Sunday, 29 September 2013

Peter Alan Orchard: 'A Pig in the Roses' - new excerpt

Diokles, the hero of my ancient Greece murder mystery, is no sleuth. As a merchant, however, he is used to excercising his brain and his intuition in pursuit of a profit, and the same skills help him slowly understand the true story behind his uncle Makron's wrongful arrest for murder. After Makron's innocence is proved the danger is not over because the truth is being covered up and Diokles' family are still in danger.

When Makron is presuaded to take his sick freedwoman and mistress Gorgo to try an overnight sleeping cure at a popular shrine, Diokles smells a rat, collects his slaves Hylas and Kharis and joins them. His suspicions are proved correct.

Peter Alan Orchard is at and at His ebooks are available from all the usual places. Buy this one at or the retailer of your choice.


There is a time of night, even in a city like Athens, when silence falls and the stars hang heavy in the sky. At this time the dome of the sky softens and descends over the city like a blanket, while on the ground beneath people sleep on in their thousands.
Only those who lie awake outdoors feel its power: the guards of the Spartan army out in the fields across Attika, on watch amongst smoking crops and rubble; trusted slaves guarding warehouses in Peiraieus or cargo in the holds of ships rocking and bobbing in the harbour; young almost-soldiers patrolling the walls of Athens itself. 
Diokles looked up at the sky above the shrine of Amynos, across at the sleeping Makron and the sleeping Gorgo, exchanged glances by torchlight with Hylas at the door and Kharis draped over Gorgo, and yawned. Nothing had happened. The young priest had left some while ago. No movement, no sound. Nothing. Somewhere deep under the ground close beneath him Amynos himself lay, long dead, his old tired soul working to heal the sleeping Gorgo.
The torches died and the darkness began to thin slowly. The cool, deep grey-black of the first drift of morning came, scented with dew. A mouse flickered across the courtyard, more sound than shape. The clap of sandals on stone approached from The Street of the Tripods, passed and faded away. Diokles leaned back against the wall and his eyes began to close.
There was a sharp scuffling in the dust beside him and he jerked awake again. An arm clamped his throat and a powerful hand gripped his jaw, holding his mouth closed. He struggled to stand up and fight but was forced to the ground again, his spine jolting against the sanctuary wall. A knife pricked Diokles’ side and he stiffened. His brain cleared and he thought fast, counting facts in the dark, adding them up. There were two of them at least, he decided, light enough on their feet not to wake him until they were upon him. One was strong in the arms and the one with a knife still had a hand free.
Faster than the stab of a heron into a pool, Diokles saw shadows fanning out across the courtyard, one making towards Hylas, two more towards Makron. Another and another came like wraiths, then Hylas was up, club raised, swinging at the shadows.
Gorgo’s howl brought Makron to his feet in a movement, from sleep to action in a second, but the two were upon him, clubbing and kicking.
The knife came again, deeper this time. Diokles stabbed backwards with an elbow aiming blind for the groin, and heard a cry. The hand over his mouth shifted and he bit down on it like a dog. The knife slipped into his flesh, a hand’s width, and he wrenched at the arm around his throat, twisting and falling, rolling the man over on the ground. He jerked free, lifted the man by his arm and flung him headfirst at the wall. As he collapsed, the other fled limping across the courtyard and out into the street.
Now Gorgo and Kharis were screaming, a high wail that pierced Diokles’ head like red-hot steel. He ran towards the sound and found Makron struggling weakly against one attacker, who also had Kharis clinging to his back. Hylas was laying vigorously into the other, who broke away and disappeared into the street like a rat into a sewer. In a fraction of a second Diokles put a headlock on Makron’s assailant and dragged him away, sending Kharis flying.
‘Don’t break his neck,’ Makron muttered, face down. ‘This is a sacred place.’ Then he crawled slowly to his hands and knees.  Diokles thumped the anonymous man several times in the face with his clenched fist, threw him out onto the street and watched him stumble cursing into the darkness.  Flicking his eyes over his shoulder, Diokles saw that the last man had recovered from his encounter with the precinct wall and disappeared, too.
‘They’ve all gone, master,’ Hylas said.
Diokles patted his shoulder in a gesture of incongruous tenderness. ‘Yes, Hylas,’ he said. ‘Gone.’ He suddenly began to feel pain in his side, put his hand there and found blood on it. He found a stone and sat down while Hylas tore his tunic and pressed cloth into the wound, binding it round his master’s waist.
Dazed and sweating, Diokles just succeeded in not wincing as the cloth tightened around the knife-wound. He began to talk, partly to distract himself.
‘I know almost all I need to know,’ he said. ‘And they know, too, the killers of Sosigenes and Skylax. They used clubs on everyone else, but saved a knife for me. I’m alive for now, but now I must finish it.’ He waved an arm. ‘Leave it now, Hylas - I can make it home. Look after Makron. And well done, Kharis, too. Brave for a little one.’

