Bits 'n Bobs Author Blog
Unexpected pleasures await in this excerpt from Bambi Lynn's novel, Mask of the Highlander.
It was late afternoon by the time they arrived at the dilapidated cottage. The door was nearly impossible to find amidst the overgrowth, even to one who knew where it was. Ty halted his stallion nearby and helped Kenna down from her own horse.
She eyed him with the suspicion that had been growing steadily since they passed the first village. She had made no comment as they skirted the ramshackle huts, but her cheery prattle had diminished considerably. By the time they passed the second, she had clammed up like a mute and said nary a word. Since leaving the third village behind them, she had made no effort to hide her uncertainty.
Ty would have found her wariness endearing had he not known the source, but at least she did not cower from him in fear. The hate and loathing she had shown at his homecoming was gone, leaving only doubt and caution. He could not be more proud than to have a wife of such strength as Kenna Cleary Vass.
She stood there, looking back and forth from him to the hidden door. "What are we doing here?"
Her voice trembled. Ty ached to soothe her concerns, but nothing he could say would accomplish that. Soon enough she would trust him, and if not sooner, then later.
He smiled and jerked his head toward the mass of brambles that hid the cottage. "I have something for you…inside." He reached through the brush and pushed the door open. Without waiting, he went inside and began lighting candles. By the time she joined him, the room was bathed in a soft glow that revealed a hideaway very different from the one they had visited the last time.
Kenna stopped just inside the threshold, a gasp of surprise the only sound in the small cottage. Ty busied himself starting a fire in the hearth, giving her time to look around. He squatted before the fire, staring at the growing flames. He ached to see her face, to know if she was pleased with what he had done.
He tensed when he felt her behind him. His body was already so hard for her. His craving surprised him at times. He was like a man starved, and she the only sustenance that could satisfy him. His skin tingled when she placed her hand on his shoulder.
"You did this?"
He stood, towering over her and filling the small room. "Lá breithe shona dhuit," he whispered.
She frowned at the phrase. "It's my birthday?" He nodded. She looked around with newfound surprise. "And all this…is for me?"
'All this' was a complete transformation of the sanctuary she had escaped to as a child. Gone were the few pieces of broken furniture, the cobwebs, the decades of dirt and neglect. The place had been scoured until nary a ball of dust remained, even the tiny window allowed in a scant amount of the remaining sunlight. The decrepit furniture had been replaced with a table, two short stools and a bed frame, a fresh inviting tick nestled inside. A bundle of primroses filled a vase in the middle of the table, filling the room with a spicy, comforting fragrance that reminded Ty of spring.
He smiled down at her. "I suppose fairies must have fixed the place up since the last time ye were here." He took her hand and lifted it to his mouth, pressing a soft kiss to her palm. "D'ye like it, then?"
Tears sparkled on her lashes, and he could tell she had trouble speaking. He almost laughed. That must be a first. She laid her palm against his cheek, smoothing the patch that covered his eye and staring deep into the other one.
"No one has ever done anything like this for me. Thank you."
He cocked his eyebrow at her, pressing her with his most devilish grin. "I hope ye have some other way of showin' yer thanks?"
Kenna dreads her husband's homecoming like the plague. The man she married is vile and cruel. She has prayed every day of his absence he would be killed in the fighting, freeing her from a life of brutal torment and a loveless marriage. But the man on her doorstep has changed. This man is kind, gentle and sparks a fire in her she never felt in the early days of her marriage.
Ty is returning home after years fighting in France. He yearns for the arms of his beautiful wife and to finally meet the daughter he has never known. But can Kenna forgive the man she married and love the man he has become?
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Mask-Highlander-Gods-Highlands-Prequel-ebook/dp/B01D6W96OE/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mask-Highlander-Gods-Highlands-Prequel-ebook/dp/B01D6W96OE/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1458561258&sr=8-5&keywords=bambi+lynn
Nature, both natural and supernatural, set the scene in Ruth A. Casie's book, The Guardian's Witch.
Excerpt from The Guardian’s Witch by Ruth A. Casie
The berries Lisbeth had gathered tumbled forgotten from her hands. A tremor touched her lips while the vision slammed behind her eyes. She didn’t doubt the vision’s truth. Sometimes a bright light, warm and comforting, accompanied the vision; other times the wind howled, cold and disturbing. Today, panic clearly filled the air.
