Monday, December 28, 2015

Medieval Monday - Betrothal by Jenna Jaxon

This is the same Medieval Monday that features some of the best romance out there but now it’s with a twist. Each week a different author will be featured here with a “themed excerpt.” This month, all the excerpts will be about a celebration for the holidays. Today’s guest is Jenna Jaxon. Have a wonderful New Year and enjoy Jenna's excerpt! 
 The heart can choose, but can it also change?
Lady Alyse de Courcy has fallen in love with Lord Braeton, a nobleman in King Edward III’s court and a man to whom she has barely spoken. Fate, however, has decreed her betrothal to his best friend, Sir Geoffrey Longford—a handsome and imposing knight, yet hardly the man she wants to wed.
When Sir Geoffrey is bound in betrothal by his father, he could not have expected the beautiful stranger to win his heart the moment they meet. But Alyse’s infatuation with his friend casts doubt on whether she can ever return his regard and their wedding day is fast approaching…  Will he have time enough to win her love?
As the champions met at the end of the Great Hall, the trumpeters sounded the fanfare once again. Alyse flanked Princess Joanna as she stepped forward, Lady Carlyle on her other side. The gentlemen came forward to claim their ladies and lead them into the middle of the Hall. The musicians struck up a stately carole, and the three couples formed pairs, one following the other, creating a line that moved gradually around the Hall. She and Geoffrey were the center pair and slowly trailed behind the princess and her partner.
Acutely aware that this was their first dance together, Alyse found it almost impossible to keep her eyes forward as propriety demanded. She darted glances at Geoffrey as they moved through the deliberate steps, her blood singing with each glimpse of his elegant figure. Hand and hand—the heat they generated threatened to set her ablaze—they stepped to the slow beat, now forward, now backward, slowly making their way around the Great Hall. Again, the yearning overtook her to belong to this man utterly and intimately. To be his in every way possible before it was too late. But for the grace of God, tonight could have been too late. He could have been killed today, and she would never have known the joy of belonging to him completely.
She wanted to remember every moment of this dance, to be able to savor each one later, but the flickering light, the heat of the chamber, the intensity of the music and her own thundering heart worked to make the dance a swirl of impressions—riotous and fleeting. When the music ended, Alyse’s head still reeled.
Geoffrey turned smartly toward her and bowed low, and she curtsied in return. Then he took her hand and kissed it. Her breath came faster, and her heart thudded in her ears as a full flush of heat rose in her face. The touch of his lips on her skin fought like fire and ice: she first burned then trembled as chills raced through her body. She barely heard the thunderous applause and cheers of the assembly.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Medieval Monday - The Heart of the Phoenix by Barbara Bettis

*.*¨*.¸¸.*¨`* HAVE A COOL YULE AND FABULOUS FIRST *¨`*.¸¸.*¨*.*

This is the same Medieval Monday that features some of the best romance out there but now it’s with a twist. Each week a different author will be featured here with a “themed excerpt.” This month, all the excerpts will be about a celebration for the holidays. Today’s guest is Barbara Bettis. You’re going to love this excerpt. Enjoy!

Back Cover Copy:
Some call him a ruthless mercenary; she calls him the knight of her heart. 
Lady Evelynn’s childhood hero is home—bitter, hard, tempting as sin. And haunted by secrets. A now-grown Evie offers friendship, but Sir Stephen's cruel rejection crushes her, and she resolves to forget him. Yet when an unexpected war throws them together, she finds love isn’t so easy to dismiss. If only the king hadn’t betrothed her to another.
Can be cruel
Sir Stephen lives a double life while he seeks the treacherous outlaws who murdered his friends. Driven by revenge, he thinks his heart is closed to love. His childhood shadow, Lady Evie, unexpectedly challenges that belief. He rebuffs her, but he can’t forget her, although he knows she’s to wed the king’s favorite. 

And deadly 
When his drive for vengeance leads to Evie’s kidnapping, Stephen must choose between retribution and the love he’s denied too long. Surely King John will see reason. Convict the murderers; convince the king. Simple. Until a startling revelation threatens everything. 

