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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Two Historical Mysteries for £4.00/$6.00



Two historical mysteries in the Widow of Bath series are half-price at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, UK Nook, Kobo and Apple until July 15th. For details just go my Lindsay's Book Chat blog and click on the links on the right-hand sidebar

Lindsay Townsend

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

OUT TODAY - Valens the Fletcher and His Captive by Lindsay Townsend


Valens the Fletcher and His Captive (MF)
by Lindsay Townsend
Medieval Captives 2

Siren-BookStrand, Inc.

Heat Rating: SENSUAL
Word Count: 23,476

Historical


Now with money off!


Katherine has been let down by men before. Can she trust the man who captures her?






England, Summer 1132

Valens is an arrow-maker and spy for Lord Sebastian (the hero of Sebastian the Alchemist & His Captive, Medieval Captives 1). His beloved sister Julia has died, leaving an infant who needs breast-feeding. Valens is still single, so needs to find a wet nurse for the baby.

He kidnaps young Katherine, and her baby, Jack, from a camp of women. Can Katherine save Edith, Valens’s little niece? Can she trust the handsome Valens, share her secrets, make a life with him? Can she recover Jack’s lost inheritance?

Ordered to court Katherine by his lord, Valens slowly begins to understand that he loves Kate, that he loves making a family with her, Jack, and Edith. Does his realization come too late? When, on their wedding day, a plot between Valens and Sebastian is revealed, can Katherine forgive Valens? Can she trust a spy?


