Bits 'n Bobs Author Blog
Welcome Mary Morgan to my blog today with her excerpt from Dragon Knight's Shield.
With a strange, sword-wielding woman at his side, Angus should keep his eyes on the battle before him.
Hearing a twig snap, Angus held up his fist in warning to Robert and the others. Immediately, shouts erupted as a group of eight men came charging on either side of their group. With a quick blow, he knocked out one man and glanced over his shoulder to see Tynan and Gunn guarding Brogan, all the while fighting several men. As more men advanced toward him, Angus had a tingling sensation of unease as the mists parted.
He blinked, caught off guard by the sight before his eyes standing some several feet away. It was the same lass from the previous day. Deflecting a blow, which almost cost him, he instantly maneuvered around the man and took him down. When he glanced back up, he swallowed the fear in his gut and lunged at the woman. Grasping her hand, he immediately pulled her behind him, as the hiss of the enemy’s blade narrowly missed her head by inches.
As several men now circled him and the woman, Angus feared it would take all his strength to keep them safe. “Move with me, and when I tell ye to run, go toward the trees.”
“I think you need some help, mister,” the woman stated quietly. “Give me one of your dirks.”
Angus let out a curse. “Are ye daft? Do as I command…” he got no further before the lass reached for the sword lying near the body of the man he just killed.
One of the enemy leered past Angus’s shoulder. “Och, I claim the bonny wench to battle with,” he said, as he licked his lips in a salacious manner that caused Angus to see red.
The fire burst forth from his hand, and he flung the flames outward, hitting the man squarely in the chest. “Burn, ye bastard.”
“How in the hell did you do that?” she yelled, her eyes wide with fear.
Another man charged at his side, bringing Angus to the ground. Struggling to keep the blade from slicing into his throat, he could hear the clang of steel nearby. With his instincts screaming at him to protect the woman, he thrust with all his might, turning the blade back into his enemy. As the man gasped for air, blood gushed out his mouth, and Angus quickly shoved him aside.
Instantly standing, he froze. The woman was not only fighting the man, she was actually winning. She had managed to slice through part of his arm, leaving a nasty slash across his face, and now was taunting him. He thought her to be very daft for doing so, but in awe by her actions.
As the man took another blow, she stepped back. “Do I need to bleed you any further?” Her voice rang of steel.
The man spat out blood. “Bitch. I will take your head.”
“I’m waiting,” she sneered.
Without warning, the man threw the dagger from behind his back. Yet, the woman was faster and bent to the side as the blade flew past, landing into a fallen tree.
Angus stalked forward intending to take the man’s head, when she stepped in front halting his progress.
“No need for more bloodshed. I’ve got this covered,” she stated and went over to the stunned man, delivering a knockout punch.
“God’s teeth, woman,” hissed Angus taking a glance around and noticing that everyone else had survived. He stormed to where she was standing and grabbed her arm. “What were ye thinking taking up a sword and fighting? Ye could have been killed.”
“You could have been killed. You required my help.”
She started to mumble, and Angus found it difficult to follow the flow of words. Narrowing his eyes, he understood her to be English. However, this did not explain her outlandish clothing. A woman should never be allowed to wear trews, he thought, as he took in her form.
“What? Never seen a woman before?” Her voice wavered. “Do I have to fight with you, too?”
He looked down into the most beautiful hazel eyes he had ever seen. “Nae.”
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?
Today we have an excerpt from Ashley York's newest novel, The Seventh Son.
Will anyone save Tisa from her fate?
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!”
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?
Rue Allyn takes the spotlight on this week's Medieval Monday post. Her heroine and hero don't quite see eye-to-eye in this excerpt from 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.
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 Blurb
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
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This week's excerpt for our Medieval Monday 'Conflict' theme is from Lane McFarland's book, Lindsey, The Daughters of Alastair MacDougall: Book III
What will Lindsey find when she steps from the sunshine into the darkest pits of hell?
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.”
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.
Continuing our theme of conflict is a battle scene from Bambi Lynn's book, Gods of the Highlands.
The Comyns stood little chance against the demi-gods they faced. Lucan was a formidable warrior, but both Tanis and Cam could defeat ten or twenty men alone. Sirona’s heart staggered as she watched them. A group of Comyns clustered around Cam, another attacking Tanis. She thought she saw Rhain amongst them but it was hard to see.
She spurred her horse around the edge of the fray, shouting to no avail. Her cries were drowned by the clang of steel against steel and the shouts of fighting men.
On the opposite side, Fergus had set his sights on Lucan. Their swords clashed like hammers on anvils, ringing in her ears and threatening to split her head open. They were vicious and ruthless in their efforts, but in the end, a mere mortal was no match for a man with the blood of the gods coursing through his veins.
She spotted Rhain in the melee, locked in combat with her brother. She ignored Màili’s demands to pull back to the relative safety of the trees, renewing her plea for them to stop. Suddenly, the battle between Tanis and Rhain came to a violent head.
“No!” Sirona screamed as she slid down from her horse. She hit the ground hard and dropped to her knees, crying out in pain. When she looked up, Rhain lay motionless on the ground. Over him stood a blonde woman, no taller than Tanis’ shoulder. She was dressed like a shield maiden of the old Norse legends. She faced Tanis with a fierce expression, her sword held before her, its lethal blade catching the sunlight and setting off a blinding glow.
Tanis grinned at her like an idiot before she attacked him, forcing him to the defense, a position he was not used to. She sliced at him, jabbed her blade at his most tender areas, screamed at him in a language Sirona could not understand but, by the woman’s tone, recognized as the vilest of insults.
It seemed the battle would never end, that neither opponent tired. But with one fatal mistake, the mysterious pixie-woman gained the advantage. Before Sirona could blink, the woman had Tanis on his back, his sword hand empty and the tip of her weapon at his throat.
Sirona had had enough. She hiked up her skirt and tore across the grass to where the woman held her brother at sword point. “Stop!” she called. When she reached them, she flung herself between Tanis’ prone body and the warrior woman. “Please,” she begged.
The rest of her family seemed to gather their senses as well and within seconds, the strange woman found herself staring down three more Highland blades. For a moment, no one spoke.
It was Màili who broke the silence. “Bitch,” she fairly spat at the other woman. She lifted her chin, silently daring the blonde woman to make a move.
“Whore,” the woman sneered back. After another long moment of tense silence, she sheathed her sword and turned away.
With a sigh of relief, Sirona gave Tanis a quick once over to be sure he was unhurt, before giving into despair over Rhain’s fate. Dreading what she would find, she looked over her shoulder to the spot where she’d last seen him lying at Tanis’ feet.
Both Rhain and the woman were gone.
They grew up orphans, relying on each other to keep the secret of their heretical powers from the other members of their clan. Now a vengeful pagan god is after them, using them in his relentless pursuit of a soul so powerful, its possessor will be able to command Lucifer himself. Camulus is unbeatable in a fight, but cannot defend his heart from a fallen goddess. Sirona can heal with nothing more than a touch. When she is captured and her secret discovered by a rival clan, only the laird’s youngest son can save her from being burned at the stake. Tanis commands the elements, but meets his match in a celestial being from heaven who is anything but angelic. Lucan can create anything…except life. That he must do the old-fashioned way. Together these cousins must band together if they have any hope of defeating the god of death and ensuring a bright future for themselves and their kin.
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Highlands-Books-Camulus-Sirona-ebook/dp/B01C0TMB8M/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gods-Highlands-Books-Camulus-Sirona-ebook/dp/B01C0TMB8M/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Page Foundry: http://www.inktera.com/store/title/0c0173de-59c5-4027-a0ec-101a273e1300
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