Thursday, 20 April 2017

Medieval dragons

Painting by C. J. Begas, 1828 (public
domain image from Wikimedia Commons)
Medieval people believed in dragons. In the east, dragons were seen as powerful, imperial, and signs of good fortune and plenty, but in the west they were often linked to Satan, the devil, "The Old Serpent", and regarded as trouble.

Sometimes such creatures are called dragons, at other times they are worms or wyrms, armed with poison like a snake. The hero Beowulf fights a dragon who lives in a mound and guards a treasure hoard. The Vikings believed in dragons that were more like serpents, so in the Poetic Edda we learn how Sigurðr killed the dragon Fafnir, who behaves very much like a snake.

Sigurðr and Reginn went up onto Gnita-heath and there found Fafnir’s track, where he slithered  to the water. Sigurðr dug a pit there in the path and went into it. And when Fafnir slithered away from the gold, he breathed forth venom, and it fell down onto Sigurðr’s head. And when Fafnir slithered over the pit, Sigurðr stabbed him in the heart with his sword. Fafnir shook himself and lashed about with his head and tail.


In Viking art dragons appear lithe and sinuous, coiling about. However ominous, they were popular in stories, suitable opponents for warriors in tales.

The appearance of dragons in the Middle Ages usually foretold disaster. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 793 tells of the first Viking raid on Lindisfarne, Northumberland, and the omens that preceded it: ‘Here were dreadful forewarnings come over the land of Northumbria, and woefully terrified the people: these were amazing sheets of lightning and whirlwinds, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky.’ 


In keeping with the heroic warrior theme but now in a Christian context, several saints battle with dragons in medieval tales. There is the famous Saint George and the Dragon (a dragon lays waste to the countryside and is offered sheep, youths and maidens as sacrifices. When the situation becomes so desperate that the king's daughter is offered, the knight George appears and vanquishes the beast.) In the ultimate show-down of good verses evil, the archangel Michael battles the great dragon Lucifer in the Book of Revelations. a text often illustrated by medieval artists.

For my own story of 'The Virgin, the Knight and the Dragon,' I took these ideas of might, power, battle, knight heroes, sacrificial maidens and gold and gave them a twist. I hope my readers enjoy the results.

The Virgin, the Knight and the Dragon on Amazon

The Virgin, the Knight and the Dragon on Amazon UK

The two book series on Bookstrand







Sunday, 5 March 2017

Read an Ebook Week! LOVE AND THE LIBRARY Series on Sale




Read an Ebook Week is here!


From March 5, 2017 through March 11, 2017, I'm offering my entire LOVE AND THE LIBRARY series (3 books) at 25% off on Smashwords.  Use coupon code RAE25 (the same code for each book). All formats are available on Smashwords.


LOVE AND THE LIBRARY-- A celebration of the beginnings of love, wherein young Regency gentlemen meet their matches over a copy of Pride and Prejudice at the library. Sweet Regency romantic comedies.


Book 1: A Similar Taste in Books

Clara and Justin--finance and fencing

 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/247691 

Use coupon code RAE25

Book 2: A Mutual Interest in Numbers

Ellen and Laurence--mathematics and steam engines

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/317971 

Use coupon code RAE25

Book 3: A Distinct Flair for Words

Felicity and Frank--Jane Austen fan fiction and publishing

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/317971

Use coupon code RAE25


All my books are here:
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/LindaBanche

The entire promotional catalog is here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1

Have fun.

Thank you all,
Linda
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!
http://www.lindabanche.com

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Love Dragons? See 'The Virgin, the Knight, and the Dragon'

The Virgin, the Knight, and the Dragon (MF)
Medieval Creatures 2
Heat Rating: SENSUAL
Word Count: 24,824
Fantasy,  Historical,  Romantic Suspense

PRE-ORDER HERE!

AVAILABLE: Wednesday, March 8th

[Bookstrand Romance: Historical, Fantasy, Romantic Suspense, HEA]

This story is a sequel to my Medieval Creatures 1 book, The Virgin, the Knight and the Unicorn.