A BookStrand Mainstream Romance

Chapter 1

England, Summer 1132

Valens heard the girl he had chosen as booty before he saw her. Crawling beneath the luxuriant low-hanging hazel branches and over the stinging nettles and ruthless brambles toward the women’s summer camp, he heard her weary, patient whisper. “Come on, Jack, feed for me, sweetheart. That’s right, that’s right. Good boy…”
There was a mewling whimper and the soft sound of suckling. Valens took a chance and raised his head.
Here she is, my little mother.
She crouched, half-facing away from him and behind the other women, on the less favored side of their hissing fire. Her face remained in shadow and he watched her hands, cradling, soothing, coaxing. A spit and flare from the flames illuminated her charge, Jack.
Her son, I think, or the son of her heart. Whichever the babe was, Valens took in his rounded limbs and downy head with pleasure. The infant was well cared for and the girl would care for Julia’s child—She will if she wants her own brat to thrive.
Valens lowered his wiry frame back into the crush and scratch of brambles and allowed the wet nurse’s soft crooning to wash over him.
“You are doing so well, my pretty darling, growing so big and strong. Let me check your padding…Good boy! I have more wool tufts and moss in my pack. Soon you will be clean and dry again, my Jack…”
The girl had been saying similar nonsense over the past four days that Valens had been tracking the women’s camp. So far he had only approached this close to her after twilight, content in the day to shadow the group at a distance. With her hair hanging limply ‘round her face in greasy, dirty-blond curtains, he still did not know if the wench was as pretty as a beech nut or as ugly as a gall apple, but her hands were clean and deft and her clothes patched and tidy. Baby Jack had more things than she, with three carrying slings and a half dozen little cloaks and hoods.
She may not wash her hair but she cares for Jack and will be a fine wet nurse for Edith. Valens frowned and tried not to think of his dead sister and her ailing child, in case a passing devil caught his feelings and made them worse, but it was no use. Julia had passed away seven nights ago and he and his widowed father were struggling with their grief and with Edith, Julia’s child. At almost two years old, Edith was beginning to eat more solid food, but it was the custom to breast-feed until two years, and weaning itself was dangerous. He and his father Thorkill, Edith’s granddad, had no idea what to do, beyond treating the grizzling infant like a sickly calf. Julia’s child was not thriving and would not do so until he could supply breast-milk by means of a wet nurse.
His present duty, to spy on the goose herder women, had proved provident. Accepting the task from his lord, Valens had known that such bold females would have youngsters and babies and one of the women would be in milk. Lucky for me. Julia would have said it was God’s will, but Valens was less sure, seeing that God had stolen Julia from him. He knew that tiny, squalling Edith would not make up for the loss of his sister, but the child was a part of Julia, one he vowed to preserve.
“You are not getting her,” he vowed under his breath, not caring who he meant at that moment, God or the devil.
He felt breath on his neck and twisted ‘round. The scowling face of his lord loomed briefly, then Sebastian crawled to one side, cursing at this cramped spying place.
“Only you, runt, dare have me scramble this way.”
Valens acknowledged the grumble with a flash of teeth. “But always worth it,” he countered, ignoring the taller man’s nickname. No one but Sebastian dared to comment on his lack of height, so he reckoned they were even.
“Are they thieves?” Sebastian jabbed a long, pale fist at the camp. His blue eyes darkened as Valens gave a brief nod. “Explain.”
Used to the man’s brusque orders, Valens counted off on his fingers. “One, they are meant to be goose herders but they have no geese.”
“This close to Michaelmas? They should be thigh deep in fattened-up birds, driving them to market.”
Valens grinned afresh. Sebastian was always quick, it was one reason he spied for the man. That, and he paid in gold, on time. “Two, they have clubs and ropes, lots of ropes.”
“For restraining prisoners and hostages. Go on.”
“Three, they are practiced in pretending to be fluttery, foolish maidens. A well-set-up traveler rides through the forest on one of the main trails and these women are there, arranged like a Mystery play, all tasteful sprawled limbs, big eyes, and pleading glances.‘Oh, kind sir, can you help us?’ and more of the same, till the fool steps down from his horse and they have him.
“Four—”
“I can count.”
The warning made Valens skip to his greatest news. “Big Agnes is their leader.”
In the dark blue twilight Valens almost missed Sebastian’s thin mouth tightening, but he heard the satisfied, “A name worth gold. Our sheriff has wanted her for some time.”
“Where is Julian?” Valens whispered, checking on the girl again as she rubbed her baby’s tiny back.
“Swirling somewhere in that red cloak and being heroic, no doubt.”
A prickle of alarm sped down Valens’s spine. “Not here, I hope. That cloak and that yellow hair of his, they will show up.” He dismissed the rest of Sebastian’s sour comment. His lord was touchy about his looks—though far less since his marriage—but Julian was something else. Even Valens, who also liked women, could see that.
There was a low snort from the hazel thicket, as Sebastian stifled laughter. “Peace, man, the sheriff is not an idiot. He does not go to your lengths, but he knows how to blend in woodland and so do his men.”
Valens forbore to comment that he dyed his red hair black so as to blend in, as Sebastian put it. His bushy and above all bright mane was distinctive, and for a spy that was bad.
“We attack them tonight?” Sebastian asked.
“Early morning is better. We shall see more and the women are slow to shift. Several have children.”
“By Lucifer, another problem,” muttered the man beside him. “My men will not like that. I do not like it.”
“I think you will have little trouble,” Valens said quickly. “Such women with youngsters are low status, like camp followers. They earn their keep by washing and cooking and are kept away from the main leaders. A few strikes on a shield will have them scattering and their brats with them.”
“Runaways and strays, eh? They will not be harmed. And where is Big Agnes?”
“Sprawled, with her flagons, right by the main fire with her cronies, dividing up the day’s takings. They are usually half-drunk in the morning, still.”
“Better, by Lucifer.” Sebastian clapped him on the shoulder, the closest his lord would come to outright approval. “And what do you want for your work?”
Valens showed his teeth at his lord’s scowling face and pretended to consider. “Four days and nights squatting in holly bushes, covering my tracks, going without food or more than a sip of ale. What would you say to granting me a holiday, my lord?”
Sebastian wormed backward and Valens followed. Skirting a flowering and spiky wild rose that showed blue in the late evening light, the men crawled behind the cover of a beech tree and stood upright.
“Ask again, master fletcher,” Sebastian said then. “I need those arrows of yours.”
Valens shook his arms and legs to get the blood flowing again. “Well, then.” He braced himself, aware his next request would most definitely not be approved. “I want a girl from the camp.”
 Sebastian dragged him off his feet and hoisted him aloft as if he weighed no more than a leaf. Half-choked by his tunic, Valens sucked in air and kept talking.
“Not as my slave but to help! The wench will have a better life with me than cast adrift.”
His lord’s eyes glittered. “You will marry her?”
By Adam, he is wed and now thinks every other man should be.
“If she is a widow, then yes.” Resentment sharpened Valens’s answer. “I need a wet nurse for my sister’s child, not a bed-mate. Put me down.”
“Or what?” Sebastian chuckled and lowered him. “I should call you Cuchulainn after the Irish warrior. He was a runt, too.”
“Everyone is short to you,” Valens muttered, slipping his knife back into its sheath as he was released. Not that he did not trust Sebastian, but spying kept his reactions honed. The dagger had been in his fist and pricked against the taller man’s belly before he had even thought of it. He had no idea who Cuchulainn was and did not care. “Are we agreed?”
Stepping back, Sebastian glared down his long hooked nose and gave him a searching look that made him feel like a new apprentice with his master. “You will keep her and her infant safe?”
“I will,” vowed Valens, thinking of Julia and Edith.
“Snatch them tonight, then, and take them away with you.”
Valens gave a brief but wide smile. His lord had given him something else with this, the chance to spare the girl and her babe the panic of an attack. “I intend to. Let me have two men.”
Sebastian folded his arms across his chest. “You want to terrify mother and child?”
“Two good men,” Valens persisted, ignoring his lord’s mocking glower, the dark humor in those dark eyes. “Two good men to show her the futility of struggle. I’ve taken down knights in full armor before now, so a girl and a baby will be easy.”
“Very well.” Before he moved back in the direction of the camp, Sebastian touched his arm. “Be careful,” he warned. “Too much…trouble and the girl might lose her milk.”
“I have my ways,” said Valens, with a confidence he did not altogether feel. Sebastian was still glowering down his nose, though, so all must be right with the world.
“Keep safe, runt.” His lord seemed on the verge of saying more, but instead clapped him on the shoulder for a second time.
“And you, my lord.”
The two men parted ways.

