Bits 'n Bobs Author Blog
We're talking Vikings today on Medieval Monday! #medievalmonday
Viking Fire – historical romance with a touch of magic
In 856 CE, Ireland is a land of myth, magic, and blood. Viking raiders have fought the Irish for over half a century. Rival Irish clans promise only betrayal and carnage.
Kaireen, daughter of Laird Liannon, is suddenly forced into an arranged marriage with her sworn enemy, a Viking. She refuses to submit. With no mention of love, only land and the protection of her clan, she endeavors to get her betrothed banished from her country. Will love find its way around her stubborn heart?
Bram, the Viking, finds himself without future or inheritance as a younger son in his family. A marriage to the Laird’s daughter would grant him land if he swears fidelity and if his men will fight along with the Liannons against any foe—Irish or Viking. However, the Laird’s feisty daughter only holds animosity for him and his kind. Is marriage worth the battle scars of such a relentless opponent?
With the blame for a rival laird’s death treacherously set against the Liannons, Kaireen and Bram must find a way to lay aside their differences as an unforeseen darkness sends death snapping at their heels.
“I renounce Father for this.” Kaireen threw the elderberry gown.
“Shame on you and your children for speaking such.” Her handmaid, Elva, gathered the damask and then dusted off the rushes. “It’s a wonder one of the clim has not scolded you from your hearth for such talk.”
“No, curse Father for a fool.” She plopped on her bed and a goose feather floated away. With a huff, she leaned against the oak headboard. Red curtains puffed like a robin’s chest around oak poles supporting her wooden canopy.
Her bare feet brushed against the stone floor.
“You know your da arranged a marriage within a season.” Elva smirked.
Kaireen shook her head. “To another land holder,” and waved a hand in disgust, “not t-this heathen. Twice they raided our land in the last month alone. Now father wants me as wife to one of them?” She clenched her fists. “No, I will not marry this Viking.”
Elva smiled, reminding Kaireen of the rumors of her handmaid’s uncanny foresight.
Whispers of Elva making strange things happen and often blamed as the cause of Kaireen’s stubborn refusal to behave as a laird’s daughter should.
“You’ve not seen him yet.” Elva wiggled her brows.
“So?” Kaireen shrugged. “I would like to never see him.”
“Well then, would you not like to know if you have a handsome husband or not?” She waited for her response, but Kaireen scowled. Elva chuckled. “I would rather get a good look at him now than the morning after.”
Kaireen’s ears heated. “I am not marrying.” She shook her head for emphasis. “So there will be no morning, nor night, nor wedding.”
“If he is handsome, I may fight you for him.” Elva smiled, deepening the wrinkles around her eyes.
“Welcome to him either way.” Kaireen laughed.
* * *
Viking Fire Book Trailer:
Viking Fire Amazon: http://goo.gl/71VAsf
Viking Fire B & N: http://goo.gl/EvBxwf
Viking Fire iTunes: http://goo.gl/fQuKBd
#medievalmonday The Saxon Bride
Historical Romance writer Ashley York loves history and intrigue. Her latest book, The Saxon Bride, is the first in her Norman Conquest Series. Here is a little about the book:
In war torn England the battle lines between Saxon and Norman are clearly drawn. The Saxons must fight for everything they have in the hopes of winning their country back from the Normans who are determined to break their resistance.
Rowena Godwinson, the sole remaining member of the defeated royal family, stands proudly against the Normans that would trample them underfoot but her nobility and grace make her an ideal pawn in the Norman King William’s play for power with the Saxon people. When he decrees she marry a powerful Norman knight, her subjugation appears to be complete. The handsome soldier with the kind brown eyes and gentle touch is a threat to her determination to defy the interlopers. Can she hold firm to her Saxon heritage and refuse to give in to his advances?
