Monday, August 12, 2019

Medieval Monday--THE HIGHLANDER'S ENGLISH WOMAN

This week's snippet is from Ruth Casie's exciting Scottish romance, The Highlander's English Woman

Be sure to leave a comment to be in the running for Ruth's giveaway – an eCopy of The Highlander’s English Woman. A winner will be randomly selected and announced on Medieval Monday, September 9th.

      Jamie didn’t care for bullies or being baited by them. He wouldn’t fight.
      “Here, here Bryce. That’s enough.” Richard grabbed his neighbor’s arm but Bryce shook him off. Reeve pulled Richard back.
      “Enjoy the spectacle. It’s time he learned his place,” Reeve said.
      “Stay out of this,” Bryce screamed at Richard, then turned to Jamie. “Fight, or are you a puny coward, too?”
      Jamie said nothing. He held his fists at his side and stepped back again.
      The fight started in the yard, progressed to the field, and finished near the pond. A small group of people followed and urged Jamie to defend himself. The next punch caught the Scotsman in the chest. He didn’t flinch.
      “You should be lying on the ground by now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Jamie pulled up his arms to protect his face as best he could against the onslaught of punches. He didn’t retaliate. 
      His face cut and bloodied, he still didn’t strike back. 
      “Fight, damn you,” Bryce shouted and followed with a quick barrage of solid body punches.
      He held his position and didn’t fight back.

Follow Ruth to next week’s snippet (Aug 19) here: https://bambilynnblog.wordpress.org

Miss last week and a chance to comment? Check it out here: https://www.ashleyyorkauthor.com

Laura Reynolds is in love with her long-time friend, Jamie Maxwell Collins. She adores his playful sense of humor, caring nature as well as his strong sense of family and honor.

Jamie lives across the border in Scotland. Outwardly carefree, he hides a dark secret. He can’t involve Laura in this deception. He can’t give her hope for a future together.

Laura stumbles upon Jamie’s secret. In her heart of hearts she knows Jamie is innocent. Their relationship in tatters and with no hope of reconciliation, she plays a deadly game to exonerate Jamie, she agrees to a political marriage. She has no idea the entire game has been orchestrated by her future husband, Jamie’s greatest enemy.


Buy Links: Amazon |B&N  | iBooks | Kobo

And for this week's snippet of Lady of Steel, visit Ruth Casie's blog:  www.RuthACasie.blogspot.com

Monday, August 5, 2019

This Medieval Monday the Heroine Is Welsh!

This week's Villains and Bad Guys snippet features my favorite kind of heroine, a Welsh princess!  Cathy McRae's The Highlander's Welsh Bride, sounds wonderfully exciting. Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook (kindle)!

A Welsh princess on the run from King Edward’s army, Carys finds herself embroiled with pirates pillaging the western coastline of Scotland. She has escaped their clutches twice before. Has her luck at last run out? 

A sailor dragged a long, deep chest across the deck. He unlocked it, opened the lid and dispensed weapons to the crew. Hanna slipped from the aftcastle to the deck, joining Carys at the chest. Birk ground his teeth as the startled sailor glanced up, seeking permission to arm the two women. Without waiting for his sanction, his mother and wife slipped daggers as long as their forearms into sheaths at their sides. Hanna plucked a short sword from the chest. Carys also selected a short sword and grabbed a bow and quiver of arrows from a passing soldier. Brody handed the weapons to her without fuss. He knew Carys could fight. He’d learned of her skills firsthand that day in the forest, and again when she’d bested his laird in the yard at Dairborrodal.

Follow the excerpt next week to Barbara Bettis’ blog:
http://barbarabettis.blogspot.co.uk/

It was over. Prince Llywelyn was dead, his soldiers fleeing before King Edward’s army. Carys, a distant cousin to the prince, herself a princess of Wales, had picked up arms alongside her husband more than a year ago. Now homeless, her husband buried beneath the good Welsh soil, she seeks shelter in the north, far from the reach of Longshanks’s men. Carys and Wales would never be the same again.

Birk MacLean has been ordered to take a bride and produce an heir. He grows weary of the lasses paraded before him, women of delicate nature and selfish motives. He desires a wife strong enough to help lead one of the most powerful clans in Western Scotland.One like the Welsh woman sitting in his dungeon, arrested for poaching MacLean deer. Can Birk convince Carys marriage to him is preferable to a hangman’s noose? And will the hard-headed Scot be worthy of a Princess of Wales?

From the towering Welsh mountains to the storm-swept Scottish coast comes a tale of betrayal and loss, deceit and passion. An epic tale of honor and the redeeming power of love.