* * * *




Katherine could not shake the feeling that she was being watched. Worse, that she and Jack were being watched. The other women of this camp constantly slighted her in flea-bite ways, remarking or gesturing about her small size, feeble strength, and lack of wood-craft. Big Agnes, their leader, had agreed to let Katherine travel with the gang and had then ignored her. The others—who surely were no goose herders, for where were their geese?—had copied Agnes, or Aggie, as she liked to be called. For the week Katherine had traveled with them, aside from being piled with filthy clothes to wash, she and Jack had been left alone.
It is exactly what I want, she told herself, but lately, with this constant tingle at the back of her neck and the sinking feeling in her stomach, with this sense of being watched, spied on, she was less sure.
Jack smiled at her, gummy and warm, and she was enchanted afresh. That she and Eric had produced such a wonderful, sweet, clever child she thanked Christ for every hour. Propping the bundles of clothes she had to wash in a protective circle around him, she set Jack down to roll and crawl and toddle, clapping her hands in warning each time he crept and waddled to the edge of the circle.
Her bare hands, Katherine thought with a sigh. She had sold her wedding ring nine days ago but the lack still smarted. If only Eric had not died. If only I had been more patient with him and not nagged him in our bed. That was a dark shame and secret of hers and one she still flinched from. If only my husband had kept his word and not kept all those secrets
“Hey, Wash-tub!”
Katherine refused to flinch at the hated nick-name, or at the muddy, cold scrap of cloth that slapped down the side of her face. She caught it before it fell anywhere close to Jack and heard the braying order, “Big Aggie wants that washed tonight.”
She nodded and scooped a faintly grizzling Jack into a carrying sling. Where she would find wash-water at this hour was one problem, although at a pinch she could use her own urine and rinse the scarf in—what? Rainwater collected in a tree stump?
But she did not complain. Better to be bullied here than bullied and raped at the old house by my stepson. He was starting to pick on Jack, too. Eric had sworn he had made provision for us, but he did not. Secrets, always secrets. Remembering her own secret with a shudder, she picked up her pack and the washing bundles and moved farther back from the fires, preparing to do as Big Agnes demanded.