John of Normandy wants only to prove himself worthy of the king’s trust. He is rewarded for his service and loyalty with land, titles and a Saxon beauty for a bride. John balks at the marriage, driven by the secret guilt of knowing Rowena’s father died at his sword. However, John’s reluctance is soon replaced by a burning desire to please this woman and win her over as well as her people.
As their people look to them for guidance and peace, can John and Rowena find a love that unites all of England?
Excerpt from The Saxon Bride:
Pacing the small area like a confined animal, she finally paused to look out the window. The dreary day reflected her feelings, rain threatening at any moment. “Do you know when my husband will be returning?”
“I am back now.”
John stood in the doorway handsomely dressed as befit the new Lord of Essex. Rowena’s breath caught in her throat. She looked away before the immense pleasure she felt at his return showed on her face.
Joan quickly gathered her sewing and removed herself from the room, closing the door behind her.
“Will you attend me, my lady?”
Rowena went to him and helped him remove his surcoat before seeing to the heavier chainmail. He smelled of horses and leather. Manly. Rowena tried not to close her eyes as she drank in the intoxicating smell of him. Why would a dirty, sweaty man make her feel so light headed? She stepped away when she realized why, the chainmail slipping forward off his arms. His hooded eyes told her that he knew what she was feeling.
“Is there a problem?” His deep voice seemed to reverberate through her body.
Quickly putting the heavy material down, she headed to the door. “I will order a bath for you.”
Rowena froze with her hand on the latch and heard him coming toward her. He stood close behind, his breath soft against her cheek.
“Yes?” Be done with this. Her body yearned for his arms to pull her against him, to feel his kiss again. She licked her lips.
“Why are you leaving in such a hurry?” His hand lightly touched the side of her head as he spoke, pushing her hair away from her face. He leaned in closer to her exposed ear. A responding shiver ran down her body. “Are you afraid of me?”
She backed up to the door with a thud and faced him. Her pulse was racing as she lied. “No, my lord. Methinks you have a rather strong odor about you and I would have you take a bath before the evening meal.”
John backed away quickly, his eyes flying open. “I am sorry if I offend you. Please see to the bath.”
Rowena felt only slightly guilty when he turned away from her, standing like a lost little boy in the middle of the room.
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Buy link: The Saxon Bride available now.
Ashley York loves to hear from her fans. Visit her at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook, Twitter: @Ashley1066York,, and her website www.ashleyyorkauthor.com
Today on Medieval Monday I am hosting the first book in The Highlander's Bride series, The Highlander's Accidental Bride..
Set in the Scottish Highlands in 1375, it began with a feud, a royal order, and a kidnapping.
Chaos reigns between the Scott and Barde clans in 14th century Scotland. To end the generations-long feud, King Robert II of Scotland decrees Eaden, Laird Scott, and Lady Miriam Barde wed with all haste. When marriage negotiations break down, King Robert threatens Eaden with the loss of his lands and title. Forced to take matters into his own hands, the laird kidnaps his bride, only to find the young woman he mistakenly drags to his marriage bed is not Laird Barde’s daughter, but her lady companion.
Mary Marsh fights for her freedom from the laird and the unwanted marriage, refusing to accept her new life as Lady Scott. Realizing his error, Laird Scott develops an attachment to the feisty young woman he has accidentally married. Can he win her heart and convince her she is more than just a ‘duty’ to him? Or will the bond forged between the lady’s companion and the laird be destroyed by secrets and the feud that will not be laid to rest?
* * *
King Robert sighed. “So ye married the wrong lass and she wants to go home,” he summarized with a frown.
“And the Lady Miriam has run off and married Du Melville’s youngest son, leaving us without an alliance between yer clans?”
“I thought ye had this well in hand,” King Robert groused.
Eaden, fully aware the king was no more pleased to sort this mess out than he was, silently cursed all stubborn men and women who couldn’t simply do as they were told. Of course, he had to admit his assessment probably included the majority of King Robert’s subjects.
“So. Will ye let her go back to Bellecourt?”
“Nay,” Eaden replied evenly.
