Monday, June 1, 2020

Medieval Monday with Cathy MacRae


The Prince’s Highland Bride
Free of court intrigue, Phillipe seeks a new start in life. Falling in love was not in his plans. Until he met Maggie MacLaren.
Nature can provide beauty and inspiration. It can also bring danger. Maggie’s island is a place of solace and great beauty, but it is also completely without defenses, something Phillipe must correct before he completes his task of protecting the woman he has come to love—and says good-bye to her forever.
Maggie is faced with the realization that some men will do anything to destroy her even thought she is no longer a threat. She has choices to make, but before she does that she must come to gripes with her protector.
Back Cover Copy:
Phillipe de Poitiers, a prince of Antioch, finds himself a breath away from wrongful execution. Risking everything, he leaves behind his crown, his family, his country—and a body sworn to be his by the Bishop, himself.
Free of court intrigue and drawn to Scotland by memories of a woman who once possessed his heart, Phillipe sells his sword to pay for his travels and accepts the task of guarding the daughter of Laird MacLaren.
When Maggie MacLaren’s abusive marriage fails, she wants nothing more than to retire to her childhood home on the banks of Loch Lomond. Trouble follows her, putting her clan in danger, and she travels to the Isle of Hola, placing her safety in the hands of a mysterious mercenary with a haunted smile and a kind heart.
As Maggie and Phillipe struggle with their pasts, love blooms. But when a pirate’s treasure offers a seductive lure, will it free them—or prove the downfall of all they hold dear?
Buy links:
Nature can provide beauty and inspiration. It can also bring danger. Maggie’s island is a place of solace and great beauty, but it is also completely without defenses, something Phillipe must correct before he completes his task of protecting the woman he has come to love—and says good-bye to her forever.
Maggie is faced with the realization that some men will do anything to destroy her even thought she is no longer a threat. She has choices to make, but before she does that she must come to gripes with her protector.
Excerpt 5:
His choice of words startled her almost as much as his certainty her presence would bring dissolute men to Hola.
He thought her beautiful?
What would the presence of such men do to her isle?
Panic swept over her. “I could rebuild the monastery. Create a nunnery. I would be safe there.”
Something—sorrow?—crossed his face. “Ye have no wish to remarry? A man with a powerful name could protect ye.”
Scorn swept away her fears. “I had a powerful name. I had a husband. Neither protected me.”

Join me next week on Judith Sterling’s blog: https://judithmarshallauthor.com/blog/


Monday, May 25, 2020

Medieval Monday with Judith Sterling

Welcome to week 4 of Medieval Monday.

Today I'm hosting Judith Sterling. Her story, Night of the Owl is a medieval time travel. Our heroine Ardyth has already fallen back in time and met the man of her dreams, Hugh. They have gone for a ride and stopped to enjoy the lunch his has packed for them. You see, Ardyth has already instructed Hugh in the art of the sandwich. So, what did his man make for them?

Snippet:


“M-m,” she hummed, her mouth full of the same goodness that filled his own. “Heaven. Particularly the cheese.”
“You share my passion for food.”
“I never met a cheese I didn’t like.”
Follow along next week on Jenna’s blog: https://jennajaxon.wordpress.com/


Night of the Owl

True love transcends time.
PhD student Ardyth Nightshade has renounced men and pursues her twentieth-century career with single-minded focus. When fate whisks her to medieval England, she meets her match in a man whose passions mirror her own. Can she sacrifice ambition for a love she never sought?

Hugh, Lord Seacrest confounds all who know him. He refuses to marry without a meeting of minds and hearts, and no lady has even approached his ideal…until Ardyth. But she's an odd one, with unique skills, shocking habits, and total conviction she needs no man. She also harbors secrets, and in the midst of rumors, plots, and murder, trust is fragile.
A woman outside of her time. A man ahead of his. They must take a leap of faith to forge a bond that will shape history.

