Monday, May 30, 2016

Medieval Monday with Barbara Bettis

Happy Medieval Monday. Today we continue the theme, conflict. Barbara Bettis is my guest. In this excerpt from Silverhawk, Emelin must endure Sir Garley’s abuse. Will she ever learn to hold her tongue? I hope you enjoy the passage.
Here is Lady Emelin’s first meeting with her brother since he confined her to a convent five years earlier. Now he’s betrothed her to someone without her knowledge.
Excerpt from Silverhawk:
Ortha had just finished braiding Emelin’s hair when the door burst open. Sir Garley strode in, his bulk filling the space. He jerked his head, and Ortha slipped into the passageway. Emelin shot to her feet, chin raised. The long forgotten fear nibbled at her heart, but she refused to show it.
He loomed closer, looked over the borrowed gown she wore, and picked up a braid. Lips curled in a snarl, he gave it a hard yank before he dropped it. “Too bad we can’t do something about that color.”
Blood-shot eyes narrowed. He grabbed her chin between his forefinger and thumb and forced up her head. She tried to pull away from the stench of his breath, but he pinched harder. “Don’t do anything else to spoil this arrangement.” His voice grated like rusty steel. “I need the payment Langley made for you. I will not return it.”
Garley gave her head a final shake. “Do not interfere in my plans,” he repeated.
Emelin jerked back. Rebellion overpowered the hurt, and she spoke without thought. Again.  “Or what? You’ll immure me in a convent? I believe we’ve done that already.”
Garley’s slap caught the side of the face, sent her staggering onto the bed. “Keep your mouth shut.” His voice held no trace of emotion as he strode to the door. “At least until after the wedding. Then you’re his problem. Just remember, there’ll never be a place for you at Compton. Give the old man a son, and you’ll want for nothing. Fight him and you may find yourself back at the convent—if you’re lucky.”
Back Cover Copy for Silverhawk:
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.
Amazon has surprised me by running a 99 cent sale for Silverhawk.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Ruth A. Casie

The Game’s AFoot by Ruth A. Casie:
It was merely a plot for their new story--until someone overheard, and bullets started to fly.
Former best-selling romantic comedy author Beth Alexander is reinventing herself, using her real name, Beth Holmes, changing genres, and collaborating with bestselling adventure author JD Watson. Since their first meeting last Christmas, Jarred (JD) has made her heart race. Plagued with self-doubts caused by her nosedive off the best-seller list, Beth fears she’s unable to craft a heroine worthy of Jarred’s hero. Will their collaboration be a liability to his skyrocketing career? Their relationship?
 Jarred Watson is in love with Beth no matter which last name she uses, and had been long before they’d met. Since reading her first novel, he suspected the heroine was based on the flesh-and-blood author. Those qualities made him fall in love with both the fictitious and very real woman. After meeting her last Christmas he confirmed he had it right. But Beth’s recent lackluster success leaves her doubting her writing ability. How can he convince the woman he loves she’s as great as ever and the vital piece needed to make their collaboration a success?
The plot thickens…                 
Determined to up her writing game, Beth records a core plot idea for their new collaborative effort while at a local pastry shop in Havenport. Unbeknownst to her she actually intercepts a conversation about a real drug deal. Can she and Jarred use the deductive reasoning of their namesakes and figure out the whodunit? Bullets fly when Beth’s abducted—and Jarred is the only one who can save her. At the standoff will it be the hero or the heroine who sacrifices everything to save the other?

RUTH A. CASIE is an author of swashbuckling action-adventure time-travel romance about strong empowered women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. Her Druid Knight novels have both finaled in the NJRW Golden Leaf contest. Ruth also writes contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and international bank product and marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Medieval Monday with Mary Morgan

Happy Medieval Monday. Today we continue the theme, conflict. Mary Morgan is my guest. In this excerpt, time traveling mystery writer Deidre Flanagan faces off against the Dragon Knight. Who will win? I hope you enjoy the passage.