BUY BOTH BOOKS HERE

Blurb

Can Princess Adela, heiress to a deadly destiny, be saved by the love of a knight errant?

The youngest of nine sons, Jesse is used to neglect and hand-me-downs. Becoming a knight through his own efforts, he encounters a beautiful, virtually naked stranger in the countryside above the farmlands of his old home. Who is she and how can he help her?

Flaxen-haired Adela D’Varm is compelled by the magic of a faery geas to remain in the high grasslands until she is rescued by a knight—a worthy knight who must contend with a dragon. But this dragon is no ravening beast, as knights soon discover if they offer Adela any insult.

Amiable and truly chivalrous, Jesse is different. Through their encounters—amusing, tender, exciting—he and Adela fall in love. But, even as they marry, Jesse and Adela encounter a deadly conspiracy and a final test for Adela.

It seems that Jesse has deserted her—or has he?

 Excerpt:


Ahead he could hear a deep rumbling, like a cat purring—a cat the size of a hut. There was a smell of blood in the air and a savour of roasted meat.
Dragons, like wolves, prefer to feast on horses, not men.
From where had that thought sprung? Jesse felt for an instant as if he was bathed in heat—real, forge-hot heat. Older memories and stories trickled up and down his back in a messy puddle of sweat.
A dragon. Walter the shepherd whispered there was once a dragon up on these high grasslands. A creature of faery. Maybe it has returned.
The sweat turned clammy on his back. Trying not to stiffen up, Jesse choked down a cough. Above him, how high and how far off he did not want to know, he listened to the sounds of gnawing.
Turn back or go on? Either action held both appeal and risk. To retreat might mean survival or a blast of fire at his back. To go on—if he bested a dragon, he would be as famous as Beowulf.
No doubt Beowulf was an elder son . With my luck, I could win and gain nothing but a few coins for my trouble. Any treasure would be claimed by my older brothers.
Jesse stopped crawling. Roast horse swirled in his nostrils and, despite his wavering dread, his mouth watered. Wanting to travel light and make haste, he had not eaten well for days. Succulent, hot meat tempted him to raise his head.
A dragon rose on its haunches to tear and swallow a morsel of some animal that once may have been horse. Again Jesse’s hunger flared.
His older brothers would never have attempted what he planned, but that was a virtue. Why not? he decided, as the dragon took another bite. A dainty bite, he noted, for a beast as long as a cavalcade.
It did not kill the knight. The thought was almost a prayer. Inspired—or mad, or truly desperate—Jesse threw down his weapons and rose out of the grass, his hands filled with herbs. He averted his eyes, hardly daring to look.
“Good day.” He was glad he had planted his feet wide apart and pitched his greeting above the steady breeze of the dragon’s breathing. “May I join you?
“I have brought herbs.” He raised his cupped fingers, allowing some greenery to slip from his hands so the dragon would know he was unarmed. “Good eating herbs, wild parsley, wild mint, wild sorrel, also called vinegar leaves. I think you will find they enhance the taste of your meat.”
He stepped forward, placed the herbs on a boulder, and stepped back. “The marigold is simply for the colour,” he added, his throat growing dry again as he sensed the dragon leaning closer.
It must work, a wild, mad babbling voice wailed in his head. Dragons are said to be silver-tongued and to understand speech. And I like animals. Jesse had worked with hawks, horses, oxen, sheep, chickens, and goats and found each creature appealing, in its own way. Dragons were creatures of faery, and perhaps more. If there is a dragon, there must be a maiden close, a living maid. The old stories always have both.
Those jaws of hell gaped nearer, each tooth sharper than any sword. Through his half-closed eyes, it seemed to Jesse for an instant that the beast was smiling, which was surely impossible. Determined to look his probable death in the face, Jesse stretched on tiptoe,  raised his head and stared.
Now he could study it more closely. The dragon  was a shining gold blending to silver, lean and long as a vast snake or a whip, but with powerful legs and a deep chest. Jesse could not see any wings, but he did note, with a certain detached surprise, as of someone who could perish at any second, that the beast was ornamented with flashes of silver and gold scales about its neck, like a necklace. It had a narrow, almost elegant snout, prick ears topped by small, shiny spines, and deep large eyes the colour of an emerald. Strangely beautiful eyes that were considering him in a thoughtful, almost tender way .
“Thank you.” The voice sounding in his head was not his, though how had the dragon spoken?
Jesse decided not to trouble over that and made a bow. He sensed the dragon deftly plucking at the herbs, heard the faint scratch of very sharp claws on the boulder, then flinched as a round cut of steaming horse steak was placed on top of the boulder, laid neatly beside the rest of the herbs.
No one would believe I shared my dinner with a dragon. Jesse ate in a daze. The meat was cooked to a turn, and tender.
“Thank you for the flowers.” Again the voice that was not his sounded in his head.
Jesse harnessed his manners and his wits and swallowed the final piece of meat before he answered. “It is my pleasure.”
A wave of heat surged over his neck, followed by a percussive clap of huge, scaly wings. The force half stunned Jesse, and when he stirred again the dragon was gone.

