Sunday, 26 August 2012

Lindsay Townsend : 'The Snow Bride' - Medieval Historical Romance

Here's a new excerpt from my medieval historical romance, The Snow Bride. The hero and heroine are in a tower belonging to their enemy, the necromancer.


Making torches, lighting them, took some little time. Magnus could sense Elfrida’s tension and almost see her fears tearing at her like the harpies preyed on their hapless victims in the old tales that he had heard around campfires in Outremer. She stayed within the tower, calling encouragement to Christina and praying aloud, “To cleanse this space,” she told him. She did not attempt to move farther than the few steps they had come from the threshold, for which he was grateful.
Your sister must be sleeping deeply, he said when she fell silent and despondent after no replies. It is the time of winter dark and solid slumber.
Or she is drugged, Elfrida answered.
 Once he spotted her gazing at him, a cool, farsighted, assessing stare. Where he considered pits and traps, she concerned herself with magical dangers. He knew she felt responsible for his safety, a strange and queer reversal of nature to him, but one he accepted that he could not shake her from.
All will be better with more light, he told himself, fending off a vague feeling of being watched.
Baldwin finally brought two spitting torches. Magnus told the youth to keep up and took a torch from him. Do you stay here? he asked Elfrida.
She shook her head—he had not expected otherwise—and he put her between himself and Baldwin. Leading the way, Magnus began to pick a careful path across the nails and snares and wooden stakes, walking steadily and lifting his feet high. All the while, puffing like a small, furious dragon at his back, he could hear Elfrida and sense her taut, barely reined-in impatience. She fairly bristled with it. Not far and all will be well, he wanted to say to comfort her, but he said nothing, for they had reached the stairs, and it might not be true.
Gray, narrow, worn, and unlit, the stairs were also slimy on certain treads. Spilled oil or melted candle wax? he speculated, calling out softly in the old tongue and his own dialect, so Baldwin would know, “Grease, here, step over.” He did not lower his torch. Some things were best left as a mystery.
“Christina, you are safe, beloved. Walter is waiting for you, and all is prepared for your return.”
Elfrida was becoming more urgent and desperate in her wishes. He longed to shield her from this trial but knew it was impossible.
She is a warrior of magic, besides, and a warrior always faces things. She would never forgive me if I kept her out of this.
Yet it was so ponderous, step after step, climbing in the dark, with the stair walls and roof feeling to close in around them, pressing down and choking...
Unless that is just me. Since early youth he had loathed shut-in places, which was why in any siege he had always volunteered for any digging or mining. Now the disgusting, spineless fears of his boyhood shook down the backs of his legs.
If Christina is dead, will Elfrida blame me? No, she will not..
He trod on an object that cracked and slithered beneath his peg foot. He checked the cry bubbling in his throat and kicked the unknown thing away, down the stairs. He heard it flopping into the darkness and vowed to burn the whole tower with fire once they were done.
If Christina is dead or alive, will Elfrida return to her village? Will she want to stay there? Ask her, man, and find out!
He was wary of asking and at the same time eager to ask. As much as Elfrida wanted to see her sister, he wanted to know her mind.
It is my future. Have the stakes ever been so high?
He ran up three more steps and reached the first floor. The staircase continued higher, but now there was a tiny, cramped passageway, again unlit, and at its end, a door.
A blue door, he realized, hearing Elfrida’s gasp of recognition. He spun about and gripped her shoulder tightly, in a gesture of warning and support, then let her go.
He reached out and touched the door with his stump. Elfrida said nothing, did not try to stop him, but he glanced at her for confirmation.
She nodded, her own hands clenched in tight fists, her face unreadable.
Baldwin.” He handed the lad his torch and set his shoulder to the door, drawing out his knife—better a knife than a sword in such close quarters.
Surprise was impossible, for if there was a guard, he must have heard their plodding trail, so Magnus called a final warning.
“Release your prisoners unharmed and you shall not be injured or killed. Yield now.”
He pushed on the stout wood, astonished to find the door unlocked, and entered.