Buy links:
Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/night-of-the-owl-1

Monday, May 18, 2020

Medieval Monday with Jenna Jaxon


Welcome to Medieval Monday Spring 2020. Our theme this season is nature. Today, I’m happy to host Jenna Jaxon. Lady Alyce is in love with Thomas but is betrothed to his best friend Geoffrey. Both are good men worthy of her love. In this season’s snippets, Geoffrey is taking Alyce who has recently recovered from the Black Death to her family in Spain. They are camped under the stars for the evening. Alyce mentions a dalliance with Thomas. Now she is faced with a dilemma. Does she tell him truthfully who instigated the event, or not?  Read on!

Snippet #3 - Time Enough to Love

When Lady Alyse de Courcy is betrothed to Sir Geoffrey Longford, she has no choice but to make the best of a bad bargain. The hulking knight is far from her ideal man, and although he does possess some wit and charm, he is no match for the sinfully sensual man she secretly admires, Thomas, Earl of Braeton, her betrothed’s best friend.

From the first, Sir Geoffrey finds himself smitten by Lady Alyse, and, despite her infatuation with his friend, vows to win her love. When Geoffrey puts his mind to wooing Alyse, he is delighted to find her succumbing to his seduction. But when cruel circumstances separate them, Geoffrey must watch helplessly as Thomas steps in to protect Alyse—and falls in love with her himself.

As the three courtiers accompany Princess Joanna to her wedding in Spain, they run headlong into the Black Plague. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both the men she loves. But which love will survive?

GRAB YOUR COPY HERE

Excerpt
Alyse shook her head and avoided his gaze. “The night you helped smuggle me up on the deck of the Phillipa.”
“By God’s death!” Geoffrey swore, the curse vehement enough to startle the horses. “Thomas had a wild streak in him, aye. He loved to flaunt convention, but to force you…his wife…to…to…in a public place where anyone could have seen you.” 
“No, Geoffrey.” She raised her head so she could meet his eyes. She would bare the whole tale, for she would not let him malign Thomas. “’Twas not that way at all… ’twas my idea.”
To learn what happens next, come with me to Kelley Heckart’s blog next week.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Medieval Monday with Sherry Ewing


So far…
Killian is escorting Ella to Warkworth Castle. Our poor heroine is not a horsewoman by any means and this trek is taking a l-o-n-g time. Easy Ella, some would give anything to be him your place!

Snippet # 2 Love Will Find You

Every step of Killian’s steed, whether ’twas the fast or slow pace of the animal, brought its own obstacles, at least in Ella’s mind. ’Twas difficult to remain a respectable distance from a man when you were sitting upon his lap. She had given up sitting on the pillion behind him hours ago, and Killian’s saddle left no other alternative than to be wrapped within his embrace while he steered his horse in the direction of their destination. At one point she had insisted she ride upon the rump of the horse to at least put an end to the intimacy of their close proximity. Yet Killian would not hear of it. ’Twas either she settle herself in her current location or she rode her own horse. The ride all the way to Conisbrough Castle seemed as though ’twould be a long endless journey.

“Enough, Killian. Please… I beg of you. I cannot sit another minute on this beast from hell,” Ella complained in a soft whisper.

Did you miss week one? Find it on Sherry’s blog here
Join Sherry next week for another excerpt on Judith Sterling’s blog here: https://judithmarshallauthor.com/blog/

Blurb:

Sometimes a moment is all we have…

Ella Fitzpatrick is a woman with a secret. As she comes and goes from Berwyck Castle, seeking refuge within its gates, she yearns to be reunited with the one for whom she crossed time from the twenty-first century. She has lived another lifetime in the twelfth century waiting for the date of their reunion and it is almost upon her. But how could she have known the man she believes she loves is not the person she needs?

Killian of Clan MacLaren has been infatuated with Ella for many a year but has guarded his heart, knowing her affection lies with another. When Ella must flee Berwyck, Killian vows to escort her to her encounter with destiny. But passion flares between them and there is no doubt the bond they have is far greater than either of them expected.