King Robert straightened from his resigned slouch in his chair and stared at Eaden, amusement lighting his eyes.
“If I remember correctly, ye were no’ happy with the marriage to begin with. I am to assume ye’ve changed yer mind, then?”
Eaden narrowed his eyes but did not answer.
“She’s uncommonly beautiful, perhaps?” King Robert prompted.
Eaden refused to respond.
“Passably good-looking, then?”
Eaden took a deep, fortifying breath. “She’s aye lovely,” he allowed.
“She’s knocked ye on yer arse!” King Robert exclaimed with accuracy and triumphant humor.
The look Eaden gave his king was anything but humorous, but the king continued, undeterred. “So ye mean to keep her.” He stroked his chin thoughtfully. “And she wants to leave.” He cocked his head to one side. “And yer well-known charm that had ladies vying for the title of ‘wife’ of this handsome, wealthy earl, who may or may no’ have his lands at the end of this day, isnae working?”
Eaden ignored the threat, but his scowl must have given the king the answer he sought. “So, if the lass doesnae want wealth, or prestige, or the much-touted delights of yer bed—what does she want?”
Eaden’s face turned dark and foreboding as he gritted out the truth. “A divorce.”
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The Highlander's Accidental Bride is available from Amazon.
Find Cathy MacRae on facebook, Twitter @CMacRaeAuthor and watch for upcoming books and fun stuff on her blogs at cathymacraeauthor.com
Neva Brown is back on Thursday's Threads with her contemporary romance, A Pretty Penny.
Wealthy, arrogant Clayton Brandt knows well the costs of a woman. Not until Penelope (Penny) Jones comes into his life does he know the value of a woman.
Anger at Clayton, her new boss, causes Penny to snap out of the lethargy she’s experienced after seeing her husband killed. She puts to use all her innate abilities, learned skills, and intuitiveness to cope with the overbearing Clayton and the women in his life. Penny, in time, knows she loves him, but will not become one of his women—not on his terms.
On her terms, they marry only to be parted by federal agents before they leave their wedding reception. The ensuing intrigue, danger, and antics of Clayton’s ex-wife play a part in Penny being in eminent peril.
Even after their love survives all this, it is once again threatened by a letter from a vindictive woman who is dead. The letter devastates Clayton and crushes his hopes for happiness.
How Clayton and Penny find their happy-ever-after is a breath-holding adventure at times and a breathtaking love story at other times.
Today on Medieval Monday, I am featuring Unbidden, Book One in Jill Hughey’s Evolution Series which will take you to the rarely explored medieval world of Charlemagne’s Empire where aristocrats, warriors, merchants and servants find love in the most unexpected places! If you like swoon-worthy yet mildly flawed heroes and independent not-too-perfect heroines, then step in to a Jill Hughey Romance.
Rochelle of Alda, a feisty Frank noblewoman, expects to continue her industrious life managing her family’s estate. When her emperor summons her to the palace to meet the skilled soldier she is required to marry, Rochelle engages in a battle for independence from David of Bavaria. As her own deceptions multiply, she suspects another of also plotting against their marriage. To her surprise, and too late, David’s passion and patience begin to win her heart. Can their love survive the tangled web of her schemes and the secret adversary David refuses to see?
* * *
In this excerpt of David and Rochelle’s first meeting, David has arrived to take Rochelle to the palace for the betrothal, and is dismayed to learn her mother has told her nothing about it.
David turned his head as the noise from the door escalated, unsure what he expected to enter his life. Given her mother’s shocking hair, he didn’t hold his hopes too high for the girl’s appearance, no matter what Theo said. The need for deception to even get her to Aix did not indicate a particularly biddable personality. Based on the increasingly violent rattling from the latch, she couldn’t even open doors for herself.