* * * *

The Snow Bride

Lindsay Townsend

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Special Offer on Dark Pool

DARK POOL by Jen Black

Finlay, newly crowned king of Alba, isn't pleased when he feels obliged to abandon his duties and go in search of a missing ward of court. He tracks the headstrong young girl to Lord Sitric's stronghold of Dublin, but Sitric and his followers deny all knowledge of her.

Eba is forced to adapt to the Viking way of life in eleventh century Dublin, with all its dangers, furious horse races and vicious games. When a cruel young man takes an interest in her, she fears the worst...

When Waterford Vikings attack Lord Sitric's holding, Eba makes her escape, but only places herself in greater danger...

Available at:

at a new, LOW PRICE from 26th August for one week only!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Two people crash and clash, desire and despise...when his fire meets her silk.  
Fire & Silk is the story of a gruff, red-headed bachelor named Flann, son of an Irish king, and a fiery Iberian virgin named Mariana.
In this excerpt, Flann commits an act that will bind him to a naive yet headstrong woman, as she seeks his protective cover during a furious rainstorm.

The slight shift in wind told Flann that the rain would begin in a matter of minutes. He eyed the corner of the tarred cloth as he continued to play his bone whistle—more to confound and anger the woman than to extend the improvised melody. When he felt the first fine spray of rain on his face, he seized the corner of waterproof cloth nearest him and, in one sweeping motion, wrapped it around himself. Then he lay waiting for the real rain to fall.
He saw by the dancing fingers of fire that the woman was defenseless against the cold night—not a shawl, not a cloak or brat or any kind of wrap that might have kept her warm or dry. And yet she merely stepped closer to the fire, as though defying the heavens. Except for her last commanding words, she had apparently decided to stand there, soaked to the very bone, even after the rain had drowned his fire, cursing him and his peasant attitude.
Good! Tá go maith. Let her feel the cold arms of night and the loveless kiss of an autumn thunderstorm. He wrapped the cover tighter and pulled it over his head just as the rain began in earnest. From under the cloth, he clearly heard her anguished cry. “Oh, help me! ¡Ayúdame! Do something!”
Flann felt himself grinning in spite of his resolve to ignore her. He lifted the cloth and opened it wide like an eagle’s wing, inviting her inside. 
The woman, to her credit, did not hesitate coyly, drawing back from touching the body of a stranger. She dived for him and the protective covering, and as soon as he felt her all along the length of his body, he closed the cloth around both of them, one wing-like arm drawing her against him. They lay there cocooned while he breathed evenly and she gasped in a kind of throaty cough. Shush, shush, he crooned to her in his mind, and after a while her spasms of cold ceased and she was silent.
They were lying face-to-face, close as lovers. In the darkness, he could not see her face, but he felt her uneven breath on his cheeks and mouth. And then, unbidden, his body betrayed the fact that he had not been near a woman in several months.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, and in spite of the tightness of the cloth around them, she tried to turn away from his adamantine groin.
Deeply amused, Flann spoke for the first time. “Volo vobis vesperum, O great lady. As ye can see, there is scant room to roll about like a cork in a barrel. Lie still.”
“You…you are a cad and a scoundrel! Touch me not!”
Flann lapsed again into silence, still grinning, his urgent groin pressing into her silken dress—not by design but by necessity of their unusual encounter. Completely encased by the tarred cloth, he could feel the insistent rain pummeling them, almost laughing at them, daring them to change position. And so, he merely lay stretched out, one arm around her shoulders, enjoying this last night under the vast sky of his beloved Éire.
They lay immobile for half an hour, by his reckoning. He could feel that her shivering had ceased completely, and he knew that the warmth of his body was saving her from an agony of wet and cold. Her breath on his face was regular and easy, as though she had fallen asleep. And so, he shifted slightly, trying to ease the pressure on his groin by moving away from her.
Nolo tangere!” she hissed. Touch me not!
“Ye be a scourge and a nag and not in the least desirable to me. Do ye understand? Do ye know nothing of the ways of a man?”
“I know enough,” she whispered defiantly. “I know I would rather die than be ravished by a—a low criminal.”
“Ye’ll deem yourself fortunate to be touched by any man at all, your highness. For while your body is not repugnant, your attitude is. I have a mind to let ye loose to the wind and the rain. Believe me, I would sleep more soundly by meself.”
She began to struggle under the cover, and Flann held her even closer, suddenly reluctant to let her go. 