She spun around trying to pinpoint a direction and abruptly stopped. Facing south, she licked her lips nervously and tasted the sweetness of fresh water. A rushing sound burst in her ears. The river. Her head snapped east toward the river path and she ran. As she careened down the narrow trail, the outstretched branches tugged at her dress, pulled off her shawl and clawed at her face and arms. She took no notice. The cadence of her footfalls beat out a mantra, not him, not him, not him. She rushed on faster, mumbling enchanted words under her breath.
She exploded out of the forest and stood on the riverbank as the bridge gave way, sending the horse and rider plunging into the angry current. Swiftly the horse surfaced and headed for shore with an empty saddle. She stood on the bank, still mumbling as she scanned the river until she glimpsed a clear red aura shining deep in its middle. Her relief was momentary when the blackness began to creep in. There wasn’t much time.
Quickly she pulled off her heavy dress and, wearing only her chemise, dove into the river. Save him was her only thought. Down she plunged kicking hard against the current. The usually clear water, now choked with mud, churned with debris. She screamed the words in her head and made her demands. In response, the current slowed and as the mud began to settle, a lifeless hand beckoned to her from below.
Desperate to reach him, she kicked hard toward the deep river bottom. She was a strong swimmer and reached him quickly. She pulled on his arm but he didn’t budge. Something pinned him in place. She dropped his hand and pulled herself around him. The murky water made it difficult for her to see what held him. She resorted to running her hand over every inch of his body to locate what kept him captive. Her lungs burned. She needed to surface but she pressed on.
Frantically her hands felt their way along his leg until she found his foot caught in the debris. She shoved the timber away. The exertion cost her precious time and air. With one hand she grabbed his shirt collar and kicked off the bottom. With her free arm she reached for the surface. She didn’t take her eyes off him.
The higher she got, the more the water cleared. The wild current fought to get free of her restraint. She didn’t think. She focused on getting Alex out of the water.
The hand holding Alex’s collar cramped, sending spasms of pain up her arm. She did not let go. The last of her breath spent, her lungs screamed for fresh air. She forced herself not to breathe. She was certain she would break free of the water soon. Alex’s weight pulled at her. She wasn’t making any progress. If she didn’t do something quickly they would be back on the bottom. She glanced up. The light was brighter. She was close now. She held her legs together and undulated like a graceful giant fish. Once again her free arm reached hard and pulled the water out of her way. One last hard kick and she exploded into the air as if propelled from underneath. Alex floated face down next to her.
She gulped for air, exhausted. There was no time to waste. She held on to him as the current pulled them toward the rapids and the steep falls beyond. She turned him onto his back and swam for shore. She dragged the large knight onto the bank where his warhorse stood snorting and stomping. Worn out but thankful, she collapsed next to Alex gasping for air. Her hand was on his chest.
He didn’t stir. She fixed her eyes on his chest but she didn’t see any movement. She scanned his face. A small trickle of water escaped his mouth.
She rolled him on his side and pounded on his back. Nothing. She pounded again. More water trickled out of his mouth. She reached inside his wet shirt. No heartbeat.
She kept the building panic at bay. Think. Calmness overcame her. She rolled him onto his back and knelt above him. She placed her mouth over his and gave him her breath. She’d given her breath before, when the blacksmith’s wife gave birth and the baby didn’t breathe. That day she had tried everything but nothing worked. She wanted to move the baby’s chest, just one breath. In desperation she breathed for the child. It worked then. It had to work now.
She felt the tingle at her lips and a dizzying current raced through her. She closed her eyes and gave him another breath. Her hand pressed hard against this chest. She searched for a heartbeat, the rise and fall of his chest, anything to indicate he lived.
He shuddered with a shallow breath. Reassured, she felt a faint but steady beat and sank back on her heels. She observed the deadly gray pallor on his face retreat. His arms twitched as they came to life. His face contorted in a spasm as he choked to clear his lungs. He pushed himself up coughing out the last of the river sludge and sucked in large quantities of air.
Relief surged through her. She rose, retrieved her dress lying in a pool of sunlight, and quickly slipped it on. She calmed the restless warhorse with her gentle touch and whispered words. When she ventured a glance at the knight, she found herself staring into his compelling gray eyes. His gaze was riveted on her face. A fresh spasm of coughing took him, and she turned to leave.
“Wait.” He struggled to get the word out.