“Good day.” A small slim young woman stood over him. She gave the same greeting that he had given the dragon, and her dainty bare feet rested in the hollow made by the dragon’s claws. “Are you hurt?”
Jesse shook his head. The woman seemed to be wearing nothing but a cloak. She had a flower in her electrum-pale hair, a marigold.
The same as the spray I gifted the dragon. She has the same colour scales—sorry, hair—as the beast, and the same deep green eyes. What is going on?







Tuesday, 10 January 2017

One Winter Knight - Medieval Romance Anthology. Lindsay Townsend


One Winter Knight is a medieval romance anthology filled with stories perfect for a snowy winter and Christmas-time. My story is 'Sir Thomas and the Snow Troll.'

Here's a blurb and the first chapter.

LINDSAY TOWNSEND—SIR THOMAS AND THE SNOW TROLL
Sir Thomas no longer knows who he is, or even who his natural father is. Adrift, Thomas sets out on a winter journey to discover more, finding adventure and passion on the way that he ever expected. Fiery Ruth, a young woman who has escaped a terrible servitude to live alone in the northern forest, is proud of her independence from all others...but can Thomas protect her from the dreaded and terrible Snow Troll?


Two lost souls, striving through long winter nights and days, find each other—but can they begin to truly live?

Winter 1134, Northern England

You were always the son of your father’s soul. You were not his seed but you were always his heart. He loved you my child, never doubt that.
His mother’s voice pounded in Sir Thomas’s head as he rode through the forest, his mind as purposeless as a ship without a rudder. Believed to be on her death-bed, Christine of Carcassone had confessed to her son what Thomas had long suspected—that his father, Sir Guillelm of Normandy and Tissaton, was not his sire.
Sir Thomas, Tom to his family, squire and friends, snapped the ends of his horse’s reins against his right thigh, caught between pity, exasperation and relief. For of course his mother, contrary as ever, had then rallied after her confession and was even now on her feet and gadding, chattering of the Yule to come, keeping the servants busy with Christmas preparations. She had gaily waved him off that morning, assuring him she would be quite safe and well.
“You know how I love Christmas, Tom, and the whole month beforehand with all the gathering and cooking and preparations. My ladies and I will be very happy and snug in the keep. Take that long face of yours away! Go forth and seek your natural father! Look to your roots! You have my blessing.”
Beneath her bright and airy manner Christine had been determined and Tom, torn between staying at Tissaton to hover over her or striding out to find his native father, had found himself agreeing. Now, after riding for several hours along the great north road in the northern forest, he was less sure.
I am pushed from my nest like a dazed fledging chick but Mam is surely right, as she usually is. Tom knew Sir Guillelm had loved him. It had been in his father’s every look and smile and gift, in his teaching Tom to ride and count and to fashion baskets and panniers and reed fertility charms from the rushes of Tissaton’s sprawling, watery estate. Scarcely a month since his father’s death and Tom still missed him with a tearing ache in his chest, still longed to hear his stumbling footsteps on the floor of the great hall and see that cheerful, gap-toothed smile.
I will call him father still, for he was ever one to me.
Is this how a cuckoo feels? Tom scowled at the idea and snapped his reins again, wincing as his mount reacted with a surge of speed along the snowy track and the persistent, nagging wound in his backside stung and ached anew. A knight for three years since he had won his spurs in Normandy, Tom had become used to carrying injuries from the battle and tourney fields, but this embarrassing stab was slow to heal.
Were my father alive, I would ask his advice. I will not ask the other.