He was about to climb the steps to offer assistance when the door finally wrenched open, releasing a storm of muttering about city workmanship and rotten carpentry carried in a whirlwind of deep blue linen. She all but flung herself onto the narrow staircase. Not exactly light of foot nor entirely graceful, she rushed down the stairs, noticing his presence in time to abruptly stop on the bottom step.
She stared at him.
From across the room he could feel the chill of cold caution. Even so, his concern about her looks evaporated. She stood taller than her mother, clear skinned, with eyes of a soft green. The gold circlet on her head held her veil neatly in place, covering what it was intended to cover. An unexpected desire to see the color of her hair shot through him. He could only approximate it from her eyebrows: not quite brown, but certainly not red either. And her female attributes remained a mystery to him as well, hidden under layers of varying shades of blue, though a heavy gold girdle studded with aquamarines suggested narrow hips.
“Mother?” she queried.
David reluctantly turned to Marian, who, it appeared, had been watching him stare at her daughter. A small smile quirked her lips. Her tightly clasped hands now lay on her chest as if in prayer. She did not find her voice until David cleared his throat expectantly.
“Rochelle!” she said too loudly. “Theophilus, the gentleman who has helped us so much, sent this burly young man to escort ye to yer audience with the emperor. He is called David. A Bavarian, no less!”
David raised his brow at her rather obtuse explanation of his role in the upcoming event. Marian gave him a slight warning shake of her head. Well, if the woman hadn’t the courage to tell this girl the truth of the matter, he certainly did. He didn’t know much about getting along with women, but he guessed that starting his marriage with deception – and necessarily short-lived deception at that – could not be wise.
As he opened his mouth to explain exactly who he was, Rochelle spoke, “I do not see why I need an escort. I found the palace yesterday.” She lowered herself off the last step and strode toward him with a confident swing of her arms. “But if Theophilus wants to share his guard, so be it.”
Marian bobbed her head. “It was quite thoughtful of him.”
David held up a hand. “I am not Theo’s guard. And did you just suggest you were wandering about the city yesterday, alone?”
Rochelle studied him assessingly. Yes, assessingly was the only word for it and, God help him, she was lovely up close. Her not brown, not red brows arched over green eyes flecked with hazel. A dusting of freckles decorated a thin nose that flared pertly at the nostrils. Her soft pink lips were slightly parted exposing straight teeth.
“Not alone. Our servant, Gilbert, was with me.”
“Gilbert, the bag of bones who opened the door?” David scoffed. “He could not keep a street rat away much less a pack of thieves. From this day forth, you will not leave here without an able-bodied man at your side.” She smelled nice.
Rochelle placed her hands on her hips, pleasantly outlining a slim waist beneath her clothing. “What has given you the idea you can make pronouncements such as that to me? I will go where I wish, when I wish, escorted or not, as I wish!” Her chest heaved a bit and there were breasts under that tunic, he could tell, and damn it when was the last time he’d lain with a woman? He mentally bridled himself. First, betrothal. Betrothal was the task set before him today. It was time to attend to that task.
He stepped forward, purposely crowding her and letting his hard gaze bore into her fiery eyes, daring her to challenge him. “I will tell you what gives me the right –“
Marian made a strangled sound before finding her words. “Ye should be going! It will not do to be late to the palace.”
Rochelle eyed first him, then Marian, before backing away to grasp her mother’s hands. “Mother, I do wish you would reconsider. Certainly the nobles have forgotten your circumstances by now. Father would want you to have the honor of meeting Charlemagne’s son.”
Marian laughed a bit shrilly. “No, that is no place for me. Ye shall have the glory today, daughter. Here is your cloak.” She kept babbling as she closed the gold and aquamarine clasp at the neckline of the pale blue garment. “David will keep you safe. Do as he says, my dear. He is in charge of you today. And possibly tomorrow.”
Rochelle chortled. “Mother, do not be ridiculous. This will be over in an hour or two and then we are going home! Home, where I also do not require an escort!” She fixed David with a significant look before she walked to the door, wrenched it open with relative ease, and stepped onto the street without him.