What really happened under the cover that night? The answer to that question tells the story of Fire & Silk.

Publisher: SirenBookStrand
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat rating: “Steamy”

Erin O’Quinn has also published a historical romance trilogy, The Dawn of Ireland, and an erotic M/M historical titled Warrior, Ride Hard. Please see the signature line below.

OQ Erin O’Quinn’s Gaelic blog:
Erin O’Quinn’s Manlove blog:
Storm Maker:
The Wakening Fire :
Captive Heart:
Fire & Silk:
Warrior, Ride Hard:

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Strangely attractive....

Reluctance by Jen Black

By AC - Published on


Amazon Verified Purchase
Something unusual happened to me when reading this book. I was extremely excited by this story, until I stumbled on a drastic and dramatic situation halfway through, and unfortunately I've never been a fan at all of such an occurrence (I will not elaborate more here) and I was quickly finishing the thirty pages in question, with a sinking heart ...! But against all odds, the author succeeded in recapturing my curiosity at a given time, which is a first because once my interest is lost, it is lost!

Set in 1803, Jen Black does a marvelous job at painting a very brilliant picture of the strangely attractive countryside of Northumberland that has a very important place in that story. I never visited that part of England but I definitely felt at home and ready to go there.

She has created a whole string of wonderfully lively characters. The two main protagonists, Frances and Jack, are a joy to observe and listen to as they interact. There's a very exciting tension between them that began from the first moment they met. There is a lot of emotion and drama with a magnificent and infamous villain who will let nothing and no one stand in his way; he's ruthless and he'll use all possible means to reach his nefarious goal.

Life is often unpredictable and these two people who both went through some difficult times and were not destined to be together, find themselves forced to deal with the accidents of life and at one point they'll have to decide what kind of future they want to build for themselves.

I have to admit that I do understand why the author developed her story the way she did, and the fact that I didn't like a little part of it doesn't diminish in any way the quality of this book. Ultimately I don't regret having read it. She was able to catch my attention again and to me it says a lot about her skill. This will not prevent me from reading her other books. In fact, I already have two on my reading pile ... Fair Border Bride and Far After Gold.

Overall I found this novel very engaging, attractive and moving with some clever and thrilling dialogs.


 All in all, a good review, though I do wonder about the  "strangely attractive countryside of Northumberland!" ~ Jen Black

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Far After Gold

Far After Gold by Jen Black

Available from Amazon Kindle
Far After Gold

A young Viking buys Emer in the Dublin slave market, and sails her to his home in Scotland. She doesn't know where she is, nor if she will survive the day....


“Come with me.”

Emer stood rooted to the deck. Flane reached the gangplank, turned and beckoned.

Emer scowled and did not move.

Flane clicked his fingers. Astounded, Emer lifted her chin, turned her head and stared pointedly out to sea. From the corner of her eye she saw one sailor nudge another and both stopped what they were doing to watch what would happen next. Memories of the overseer and his cane flashed through her mind, and she decided moving might be her wisest choice even though he treated her like his favourite hound. Pride stiffened her spine as she halted before him.

“My name is Flane.” He tapped his chest and repeated the words, as if she were stupid, and then sighed. “Trust me to pick a girl who doesn’t understand the language.” He drew his dagger, and the fierce blade flashed silver in the sunlight.

Emer’s heart leapt into her throat. Would he kill her because she could not speak his language? What other reason could he have? Should she speak now, before it was too late? She met his blue glance for an instant even as she took a swift step back, ready to run, heedlessly, in any direction.

He caught her wrist and dragged her in close.