Granville Castle, Lincolnshire 
December 1197
“Go away, little shadow.” Sir Stephen’s words roared above the December wind that snapped across the castle tower’s roof.
Lady Evelynn shielded her eyes against the stinging bites of snow. She couldn’t make out his location. There. A flash of light from the huge bonfire in the bailey below illuminated his form, facing out into the night.
Arms braced, the tall figure leaned across the waist-high stone embrasure, as if he welcomed the wild winter gales.
How did he know who stood behind him? And why must he use that foolish childhood nickname? Her resolve wavered then flared once more. Let him ignore her, then. She would pay no heed to his indifference, just as she had as a child. He needed a friend right now.
He just didn’t realize it.
She clenched her hands, caught her bottom lip between her teeth, and stepped from the dim recesses of the doorway. Light from a lone torch just inside the landing at the top of the stairs flickered across the whitened walkway.
 “Are you well?” Evie shivered as she picked a path along the slick surface. She hadn’t brought a cloak. When he left the celebration with a bleak, dark look on his face, she followed without thinking.
He was in pain. She of all people could recognize the signs, could even understand a need for solitude. Yet the urge to comfort him drove her.
A moment’s uncertainty made her pause, however. This hard Sir Stephen little resembled the young squire she once knew. But the memory of their long-ago friendship drove her on.
He did not turn as she eased forward in her soft slippers. What could he possibly see in the snow-flecked blackness? Perhaps he regretted releasing Lady Emelin so readily. 
She raised her voice. “I thought when you left the hall—” She paused as his head turned slightly.
“That I could not bear to see my betrothed wed another man?”  His voice mocked. “Did you feel sorry for me?”
The sharp words failed to wound. He wouldn’t drive her away so easily.
“It would be understandable,” she said, at last reaching his side. Another frigid gust brought sounds of merriment from the bailey below. Snow would never deter the villagers when they celebrated the marriage of their new lord. This year’s Christmastide would be doubly rich with gifts and happiness.
“I’m happy to see her wed Sir Giles.” He turned to stare outward at nothing again. “I have no desire for a wife. Ever.”

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Medieval Monday - The Dragon Knight's Shield by Mary Morgan

This is the same Medieval Monday that features some of the best romance out there but now it’s with a twist. Each week a different author will be featured here with a “themed excerpt.” This month, all the excerpts will be about a celebration for the holidays. Today’s guest is Mary Morgan. You’re going to love this excerpt. Enjoy!

Back Cover Copy:
Angus MacKay, leader of the Dragon Knights, failed his brothers and his clan upon the death of his sister. Now he must fight the darkness of despair tempting his soul. Back on Scottish soil, he comes face to face with Deirdre who can wield a sword as mightily as his warriors, and he takes her captive. Yet, with each passing day, the fire dragon inside him roars to claim the one woman fate has destined for him. 

Famed mystery writer, Deirdre Flanagan, is unprepared for the next chapter in her life. On a vacation to Scotland, she steps through the mists and enters into a skirmish alongside a Highlander. However, the fight has only begun, and now she must battle Angus as well as evil in order to claim the love of this Dragon Knight. 

Will their love be powerful enough to shield them from danger, or burn them to ashes?

Release Date: January 8, 2016

Several other minstrels picked up their lyre and harp and started to play as the feasting began.

“Would ye care for the venison, Deirdre?”

“Gosh, yes! I’m starving.” Feeling a bit lightheaded, she inhaled the aroma of the meat mixed with onions. “Smells divine.”

As she scooped up a portion with a piece of bread, she closed her eyes, savoring the flavors. Upon opening them, she found Angus staring at her. Taking his finger, he wiped away some of the juices on her cheek and licked them off. Feeling the heat prickle her face, she reached for her mug and downed its contents.

Chuckling softly, he continued to focus on his own meal.

When she could eat no more, she spied a dark looking dish near Cormac. She nudged Angus. “What is that?”

“Ahh…’tis a favorite of mine. Plums in wine and spices. Would ye care to taste them?”

“Of course.”

Stretching forward, Angus brought forth the dish. Dipping his finger in the bowl, he held out the plum in front of her.

“Umm…you don’t expect me to lick the fruit off your finger?” Deirdre looked around, thinking all eyes were on them.

“Dinnae worry, just taste.” The husky burr of his voice causing her nerves to tingle with excitement.

Slowly, she ate the delectable fruit from his finger. “More,” she demanded.

“Ye are bonny to watch,” he whispered against her ear. Swiping an even bigger piece, he literally shoved two fingers into her mouth. This time she trailed her tongue along his fingers and heard him growl.

Cormac coughed, and she quickly turned away. Another minstrel started to play a lute as he strolled among the tables. His song was one of lost lovers and Deirdre became entranced by his singing. Approaching their table, he paused, letting his fingers glide over the strings.

His eyes met hers as he sung, “The wisdom of the lovers’ hearts can be lost within the reason of the mind—forever adrift and never to be found again.” His last words of the song struck a chord within her, causing her heart to ache. How foolish she had been.
As she watched him slowly walk away, she felt Angus’s hand covering hers. When she looked into his eyes, she knew without a doubt that love had truly claimed her heart for the first time in her life.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Medieval Monday - The Saxon Bride by Ashley York

This is the same Medieval Monday that features some of the best romance out there but now it’s with a twist. Each week a different author will be featured here with a “themed excerpt.” This month, all the excerpts will be about a celebration for the holidays. Today’s guest is Ashley York. You’re going to love this excerpt. Enjoy!