END OF EXCERPT
Amazon – http://viewbook.at/unbidden
In Print at CreateSpace https://www.createspace.com/3733078
iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/audiobook/unbidden-evolution-series/id803456753?uo=4″ target=”itunes_store”>
For more about Jill Hughey visit her website at www.jillhughey.com. Subscribe to her occasional newsletter at www.jillhughey.com/contact.
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I hope you are enjoying Medieval Mondays. Feel free to tweet about us using #MedievalMonday. Next week's author is Ashley York.
Beginning today, I will be co-hosting Medieval Mondays with other Medieval romance authors. This means you can get a peek at new authors and find out about upcoming books from authors you already love.
Be sure to check in each Monday!
So, let's start with my latest novel, The Highlander's Reluctant Bride. The setting is 1377 and King Robert II is on the throne of Scotland. Though relatively quiet at this point in his reign, the time is still fraught with peril from pirates roaming the western coastline and the English control of much of the Lothians and the border lands to the south. In the first book of the series, The Highlander's Accidental Bride, King Robert demands the end of a feud between two Highland clans. Though he allows his southern earls to engage in activities to regain their lands from the English, he has less tolerance for Highland clan feuds- especially when they are continually brought to his notice. In The Highlander's Reluctant Bride, the king responds to a plea for help against the pirates.
Book cover blurb, The Highlander's Reluctant Bride:
Determined to keep the Macrory clan’s holdings out of the clutches of marauding pirates, King Robert II sends his man, Lord Ranald Scott, to hold Scaurness Castle. There, Laird Macrory lays dying, awaiting word from his son who is missing on the battlefields of France. If the son is not found before the old laird dies, Ranald will take over as laird—and marry Laird Macrory’s headstrong daughter.
Lady Caitriona sees no reason she cannot rule the clan in her brother’s stead, and is bitterly disappointed with the king’s decision to send a man to oversee the castle and people. Not only is Ranald Scott only distantly related to the Macrory clan, but he was her childhood nemesis. She has little trust or like for him.
Her disappointment turns to panic when the king’s plan is completely revealed and she realizes she must wed Ranald. Pirates, treachery, and a 4-year-old girl stand between her and Ranald’s chance at happiness. What will it take for them to learn to trust each other and find the love they both deserve?
* * *
“So, the king forced Eaden to wed,” she murmured. Her gaze caught Ranald’s. “What will he do to me?”
Ranald noted Riona’s sudden pallor, her gray eyes widening until they were naught but huge silver orbs glowing against her skin. Now was as good a time as any to tell her what King Robert intended for her, but he could not force the words.
“Ye are a laird’s daughter,” he reminded her. “And an heiress. Yer mother’s dower lands north of here are of great value to the king.”
“And I am of little worth, aye?” Riona flared.
“Nae. Ye are of great worth.”
“But a pawn to the king.”
Ranald sighed. This was not going as he planned. “We are all pawns in one way or another, Ree. The king willnae let ye stay on yer own. Ye are a ward of the crown, now.”
“So, he’ll marry me off to some rebellious laird he wants to drag over to his side, using me and my lands to hold him?”
“Nae. No’ so bad as all that.”
“Mayhap to a wealthy laird who’s all but doddering in his cups, hoping I’ll no’ breed an heir before he dies, giving title of the land to the king and my next husband?”
Ranald lifted an eyebrow. The lass was getting worked up over nothing. “Marriage, yes. Doddering auld man, no.”
Riona snapped her head to one side, a glower on her face. “Then, who?”
Ranald swallowed and offered a crooked smile.
* * *
Amazon Buy Link: www.amzn.com/B00J1PNPPC/
Please visit with me on my website: www.cathymacraeauthor.com
or on facebook_ Cathy MacRae or Cathy MacRae Author
I love to hear from readers!
Thanks for checking out this new series of posts! What is your favorite Medieval place/time?