The other was how Tom thought of his natural sire, the one who had cast his seed into his mother and then abandoned her. He snapped his reins a third time as his mother’s voice hissed in his head, cold and hard as the winter sleet he rode through.
Never think that, my son! she had scolded, soon after they had buried his real father and she had taken ill herself, dropping the equivalent of a siege boulder on his head before making a miraculous recovery and then taking him to task. Tom could picture her clearly, round and red as a robin and as furious, hopping about the solar of Tissaton keep, barely a day after she had left her fatal sick-bed.
“Magnus does not know of you,” she had told him then. “I took care he would never know. He was a lad, a squire, just fifteen years old, when I tempted him into my bed and took his virginity. A fine, sweet romp for us both, and a parting with no ill-will on either side. Magnus wanted to court me, but I told him no. I was ten years older, and I had my sights fixed on your father, Sir Guillelm. A fifteen-year-old swain did not suit my purpose.”
Fifteen years old. God’s bones! All lads are idiots at fifteen.
Catching her son’s distaste at her seduction, Christine stared back at him until Tom had blushed. “It was Yule and feasting and Magnus was handsome, then,” she had snapped. “Do you think only men can feel desire?”
“But Sir Guillelm—” Tom had started, unsure what to say, but feeling he should protest.
His mother folded her arms beneath her bosom and glowered still more. “Had a loving, splendid son and the heir he needed,” she answered swiftly. “You were both tall and dark and if your features do not match your father, your gestures do. Guillelm was always proud and pleased of you.”
“Of another man’s bastard!”
“A youth, not a man, Tom, and a single time, only. I married your father within a month of bedding Magnus. Once we were betrothed, I was always faithful to Guillelm, so for years I thought you were his.” Her round face softened and her pretty gray eyes sparkled. “We were content, very content.”
Remembering her flushed and dreaming expression Tom could not snarl, not even when his horse skidded on an ancient cobblestone on the old Roman road and the wound at the top of his thigh flared again. His parents had been happy, and for an age he had dreamed of a marriage like theirs.
It was a marriage built on a lie, and yet...
“We were not blessed with children,” Christine had added, after a heavy, breathing pause. She had stared from the small lancet window in the solar, her pleasant features becoming as pale and blank as the snow outside. “After our first year of marriage, Guillelm was not strong, or hale or vigorous.”
Tom nodded, recalling how his father had frequently taken to his bed, especially in winter.
“If he ever wondered about you, as I imagine he did when you grew more and more like Magnus in looks, he was prudent enough to recognize you as his heir. You are a good son, Thomas. Guillelm was proud to claim you as his scion and tactful enough never to ask questions. And now those who might have made trouble for us are all dead, of age or disease or war.”
Tom had shuddered at his mother’s cool assessment. The larger part of him wanted to flee the solar, with its cushions and bed and books, and disappear into a new battle-fray. He did not because he
respected his father, Sir Guillelm, who had trusted him with his lands and title. Only this fall, when the man was still alive, Tom had promised the older man that he would care for Christine—Guillelm had insisted on that vow.
He never asked aloud, but father realized I was less than his. And yet, he loved me. I know he did.
You were always the son of your father’s soul.
Perhaps Guillelm’s actions had been directed by self-interest and prudence, as his mother’s had certainly been, but there was a loving kindness, too, Tom thought now, ducking under a low arch of trees to avoid a tangle of wind-whipped branches. Yet perhaps, damn all the heavens, his mam was right. Guillelm had loved him.
Would I be as generous with a child not of my own flesh and blood?
The fact he did not know chilled him.