Their time together is running out. Killian has a decision to make that might give him and Ella a future together. If you could change someone’s past, would you seize the moment?

Buy Links: Love Will Find You

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/3crq6pU


Monday, May 4, 2020

Medieval Monday Returns! - It's All About Nature

Welcome to Medieval Monday! Today starts a new round of authors, snippets, and fun. Our hashtag (in case you want to share) is #medmonspring20.
I'm featuring myself today and one of my favorite scenes from The Pirate's Jewel, part of the Pirates of Britannia Connected World and a crossover to my Stelton Legacy series. Enjoy!

The Pirate’s Jewel by Ruth A. Casie



Deception and family honor are at stake – so is her heart.

Wesley Reynolds will do anything to avenge his family’s banishment from Dundhragon Castle even throw in with the notorious pirate, MacAlpin. His plan, ruin Lord Ewan’s trading network. He has a more devious plan for his father’s ‘best friend,’ the man who abandoned them at the eleventh hour. He’ll ruin the man’s most precious jewel, his daughter Darla. Wesley’s so close to ruining the trade network and succeeding he can almost taste it, but revenge is not nearly as sweet as Darla’s kisses.
Darla Maxwell, beloved by her parents has no prospects of marriage. Her father and Lord Ewan search to find her the right husband. Darla’s special gifts are frightening to many. She has visions that often come true. The murky image of a man haunts her, she’s sure it’s Lord Ewan’s soon-to-be son-in-law, but the vision morphs when she meets Wesley. The meaning couldn’t be any clearer to her, her destiny lies with Wesley.
When revelations surface indicating Wesley has been deceived and his revenge misplaced. Will he find the truth of what really happened to his family in time to stop the pirates? Will Darla ever forgive him? Will he ever forgive himself?

Ruth A. Casie’s vivid descriptions place you right in the story. It is a wonderful read I highly recommend. 5 Stars”  ~ Deb

$2.99 or Kindle Unlimited
Buy Link:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07M81Y7HM

Excerpt 1
Anger rolled off her father in waves. Even from where she sat she saw his clenched jaw and fisted hands.
“Why aren’t these below?” her father asked, pointing toward the barrels that comprised her hiding place.
Richards shrugged. “With Lord Ewan’s men and supplies, there isn’t any room. I’ll have the men tie them to the deck.”
Darla froze. The men picked up ropes and started to secure the barrels across from her. Her watery eyes enlarged, the hairs on the nape of her neck bristled, and gooseflesh pimpled her frigid skin. Slow and deliberate, a tall man stepped out of the shadows and marched toward her hiding place. Please, don’t let him find me. Not now. She kept her gaze focused on him and tamped down her building panic. There was no place for her to run. She was trapped. His powerful well-muscled body moved toward her with an easy grace.

Join me next week for another excerpt on Sherry Ewing’s blog https://sherryewing.com/blog/

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Heart of the Matter - Reviews




"I enjoyed this book quite a lot and felt like both Addy and Ethan were people I’d want to know.  They were both dealing with the loss of what had been the most important person in their life.  My father and brother died within a couple of years of each other and we really didn’t really finish grieving for one before we unexpectedly lost the other so I could feel what they were going through.  I also took delight in all the blurbs from Candy Apples in the Havenport Herald.  I am now on the search for more Havenport stories."
~ 4 Cups from Vicki, Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More

"In essence it is a very warm story about two people finding love, but there are definitely some deeper subjects explored such as grief and moving on. I would definitely pick up more stories by this author in the future as I truly enjoyed this story, the characters and the writing style."
~ 5 Stars from DeAnne for Goodreads 

"Ruth A. Casie is known for crafting realistic characters and these characters burrowed their way into my heart almost from the start. The grief Addy and Ethan feel is so beautifully portrayed. There were times when I cried right along with Addy, having experienced a similar sense of loss. The romance between Addy and Ethan bloomed slowly but with plenty of emotion. It’s the suspense, though, which had me reading at a frenzy. Family secrets, a murder, a cover-up and even unrequited love play their part in the suspense part of the story. The ending surprised me but at the same time, gave me all the feels. This is, hands down, the best book Ruth A. Casie has written. Highly recommend!"
~  5 Stars from NN Light for NN Light's Book Heaven