Today's Thursday spotlight is on Laryn Ford's book, Rescued. Come read an excerpt from this sizzling paranormal romance.
Fiercely independent and determined to be taken seriously in a man's world, PI Rose Baxter will do whatever it takes to find the kids who are disappearing from the streets and bring them home safe, even teaming up with PI Marty Brown, a man hot enough to burn whatever part of her gets too close--her fingers, her sheets, her life, and her other nature's whiskers.
But her other nature knows whiskers grow back and will accept nothing less than this man as her mate for life, a plan Marty is all in on. Sparks fly when she refuses to be the little woman. Besides, those kids need her and their time's running out. But thrown together 24/7 can she fight it?
Rose heard the unmistakable sound of duct tape stripping from its roll. Her hands, bound together behind her back and another piece loosely secured the bag around her neck. Her memory of stored scents identified Mabel and Stan even before they spoke.
"Take her to the lab. I'll stash her car." Mabel's footsteps hurried away. As soon as the front door closed behind Mabel, Rose stiffened her body and formed an impossible to move statue. Her arms flexed and ripped the tape to separate her hands. Stan grabbed for her to regain his grip. She spun around to deliver a kick toward the sound of his astonished breathing. He collided with the floor and skidded to a stop when he smacked into the cabinet doors. As he scrambled to right himself, the knives rattled in the butcher block on the kitchen counter.
She ripped the tape from around her neck and yanked the pillowcase off her head in time to see the man lunge toward her. She side stepped his attack.
Shouting rang out from the living room. "Let go of me!" One sniff confirmed Logan and June had entered through the front door. Mabel would cause no more trouble.
The kitchen windows vibrated. The backdoor burst into splinters as Marty stormed through. His roar rattled the dishes stacked in the drainer when he spotted Stan holding a knife on his mate. "Nooo!"
Before she could blink, Marty swung one arm and backhanded Stan, sending him crashing thorough the window and out onto the patio. The stunned man scrambled to his feet, hobbled around the side of the house to his SUV, and hightailed it out the driveway.
Marty gripped Rose gently by the shoulders and turned her to face him. "Are you okay? Did he hurt you?" His eyes were intense. "Rose, answer me?"
"I'm fine. Did they catch Stan? I heard a vehicle leave." She turned to the living room where Mabel sat in a huff.
"Oscar just called. The SUV's have left the park and headed west out of town. I've called the police to come and pick her up. I'm assuming you'll be pressing charges for kidnapping?" Logan had handcuffed Mabel and planted her in a chair. June stood ready in case she tried to escape.
"I want a few minutes with her first." Rose turned to Mabel. Her nostrils flared and the fire from her inner animal flashed in her eyes. No, as much as she'd like to, she wouldn't inflict the bodily harm this woman so deserved for her part in this whole scheme. She'd like to body slam the bitch to the floor, but her daddy had taught her the self-control she needed to work this job and work it right.
Getting some answers now was her primary concern. She wanted answers. While she wouldn't physically injure the woman, she wasn't above scaring the crap out of her to get the information she needed.
Mabel sneered at her and rolled her eyes. "And just what do you intend to do with your few minutes? Do you think I'm afraid of a mousy little thing like you? Oh, help, the little mousy girl is going to scare me," she humphed in a mocking tone.
"Oh hell," Marty said. He adjusted the hat on his head, glanced Logan's way with a y'all best look out expression, and stepped back out of the way to give Rose room to work.
"June bug. Move back, honey," Logan said as he steered his wife to the corner by the door and positioned his body, brick wall style in front of her for her own safety, just like an alpha male. Everyone read Marty's message loud and clear.
Mabel's expression changed from glaring sarcasm to certain fear as she watched the woman she had labeled as little make her way slowly toward her.
Rose's eyes narrowed and focused on the woman. Her hands flexed from tight, curled fists to stiff, extended fingers, and back again. Her nails lengthened, exposing her razor sharp claws as she stepped over to the mouth woman. Her eyes never left her target.