Excerpt from Dragon Knight’s Shield

“Never have I seen a woman command men as she does,” commented Robert coming alongside him.
Angus kept silent. He knew his friend had set his sight on the woman as well. He had flirted with her outright at the table last evening, stirring the outrage of Hugh. The man dared to tempt fate to the edge of his life, and Angus wanted to slice out Robert’s tongue with a blade.
Rubbing his hands together to ward off the chill, Robert removed his cloak. “I believe ’tis my turn at a lesson or two.”
Without thought, Angus blocked his progress with an outstretched hand. “Nae. My turn.”
The man raised an eyebrow in amused contempt and took a step back.
As Angus stepped into the clearing, he saw Deirdre’s eyes go wide in surprise. As he gave the others a passing glance, they understood his meaning and retreated to the trees. Removing his cloak, he faced her.
“There is nothing I can teach you, Angus. I’ve seen you fight.” She rubbed her hands down the sides of her gown, and he took this as a nervous gesture.
His steps slowed as he circled her, making her turn as he did. “Ye show the others. Why not me?”
“Because there are some techniques…umm ways…to improve…and they asked, since they believe me…”
“Ye are rambling. Not good for a hunter.”
“I’m not playing this game, MacKay,” she hissed.
“This is no game we play, Flanagan. There is a real danger that cannae be fought with strength alone.”
“Then you’re the fool if you don’t think I understand. The Fianna have told me about the magic of this evil druid. But what they haven’t told me is why he wants to claim the relics of the Dragon Knights.”
Angus clenched his fists. They had no right discussing his past with her.
“Does that upset you?”
He continued his spiral movement around her. “Why would it?”
“Because it shows in your eyes. They go from light brown to blazing amber.”
His smile became predatory. “Ye are a keen witness.”
“Tell me about your relic, Angus?”
Chuckling softly, he kept silent. Her gown twisted as her steps faltered, and he realized she had not mastered moving in the clothing.
She stomped her foot in anger. “Stop moving!”
In one swift move, he had her hands behind her back with his face mere inches from the lips he wanted. “Ye have now become my prey.” He could feel the rise and fall of her breasts with every breath she took, and he fought to control his body. By the gods how he wanted her. She smelled of the woods, wild and untamed.
She blinked and he found desire staring back at him. Twisting her head away from his, she spat out, “Let me go.”
If the others were not around, Angus feared he would have claimed her right there in the snow. He shook his head of the blinding lust and released her. “Ye are correct, Deirdre. There is naught ye can teach me.” Turning slowly, he started to walk away when he felt the blade at his back.
“The first lesson, Angus, in any battle is never to turn your back on the enemy. You have forgotten the basics in defense.”
He held his arms out wide. “Then strike for the kill, Deirdre and pray ye have the strength to aim true.”
She punched him hard in his lower back, causing him to stumble a few feet. “Trust me, I have the strength.” Her words sent a chill down his spine, and the beast became unleashed.
As Angus whirled around, he reached for the arm that held the blade. Her gown twisted and she slipped, bringing them both to the ground. Wasting no time being so close to her heated body, he stood. Shoving a hand through his hair, he then pointed to her bunched up gown. “And the first lesson ye should master is to fight in your clothes. They will be your undoing.” Hissing out several curses, he stormed off to the trees, whistling for Artair.
As he passed one of the pines, a blade flew past his head and landed with a loud thump into the wood. The fire danced off his fingertips, but he made no move to turn around. “Ye missed.”

  Back Cover Copy of Dragon Knight’s Shield

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?

Buy Links for Dragon Knight’s Shield:

Friday, May 20, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Meredith Bond

Regency romance and magic. These are my kind of stories. Oh, I still love medieval knights and I'm learning to appreciate the contemporary hero. Maybe it's the magic that speaks to me. But to me words are the real magic. Please give a warm Books, Chocolate, and Wine welcome to Meredith Bond. For her it's all about words.