Again, he drove his heels into his horse’s flanks and the black surged forward, foam falling hot from its gleaming mouth. Off in the distance, the low winter sun burned in Tom’s eyes and the bare trees seemed to crowd ever closer. For an instant, he wondered if he had strayed from the track, but then the puzzles of the moment overcame him afresh.
The other, the man whose face he wore, what kind of creature was Magnus? Brooding, Tom hunched lower in his saddle and considered what his mam had said. Drawing knowledge from her was always as tricky as taking honey from a hive, but he recalled the most.
“He was so handsome then, just like you, my son.”
“Then?” Tom had prompted, flinching as his mother sighed.
“He was almost pretty at fifteen, though not any more. Magnus, so I have heard, was much cut about in his final crusader battle.”
A crusader! At just twenty years old, Tom was still boyish enough to feel his heartbeat racing up in awe.
“He was at Azaz,” his mother added.
A great battle, Tom thought. This Magnus must be a mighty warrior. I am still glad Sir Guillelm is my real father.
“He is married, or so I have heard. A slip of a wench, a red-head. They live over beyond Great Yarr and have a son. Of course, the babe must survive infancy, but I have heard it does well. Still, you can make a claim on Magnus, if you wish. I think you should. After all, you are his mirror, and a knight making his way. He will be proud of you.”
A baby son, Tom had thought, a strange sinking sensation sucking at his bones, a healthy baby son. I have no place in this new family. And yet, Great Yarr was only twenty miles away, off to the north.
He was brought back to sharp attention by his mother’s next statement.
“’Tis said to be a love-match, which is typical for Magnus. He ever let his heart rule his head.”
Unlike you, Mam?
Tom winced as the grinding cold bit through his leather cloak and a heap of slush and sleet tumbled from an overhanging branch onto his head. What was he doing out in this white murk, quit from all company?
Because I am fit for no human-kind at present. Had I stayed, I would have roared and raged at my mother and told her the dark truth, that I am ashamed of her. Yet, who am I to judge?
He had broken his promise to his real father, too, and that made him more ashamed. Christine had manipulated him, suggesting he seek out his roots, whatever that meant.
If the other is married now and has a child, what am I? Mam said he would be proud of me, but for what?
Peering through the ever-falling sleet, shaking his head to rid his eyelashes of the snowy crust, Tom decided he was lost. His whole flight from Tissaton had been a poor design, half-baked notions of seeking out his native parent, and for what? Material as ever, his mam had strongly suggested he make a claim against Magnus, but truly how could he accuse Magnus of anything? The lad, as he had been as an eager fifteen-year-old, had tried to court Christine.
If I find him, what then?
The idea of intruding on a grizzled warrior, who had earned his respite, plus a new wife and baby, sickened Tom.
He wheeled his horse about, determined to turn back, if only to gallop to the closest town where he could squat down in a stew or inn over Christmas and leave those with true connections to themselves.
Distracted, he missed the overhanging cloud of mistletoe and blundered head-first into the mass, almost swallowing a milky berry. Rearing back, he overbalanced and skidded from the saddle, untangling his feet from the stirrups just in time.
The snow stopped falling around him for an instant as the world seemed to slow, and then he was down, struggling to right himself like a clumsy beetle tipped onto its shell.
I may die down here. The thought held no malice or alarm, sliding through his mind like a shaft of sunshine.
Get up! He told himself and rolled sideways.
Agony lit through him as the wound on his backside burst open. Tom fought the dancing black dots in front of his eyes but the pain closed about him, choking as a fist, and he felt himself going.
At the very edge of his consciousness, before he blacked out, he thought he heard a voice exclaiming, “Idiot male!” but then, he knew no more.