She leaned down to bring herself nose to nose with the evil before her. "Where are you really taking those kids and what are you going to do with them?" She spoke in an even voice, accentuating every syllable.
An increasing layer of fear replaced the smug expression on Mabel's face. "You- you don't scare me," she stuttered. "I'm not telling you anything." She attempted to bring her tough side back to the surface but was less than convincing.
Rose placed one petite hand on Mabel's shoulder and pressed down. She held back to a mere vice-like grip. Not the bone crushing strength she was more than capable of using.
Mabel sucked in a pained breath and flinched back, drawing on her last bit of resolve. "We know you're not normal. You're some kind of freak with super blood. Don't think we won't come after you again." She let out an injured cry from the pressure applied to her shoulder. "You'll pay for this!"
* * *
Contact me links:
Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/larynnfordauthor
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Larynn-Ford/e/B00CELS1V8/
Book Buy Links:
In My Wildest Dreams http://www.amazon.com/My-Wildest-Dream-Laryn-Ford-ebook/dp/B00CE3B11I/
Christmas Blessings in All I Want for Christmas Is A Soul Mate http://www.amazon.com/All-I-Want-For-Christmas-Soulmate-ebook/dp/B00GH2I458/
I just typed 'The End' on Gilda and Ryan's story! Hooray! Well, it was at 1:30 this morning, but I wasn't in the mental frame to post about it just then. :-) It will go next to my critique partners for a beta read, then to my editor to begin the next step in the process.
To celebrate, here is a preview of the day Ryan and Gilda meet. A storm has blown up and they take refuge in a nearby cave.
Today's threads is from Soul Mate Publishing author Tina Susedik and her sensuous, romantic mystery novel, Riding for Love..
Look for it at Soul Mate Publishing, Amazon, and B&N
Soul Mate Publishing: http://www.soulmatepublishing.com/riding-for-love/
Blurb: Eve Dayton, owner of a riding ranch, rose above her childhood past and overcame the emotional damage her boyfriend caused when he married another woman. When someone starts sabotaging her ranch, Eve is desperate to find the culprit before she loses everything. Is it a coincidence or is the return of Denton Johanson tied to the mystery?
Divorced Denton Johanson returns to his hometown to help convict the embezzling controller of the family business. When he runs into Eve, he realizes his feelings for her are still strong enough to try and win her back. His fear of horses won’t get in the way of his goal and decides the only way to be near her is to take riding lessons from her. Can he convince her that his love is real and he is not behind the mystery surrounding the ranch?
“Darn. I’m late.” Eve grabbed her mug of coffee and the clipboard with her notes for the day. “I’m never late. Ever. This is what happens when you let a man get under your skin.” She jogged across the driveway to the barn. The clients weren’t due for another half an hour, but she wanted to meet with Tom early to go over her notes once more to make sure the horses matched the riders.
Her steps slowed as she entered the barn. Tom was talking to one of the employees at the other end of the barn. Since he didn’t immediately notice her, she took her time walking through the building, making sure the tack was all in place according to horse, helmets and riding sticks hung in order of size, horses back in their stalls from the field, and no stray horse droppings or straw littered the barn floor.
As she passed the row of licenses showing their employees were qualified as riding instructors, and she and Tom owners, he turned and waved her over.
“So how did your evening go last night, sweetheart? You danced quite a bit with Denton.”
“Yeah.” She batted her eyes at her friend. “You didn’t have anything to do with it would you, honeybunch?”
Tom laughed, threw an arm around her shoulders, and gave her a hug. “Ah, busted.” He kissed her forehead. “He’s not so bad, you know, Eve. He’s made some mistakes, and I believe he sincerely regrets them. But if he does anything to hurt you again, he’ll find himself lying in a pile of manure, face first.”