Digging into the past can be murder
Addison Moore, a well-known psychiatrist is having difficulty coming to terms with the death of her grandmother Cookie. The woman was everything to her after her parents died in the plane crash over Lockerbie, Scotland. Little did Addy know that an old picture, tucked away in the family bible of Cookie with a handsome stranger would lead her to a discovery for which she is little prepared.
Ethan Taylor is an art historian. He’s lived with his Great Uncle Ben for a long time and would do anything for him. He never anticipated that Ben’s dying wish would introduce him to Ben’s biggest sacrifice.
Neither Addy nor Ethan are prepared for the lengths at which their families went through to keep Cookie and Ben apart. As they try to put the pieces together they uncover a decade’s old unsolved murder implicating Cookie and Ben. Will Addy and Ethan’s blossoming love be able to stand the strain of finding the truth? Will they be able to overcome their own matters of the heart?  
 No Available at Amazon

Sunday, March 1, 2020

It's Worth the Wait!


   

From authors Lane McFarland, April Holthaus, Barbara Bettis, Dawn Marie Hamilton, Karen Muir, Ria Cantrell, and Ruth A. Casie comes a collection of Historical and Time Travel Romances.
Let them serenade you with their spell-binding tales filled with danger, deception, revenge, honor and passion as we take you back in time on a journey spanning the Medieval Highlands through England’s Golden Age to North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

PRE-ORDER today!!: https://tinyurl.com/qnoejkg

Win a KINDLE FIRE - SUBSCRIBE here: https://www.subscribepage.com/m7u9b7 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Release Day! Five Havenport Romances including Heart of the Matter

Welcome to Havenport, RI a fictional town not far from Newport where you'll find romance, suspense, time travel and secrets shared by five authors in genres you love. Today they are releasing five new standalone books, come check them out and stay for a spell... A quick note from Havenport newspaper gossip, Candy Apples.... 
Okay, here’s the skinny. Havenport’s a great town. Perfect for a gossip like me. ;-) I’ve been writing this column for years and never struggle for a story. Easiest job I’ve ever had! We may have started as a small fishing town (stop by our maritime museum to learn more) but we’ve expanded into a thriving hub for business of all sorts. Lots of restaurants, a charming bookstore, souvenir shops, whale watching, ghost tours, even a metaphysical shop (the manager’s a member of our local coven)…there’s never a shortage of things to do here. We’ve got Manor Road, with titans of business known for bringing the money to town—and the drama. I don’t need a shovel to dig up the dirt (or the skeletons) over there. I’m no less busy when I take a stroll down Main Street and eavesdrop—um, I mean, talk to the shopkeepers. They’re a nosy bunch, but they’ve got your best interest at heart. I’ve seen some great couples get together over a drink at Royce’s Tavern or after dropping off a pup for daycare at Wags & Walks. With our close proximity to major cities like Newport, Providence, Boston, and New York City, we attract just about everybody. And, in the spirit of our founding fathers, Havenport welcomes them all with open arms. And when I say everyone, I mean it. Are you looking for a hometown hero to sweep you off your feet? A debonair best-selling author? Is a time traveler from the Roaring Twenties more your style? If you’re looking for adventure or to reunite with a lost love, you’ll find it here. And I’ll report all the juicy details. ~ Candy Apples