Buy link: Amazon: https://www.amzn.com/dp/B07KNYTMPK

And for the next excerpt from Lady of Steel, visit Cathy's blog:  https://www.cathymacraeauthor.com/bits-n-bobs-author-blog

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Medieval Monday--THE VALIANT VIKING

Welcome to Medieval Monday, the Villains and Bad Guys edition.  This week's snippet is from Bambi Lynn's exciting story, The Valiant Viking.

     Boddi studied him, considering the challenge. Finally, he shoved her to the ground at Rolf’s feet. Sharp pain seared her already bruised hands and knees.
     He made no move to help her up. Broken and dejected, she stood carefully and cowered behind him.
     Boddi scanned the line of captives, his gaze landing almost immediately on Rheda. She broke from the group, causing a moment of chaos. She ran for her life towards the woods surrounding the village but was quickly apprehended by some of Boddi’s men. They dragged her back, biting and clawing. They laughed at her struggle.
     The muscle in Rolf’s jaw twitched.

Can a foundering seaside village survive the onslaught of marauding Vikings bearing down on them?

Desperate to save her village from a band of Norsemen sweeping down the coastline, Kaylla catches her first ray of hope when she discovers one of the pillaging heathens washed ashore. Perhaps they can use this captive to bargain for the safety of their village. Rolf Bloodhands, sole survivor of a traitorous attack on his king’s fleet, assures her that his kinsmen will not spare the easy conquest of their waning village for the life of one man. Instead he teaches them the basics of defense and combat with the meager weapons they have available. If they fail to stave off the invaders, the few villagers left will either be killed or enslaved.

With only two days to prepare for an invasion sure to decimate her village, Kaylla is shocked by her attraction to the hunky Norseman she has enslaved. Who knew fear of imminent death could drive an innocent woman to explore the oldest sins known to man.

BUY LINK:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BMZFFU2/

Click here to follow along next week by visiting Rue Allyn. 


And for this week's snippet of LADY OF STEEL, visit Bambi's blog:  www.bambilynnblog.wordpress.com

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Medieval Monday--Dragon Knight's Ring

This Medieval Monday "Villains and Bad Guys" excerpt is from book 5 of Mary Morgan's thrilling Order of the Dragon Knights series, Dragon Knight's Ring.  

     He threw out an arc of lightning at the dragon, but she swiftly dodged the blazing light and flew off. “Your time is at an end, beast!” raged Lachlan.
     Meggie stood slowly. Never had she seen the face of evil so hideous. Her hands trembled, but she would not look away. This was not the man she’d befriended in the forest. Nae, this was a monster and her fear stirred so great, she could not move. Did not Angus tell her once to use
fear as a shield? Doing her best, she kept her focus steady and attempted to take in deep calming breaths.
     Lachlan took a step toward her, but Angus quickly stepped in front of her.

Crusader, Adam MacFhearguis is on one last quest to the standing stones in Scotland where he seeks to bury the past. However, a silent prayer sends him to an unknown future and to his beloved Meggie. When he uncovers a shocking revelation, Adam questions everything about the woman he thought he knew and loved. He may have traveled the veil of ages, but time is now his enemy.

Margaret MacKay lives a life in the future without the memories of her past—her death. When Adam arrives at her door confessing he knows her, she is confused and wary. With each passing day, she yearns to learn more from this stranger. Yet, when a truth is revealed, can she trust the
man to unlock the chains from her mind and heart?

Will love free the bonds to unite the two lovers who who were doomed centuries ago? Or will evil finally claim victory over the Dragon Knights?

Follow along next week on Rue’s blog https://www.rueallyn.com/blog/ and leave a comment for
a chance to win a signed print copy of Dragon Knight’s Ring.

And the next snippet of Lady of Steel appears this week on Mary Morgan's blog:  https://www.marymorganauthor.com/blog

Sunday, July 14, 2019

MEDIEVAL MONDAY WITH RUE ALLYN


This week's Medieval Monday snippet is from author Rue Allyn novel Knight Errant, the 1st book in her Knight Chronicles series. In this scene Lady Juliana is waiting for her escort, Sir Robert to return from finding news of their enemy Fra Basti--a highly influential priest known as Il Mano de Dei (The Hand of God). 

     “Excellent.” Basti took the letters. “Wait for us outside.”
     The man backed out into the hallway. “Your Beguine robes have undergone a change?” Basti lifted a delicately arched brow. 
     He was small in stature, but he was perfectly proportioned. She had heard that his face had been used as the model for any number of angelic frescoes. After his appointment to Rome, ’twas how he had come to the pope’s attention.