For Joy of the Written Word

I love books. I always have. They’ve entertained me since I was a baby, given me solace when I was down, brought me happiness throughout my life, and taught me everything I’ve ever wanted to know (and more). I can’t imagine a world—or my life—without them.
I love looking at books nearly as much as I like reading them too—and I don’t just mean picture or coffee table books. I mean ordinary novels and non-fiction too. From the title page through to the biography at the end; everything from the way they’re laid out to the fonts to the chapter titles and drop caps. I think they’re fascinating.
So what does one do with such a passion? Why, become a writer and formatter, of course!
I write what I have always loved reading, romance. From the day my mother handed me my first Georgette Heyer Regency romance, I’ve been reading and loving the genre. When I found myself without a job and with nothing to do in rural Massachusetts (having moved there as a new bride to be with my husband), I did the only thing I could think of—I started writing the books I loved reading. Now, oh-so-many years later, I’ve published four books with Kensington Publishers, and fourteen on my own as a self-published author (four of them are republications of the first four, edited and changed a bit, two are short stories in anthologies).
I haven’t always stuck to my beloved traditional Regencies, but have branched out into adding a paranormal element (magic) to my Regencies and then into different time periods in history, including a series of post-Arthurian stories and right now I’m writing a contemporary (with previous life flashbacks to medieval times because I can’t just write contemporary without some history thrown in).
And with my passion for exploring how books look and the rise in self-publishing, I’ve become a formatter of books for indie-authors.
I’ve never been an artist, but I explore my artistic side with my formatting. Laying out a book so that it’s easy to read and pleasing to the eye is my goal. A well formatted book is one where you might notice a few touches here and there—a drop cap (that large first letter at the beginning of a chapter), a picture at the section breaks (I always try to pull an element from the front cover of the book for these)—but for the most part good formatting fades into the background unnoticed and just makes the book easier to read and a more pleasant reading experience.
Ebooks don’t allow for too much fooling around with the formatting because the whole point of an ebook is to allow the reader to decide what font they want to read in and how large the letters should be. But when I format for CreateSpace (print-on-demand), if the client-author allows me, I’ll go all out and fooling with fonts (again, pulling what was used on the front cover), picture separators, drop caps, and add in other fun little touches. I’ll do all that I can to make the book pretty and fun to read.
Books are so much fun. They’re a lifeline for some, and a passion for so many. And now, with e-readers and books being priced as low as 99 cents, it’s so easy to pick one up at your favorite e-retailer and delve right in!
So, the next time you’re enjoying a good read, stop and notice how it looks. If it’s nice, you can probably thank a formatter for that. If not… well, then, perhaps the author or publisher didn’t take the time to make sure that it did. It doesn’t take a great deal of effort to make a book look good, but it can enhance the whole reading experience.
I hope all of your reading experiences are pleasant ones!

Bridging the Storm 
Can a twenty year-old woman make life worth living for a thousand year old man?

An immortal knight…

On the night of the winter solstice, Sir Arthur Dagonet once again sips Merlin’s potion and transforms from an elderly man to a young one. Once his metamorphosis was a gift. Now it’s a curse. He’s had centuries of adventure, but lost all he has loved when he could not die. Until the High Priestess of the magical Vallen provides a possible escape from the endless cycle.
A life without life…
Kate Cherington cobbled together a life by making herself a necessary part of her aunt’s household, teaching her cousins how to use their magic. But her life is a trap. Her aunt, the High Priestess of the Vallen, will not present her to Regency London society. Her only escape is within the travel books she devours. Until she meets a man who’s living the life she longs for.
A timeless force…
Can a twenty year-old woman make life worth living for a thousand year old man? Though eager to rid himself of his immortality, brave, beautiful Kate sparks memories of Sir Arthur’s happy exploits with the Children of Avalon, the first of the magical Vallen. But bound by promises to the priestess, Kate and Sir Arthur find themselves facing a force more powerful than either anticipated, a force stronger than any desire for life or death: the magic of love.
“Wow, this book is so well written. I like the way Meredith writes and the stories she comes up with are absolutely incredible and unique. I must admit that I haven't read any of the other books in the series but I didn't feel that I needed to. Magic, curses, and fantasy come alive in this story. It is a definite must read! I don't want to give anything away in the story so take my word for it and pick up your copy as soon as it's available!” –Amazon Reviewer, “Toomuch87
An intriguing read that combines romance and magic in equal measure. I enjoyed Magic in the Storm by the same author, and this is sort of a prequel to that book, even though it was written later. The romance was sweet and the character development (especially into those characters who repeat in Magic in the Storm) was well done. A nice, sweet read. – Amazon Reviewer, Mae Clair
Buy Links: Amazon, B&N, KOBO, iBooks, Smashwords, Google Play
Except from Bridging the Storm
“I’m sorry. I don’t believe we’ve been introduced,” she said, her cheeks flushing an even deeper shade of pink.
“Er, uh, no! No,” he chuckled. “I beg your pardon.” He executed a grand leg for her. “Sir Arthur Dagonet, at your service.”
She curtsied in response. “Miss Kate Cherington. I’m Lord Vallentyn’s niece.”
“Ah! Had the pleasure of his company at breakfast,” Dagonet said, smiling. “Shame about the children.”
“So you are the man Aunt Vallentyn invited here to cure them.”
He opened his mouth to say something, debated whether he should make a joke, or just affirm she was correct. He decided to play it safe. “Yes.”
“Will you?” Her beautiful eyes, so expressive, seemed to get paler in the sunlight. Was that possible?
“Will I what?” he asked, his mind befuddled by her beauty.
“Be able to cure them?” she asked.
He almost asked who she referred to but quickly pulled his mind back to the situation at hand—and not a moment too soon. He’d almost made himself look like an idiot. Why did he always make a fool of himself in front of women he was attracted to? He was determined not to do the same with Miss Cherington. He was too old to fall into such silliness. Lowering his eyes to the ground, he placed an appropriately somber expression on his face. “No, I’m afraid I don’t have that ability.”
“But Aunt Vallentyn said you had knowledge that she might use…”
“Oh, yes! Plenty of knowledge. Just not the, er…” he paused for a moment. She was Vallen, right? Yes. She’d used magic to stop her book from falling into the river. “I’m not associated with Fire. Can’t actually heal anyone, don’t you know?”
“No. I didn’t know,” she said, her head tilted slightly, as if trying to figure him out.
This time he couldn’t help but laugh. “Lady Vallentyn…” She’d called her ‘aunt’ hadn’t she? “Your aunt?” At her nod, he continued. “Yes, well, she thinks that I may know of some magic that she could use to cure the children. Don’t know that I do, but I'm more than willing to explore the possibility with her.”
Miss Cherington looked confused. “You don’t know if you know how to cure the children?”
“No. Lady Vallentyn’s going to, or, well, she’s begun to explore my memories, don’t you know?”
“Explore your memories? And what does she think she’ll find there that you don’t know about?”
Dagonet burst out laughing. Luckily, even Miss Cherington saw how ridiculous the question, in fact, the whole situation, was.
“You’re a very funny man, Sir Arthur,” she said laughing. “I only hope my aunt finds whatever it is she thinks you have in your memories, and that…”
“I’m not aware of?” he chuckled.
She laughed. “Yes.”
“Yes, well. I hope so as well.”
 Meredith Bond's books straddle that beautiful line between historical romance and fantasy. An award-winning author, she writes fun traditional Regency romances, medieval Arthurian romances, and Regency romances with a touch of magic. Known for her characters “who slip readily into one’s heart,” Meredith loves to take her readers on a journey they won't soon forget. 
Merry has two independent children and a loving, supportive husband. She resides in Washington, DC enjoying the freedoms of having an empty nest. 