Back Cover Copy

In war torn England the battle lines between Saxon and Norman are clearly drawn. The Saxons must fight for everything they have in the hopes of winning their country back from the Normans who are determined to break their resistance. 
Rowena Godwinson, the sole remaining member of the defeated royal family, stands proudly against the Normans that would trample them underfoot. Her nobility and grace, however, make her an ideal pawn in King William’s play for power with the Saxon people. When he decrees she marry a powerful Norman knight, her subjugation appears to be complete. Can she hold firm to her Saxon heritage and refuse to give in to his tempting advances? 
John of Normandy wants only to prove himself worthy of the king's trust. He is rewarded for his service and loyalty with land, titles and a Saxon beauty for a bride. John balks at the marriage, driven by the secret guilt of knowing Rowena's father died at his sword. 
As their people look to them for guidance and peace, can John and Rowena find a love strong enough to unite all of England? 
Buy Links: Amazon  iTunes  Kobo  B&N
       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."
"Yes." Rowena dropped her gaze. A slip of the tongue.
"You would accept this position then?"
She looked up but hesitated, not wanting to overstep her bounds. "It would give me great pleasure to be in charge of the running of the castle."
"Then run it you shall."
Rowena nibbled at her lip to hide her smile. Since the Normans had come, no one obeyed her unless they wanted to. The king had never come to meet with her but instead with those he had put in charge of her. Now John was giving her back her rightful place. Things were progressing better than she had hoped.
The young girl, Sarah, had replaced Ruth and was in front of the table offering a basket of almond-stuffed dates dripping with honey. Rowena returned her genuine smile. She was a lovely child. Serving the lord and lady was a big responsibility.
Offering the sweets to the new lord, Sarah's face fell as he declined with a shake of his hand.
"Oh, yes, please." Rowena hurriedly accepted the sweet. Sarah beamed in appreciation and moved on to the next table.
Rowena put the treat to her mouth and took a small bite. The honey smeared her lips. Quickly, John was leaning toward her, pulling her close. He licked her lips before kissing her. He was so tender that she was moved by the gesture and leaned into him, wanting the kiss to continue.
The burst of applause from those present in the hall surprised Rowena. She smiled in answer when they separated at last. Not all present looked happy with their display of affection. Noticing John had not yet moved away, she realized he was waiting for another kiss. She kissed him chastely. He frowned but pulled back.
The young man on her left caught her eye. He sat against the wall, his clay whistle on his lap. He had a small smile and looked at her expectantly. It was Cedric, the performer. Too shy to come to the table himself, he was apparently hoping Rowena would intervene on his behalf. She did not disappoint. Trying not to smile at his bashfulness, she turned back toward John.
"My lord…" Catching him unguarded, she was taken aback by the look of sadness she saw there. It passed so quickly, she wondered if she had imagined it.
"My lady?"
A ripple of delight washed over her at the title. She glanced away to hide her pleasure.
"Our performer tonight is a bit shy and hoping you would enjoy hearing his songs," she said. "He is very good. Will you address him?"
She tipped her head slightly indicating the man.
"Please." John smiled warmly at the performer and stood, facing those in hall. "Friends and visitors, let us rejoice in the blessing of music that God has given us by listening to…" realizing he didn't know the man's name, his composure fell slightly and he looked to Rowena to complete the introduction. "Rowena?"
"Cedric." John lifted his cup.
Applause broke out with murmurs of excitement as the man stepped into the middle of the hall. A sudden hush fell like a blanket over the hall in anticipation of the entertainment as Cedric produced one long note from his whistle then cleared his throat. No longer the shy young man, he took over the music with confidence, having nothing more than his voice and a whistle.
Lifting his strong, clear voice, he told the story of the fallen soldier. He had been killed by an arrow and left to die alone by his companions. While he suffered the inevitable, it was a fallow deer that came to be with him. The story was enchanting and one of Rowena's favorites. She brushed away a tear and clapped enthusiastically. Cedric blushed as he bowed low. Next taking up his whistle, the pleasant music increased the peaceful mood that fell over the hushed crowd.
John wiped at her cheek, his touch light. "That song brought tears?"
Rowena dipped her head, shrugging a shoulder. "I think it is a lovely story. ‘Tis all."
"Ah, my wife has great sentiment." He took her hand in his. "I will remember that."