Be sure to leave a comment for Rue to be in the running for her giveaway -- an eCopy of Knight Errant. A winner will be randomly selected and announced on Medieval Monday, September 9, 2019.

Miss last week and a chance to comment? Check it out here:
www.RuthACasie.blogspot.com

Follow Rue to next week's snippet (July 22, 2019) here:
https://judithmarshallauthor.com

KNIGHT ERRANT

Set during the early days of the Inquisition, Sir Robert Clarwyn must find a way to compel Lady Juliana Verault to return to England, or he’ll lose any chance of regaining his family lands and redeeming his heritage. Yet Juliana must
complete her mission to ensure a safe future for her gender in the church. With danger and intrigue mounting, Robert and Juliana must rely on each other and risk
everything … including their hearts.

Buy Links:
Amazon ~ https://www.amazon.com/Knight-Errant-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B07S41BJX8/
Kobo ~ https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/knight-errant-22
Smashwords ~ https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/939900
Apple Books ~ https://books.apple.com/us/book/knight-errant/id1464825744

The next snippet of my own book LADY OF STEEL is on Rue's blog this Medieval Monday:  https://www.rueallyn.com/blog/

Monday, July 8, 2019

MEDIEVAL MONDAY Ashley York's DAUGHTER OF THE OVERKING

Welcome back to Medieval Monday, the Villains edition. This week I'm featuring a snippet from Ashley York's wonderful Irish romance, DAUGHTER OF THE OVERKING.


A mistaken identity. A gruesome murder.

Trained as a warrior... Brighit of Clonascra despises the trappings and demands of womanhood and is far more comfortable training for battle. Long held alliances require she set aside selfish dreams and take Darragh as her husband. The union intended to promote peace between the clans is interrupted by the shocking murder of a neighboring king and she quickly discovers there are far worse things than being wed.

Trained to be king... Darragh of Drogheda has no wish to be king, but he is an obedient son and supports his father's plans. His marriage to Brighit, however, will be no hardship at all since he finds her most intriguing when she fights him at every turn. A she-warrior indeed. Her persistent dismissal of him merely blows the fire aflame and sets him down the path to discovery of all her most tightly held secrets—secrets that could cost him his life.

     Tadhg stepped toward the men, his hand outstretched to their leader. “Seigine. Ye’re late to the festivities.”
     They’d been invited. The tension in the room lightened a bit. All the neighboring tribes were called to a celebration unless they were enemies. The more important the person being wed, the more neighbors invited.
     And yet…the newcomer’s dark eyes assessed Tadhg with what appeared to be disdain.

BUY LINK: https://www.ashleyyorkauthor.com/daughter-of-the-king

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A E-BOOK COPY OF DAUGHTER OF THE OVERKING.

And look for the next snippet on Mary Morgan's blog on Monday, July 15th:  https://www.marymorganauthor.com/blog

Meanwhile, the next lines of LADY OF STEEL are featured on Ashley's blog:  www.ashleyyorkauthor.com/blog

Returning from the Crusades to rescue Nicola, the beautiful noblewoman who stole his heart three years before, Fawkes must do battle with her brutal husband, Walter Mortimer. Post a comment to be entered in a drawing for a print or ebook copy of LADY OF STEEL. 


Monday, July 1, 2019

The Characters We Love To Hate...Villains and Bad Boys

Welcome back to Medieval Monday and our exploration of dastardly villains and bad guys. This week's post is from my friend Barbara Bettis's latest book:
   
      Sir Paxton moved quietly in the darkness, nonetheless. Prince John likely had heard of the battle’s outcome by now. The would-be king would want to know why Paxton delayed in reporting.
      He’ll have his royal prick in a knot. Well, Hades. I couldn’t travel fast with a slashed arm, could I?
      He scratched on the wooden panel, an entry he’d used before, counted to four, then scratched again. After waiting what seemed an eternity, the door opened a sliver, and he pushed his way in. hen he saw whom he’d shoved aside— Shite. He dropped to one knee.

THIS KNIGHT ONLY

He’ll do anything for land, even marry her; she’ll do anything for her people, except marry him. If only either had a choice. It’s a marriage only love can save.

Sir Roark will do anything to gain land, even beguile an unwilling lady into marriage. He knows she’s much better off with a man to take control of her besieged castle, to say nothing of her desirable person. But it isn’t long before he discovers that, although her eyes sparkle like sunlight on sea waves, her stubbornness alone could have defeated Saladin.  

