Monday, October 20, 2014

Medieval Monday - The Highlander's Reluctant Bride by Cathy McRae



THE HIGHLANDER’S RELUCTANT BRIDE
by Cathy McRae


Determined to keep the Macrory clan’s holdings out of the clutches of the Lord of the Isles and 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?

Buy link for The Highlander's Reluctant Bride:
www.amzn.com/B00J1PNPPC

Excerpt:


“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.

“Me.”




Check every Monday for a new medieval author on this blog exchange and check this and their blogs weekly for more wonderful medieval novels: Ashley York - Jenna Jaxon - Laura Strickland - Cathy McRae - Mary Morgan - Andrea Cooper - Jill Hughey - Sarah Woodbury - Laurel O'Donnell - Vijaya Schartz - Mageela Troche


Monday, October 13, 2014

Medieval Monday - LORD OF SHERWOOD by Laura Strickland


Lord of Sherwood: The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy
Book Three
By Laura Strickland
Release date: 8/8/14

Curlew Champion, master archer, has always known his destiny.  With his cousin, Heron Scarlet, he will become a guardian of Sherwood Forest and further his people’s fight against Norman Tyranny.  But the third member of the triad is still to be revealed, the woman who will complete the magical circle and, perhaps, answer the longing in Curlew’s heart.
Anwyn Montfort has fled disgrace in Shrewsbury and come to Nottingham at her father’s bidding.  He wishes her to make a good marriage and settle down.  But the wildness that possesses her refuses to quiet.  She knows she’s been searching for something all her life, but not until she glimpses Curlew does her spirit begin to hope it has found its home.
Only the magic of Sherwood can bring them together, and only their union can complete the spell woven so long ago …

Excerpt:
Aye, Curlew thought ruefully, she could not be ruined more completely than at his hands last night. And if he sent her home with his child in her belly, what then? He realized, with a shock, he did not even know her given name.
A bit brusquely he said, “Gather up your clothing, lass. Cover yourself. You must go home.”
“Nay.”
“Do not be daft. Of course you must. Your father will be beside himself.”
“You promised.”
“Eh?”
Stubborn light flashed in her eyes. “You gave a vow last night that you would never send me away from you.”
Had he? Dismay crashed down upon Curlew like a hurled stone. But he had thought she was the Lady, asking from him a vow of devotion. He did not know he spoke words to a mortal woman.
He got to his feet, heedless of his nakedness, and began collecting her shed garments and thrusting them at her. “To be sure, you will go home.”
“Nottingham is not my home.” She tipped back her head to look at him. “I belong nowhere, except maybe here with you.”
Curlew shook his head violently. He turned from her and took up his own clothing, pulled his sark over his head even as she watched, donned his leather tunic, then slid into his leather leggings.
“Master Curlew?”
He turned back to her swiftly. She sat with her chemise clutched to those tantalizing breasts, her eyes wide with inquiry.
“Listen to me, Mistress Montfort. You are not for me, nor I for you.”
“But last night—”
“Despite last night.” In spite of the wonder and magic of it, the undeniable sense of rightness. “For I have a destiny before me, one I cannot escape, and would not if I could. I regret, but you have chosen the wrong man.”
She got to her feet, her clothing still caught against her. The autumn sun, filtering through the leaves, warmed her hair to amber-gold. “I do not believe that.”
“You must. Now dress yourself. I will see you safe to the edge of the forest.”
She did not move. Like a goddess she stood and looked at him with defiance.
Curlew felt an unexpected twinge of sympathy for Montfort. Who could fail to love this lass, or be driven beyond endurance by her? “Please,” he said.
The corners of her mouth twitched. “I regret, my lord, I would do most anything to please you. Anything but that.”

Buy and media links:
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Book Trailer for The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy:   




Check every Monday for a new medieval author on this blog exchange and check this and their blogs weekly for more wonderful medieval novels: Ashley York - Jenna Jaxon - Laura Strickland - Cathy McRae - Mary Morgan - Andrea Cooper - Jill Hughey - Sarah Woodbury - Laurel O'Donnell - Vijaya Schartz - Mageela Troche

Monday, October 6, 2014

Medieval Monday - The Good Knight by Sarah Woodbury


The Good Knight
by Sarah Woodbury

Intrigue, suspicion, and rivalry among the royal princes cast a shadow on the court of Owain, king of north Wales…
The year is 1143 and King Owain seeks to unite his daughter in marriage with an allied king.  But when the groom is murdered on the way to his wedding, the bride’s brother tasks his two best detectives—Gareth, a knight, and Gwen, the daughter of the court bard—with bringing the killer to justice.
And once blame for the murder falls on Gareth himself, Gwen must continue her search for the truth alone, finding unlikely allies in foreign lands, and ultimately uncovering a conspiracy that will shake the political foundations of Wales.