Eve grimaced at the image. “Well, I hate to say you’re right, but I did have a good time. I forgot how easy it is to talk to him. Besides, he can’t hurt me if I don’t let him.” She slid the clipboard from under her arm and started flipping through pages. “That doesn’t mean I’m still not mad at him. It’s going to take more than a few dances to get me into his good graces.”
“Give him a run for his money?”
“Yeah,” she muttered, glancing at her watch. “Now, let’s compare notes before our subjects arrive.”
For the next few minutes they walked companionably through the barn looking at stock, comparing horse sizes, and temperaments to clients. The stable of twenty-five horses ranged from duns to piebalds to grays and Appaloosas and included a few ponies for younger riders. Eve loved them all.
“I’ll take the slowest, laziest one with the shortest legs,” Denton said, interrupting Eve and Tom’s decision to pasture a smaller horse needing to be re-shod.
Eve nearly dropped the clipboard at the sound of Denton’s deep voice as she locked the stall door and tacked a note to the front for her staff. Keeping her back to him, she didn’t hide a smile at his nervous tone. By the time she faced him, the smile disappeared, but not the heat that had risen to her face.
“Mornin’, Dent,” Tom said, stepping over to the next stall. “I think old Della here will do fine for you.” He ran a hand down the bay’s forelock, over the blaze markings to her nose and slipped a sugar cube into her mouth. “Eve’s helped so many people learn to ride she’d teach me a few things, and I taught her to ride.”
Denton let out a breath of air and took a few steps closer to the stall. “Good to know.”
“Don’t be misled, Dent,” Eve said, following Tom’s hands down the horse’s face. “Della may be getting on in years, but she’s a horse and horses can pull a few tricks on the unwary.” Denton’s Adam’s apple slipped up and down as he swallowed a gulp. She pressed the clipboard to her chest. “Don’t worry, since I’ll be training you, I won’t let anything happen.”
“To me or the horse?” he asked.
“Good question,” Eve answered over her shoulder as she sauntered away from the men.
Denton raked his fingers through his hair and suppressed a shudder.
“Scared you, didn’t she?”
“And you’re enjoying it, aren’t you?”
“Don’t worry, boy. She’s never let a customer get hurt. Yet.”
Denton breathed a sigh of relief. He wouldn’t get hurt, not physically, anyway, he thought. His emotions were another matter. His heart tripped a little faster as he watched her walk through the barn.
The rest of the group began entering the building. Amazing how, in such a short time, a person learned to recognize someone, even by their black silhouette against the bright sun-lit entrance to the barn. The unmistakable buxom figure of Jackie was outlined in the door.
His breath left him and he quickly searched for a place to hide. After her seduction attempts at the dance, she was the last person he wanted to encounter. He still felt her body pressed against his, his arm muscles even a little sore from trying to stop her from performing the vertical bedroom tango publicly. The next woman to use his body in any way would be Eve, whether she knew it or not.
So desperate to be out of Jackie’s sight, he contemplated leaping over the gate into his horse’s stall and hiding behind her rump, then grabbing a shovel to start mucking out manure or take a hoof pick and clean out her hoofs. Before he could consider the wisdom of doing any of those things, Jackie spotted him.
He groaned. Everyone gathering at the end of the barn turned as she shrilled out his name. He moved toward her. If he moved fast enough, he’d get to the others and mingle, be able to hide among his compatriots, then shove her off on some other, more willing, male in the group.
As a child, Tina always had stories floating around in her head, but had no idea those stories could be put down in book form. One day her brother (yes, her brother) introduced her to Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Flame and the Flower. Tina was hooked and a love of reading and eventually writing romance began. She is also a non-fiction writer with six history books in print.
Tina has been married for over forty years and lives in Wisconsin. After careers in accounting and teaching (not necessarily at the same time), she found her career in writing is what fulfills her the most. When not writing, she loves camping, hiking, photography, reading and playing with her five grandchildren.
She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America.
You can connect with Tina at:
Facebook: Tina Susedik, Author
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