Merry loves connecting with readers. Be sure to find her:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Medieval Monday with Ashley York

It’s Medieval Monday. I hope you all had a great weekend. Today my guest is Ashley York with an excerpt from The Seventh Son. In this passage, Tisa is pulled from her betrothed and given to another by her father.
 Excerpt from The Seventh Son
What sounded like a bellow of rage brought immediate silence to all in the hall.
It was her father. She started toward the antechamber where the men had gone but Fergus held her fast. “Ye best not interfere.”
The men who had appeared deeply inebriated suddenly sobered, drawing their weapons, clearly unsure of where the danger lay. Doors slammed in the distance. Loud voices came closer. It was the Meic Lochlainn, not her father.
Fergus began to draw his sword but he was too late. The huge man closing in on her sank his dagger into the man’s chest without missing a step. The captain dropped to her feet.
“We need to see this consummated.” Aodh Meic Lochlainn replaced the bloodied blade and grabbed her by the arm, dragging her to the stairs.
Tisa looked behind her at Fergus, his blood spreading beneath him. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t breathe. Her father came out of the anteroom. Darragh stood beside him.
“Father?” was all she could get out as she was dragged toward the stairs.
The crowd of strange men followed behind. She strained to find her father in the sea of heads but he was lost behind her.
“Nae. Stop. Where are ye taking me?” She pulled against the hurtful grip on her arm.
Darragh appeared on the other side of her and faced his father. “I will see to this, Father.”
“Are ye sure ye’re able to?” His words dripped with derision.
Tisa didn’t understand this interplay.
“Please,” she said. “My father.”
They continued moving to the top of the stairs.
“Release my wife!”
Darragh’s commanding tone brought a look of surprise from his father. They paused to face each other. His expression of surprise changed to one of respect. Tipping his head, he released his hold and raised his hand, palm out. Tisa rubbed at her arm.
“As ye will, my son. See to it then.” His jaw tightened, he moved in close, his eyes widened in warning. “Let. There. Be. No. Doubt!”
 Back Cover Copy for The Seventh Son
Drogheda, Ireland 1076
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, 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 Brian Boru, 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 over throw 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?
Buy Link for The Seventh Son: Amazon