Her heart thudded wildly at the sudden contact of chest, hip and thigh. Mesmerised by his steady blue gaze, she stood there in the thin sunlight with the sound of water lapping against the ship and the smell of seawater and seaweed in her nostrils. She drew a swift, choked breath of air. Her last moment in the world had arrived, and she could not free her tongue to speak. Dear God…. She shut her eyes, awaiting the bite of cold steel at her throat. Dear Lord, accept my soul this day

He hooked one finger under her leather slave collar. Surprised, she opened her eyes and flinched at the sight of the steel blade flashing wickedly in the sunlight.

“Steady, steady,” he murmured, as if to a nervous animal. “I thought you’d rather be free of this.” He gave a couple of gentle tugs on the leather collar at her neck, and before she grasped his intention, the steel sliced through the hated thing. She never even felt the coldness of the blade.

He dangled the strip of leather with its attendant piece of rope in front of her. “Do you want to keep it?”

Furious at being frightened and then gentled like a nervous horse, Emer seized the hated collar and hurled it far out over the loch.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Lindsay Townsend: 'A Knight's Vow'

Here is an excerpt from the first medieval historical romance I wrote for Kensington Books, A Knight's Vow.  In it, the hero and heroine are growing closer together.


She had filled out a little more in the last few days, lost that grayness under her eyes and in her face. In her new blue gown and with her hair streaming out behind her as they cantered over the downs, Alyson was more vivid than the fresh summer green of the trees, so bright to his eye after the muted, dusty colors of Outremer. She was more delicate than the scattered cowslips, speedwell and orchids that bordered the chalk track they were racing along, giving the horses their heads. She rode superbly - but then, what did Alyson not do superbly?

And she is mine. Guillelm wanted to utter a war-cry from sheer bravado, utter pride and joy. At the castle gate, one of his guards had asked if he was hunting today and he was, though not with hawk or dogs. His present quarry needed more subtlety, and patience. Patience above all, Guillelm reminded himself, thinking once more of Heloise of Outremer and her dreadful warning.

Desperate to avoid that fate with Alyson, he had planned this day as he might a military campaign and only prayed that his preparations would be to her liking. He knew the arts of war but less those of peace. How did an English lord entertain his lady?

He had taken food from the kitchen for them but now, as he spied a stand of oak trees where they might shelter from the midday heat and relax, he was unsure. As a girl, Alyson had enjoyed romping and eating out of doors but as a woman perhaps she would consider those things too unmannerly, even coarse.

‘I thought we might stop here, allow the horses to graze.’ Fool! It must be obvious that is only an excuse, he thought, scanning the sparse grass under the trees. ’If that is acceptable?’ he went on, compounding his error by actually asking permission.

Alyson nodded and reined in. Swiftly dismounting, perhaps so that she did not have to endure his touch, she knelt by one of the oaks. As he wondered what she was doing, Guillelm watched her take a worn knife from her belt and begin sawing at the bracket fungus growing at the base of the trunk.

‘This may be useful for my healing,’ she explained, lifting the fungus onto a clean scrap of cloth she had produced from somewhere about her person.

‘Healing is surely in God’s hands,’ Guillelm began, recalling old childhood tales of poisoned toadstools, but Alyson wrinkled her nose.

‘It may be, but Christ gave us wit and nimble fingers to aid ourselves,’ she said.

He knelt beside her and took her knife, plunging it into the grass.

‘That is a very round reply, mistress.’ Would she be teased by him, Guillelm wondered. Dare he tease?

The matter was resolved when Alyson thrust her tongue out at him.

What was she doing? Guillelm was no longer nineteen. Because they had stopped beneath the dappled shade of an oak tree, had knelt close to a small, gurgling stream that she could hear but not see, it did not mean that he remembered what she had never forgotten. She had allowed the memory of that afternoon, by another oak wood, on another sultry summer’s day, near to another clear, swift-flowing brook, to govern her actions.

Appalled at her folly, Alyson tried to rise to her feet but was snared in a pair of arms that pinioned her own hands helplessly by her sides.

‘The last time we were this way together, you saved my life.’

‘No, no,’ Alyson demurred, pleased and at the same time alarmed that he did remember. She tried to squirm free of her captor.

‘None of that.’ Still clasping her - so strongly that she felt bound by fetters of iron - Guillelm lowered his head. ‘I mind it well, Bright-eyes.’