Discover Your Next Read 

Heart of the Matter Digging into the past can be murder. Addison Moore, a well-known psychiatrist, is having difficulty coming to terms with the death of her grandmother, Cookie. The woman was everything to her after her parents died in a plane crash over Lockerbie, Scotland. Little did Addy know, an old picture tucked away in the family bible of Cookie with a handsome stranger would lead her to a discovery for which she is little prepared. Ethan Taylor is an art historian. He’s lived with his Great Uncle Ben for a long time and would do anything for him. He never anticipated Ben’s dying wish would introduce him to his biggest sacrifice. Neither Addy nor Ethan are prepared for the lengths at which their families went through to keep Cookie and Ben apart. As they put the pieces together, they uncover a decade’s old unsolved murder implicating Cookie and Ben. Will Addy and Ethan’s blossoming love be able to stand the strain of finding the truth? Will they be able to get to the heart of the matter?
Grab your copy: Amazon | Add to Goodreads
RUTH A. CASIE is a USA Today bestselling author of historical swashbuckling action-adventures and contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages. Her stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. She lives in New Jersey with her hero, 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 vice president at an international bank where she was a product/ marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures.
Everything Gage and Dani have been through it all: the struggles of life, exciting military service, rocky relationships, and heart breaking deaths. In twenty-plus years of being best friends, they've never faced as big of a challenge as they do now. Can their friendship and hearts survive the ultimate test of time?

Grab your copy: Amazon | Add to: Goodreads
D.C. “Desi” Stone is a best-selling romance author and full-time investigator. She lives in the northeast with her incredibly supporting husband, two kids, and the ever-growing family of pets. After serving eight years of service with the United States Air Force, she went on to transition into the world of financial and organized crimes and became a lead investigator for many years. Reading has always been a passion of hers, and getting lost in a good, steamy romance is one of her favorite past times. Her writing concentrates on romantic with specifics in paranormal, suspense, and erotica. When she isn’t trying to solve a new puzzle in the world of fraud, she is engulfed with coffee, her laptop, and all those crazy characters. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hudson Valley Romance Writers, New Jersey Romance Writers, RomVets, RWA Kiss of Death, and the Liberty State Fiction Writers. She served as the 2014 NJRW Vice President and Conference Chair.
Always Brianna Baxter thinks she has the world figured out. She lives a life of privilege and does whatever she wants. After living in New York City, London, New Jersey, and Florida she settles down in Havenport, Rhode Island. As the Christmas holiday approaches, a secret is revealed and she is challenged with the most important decision of her life. Workaholic Simon May gets an unexpected vacation over the holidays and visits family in London. At his childhood home, he finds an envelope that holds the answer to his future. Or does it? He throws caution to the wind and jumps on the next available flight across the pond in search of what he lost. He takes the biggest risk of his life, unsure of what he will encounter once the plane touches down. Will the uncertainty of Brianna’s future steer her in the right direction? Will Simon receive the answer he seeks?
Grab your copy: Amazon | Add to: Goodreads