Friday, May 13, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Julie Rowe

This post is a reprise from January. Julie Rowe is one of the 90,000 residents impacted by the fire in Fort McMurray Alberta. Thank goodness she's safe in Edmonton while her hero husband stayed behind to rescue stranded pets for SPCA.
This is Books, Chocolate and Wine where I host guest authors. I'd like to introduce you to my good friend, Julie Rowe. Julie and I have been friends for some time. We each published our first book with Carina Press and met at the Carina Press author's party at the 2011 National Conference in New York. When we realized our books were to release on the same day we declared ourselves book-twins. We've stayed close even though Julie is from Alberta, Canada and I live in New Jersey. I know you'll enjoy her post as well as her books.
Inspiration or Insanity?
One of the most common questions writers receive from non-writers is: where do you get your ideas?
My short answer to that question is: That’s not the correct question. The correct question is: How do I string all the ideas crowding inside my head into one story? The answer is: I don’t. I’ve had 18 of my stories, of varying lengths, published since 2011. I’ve got 42,000 more to go.
A writer’s brain never shuts off the ideas. Never.
What really freaks me out is when I’m writing and I’m just going with the flow, writing without much of a plan or outline, and everything I’ve just written in the past few pages lines up perfectly with a single concluding line. Words that might have been placed on the page, haphazardly and with no purpose transform into a single coherent theme.
Out of the chaos comes balance. Full circle. Closure.
That’s the question I want answered. How does that happen? How does the mind keep track of all those small details, characters and plot, and still manage to create something profound, or at least fun/interesting/thought provoking out of…nothing?
I look out the window and I see worlds coming to life that aren’t actually there. I see heroes, villains and side-kicks. I see mountains, volcanoes and outer space. I hear conversations, complete with accents, arguments and apologies, and feel the vibrations of moving airplanes, cars and boats.
There are entire worlds in my head, whole civilizations and cultures.
I’m just one writer. One. Every day I sit at my computer and let my fingers translate the worlds inside my head on to paper. Every day I discover something more about myself, how I see the world, what matters to me.
I suppose, if I’d been born one hundred years earlier, I’d have been locked up for talking to the voices inside my head. Recent scientific studies say that there’s a close connection between creativity and mental illness (explains a lot!). The characters I create all have their own set of neurosis, strengths and flaws. The conflicts they have to resolve are complex and realistic. By the time I’m finished writing their story, my characters have grown to earn a happy ending (excluding villains), because at the very core of every story I write is hope.
For me hope is the greatest motivator, the greatest reward and the one thing that can change someone’s day from horrible to uplifting.
So, inspiration or insanity, where do your ideas come from?
Men of Action
A Short Story Boxed Set
All author proceeds from the sale of this boxed set will be donated to Quilts of Valour.
Supporting Canadian Armed Forces members past and present with quilts of comfort in their time of need.
Secret Santa
A nurse grieving the death of her twin brother receives an unexpected gift at the staff Secret Santa party: the bullet that killed him and a message of hope and love.
Previously published in the Timeless Keepsakes anthology
A Pirate’s Vacation
A doctor grieving the death of her husband, buys a B&B in the Virgin Islands in need of a lot of fixing. Her old flame arrives to help with repairs, but will she let him heal her shattered heart?
Previously published in the Timeless Escapes anthology
Medal of Honor 
When a Chicago surgeon is informed her homeless father has been murdered, she’s shocked to discover he won the Medal of Honor years ago in Vietnam. Now the killer has her in his sights, but the detective on the case has no intention of letting anyone hurt her. Ever.
Previously published in the Timeless Treasures anthology
Including all new material in each story!
Buy Links

Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and northern Alberta, where she still resides. She loves to include medical details in her romance novels, but admits she’ll never be able to write about all her medical experiences because, “No one would believe them!”. In addition to writing contemporary and historical medical romance, and fun romantic suspense for Entangled Publishing and Carina Press, Julie has short stories in Fool’s Gold, the Mammoth Book of ER Romance, Timeless Keepsakes and Timeless Escapes anthologies. Her book SAVING THE RIFLEMAN (book #1 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. AIDING THE ENEMY (book #3 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the 2014 Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in several magazines such as Romantic Times Magazine, Today’s Parent, and Canadian Living. You can reach her at , on Twitter @julieroweauthor or at her Facebook page:

Monday, May 9, 2016

Medieval Monday with Rue Allyn

Knight Defender

Mid-April 1295, the northwest coast of Scotland
“Unhand me.” She pushed against the massive chest and writhed in the arms cradling her body.
   He gathered her closer, mashing her cheek against him.
   For an instant, his blazing gray eyes held her spellbound as tightly as his strength gripped her body. Unable to look away, she shivered, but not with cold. The odor of damp wool and man nearly drowned her. All sound faded away save her own harsh breathing.
   “Ho, ho!” His chuckle was impossible to miss. “So you are no dying, are you then? Well liars and deceivers must suffer the consequences of their actions.”
   She refused to be intimidated. She forced her head away from him. “Is rudeness the customary greeting for your guests, Baron MacKai? I’ve a mind to refuse to wed you. Then King Edward will decline to pay you rent for docking his ships in your excuse for a harbor.
   “You think you could resist me?” More chuckles shook his chest.
   “It would be a small matter to deny an oaf such as you.”
   Flames of some inner fire shone in his unyielding stare. She was unfamiliar with fear, but what else twisted in her belly and skittered just beneath her skin? She wanted to deny his effect on her but in all honesty could not.
   “I could make you beg.” He growled low, like some big cat poised to pounce.
   “Never.” She could be honest with herself about her body’s betrayal, but she’d plenty of reason not to give the churl any hint of her weakness.
   His forward motion halted, his head dipped then stopped a finger’s width from her face. His gaze bored into hers.
   Her breath froze at the frenzy of emotions she saw there. ‘Anger, threat, resentment, and something she could not identify. She refused to care. Her fingers itched to slap him, and she raised her hand.
   “I wouldna, if I were you.” He anchored her hand beneath a brawny arm and started walking again.
   “You’ll regret insulting me.”
   His brows rose. “We’ll see about that. For now, I need you safely stowed away.”
   “Stowed away!” He made her sound like bothersome chattel, useful for only one purpose. She squirmed and finally released her outer hand from his hold to beat her fist against his chest. “Beast! You will treat me with the courtesy and respect due a lord’s daughter.”
   He made no response other than to quicken his pace.
   She hit him harder. “You and your entire cowardly clan will rue this day.”
   He stopped abruptly and shifted his grip. Her feet fell downward but found no purchase on solid ground. She hung suspended from the large hands thrust under her armpits. The heels of those palms pressed against her breasts, and heat flooded her body at the intimate touch.
   “You, you …” He and every other MacKai disgusted her beyond words. Raising her head to berate him further, she stilled. Once more, the gleam in those stony eyes compelled her attention. The downward tip at the outer corner of his lids gave him a slumberous appearance belied by glints of indecipherable emotion. Those deceptive lids narrowed. She longed to hide but could not look away.
   “Listen to me.”
   His quiet words slid over her skin, causing a rise of goosebumps.
   “You are naught but a troublesome woman. You have no power or authority here, so if you value your overly pampered English hide, you’ll no insult clan MacKai. Do you understand?”
   She swallowed and nodded.
   He tossed her over his shoulder, secured her legs against him with an arm, and continued walking.
   “How dare…”
   One of those huge palms smacked her rump.
   “Oooo! I’ll make you regret you ever touched me.”
   A second smack was followed by an order for silence.
   Since her backside began to throb, Jessamyn subsided in favor of plotting retribution. She’d start with boiling in oil followed by a sound beating and end with banishment.
   She was deciding whether or not to add tar and feathers when she heard the creak of leather hinges. They crossed a doorway, and she went flying through the air to land in a heap, face down on a feather bed.
   “Dry clothing will be brought. Dinna imagine I care for your comfort. I simply canna be bothered to find another woman if you catch an ague and die.”
   She struggled to right herself, sputtering and pulling her hair from her face. The brute deserved the sharp side of her tongue. She gathered breath as she turned to speak, just to see the coward disappear and the door bang shut behind him.
   He was not getting away that easily. She leapt from the bed, ran for the door, and nearly jerked her arms from her shoulders when the wooden barrier refused to budge at her angry pull.
   Dumbfounded, she could only stare.
   He’d barred the door? Boiling oil and banishment are too good for him. I must see him drawn and quartered.

