms of his new bride, Hal wonders if this loveless arrangement could transform into something real…

Buy links

US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RCL96M

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blacksmiths-Wife-Mills-Boon-Historical-ebook/dp/B01B16JQ10/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

#MedievalMonday16 Celebrating a Husband’s Return from Ashley York’s The Saxon Bride

11128thesaxonbrideblack_850-2From The Saxon Bride by Ashley York

 John’s breath against Rowena’s neck sent a shiver down her spine. Knowing now how easily she could be distracted, she fought to keep her head. Those who’d been waiting for the new lord of the manor acknowledged him with some excitement when he entered, Rowena at his side. John accepted their respectful greetings as if he’d always been such a high ranking lord yet Joan had said he was only a knight.

“My lord,” a burly man with a ruddy complexion bowed overly long before them, causing his face to turn even redder. “Accept the greetings of a distant friend. I am Mort of Bedgrove near Aylesbury, at your service.”

“And what would that service be?” John paused beside the extravagantly dressed man. It was not a man Rowena had ever seen before. John’s mouth twitched with humor as he seemed to take in all the fine silk, silver bells and feather adornments in one glance.

The man bowed again before answering. “My lord…” Stepping closer, the man was a head shorter than John but he managed to look him directly in the face when he answered. “Whatever service that you might need.”

John’s humor fled. Rowena sensed a sudden tension between the two men. Their eyes were locked as if sizing each other up. His arm finally relaxed where her fingers lay lightly atop it. Smiling, he tipped his head in acknowledgment and continued on.

Finally reaching the far center wall, John and Rowena took their seats at the long table. It was covered with a clean cloth and adorned with small bunches of the last flowers from the garden. The scene was festive and Rowena’s own spirits seemed to lift as well. It was a time to celebrate. The long awaited lord had finally returned. There would be time later to find out what that would mean to her. For her people, it was time for celebration. A time for peace.

The meal was eaten with the new apple wine Rowena had chosen. The assortment of breads, meats and pies was plentiful. The mead and cider flowed without restraint. All seemed relaxed, happy even. At the tables grouped with eight and ten people each, there was an easy exchange as they talked amongst themselves and the noise level rose as the amount of drink increased. The Normans, however, sat off by themselves and spoke more quietly. They were soldiers after all. Rowena tried to squelch her uneasiness at this realization.

Wondering if John noticed the subdued behavior of his men, she was startled to find his gaze running over her body. Her own breath quickened. It felt as if he were actually touching her. The memory of his touch had left a lasting impression. He wet his lips before taking his goblet to his mouth, opening it right before the cold metal touched his lips. The movement along his throat as he drank mesmerized her. She found herself wanting to put her lips there, to taste him. She looked away. She could never be so bold.

Her response to his looks was quite disconcerting. She cleared her throat.”How do you find your manor after your long absence, my lord?”

John eyebrows shot up. She hadn’t meant to find fault…or maybe she did.

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

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

John searched her face before correcting her. “Our king.”

BLURB: Rowena Godwinson, a Saxon princess, refuses to go willingly into a forced marriage to one of King William’s most favored knights but her struggle against enemy occupation fades away in the pleasurable arms of her Norman husband. Will he bring her people to their knees in his attempt to please his liege lord? Or can she win him over to the Saxon’s side even while one of her own plots to overthrow the bastard king?

John of Normandy is a soldier made for battle, ingrained with chivalry and a deep sense of loyalty to his mentor and king. Serving his liege is reward enough. Neither a title nor a child bride will entice him to become an indolent lord. A chance encounter with an alluring beauty, however, releases all his pent up desires and unspoken needs. His young bride has become a passionate woman, tempting him beyond his endurance. Can he win her over before she learns the truth of her father’s death?

Available in paperback and ecopy:   iTunes   Amazon   BarnesandNoble   KOBO

 

#MedievalMonday2016 from The Angel and the Prince by Laurel O’Donnell

laurelodonnell_theangelandtheprince_300x456Excerpt:  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.

 Amazon

#MedievalMonday2016 A Journey through the Mist and Deep into Memory from Bambi Lynn’s Mask of the Highlander

 

Please welcome Bambi Lynn to share with us a wee ride through the highland fog from her novel MaskoftheHighlander_E_cover_200.

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:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Mask-Highlander-Gods-Highlands-Prequel-ebook/dp/B01D6W96OE/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mask-Highlander-Gods-Highlands-Prequel-ebook/dp/B01D6W96OE/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1458561258&sr=8-5&keywords=bambi+lynn

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/mask-of-the-highlander/id1095199574?mt=11

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mask-of-the-highlander-bambi-lynn/1123562788;jsessionid=CE60A3595E440C0F72681CCDEADC70E8.prodny_store01-atgap08?ean=2940152818888

#MedievalMonday2016 ~ Traveling to Battle from Ruth Casie’s Once Upon a Haunted Castle

Excerpt from THE MAXWELL GHOST, a featured novella in Once Upon a Haunted Castleruthacasie_onceuponahauntedcastle1400He 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  

#MedievalMonday2016, How to Travel Safely from The Saint by Cathy MacRae

thesaint3-high-res-amazonPlease welcome Cathy MacRae to give us an interesting lesson on how to travel safely in the middle ages.

“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