As he turned away he caught a glimpse of Kharis’ teeth as she grinned in the darkness.  Beside her walked Gorgo, a black shadow against grey but upright and moving freely, kindled for a while by danger. 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

'A Summer Bewitchment,' Medieval Historical Romance by Lindsay Townsend. New Excerpt

Here's a new excerpt from my medieval historical romance, 'A Summer Bewitchment'. Elfrida, a good witch, has just completed a magic ritual while her husband Magnus has been waiting for her with plans of his own...

 Magnus was not possessed but he was not himself. His face was grim, his mouth set, his brown eyes hard. Even the small gold cross in his right eye seemed to glitter. Dangerous, her witch-senses sparkled, but was she not dangerous, too? He kissed her and she took his kiss, embracing his crooked, warm lips with greedy fervor.
I have things to tell him, many things, but this moment is ours and we should take it.
“Naughty,” he warned, as she tongued and nipped his ear and throat, her fingers tracing his mouth, gliding over his body. So big he was, so strong and magnificent, so long-limbed, broad-shouldered, deep-chested, lean-thighed.
“I cannot taste enough of you,” she moaned, trembling beneath his answering caress.
His eyes darkened more and her breath stopped. She heard a ripping of cloth as he hauled off his tunic, flinging it into the growing shadows. At the back of her mind she caught the silvery whisper of the wood-elves’ approving laughter, then it was Magnus, only Magnus. She reached for him but he scooped her over, flung up her skirt and entered her.
She was ready for him. Feeling him hard and hot and thick within her, she sheathing him completely, Elfrida wanted only more. That filling, stretching rampaging. Magnus, crusading into her so she felt weak and strong at the same time. Pinned as she was, she could not move and her helplessness was strangely arousing.
“Elf, lovely elf,” he whispered against her ear, his scarred, bristly chin rasping deliciously against her cheek as he battered over and over into her.
“Goddess!” she hissed, as his pleasure met her sweet, sweet yielding.
Moonlight fell into his eyes, shimmered through her body and she was lost. Dimly, blindly, she snuggled as Magnus finally released her. Curling against his white-hot-iron heated body, she heard him mutter, “That should do it.”
Do what? she wondered, then asked, “Are you asleep?”
A long snore answered her. She said, a little louder than before, “Magnus? We have to talk.”
She felt him start against her and sigh. “You are right. Pah, my mouth is a furnace! Have we any mead left or did you use it?”
Both sorry and glad they were out of their own world, their snatched time together, Elfrida needed no reminders of the missing girls, or her responsibility to Rowena and the others. She shook the flask attached to her belt. “There is a little.”
“Good.” Magnus sat up on the woodland floor, shaking crushed bluebells off himself like water off a dripping hound, and reached for his tunic. “We talk and eat. We need a plan to rescue the girls, all of them.”
“It is not going to be easy,” Elfrida remarked quietly.
“I do not know,” Magnus admitted. “I fear you are right.” He crossed himself.
Elfrida shivered.

 'A Summer Bewitchment,' my sequel to 'The Snow Bride'. 4.5 Blue Ribbons from Romance Junkies. Now also on Amazon with 5 Star Reviews.

NB. The first novel of this series, 'The Snow Bride' is half-price at Bookstrand here: and less than $3 at Amazon. 

Best wishes, Lindsay Townsend