Lita Harris spends her time between New Jersey and the Endless Mountains region of Pennsylvania. She even lived in Alaska for a short time just for fun. Her two rescue dogs are always close by and travel everywhere with her. An avid crafter, unused supplies clutter her basement and attempts at making pottery, jewelry, and stained glass are scattered throughout her house. She also makes candles and homemade soap. With enough books to stock a small library she may need to construct a building to store her literary obsession. She writes multiple genres, women’s fiction, contemporary romance, paranormal, and cozy mysteries.
Rescuing the Ranger Gabe Preston’s been sent on a mission: clean out his beloved grandmother’s house in Havenport and help move her into senior living—or so he thinks. Havenport had always been a special place to visit while growing up, but during this ride into town he finds more than he bargained for. Surviving multiple deployments as an Army Ranger hadn’t ever proved this type of challenging. All Gabe desires is to ride his motorcycle, enjoy his time out of the Army, and figure out his next stop in life. The best laid plans don’t necessarily work out when you’ve got a meddling, matchmaking grandmother. Francesca Montefiore loves Havenport, and her recently acquired florist shop. She’s finally made a fresh start in her life, one stem at a time. When she’s “adopted” by the local Garden Club members she treasures the ladies as family, something she’d been sorely lacking. When her past comes back to threaten her contentment, she’ll need the help of one hunky, visiting Army Ranger, the Garden Club President’s grandson to come to her rescue. But will she be the one doing the rescuing instead?
Grab your copy: Amazon | Add to: Goodreads
Nicole S. Patrick is a Human Resources professional by day and romance novelist the rest of the time. She’s a founding partner in Timeless Scribes, Publishing, LLC and crafts contemporary romance stories about military heroes. Former President of New Jersey Romance Writers, she met her business and writing partners at a meeting and the rest is history. Together they created the fictional town of Havenport, RI, where magic is in the air, and love happens with every story. Nicole currently lives in central New Jersey with her husband and two sons who keep her house in a state of constant chaos…but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Time After Time When Sophia Segarra, the owner of Time After Time Antiques in Havenport, finds a packet of love letters from the 1920s in her shop, she can’t help but fantasize about what it would be like to find a love like the one described in those letters. But even though she’s told the pearl necklace from her Halloween costume will bring the wearer to true love, she never imagined they’d transport her back in time to the Roaring Twenties. In 1928, Liam O’Connell is writing an article on the Main Street Bandits for the Havenport Herald while investigating the disappearance of his brother. He’s not having much luck with either and a trip to Tilly’s speakeasy on Halloween is about to make life more interesting. Liam’s reporter instincts tell him Sophia’s hiding something, and he’s determined to find out what. Will her secret keep them apart, or will they come to realize that time after time, love overcomes all obstacles?
Grab your copy: Amazon | Add to: Goodreads
EMMA KAYE is married to her high school sweetheart and has two beautiful kids that she spends an insane amount of time driving around central New Jersey. Before Scouts and drama club entered her life, she decided to try writing one of those romances she loved to read and discovered a new passion. She has been writing ever since. Add in a playful puppy, two patient cats, and a snake, and she’s living her own happily ever after while making her characters work hard to reach theirs.
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Monday, January 27, 2020