She stopped and took a deep breath.
He shook his head. His eyelids slid closed and he fell onto his back. He was asleep before his head touched the ground.
Back Cover Copy from The Guardian’s Witch
Lord Alex Stelton can't resist a challenge, especially one with a prize like this: protect a castle on the Scottish border for a year, and it's his. Desperate for land of his own, he'll do anything to win the estate—even enter a proxy marriage to Lady Lisbeth Reynolds, the rumored witch who lives there.
Feared and scorned for her second sight, Lisbeth swore she'd never marry, but she is drawn to the handsome, confident Alex. She sees great love with him but fears what he would think of her gift and her visions of a traitor in their midst.
Despite his vow never to fall in love, Alex can't get the alluring Lisbeth out of his mind and is driven to protect her when attacks begin on the border. But as her visions of danger intensify, Lisbeth knows it is she who must protect him. Realizing they'll secure their future only by facing the threat together, she must choose between keeping her magic a secret and losing the man she loves.
Buy Links: Amazon, BN, Kobo, iBooks
Finishing out our 'Conflict' theme for Medieval Monday is Jenna Jaxon and her book, Time Enough to Love.
Who does Alyse truly want to win the contest? The knight who is her husband, or the sinfully attractive Lord Braeton?
Both knights had broken two lances on the torso—their scores were even. In order to win, one would need to either break a lance on the helm or unhorse their opponent. Either feat was possible, but highly improbable, given the lateness of the day and the weariness of the jousters. The best outcome would be for one lance to miss, giving the knight to break a lance victory. Another possibility was a draw if both men broke their lances on the torso. A draw would mean no victor; the debt of honor satisfied without a forfeit. That outcome might be best, but she could not help thinking in that case there would have been a great deal of effort wasted for nothing.
Geoffrey nodded slightly within his helm, as though acknowledging a strategy confirmed. Though the decision was unknown to her, she prayed it would make him the clear winner of the match.
In an instant, Geoffrey streaked down the lists. Alyse gasped at the ferocity with which Saracen raced toward his adversary. Lord Braeton drove his horse fiercely as well, but did not seem to reach the black steed’s breakneck speed.
Moments before the collision, Geoffrey angled his weapon upward slightly, aiming again for the helm and its additional points. Her heart flew into her throat. Should his lance glance off, as it had earlier, she would certainly be leading the first dance with Lord Braeton this evening. That prospect no longer held any delight for her, not after the physical pain this match must have cost Geoffrey—and Lord Braeton—and the mental anguish it had cost her. Had she not seemed so enthralled with the earl, mayhap the challenge would never have been issued. Or would not have been so avidly pursued by Geoffrey. If one of them were injured, it could surely be laid at her feet.
Geoffrey must win. He must.
The impact devastated both knights. Thomas’s lance splintered dramatically along Geoffrey’s right shoulder, twisting him around in the saddle and almost unseating him.
Geoffrey’s lance found its mark in the dead center of Thomas’s helm, snapping his head back with the force of the blow. An immediate cry of pain erupted from his helmet. Alyse bolted from her seat, raced out of the berfrois and onto the field.
* * * *
Thomas managed to pull his horse to a stop, and his squires ran to assist him as he dropped to the ground. Almost as quickly, Geoffrey leaped from his horse, cursing as he ran toward his friend.
’Tis my fault if he dies. I was angered at him. Christ, why did I not aim elsewhere and try to unseat him? Geoffrey could barely hold still as his squire removed his helmet. “Thomas! Thomas!”
Men had lowered his friend to the ground, where he lay motionless.
Dear God! The splinters--
He stared in horror at the long wooden slivers poking out of Thomas’s visor.
Sweet Jesu, have mercy. Holy Mary, mother of God, have mercy.
He fell to his knees beside him, afraid to touch him lest he drive the fragments deeper.
“Fetch the surgeon!” Geoffrey threw the command over his shoulder, his attention fixed on the still body. “Thomas.” He couldn’t be dead.
Blurb for 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?
AMAZON LINK: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01ACF9L98?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
Barbara Bettis' heroine in Silverhawk has been inured in a convent for 5 years for disobeying her brother. Now he's back, and the threats have changed.
EXCERPT: 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.”
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.
Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Silverhawk-Barbara-Bettis-ebook/dp/B015QIK9CE?ie=UT
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