To read the rest and more stories, please go to Amazon Com or Amazon UK 

This anthology is FREE with KU (Kindle Unlimited.)




Sir Thomas' father Magnus is the hero in 'The Snow Bride' and 'A Summer Bewitchment' and he and Elfrida appear in my 'Medieval Captives' Series.

All these novels and novellas are on Amazon, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, Bookstrand. Excerpts and Reviews of these can be seen at Bookstrand, from my author page there. http://www.bookstrand.com/Lindsay-Townsend 












Sunday, 16 October 2016

TUDOR ENGLAND, STEWART SCOTLAND

Queen's Courier is now available in paperback as well as on Kindle. Here's the blurb and an excerpt for your enjoyment:

TUDOR ENGLAND, STEWART 

SCOTLAND

The courageous Dowager Queen of 
Scotland works to preserve the throne for her daughter Mary against the machinations of Henry Tudor and greedy Scottish nobles.

Meg Douglas, twenty-eight and still 
unmarried, prays that uncle Henry will finally relent and give permission for Mathew, Lord Lennox, to travel south and marry her before it is too late and her guilty secret is discovered.


Matho Spirston, newly appointed courier to Lord Wharton, 
sets out on a mission north of the border believing it will give him the opportunity to bring south his beloved Phoebe. Unhappily for them all, disaster threatens when war breaks out between the two countries.


EXCERPT:

"The Dowager Queen of Scotland sat at a small card table set on the raised dais in Stirling’s Great Hall and tapped her toes in time to the music. For once her courtiers smiled at one another, and in the centre of it all, the blushing bridal couple seemed dazed with happiness.

In contrast, Arran perched on his stool like a black crow sitting out a rain shower and stared down at his cards.
“Be of good cheer, my lord Governor,” Marie urged him. “It is not every day one of my ladies celebrates her wedding.”

Arran grunted. “Aye, that’s true enough. The Treasury gives thanks for it.” His gaze hovered accusingly at the level of her chin. “Madam, we cannot go on spending on such frivolities.”

Marie smiled, stretched across the card table and patted his hand. “I cannot resist. They are such happy occasions. But you may take comfort in the thought that there will be no more weddings among my ladies in the coming months.”

She turned to observe the dancers. Candle and firelight glimmered on pearls and gems, slid across silks and brocades. Gold frozen into heavy chains gleamed against rich velvets of the gentlemen’s attire, adding colour and depth to the scene.
“Your servants constantly wish to marry, madam.”


He made it sound like a reproach. Could the man not enjoy the beautiful sight of couples executing the intricate steps of the dance without thinking of money? Rarely did Scotland remind her of the French court, but tonight there had been a hint of a similar grandeur and beauty in the great hall. Now Arran’s meanness threatened to spoil the evening."

and here's the link:


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Guest blog: Uvi Poznansky - 'Dancing with Air'

Serving on the European front, Lenny longs for Natasha, the girl who captured his heart back home. At first, he enjoys fulfilling his military task, which is to write bogus reports, designed to fall into the hands of Nazi Intelligence and divert their attention from the upcoming invasion of Normandy. To fool the enemy, these reports are disguised as love letters to another woman. His task must remain confidential, even at the risk of Natasha becoming suspicious of him.
Once she arrives in London, Lenny takes her for a ride on his Harley throughout England, from the White Cliffs of Dover to a village near an underground ammunition depot in Staffordshire. When he is wounded in a horrific explosion, Natasha brings him back to safety, only to discover the other woman’s letter to him. He wonders, will she trust him again, even though as a soldier, he must keep his mission a secret? Will their love survive the test of war?
In the past Natasha wrote, with girlish infatuation, “He will be running his fingers down, all the way down to the small of my back, touching his lips to my ear, breathing his name, breathing mine. Here I am, dancing with air.” In years to come, she will begin to lose her memory, which will make Lenny see her as delicate. “I gather her gently into my arms, holding her like a breath.” But right now, during the months leading up to D-Day, she is at her peak. With solid resolve, she is ready to take charge of the course of their story.