Medieval Monday with Ruth A. Casie - Final Excerpt


Here is the full excerpt, with the final snippet at the end!

Back Cover Copy:
After her beloved father dies, Moira MacDougall becomes chieftain of their small clan. She is tested on every level, not only by her councilors who question her every move, but also by an exiled Englishman who raids her village under the guise of a notorious pirate, Gareth Talbot.
He wants the secret weapon Moira possesses, and will do anything to get his hands on it—including committing murder so he can give it to King Henry to prove his worthiness and be welcomed home.
Moira will follow her destiny and do whatever is necessary to protect her clan.
The real Gareth Talbot is through with love. His last romance did not end well. He suffered a broken heart and doesn’t trust women.
Humiliated, Gareth goes to sea and becomes a captain for MacAlpin, the pirate king. When raids along the Scottish coast are blamed on him, he seeks revenge. Nothing less than death will do.
Moira and Gareth are on different missions but seek the same goal. Can they work together and eliminate their greatest enemy, and in the process, find the one thing they didn’t know they were searching for, true love?
Buy Link: Amazon KU

The Pirate’s Redemption by Ruth A. Casie
The evening breeze was gentle, the sky clear. Feeling nervous, she marched up the plank.
“I request permission to board,” she called out, blinded by a lantern held high, unable to make out anything on deck.
The lantern lowered. She was caught off guard by her discovery, a bare-chested Gareth standing in front of her. His hair was wet, and his chest glistened with droplets of water.
“Permission granted.” A tankard in one hand, Gareth held out his other to help her aboard.
Moira took his hand, but she couldn’t take her eyes off his chest. His cough brought her eyes to his face. Reluctantly, he released her hand. He smiled as he grabbed his shirt from a peg on the mast and struggled in the breeze to put it on. When he faced her, she didn’t miss the spark in his eyes. He didn’t appear angry, but that didn’t matter. She still had to fix what she had done.
Moira licked her dry lips and settled her shoulders back. Now what?
Gareth cleared his throat.
“Here. Ta go wi’ yer ale.” She nodded toward the barrels to emphasize her point, then thrust the basket toward him.
“What did you bring me?”
“I thought ta bring you….” She let out a sigh. “A peace offering.”
Gareth took the basket and coughed again.
“You should speak ta Fiona. Her elderberry and honey tea would help wi’ that cough,” she said.
He still didn’t speak.
In the grip of a silent panic, her heart raced. Surely, she should say something more…
“I understand ye’re leaving us tomorrow. I was afraid I wouldna see ye. Wi’ so much ta do in th’ village, there is barely time ta…” A knot in her throat made it difficult for her to swallow. She didn’t want him to leave. “As clan chieftain, I want ta give my thanks for all yer help. It hasn’t gone unnoticed by th’ people, or by me.” The man who stood before her was so strong, had a commanding presence, and was handsome. That hadn’t gone unnoticed either. “I spoke out of place before and regret if I offended ye.”
She let out a frustrated breath and licked her lips. Why didn’t she plan this with more care?
“Please, don’t do that again,” he said.
She gazed at him, not sure what he meant.
“Lick your lips,” he clarified. “They’ll get dry and cracked.”
Her fingers went to her lips. In a heartbeat, his face changed from cool indifference to tender concern. Then a playful smirk lightened his features. Her body reacted to the change that suddenly came over him. The tingling in the pit of her stomach took her by surprise.
“I’m truly sorry if I offended ye,” she said.
“You need not say anymore. We all say or do things we regret.”
“Did you eat?” he asked as he opened the basket.
She shook her head.
“Come.” He offered his hand. “We’re hungry, and there isn’t enough food here for both of us. And Wesley is waiting for this barrel.”
Gareth put the keg on his shoulder with ease, and together, they brought it to the gathering on the village green.
“Ah, Gareth. You brought my gift. Come everyone. For all your hard work,” Wesley said. “This is my special brew.” Wesley stood by Gareth. “I’m all the sorrier you’re leaving. It’s been like old times. I will miss you, my friend.” Wesley slapped him firmly on his back. “I best go and find a tankard before the barrel is dry.” He grabbed a vessel from a nearby table. “Save me some ale!” He stepped away and was lost in the crowd.
“I thought ye were hungry,” Moira said.
“In truth, I had to move you off the ship. If you licked your lips again, I’d never let you leave.” Gareth bent down and kissed her softly.
Her heart nearly burst. She put her hands on either side of his face, pulled him closer, and kissed him back.
“If ye kept yer shirt off, ye wouldna have been able ta make me leave.” She clamped her hands over her mouth. She was the chieftain of Clan MacDougall.
A look of surprise spread across his face. Moira wondered why, until Gareth threw back his head and burst into laughter.
“You bear the weight of the clan on your shoulders. I, on the other hand, bear the weight of a barrel of ale on mine. Let’s join the others.” He took her hand and led her along.
His hands were gentler than she had hoped, and his kiss, more powerful than she had ever imagined.
They ate and laughed with the others until every belly was full and satisfied. The meal over, everyone gathered around the pile of wood in the middle of the green, eager for the bonfire to begin. Wilem began to play his lyre. One of the sailors took out a flute, another a drum. Moira and Gareth found a place to sit and made themselves comfortable.