Lady Alyss is determined to hold her family’s castle, protect her people, and preserve her freedom— until her brother’s dying wish binds her to a stranger. Still, she’ll allow no rugged, over-confident, appealing knight to usurp her authority, even if she must wed him. Especially since he thinks a lady’s duties begin and end with directing servants. Alyss has a few surprises for her new all-too-tempting lord.

But when a common enemy threatens everything, Roark and Alyss face a startling revelation. Without love, neither land nor freedom matters.

Buy Link:
https://amzn.to/2Xlzynj

Post a comment to be entered in a drawing for a free ebook.

And next week, follow Barbara's story on Mary Morgan’s blog and a chance to comment for another entry for a free ebook: https://www.marymorganauthor.com/

Monday, June 24, 2019

Medieval Monday: Villains and Bad Guys


I am excited to be part of a group of ten authors who share their stories on a blog hop called Medieval Monday. The theme for the next eleven weeks is “Bad Guys and Villains”, so there will be lots of action and drama. Each Monday we will post snippets of a scene from each other's books. Hop to the next blog to read the next lines. Comment each week to be eligible for a free autographed print copy of Lady of Steel or an e-book.

My first snippet from Lady of Steel takes place as the hero, Fawkes de Cressy, returns to claim Mordeaux Castle and free Nicola from her horrible, abusive husband.

“God’s teeth! Look at that!” Reynard called. 
Alarm prickled along Fawkes’s spine as he saw knights pouring out through the castle’s portcullis. He slowed his mount and motioned for the men behind him to do the same.
“Jesu,” he breathed. “Have they been warned? Did they know we were coming?”
“It would seem so,” Reynard responded. “The information we had when we were in London was that Mortimer never leaves Valmar. And yet, that is surely him.”

To be continued next week on Barb Bettis's blog:  http://barbarabettis.blogspot.com/

LADY OF STEEL
One rapturous hour sparks unforgettable passion between Lady Nicola and Fawkes de Cressy. The memory of their time together enable Fawkes to survive the perils of the Crusades and gives Nicola the hope and strength to endure a brutal marriage. But when Fawkes returns three years later, he finds Nicola enmeshed in a dark web of castle intrigue. Fawkes has also been altered by the hardships and cruelties of war, and Nicola fears to trust him with her secrets or her heart.

Surrounded by enemies, the battle-hardened knight and aloof, wary woman must rebuild the bond between them. Only if they dare to let the soul-stirring magic their bodies share grow into love, can they escape the sinister plot that threatens to destroy them both. 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Lanhydrock--An Elegant Country Estate

I've just begun writing a new Regency romance, so I'm trying to immerse myself in the world of that era. Visiting Lanhydrock country house in Cornwall last summer certainly provided some inspiration. The house was built and furnished nearly a hundred years after the Regency period so it's more Downton Abbey than Pemberley, but it still offers an appreciation of what country life might be like for the more privileged of my early 18th century characters. The estate includes a fifty-room mansion and 900-acres of parkland with spectacular gardens.
To reach the house you follow an avenue lined with 300 beech trees. At the entrance is the gatehouse (above), a delightfully ornate structure that was originally built in 1651 as a hunting lodge. Some of the landscaping on the estate dates from the 1680's. The oldest trees in the bluebell wood are about 120 years old, although most of the ash, beech, oak and sycamore were planted in the 1950's and 60's. A variety of gardens surround the house, from formal designs to the wilderness garden. There is an adorable thatched cottage that used to be the gardener's home. And lovely landscaping around the church and cemetery, which both seem steeped in time.




Lanhyrock was the family home of Thomas Charles, 2nd Lord Robartes, his wife Mary and their ten children. The house was severely damaged by fire in 1881, but Lord Robartes had it rebuilt. The striking, life-size painting below is likely one of his ancestors.
What's exceptional about this estate is that all the rooms are furnished, authentically recreating what the house must have looked like when the family resided there.



   
There were eight kitchens for preparing game, fish, hot and cold food and baked goods. I also got a glimpse of the attic/storage areas and the servants' quarters, like the governess's bedroom below.
Alas, due to a memory card failure, many of my pictures didn't turn out, so this is just a sampling of the amazing furniture and decor. In true Victorian fashion, there was quite a number of taxidermy specimens, including a giant moose head, the leopard skin throw below and (horrifyingly) a real polar bear rug. 😞
But if you're going to go for all-out decadent luxury, there's nothing like this map room.
 And the gallery area was truly amazing. The immense room is almost large enough to almost play football in. Although since it is lined with bookshelves and features a stunning plaster ceiling with ornate classical figures, it was likely used in a much more formal fashion.