Dancing with Air is a standalone WWII historical fiction novel, as well as the fourth volume of a family saga series titled Still Life with Memories, one of family sagas best sellers of all time. If you like family saga romance, wounded warrior romance books, romantic suspense novels, military romantic suspense, or strong female lead romance, you will find that this love story is a unique melding of them all.


Excerpt:

At the back of the castle, Natasha removed her long-sleeve shirt, saying she was burning hot, even though the air had already started to cool down. Upon reaching the bike, she hopped onto the saddle, pretending to be the rider, but fumbling about, because of knowing next to nothing about the controls.
So tell me,” she said, “how long will it take me to learn to ride the bike?”
Two minutes to understand,” I said. “A lifetime to master.”
I showed her how to do it, how to kick the bike two or three times with the fuel and ignition switch off, so as to get the engine primed with oil, and then how to turn on the fuel valve, the choke, and the ignition switch.
If the engine spits out the exhaust pipes while you’re kicking,” I said, “then you must be getting closer!”
She tried it. At first the beast sputtered, but then, by degrees, its sound grew steadily stronger.
I took the seat behind Natasha, and together we rode the bike some distance away.
The grass around us was swaying in the breeze. It had a lovely sheen and a variety of hues, some of them purplish, which were revealed every now and again, with one gust and another, as if a painter had dipped her brush and on a whim, stroked it here and there.
I hugged Natasha and took in the smell of her hair. It was blowing in the wind, one strand over another. Through the red fuzz of them I spotted the last ray of sun, gleaming upon the French coast. Then it was gone.
The road sloped into a gentle dip in the earth, which took us out of sight of anyone who might happen upon these pastures. But no, there was no one here. Amidst the gloaming, we were alone.
I brought the Harley to a stop, and as soon as she felt me leaning in closer, Natasha said, “Close your eyes.”
Why?” I asked.
Because,” she said.
Because what?”
My swimsuit is wet. I want to take it off.”
In place of obeying her, I said, “Let me watch you.”
She slipped off the bike, and with a slow, deliberate motion, she loosened the straps off her shoulders. Then, instead of removing the swimsuit, Natasha lay her fingers on me, tugging playfully at the buttons of my shirt. I stood up, flung it off and then, in a heartbeat, felt her arms around my waist. They closed into an embrace, which stirred something deep inside me.
Rising to the tips of her toes, she tipped her head back and kissed me, a lingering touch of her lips on mine.
I savored the sweet taste of her, which was salty at the same time. The thin, damp material of her swimsuit was barely a barrier between us. Her nipples were hardening against me as I wrapped my fingers, ever so tenderly, around the back of her neck, holding her, keeping her close.
Meanwhile I caught her earlobe between my teeth and teased it, repeatedly, with my tongue.
Oh,” she murmured, “don’t stop.”
Don’t you ever leave me,” I said, in a voice that was becoming husky.
Aroused, I pressed her tightly to my breast. Natasha sighed, for both pleasure and pain, and suddenly pushed me off, releasing herself from my hold—only to rise back into my kiss, as if she couldn’t get enough of it.
I fell to my knees, bringing her down with me. By now, her hair had come completely undone. It was twisting around her head, in and out of the blades of grass, dabbing them crimson.
I brushed my fingers across her toes, stripping off the grains of sand that clung to the moist skin. Then I went on traveling smoothly along her ankles, over her knees, around her hips, into her inner thighs, all the while listening to her sucking in a startled breath.
All of a sudden, Natasha whispered, “I love you, Lenny. Love the smell of your skin, of your sweat, even. Love the way you groan when I come, when I go, when I touch you.”
I saw that this time, she was going to be anything but timid. Soon it became impossible to pull myself away.
First I was on top, then she, then I, she and I rolled into one, heat surging. I took her and was conquered in return.