Tonight, she didn’t want to be their chieftain, only a villager, or a pirate’s wench. From their perch, they gazed at the sea and were lost in the sound of the breaking waves on the shore. Gareth draped his arm around Moira’s shoulders and grinned.
“I love the colors at sunset,” Moira said.
He pulled her closer, and she shivered. Gareth tilted his face toward her.
“Are you cold?”
She glanced at him. His question was a small thing, but the concern made her heart flutter.
“No’ at all,” she said, pulling her gaze away, afraid he would see something she was not ready to admit.
He cleared his throat.
She struggled to keep from smiling at his signal. Gareth had shoulders wide enough to bear the weight of the world. Although he would never admit it, he had a habit of coughing when in awkward situations.
He squeezed her arm and returned his attention to the sun while it slipped lower in the sky. The red sky darkened until the heavens were velvety black.
For the moment, they only saw each other.
She stared overhead at the hundreds of stars above. The beauty never escaped her, and the vastness humbled her. She let out a deep sigh, her body close to Gareth’s. The strain of the last week faded with the sun. Contentment floated on the air, helped along by Wesley’s ale and music.
“Are ye humming?” Moira asked.
Gareth glanced at her. Her heart jolted at the devilish look in his eyes.
“Has my voice offended you, milady?” He pulled his head back. “I’ve been told I have a good voice.”
“No, ye dinna offend me. I was trying ta determine which angel was singing.”
He gaped at her. Finally, he laughed so hard he had to wipe tears from his eyes.
“Angel? No one has called me that since I was a small lad.” Another chuckle escaped his lips. “If you think me an angel, it is a dark one.”
Moira couldn’t help but laugh with him.
“Angel…” he whispered. Gareth stared at her while his finger traced her lips. Then his arm snaked around her back and drew her closer. His lips brushed against hers as he spoke. “From your lips, let it be so.”
She didn’t resist but gave herself freely to his kiss. His hand ran up her arm, the tenderness of his touch made her powerless to refuse him.. He broke the kiss and then rested his forehead against hers.
Entranced by the tenderness between them, Moira longed for more. She wanted to know what it felt like to be wanted by a man, happy, secure…
A soft moan escaped Gareth’s lips.
A deep sensual sound stoked a gentle growing fire that steadily grew. In the darkness, she ventured to stare at him openly. There was strength and tenderness in the way he carried himself. Pride and something else she struggled to name. He was a man who know who and what he was. He glanced at her with that devilish grin that made her melt.
Flashes of light from the torches the villagers carried onto the green intruded into their small world, the magic of the moment died as quickly as it began. They watched in silence as the wood was set ablaze.
He gently planted a kiss on her head.
The soft music turned lively. The children were the first to dance, but soon everyone was on their feet, the good ale and food all the encouragement they needed.
“My men play the Carole. Dance with me,” Gareth said.
She nodded, and he helped her up.
The circle dance was a favorite of hers, and the bonfire made a perfect centerpiece.
He led her to the circle where he broke in, and they held the hands of the people next to them.
“Who will sing?” Wilem called out.
“Gareth,” answered the crew.
Everyone turned toward them.
“So ye no’ only hum like an angel, ye also sing like one, too.” She laughed without missing a step of the dance.
He sang the sailors’ version of a fast-paced ballad, and he coughed when he came to the bawdy words. Someone called out the missing word, sending everyone laughing. After two songs, Gareth and Moira excused themselves.
He handed her an ale from a passing server as they walked away from the crowd.
“You’re more beautiful when you smile,” he said. He peered at her over the rim of his tankard.
A hot flush crept up her neck, and she licked her lips.
Gareth removed the ale from her hands and put both their tankards down.
She didn’t know what to say. What was he going to do?
He took her hand and pulled her along beside him.
“Where are we going?” she asked. They walked deeper into the darkness and turned the corner of a burned-out cottage.
“Anywhere to be alone.”
She leaned against the building, waiting for his next move, imagining another, more passionate kiss. He held her in place with his eyes. Gareth braced his hand on the wall beside her, then leaned forward.
She could smell the ale on his breath.
“You must stop licking your lips. You make me want to…” He brushed a stray hair away from her face. “Do this.”
Gareth cupped her face between his hands. Her heart pounded as he tilted his head and captured her lips, softly at first, but then the kiss turned fierce.
Wave after wave of desire pulled at her until all she could do was ride it to its full height. She waited, yearned for it to come crashing down. A moment of panic filled her mind, then disappeared as the wave crashed against the shore in a rush of heat.
He lifted his head and stared into her eyes. How he took her breath away.
“Beautiful,” he whispered. She laid her head on his chest, and he held her close.
Her lips were still warm from his kiss, and her head filled with music, Gareth’s music. He hummed to her as he stroked her back.
If only she could be a pirate’s wench forever.