      It was impossible to absorb all the amazing details in a couple of hours. But the immersive experience definitely convinced me to put a lavish country house in one of the books in my new Regency series. 
      I am hard at work on the first one, Sweet Ruin, about a young woman who feels more at home in a library than a ballroom. Delphinia Fairfield is determined to have a more interesting life than being a nobleman's wife. And if being ruined is the only way to avoid that fate, then that's exactly what she will do.   

Thursday, January 24, 2019

My Welsh Connection


When I first decided to write a historical romance, I instantly knew where it was going to be set—Wales. My love of this intriguing little Celtic country was sparked by two books:  Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave (the first of her Arthurian series) and Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman. I was enthralled by the way these authors captured the ancient mystical allure of Wales, its dramatically beautiful landscape and fiercely independent people. 






As a result of my affinity for Wales, my first book, The Dragon of the Island, featured a historical Welsh king named Maelgwn the Great. Since then I’ve written six other books that have a some connection to the country, including the  medieval romance I just finished. Something about the place inspires me and gets my mind spinning with stories.
 
I’ve visited Wales four times and often referred to it as my spiritual homeland. A few years ago one of my friends developed a ancestry chart for me that revealed I was descended from King Edward I. For a “Welsh-o-phile” like me, that was kind of unsettling, as Edward was famous for oppressing the Welsh...and the Scots (he’s the evil king in Braveheart).


Along with Edward, my chart features several other names I recognize from my research in the medieval era. I was especially intrigued by the listing of my 22nd great-grandmother as “Elen of Wales”. Since I’ve been getting back into genealogy lately, I decided to look her up on the internet. And there she was, Elen of Wales, the daughter of Llywelyn the Great, who is called Great because he came very close to uniting all of Wales and earning the country sovereignty in its own right. 
Llywelyn the Great statue in Conwy, North Wales

I was thrilled to find out I am related to the ultimate Welsh hero. Except….the date was wrong. The Elen of Wales on my chart lived too much later to be Llywelyn’s daughter. But I didn’t give up. Instead, I looked up her husband, and then her husband’s mother, and I found her. My Elen wasn’t Llywelyn’s daughter, she was his granddaughter.
                                                                                 
For me, it’s sort of like hitting the genealogy jackpot. Although there is another (English) fly in the ointment. Elen is Llywelyn’s granddaughter by Joan, the illegitimate daughter of King John, who was Edward I’s grandfather. So, in a sense, I am twice royal, although it also means I am related to two of the most sociopathic kings in European history. It’s kind of like finding out you’re related to Tywin and Joffrey Lannister in The Game of Thrones.
 
But the connection to Llywelyn the Great is worth it, as Llywelyn is pretty much the Ned Stark of Wales.  He’s also the main character in Penman’s Here Be Dragons. In the book, he’s not only a heroic figure, but a romantic hero, who loves his wife Joan so much that he forgives her even after she is unfaithful to him and mourns her deeply when she dies. Incidentally, the man she was unfaithful with, William de Braose, is the father of Isabella de Braose, who is the wife of Daffyd, Llywelyn the Great’s son, who is the father of my Elen of Wales. So, bizarrely, it would appear that I am descended from both Llywelyn and his wife’s lover. (Although he forgave Joan for her infidelity, Llywelyn had her lover William de Braose hanged. That must have been difficult for Isabella, to marry the son of her father’s executioner!)

We talk about a "small world" and "sixth degrees of separation", but it really was true in the medieval era, especially among the circles of the nobility. That was part of the reason the Church has such strict rules about who you could marry. The other thing to remember is that lots and lots of people alive today are related to the kings, queens and nobles of Europe. These powerful people had the resources to ensure their offspring survived.
I have another misgiving about my royal connections. John's father Henry II invaded Ireland and established a Norman-Anglo power base there that would result in England dominating and oppressing the Irish for nearly 800 years. Since my husband is more than half Irish genetically and 100% spiritually, my Plantagenet lineage (as Henry II's royal line is known) makes us blood enemies. Oh, and the main noble who invaded Richard de Clare II?  I'm related to him too. The only saving grace is that he was part Welsh. 
So, there's my Welsh connection. Maybe. I've found one link in the genealogy chain where not all the sources match. Who knows if I've related to Llywelyn or Edward or any of them. But it doesn't matter. My love of Wales is soul deep. I don't need genetic proof for it to be real. 
Dolwyddelan Castle, built by Llywelyn the Great