Uvi's Links:




@UviPoznansky



The David Chronicles:

Vol I  Rise to Power  ebook print audio 
Vol II  A Peek at Bathsheba  ebook print audio
Vol III The Edge of Revolt ebook print

Still Life with Memories:

Vol I  My Own Voice ebook print audio
Vol II  The White Piano ebook print audio
Vol III  The Music of Us ebook print audio
Vol IV Dancing with Air ebook
Vol I+II  Apart from Love ebook print audio

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Queen's Courier by Jen Black

Q

Against a background of political intrigue and Tudor violence, love is not easy to find or sustain. The Queen Dowager of Scotland repudiates it and for both Matho and Meg the struggle is made more difficult by an outbreak of war between England and Scotland. Disaster looms for them all.....

It has taken a while, but this story is now available on Amazon Kindle.

While it continues the story of Matho, Meg and the Queen Dowager of Scotland, it isn't a sequel in the sense that you need to read Abduction of the Scots Queen, or Fair Border Bride, where Matho first appears.

In Queen's Courier Matho undertakes his first solo mission for Sir Thomas Wharton and sees an opportunity to complete his business and then bring his chosen Scots bride south to his home. The complicated feuds of the Scots entangle him in the siege of Lord Lennox where he is recognised and imprisonment awaiting an interview with the Queen Dowager follows; she sees an opportunity to use him to her advantage.

Meg rides south to the court of Henry Tudor in expectation of Lord Lennox joining her. As the weeks roll by without him, she begins to wonder if she will ever marry, or if she will bear a bastard child and face Henry's wrath alone.

EXCERPT:


“Harbottle? What in God’s name d’ ye want to go there for?” A goblet of wine half-way to his mouth, Archibald Douglas, sixth Earl of Angus, stared at his daughter as if she were an imbecile.

“I want to see where I was born.” Meg took her place at table beside her father. “Why is that so silly?”

“The place is stuck in the middle of nowhere, lass, that’s why. There’s a sad excuse for a castle perched above a rocky burn and  a hell of a long ride to anywhere. It’ll be raining,” he added morosely. “It was ever raining when I was there.”

Meg chose to ignore the steadily increasing flesh that had all but buried the handsome bones of his face. Loving him did not mean, however, that she agreed with everything he said and did. “As I understand it, you weren’t there very long.”

Angus banged the goblet on the table, anger in his drawn brows, but before he could speak, Meg followed up her attack. “You can’t deny you left your wife there to bear a child and rode off to further your own concerns.”

“Your mother was as hare-brained then as ye are today. Who do ye think had to safeguard what property we had and talk sweetly to Henry of England?” Angus roared his displeasure. “Not your mother, even though Henry was her brother. She expected everything to happen as she wished.”

“Well, why not?” Meg lifted her chin.

“Och, aye.” His eyebrows rose, causing furrows in his forehead. “I didna notice ye an’ James were on such good terms. It’s no’ that simple, Meg. Use your head for a change.”

He had a point. Her half-brother Jamie had never truly accepted her, no matter how much she tried to win his friendship. She softened her tone. “I don’t see what harm it can do, to visit the place where I was born. I’m curious, that’s all.”

“Ye’ll put yersel’ on a platter for the rabble that infests the Borders.” Angus waggled a warning finger under her nose. “If they snatch ye, a demand for ransom won’t be the worst thing ye face. Most sensible folk would take an escort and head for Berwick.”

“I shall be perfectly safe, Father. When you join the Dowager’s train tomorrow, I shall also leave. The English Warden will meet me at the border and escort me south. A courier has gone on ahead. It is all arranged.” She leant forward, and laid her hand on the velvet of his sleeve. “Don’t worry about me. After all, I am half-English and the king’s niece.”


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