The Good Knight is free at:

Sarah’s web page:  www.sarahwoodbury.com

Excerpt:

August, 1143 AD - Gwynedd (North Wales)
Look at you, girl.”
Gwen’s father, Meilyr, tsked under his breath and brought his borrowed horse closer to her side of the path. He’d been out of sorts since early morning when he’d found his horse lame and King Anarawd and his company of soldiers had left the castle without them, refusing to wait for Meilyr to find a replacement mount. Anarawd’s men-at-arms would have provided Meilyr with the fine escort he coveted.
“You’ll have no cause for complaint once we reach Owain Gwynedd’s court.” A breeze wafted over Gwen’s face and she closed her eyes, letting her pony find his own way for a moment. “I won’t embarrass you at the wedding.”
“If you cared more for your appearance, you would have been married yourself years ago and given me grandchildren long since.”
Gwen opened her eyes, her forehead wrinkling in annoyance. “And whose fault is it that I’m unmarried?” Her fingers flexed about the reins but she forced herself to relax. Her present appearance was her own doing, even if her father found it intolerable. In her bag, she had fine clothes and ribbons to weave through her hair, but saw no point in sullying any of them on the long journey to Aber Castle.
King Owain Gwynedd’s daughter was due to marry King Anarawd in three days’ time. Owain Gwynedd had invited Gwen, her father, and her almost twelve-year old brother, Gwalchmai, to furnish the entertainment for the event, provided King Owain and her father could bridge the six years of animosity and silence that separated them. Meilyr had sung for King Owain’s father, Gruffydd; he’d practically raised King Owain’s son, Hywel. But six years was six years. No wonder her father’s temper was short.
Even so, she couldn’t let her father’s comments go. Responsibility for the fact that she had no husband rested firmly on his shoulders. “Who refused the contract?”
“Rhys was a rapscallion and a laze-about,” Meilyr said.
And you weren’t about to give up your housekeeper, maidservant, cook, and child-minder to just anyone, were you?
But instead of speaking, Gwen bit her tongue and kept her thoughts to herself. She’d said it once and received a slap to her face. Many nights she’d lain quiet beside her younger brother, regretting that she hadn’t defied her father and stayed with Rhys. They could have eloped; in seven years, their marriage would have been as legal as any other. But her father was right and Gwen wasn’t too proud to admit it: Rhys had been a laze-about. She wouldn’t have been happy with him. Rhys’ father had almost cried when Meilyr had refused Rhys’ offer. It wasn’t only daughters who were sometimes hard to sell.
“Father!” Gwalchmai brought their cart to a halt. “Come look at this!”
“What now?” Meilyr said. “We’ll have to spend the night at Caerhun at present rate. You know how important it is not to keep King Owain waiting.”
“But Father!” Gwalchmai leapt from the cart and ran forward.
“He’s serious.” Gwen urged her pony after him, passing the cart, and then abruptly reined in beside her brother. “Mary, Mother of God…”
A slight rise and sudden dip in the path ahead had hidden the carnage until they were upon it. Twenty men and an equal number of horses lay dead in the road, their bodies contorted and their blood soaking the brown earth. Gwalchmai bent forward and retched into the grass beside the road. Gwen’s stomach threatened to undo her too, but she fought the bile down and dismounted to wrap her arms around her brother.
Meilyr reined in beside his children. “Stay back.”
Gwen glanced at her father and then back to the scene, noticing for the first time a man kneeling among the wreckage, one hand to a dead man’s chest and the other resting on the hilt of his sheathed sword. The man straightened and Gwen’s breath caught in her throat.
Gareth.
He’d cropped his dark brown hair shorter than when she’d known him, but his blue eyes still reached into the core of her. Her heart beat a little faster as she drank him in. Five years ago, Gareth had been a man-at-arms in the service of Prince Cadwaladr, King Owain Gwynedd’s brother. Gareth and Gwen had become friends, and then more than friends, but before he could ask her father for her hand, Gareth had a falling out with Prince Cadwaladr. In the end, Gareth hadn’t been able to persuade Meilyr that he could support her despite his lack of station.
Gwen was so focused on Gareth that she wasn’t aware of the other men among them—live ones—until they approached her family. A half dozen converged on them at the same time. One caught her upper arm in a tight grip. Another grabbed Meilyr’s bridle. “Who are you?” the soldier said.
Meilyr stood in the stirrups and pointed a finger at Gareth. “Tell them who I am!”
Gareth came forward, his eyes flicking from Meilyr to Gwalchmai to Gwen. He was broader in the shoulders, too, than she remembered.
“They are friends,” Gareth said. “Release them.”
And to Gwen’s astonishment, the man-at-arms who held her obeyed Gareth. Could it be that in the years since she’d last seen him, Gareth had regained something of what he’d lost?
Gareth halted by Meilyr’s horse. “I was sent from Aber to meet King Anarawd and escort him through Gwynedd. He wasn’t even due to arrive at Dolwyddelan Castle until today, but …” He gestured to the men on the ground. “Clearly, we were too late.”
Gwen looked past Gareth to the murdered men in the road.
“Turn away, Gwen,” Gareth said.
But Gwen couldn’t. The blood—on the dead men, on the ground, on the knees of Gareth’s breeches—mesmerized her. The men here had been slaughtered. Her skin twitched at the hate in the air. “You mean King Anarawd is—is—is among them?”
“The King is dead,” Gareth said.



Check every Monday for a new medieval author on this blog exchange and check this and their blogs weekly for more wonderful medieval novels: Ashley York - Jenna Jaxon - Laura Strickland - Cathy McRae - Mary Morgan - Andrea Cooper - Jill Hughey - Sarah Woodbury - Laurel O'Donnell - Vijaya Schartz - Mageela Troche