Knight Defender Conflict, His, Hers, Theirs

Baron Raeb MacKai is done allowing himself and everyone he loves to live in poverty and despair. His betrothal to a wealthy English heiress will solve a decade of problems. He will do everything necessary to defend his home and his country, but can he defend his heart?

Knight Defender Buy Links

About Rue Allyn
When not writing, loving her spouse, or attending meetings, Rue travels the world and surfs the internet in search of background material and inspiration for her next heart melting romance. She loves to hear from readers, and you may contact her at  <a href="" title="Contact Rue Allyn" target="_blank"></a>. She can't wait to hear from you.

Author Links:  Amazon   FaceBook   @RueAllyn   Goodreads   Author Travels Blog   Website

Friday, May 6, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with Anna Taylor

I love African American history and I love romance. So when I can combine the two I’m every happiness cliché under the sun times two. My creative juices don’t just flow but flood with a torrent of “What ifs?” 
Eban Thurman, the hero of my upcoming release, One Breath Away, had me delving into the lives of “Black Jacks,” African-American sailors and loving everything I learned. Writing Eban into a romance, I could flavor his swagger and attitude with that of real life Black Jacks while still enjoying the magic of “What if?”

Books, Chocolate and Wine with J.J. DiBenedetto

Guest post: a character interview with Jane Barnaby, the 20th century heroine of Finders Keepers
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An only child.
Sorry, that was mean.  I actually do love my brother.  As a child…a Jedi, I guess?  Or a starship pilot, maybe.  Yes, we went to see “Star Wars” a dozen times when it came out, why do you ask? 
What are you passionate about these days?
The peoples of the Copper Age in Europe.  Well, my advisor is passionate about that, anyway, and it’s hard not to get caught up when he really gets going.  Seriously, it actually is really interesting.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wednesday Selfie ~ Grammar School & Maypoles, If My Mother Knew!

There are many things I associate with May, spring, tulips, lengthening days and cleaning the deck so I can spend more time outside. From a nostalgic viewpoint, I remember my grammar school’s international dance festival the first week of May. Each grade focused on a different part of the world. All winter we prepared for the festival. We learned a new dance, a bit about the countries culture, and made our costumes. I vividly remember how striking I looked in a serape when my class did a Mexican hat dance.
But the central dance, the one each class group did together was the Maypole. I can look back and laugh at the frustrated teachers when the weave of a pole wasn’t quite right and how, as students, we’d looked at the other poles to take some pride in the work we’d done and to see which pole came out the best before you went to the table for juice and cookies.
Years later, I learned the Maypole was one of the traditional symbols of Beltane. This celebration ushered in the fertility of spring to ensure the success of the crops and livestock. Beltane is a Fire Festivals. It’s very name originated with Celtic and Gaelic meaning’ bright one’ and ‘fire’, later translated to ‘Bright Fire’ or ‘Goodly Fire.’
The Druids believed Beltane divided the year in half. The other half ended with Samhain, Halloween, on November 1. The ancient rite of Beltane included dousing all existing fires and setting a new fire. This was in keeping with ancient New Year rites. The people believed fire gave life to the lengthening of the new springtime sun and purified crops and animals. Bonfires were lit side-by-side and cattle driven between them to purify them. Men and their sweethearts passed through the smoke for good fortune and to pledge themselves to each other. At the end of the evening, people would take some of the fire to their hearths to start a new fire for the coming year.
The festival began thousands of years ago. Villagers would go into the forest and cut down a tall birch tree. They’d insert the phallic pole into the earth representing the potency of the God. Young women made a ring of flowers for the top of the pole that represented the fertility of the Goddess. Colorful ribbons hung from the Maypole. Young people, each holding a ribbon, danced around the pole weaving in and out to create a sleeve of sorts, enveloping the womb of the earth around the pole. This symbolized the spiral of life and the union of the Goddess and God, Earth and Sky.
How does my mother figure into this post? Mom wasn't prudish but I remember when she, Dad and my older brother visited me at college in update New York. The town had been all abuzz with the new obelisk an artist had erected. I called it a phallic symbol. Mom asked, What does that mean?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Medieval Monday with Lane McFarland

Happy Medieval Monday. We continue our theme, Conflict, with Lane McFarland’s Lindsey. How war changes people. Carefree times of enjoying each other dashed by the enemy. Bodies and sprits crushed. Can Lindsey be his savior? Enjoy the excerpt!