‘Dragon -’

‘You called me dragon then, too, when I was ready to confront the royal foresters, and you dragged me under cover. Into brambles, I do believe.’ He was smiling, but then he added seriously, ‘Had those woodsmen caught us, straying into part of the king’s forest, there would have been no mercy for me.’

Alyson nodded, thinking how Guillelm had found a dead deer and had dressed it for meat, recalling how stubborn he had been to keep the deer, although by law all such game was reserved for the king. He was even ready to fight the foresters, whom with her quick hearing she heard riding across the stream before she and Guillelm were seen.

‘You flung yourself on me and brought me to my knees. I remember your words: “You cannot fight five armed with bows and swords and you with only a hunting knife, even if you are as brave as a dragon.” Your good sense saved me. And at the time I was astonished that such a slip of a girl could take me down so easily.’ Guillelm brushed her cheek with his, whispering, ’Your quick wits made me think, reminded me of what really mattered. Your own safety.’

Alyson blushed, aware, as she had not been at fourteen, of the truth of Guillelm’s statement. Then, her only thought had been to save him from the harsh laws of the forest and the king’s justice; she had not considered her own position, or vulnerability, a girl at the dubious mercy of six men, all strangers to her and she to them. ’I was naïve,’ she said.

‘We both were.’

‘You really saved me,’ Alyson went on, but Guillelm shook his head.

‘We saved each other,’ he said. ‘Did I ever thank you?’

‘Of course.’

‘Did I kiss you?’

Alyson’s heart felt to leap almost out of her ribs. Breathless, all eyes, she waited as his mouth touched hers. She sighed, leaning into the kiss and he gave a mighty groan, gathering her closer, his hands releasing hers to cup her face.

Dazed with the sweet pulse of pleasure coursing through her as their kiss intensified, Alyson did what she had dreamed of doing for years and playfully traced a finger down the length of Guillelm’s nose and then, as he started slightly with surprise and drew back a little, teased her thumb over his upper lip.

‘Little witch.’ In his mouth, the words were an endearment. He nibbled her finger and softly drew her hand away, claiming her lips a second time with his own.

Tingling with sensation, Alyson wondered if she was experiencing anything akin to what the great mystic Hildegarde of Bermersheim had once described as being like ‘a feather on the breath of God.’ There was something almost unearthly to their embrace, the very air about her and Guillelm seem to crackle. When they broke apart to look at each other, the sun seemed brighter, the scent of the bruised grass beneath their knees fresher, the luster in Guillelm’s eyes deeper. His whole face glowed, the fine bristles trembling on his upper lip.

‘You are…’ He swept a hand along her arm, raised her hand and kissed the knuckle above her betrothal ring. ‘I wanted to do this seven years ago.’

‘And for so long I feared you dead.’ In a chilling flurry of remembered horror, Alyson pressed herself against Guillelm, hearing his heart but wanting still more, to be closer, flesh against flesh. ‘Dead!’

She shuddered and he rocked her, crooning a snatch of song. ’Remember this little tune?’ he asked.

‘My Lady’s white rose. It was on everyone’s lips that summer.’ At fourteen Alyson had not known the name of the song. ‘You would whistle it sometimes, to tease me.’

‘Do you still snap your fingers when you are angry?’

‘You will have to wait to find out,’ Alyson replied.

‘If you do, then as your betrothed I may devise some suitable punishment for you.’

‘You can try,’ Alyson answered lightly, hoping her face gave no hint of her darker thoughts and Lord Robert’s ‘punishments’.

Guillelm glanced at her keenly and she shifted slightly, disturbed by memories and by more direct physical discomfort as the dull ache in her knees finally registered.

‘Ach! My legs have gone to sleep!’ Guillelm scowled, then laughed as Alyson said quickly, ’Stamp your feet and rub your calves, that will bring them back to life.’

‘What else do you suggest, physic?’ Rising, he lifted her with him, dangling her from his arms.

‘Food,’ Alyson answered determinedly. ’For you will have brought some victuals for our journey, I think. Now, are you going to set me down?’

Guillelm grinned and did so.

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