Who said life was fair? Certainly not Lindsey MacDougall. She rebels at a world dominated by men. Dressed in lad’s clothing, she manages her father’s stables, caring for, breeding and selling horses. Unwavering on performing her duty to the rebellion, Lindsey throws caution to the wind and secretly delivers missives behind enemy lines to the Scottish warriors.
Logan Ross uses his happy-go-lucky smile to warm the hearts of many willing lasses, but it also masks his pain—the pain of his birth. As a bastard son, he is unacceptable for any Laird’s daughter, including the spirited Lindsey MacDougall. However, she haunts his dreams. Determined to prove his worth, he throws himself into the middle of the rebellion, leading men into mortal danger.
After helping Logan escape from a brutal English dungeon, Lindsey fights her traitorous attraction to the virile highland warrior, vowing never to lose her heart to any man.

Excerpt for Lindsey
The beefy guard waved his torch toward the back of the room. “Them’s the beggars goin’ to trial.”
Twisted shapes of four men, their wrists shackled to the wall and their feet barely touching the floor, came into sight. Lindsey’s chest tightened as if bands squeezed the life from her. “They’ll have to be cut down, sweets. They cannae eat or git fixed up hanging on the wall.”
The man swung his head toward her. His lip curled.
Her pulse pounded in her ears, and she trembled with rage. She wanted to pounce on him, grab his blade, and sink it into his gut. Straining to gain composure, she turned her back on the men and set her basket on the floor. Her hand trembled as she inhaled the putrid air and struggled to calm her nerves. She must maintain her heartless pretense, appear untouched by the savagery. Biting the side of her lip, she rummaged through the jars and extracted the healing salves.
Chains rattled behind her. Thumps of dead weight and groans indicated the guard had freed the men. As he marched from the cell, he cast a look at Lindsey and slammed the door. The lock clunked, and his booted footsteps grew quieter as he strode away.
Several men rushed from the huddled group to aid their fallen companions. Lindsey hurried to the first man and knelt beside him. She pushed his hair to the side and grimaced.
Cora’s little bandits were correct.
His swollen face was blackened, and blood caked the back of his head. “Logan, can ye hear me? It’s Lindsey.”
His eyes fluttered. Moans of the injured men wafted around her. She jerked the basket to her side and brought out a flask of water, a soft cloth, and a jar of salve. “Look in my basket for more water skins,” she called over her shoulder to the other prisoners.
Logan’s friends, Adam, Thom, and Colyne lay unmoving. Dark dried blood and dirt smeared the men’s swollen, beaten faces. Their listless bodies attested to abuse and neglect.
“The commander takes delight in torturing them.”
Lindsey’s head snapped to the man who stooped beside her.
“Seems to hold a real interest in them.” He grabbed her basket and passed out containers to several others. They crowded around, snatching the bandages, salves, and potions she’d brought.
“Why?” she whispered. “What’s so special about them?”
The man squinted and indicated Logan with his head. “Collins couldn’t break him. I think that about drove the commander over the brink. He wanted to deliver information on the rebels’ stronghold to the king. Infuriated him that he failed to do so.”
The man bent over Adam and helped him sit.
While supporting Logan’s head, Lindsey held a flask to his parched, cracked lips and dribbled the liquid into his mouth. He sputtered, gulping at the water.
“Easy,” she said, giving him sips while she studied his disfigured face. “I’m here to help ye.”
One eye was swollen shut, the other barely open. His brown hair hung in filthy strands across his forehead, and a red irritated gash crossed his grimy cheek. She sat on the nasty hard floor and cradled his head in her lap. The medicinal salves would do little to heal him, but she had to try.
Her heart clenched. When she’d last seen him, the days spent with the fear of English hostilities and devastation as constant companions had not yet arrived. The soldiers had not yet destroyed her carefree way of life. They had not been concerned with the next raid or protecting the clan from enemy invasion. Instead, Lindsey and Logan enjoyed each other’s company, held the same love for horses, and had become fast friends.
He groaned. “Lindsey?”
“Aye, it’s me.” Her voice caught as she answered.
His good eye narrowed, and he grasped her wrist, his grip surprisingly strong for someone so battered. “What the hell are ye doing here? This is no place for ye, lass.”
“The Sassenachs are taking ye and yer men to the east coast in two days.” She spoke softly to him while dabbing his grimy forehead and bearded cheeks. “Yer caravan will not make it to the ship. Have faith. Stay strong. I have a plan.”

Buy Link for Lindsey