* * * *

Spiteful fools, Valens thought, wishing he had his lord’s skill with poisons and could slip some to these chattering mares. To expect a nursing mother to leave the safety of the camp simply to wash a scarf spoke of a careless arrogance that made his blood boil. The girl and her babe would do far better with him. They do not deserve her.
He was so furious it was several moments before he could admit that their petty malice, to one of their supposed own, had made capturing his prize easier. The young woman was clearly seeking fresh water and had just found some in a moss-covered birch stump. She had placed Jack into a cocoon of bedding and was pounding the scarf on a smooth rock, stopping after each weary flick to glance to the distant camp and peer into the closer trees. Sure that his dark clothing, dyed black mop and dirt-smeared face would make him invisible, Valens slipped his sheathed knife from his belt into his boot—he did not want the girl trying to grab his blade and stab him—and waited. He moved as she did and squirmed closer to the baby.
Jack was gnawing his fist but content and eager to be diverted by the sparkling toy of a gold chain and crucifix, dragged by Valens across the rim of his circle of blankets. Gurgling, the baby obligingly tottered, then crawled on plump little legs after the pretty thing. Valens allowed Jack to grab the chain and picked up the baby, settling the child on his hip. Jack snuffled and stared up at him in wide-eyed wonder. He trusts me.
“Jack! Where are you?”
On her knees now, the woman was patting and throwing aside the empty circle of clothes, gasping in her panic. Valens loomed closer, sweating a little himself, though his voice was cool and low.
“Here with me. Shush.” He closed his other hand around his little mother’s thin wrist and yanked her to her feet, deftly releasing her and removing her eating dagger from her belt as she stumbled. She fell against him and he caught her again, winding an arm about her middle and snagging her against his body as closely as he cradled her son. Her mouth and eyes were as wide as Jack’s, but she did not scream. Her attention was altogether on another matter.
“No, Jack, not in your mouth.” She grabbed the gold chain and made a brave attempt to smile at her son. “Never something you could choke on.”
Valens released her wrist to sweep his dark cloak around all three of them. “I shall know that next time.”
“Give me my boy.” The wench reached for him but Jack nuzzled against Valens, who was in no hurry to release either of them. He leaned closer, keeping a firm hand on the baby.
“No.” Valens gambled on her not wishing to scare or hurt Jack by trying to wrest him free.
Her eyes glanced away from him and her baby to the camp. At a snap of his fingers, Sebastian’s two good men rose out of the undergrowth, taking a step closer. The woman moaned as she saw the chance of any possible escape diminishing to nothing.
“No help here or over there,” Valens spoke as if no other fate was possible. “You and Jack are coming with me.”
“Why should we?”
He liked the flash of temper. Anger meant she would not faint. This close, he saw her face for the first time, rather than her bent head or profile. He stared for an instant—he could not help it.
My little mother is a pretty waif. Not beautiful, he corrected at once, not with that grubby hair or sharp little nose, but her face was free of pox scars and had an open, impudent look. She had a narrow head and a thin mouth that curved up at the corners and green eyes that shone with fury, lightening them to the color of fresh beech leaves. He had done well for himself by her capture. To marry this will be no torment.
He inhaled sharply and smelled her sweet, milky scent, felt her turgid breasts press against his lower ribs. She was smaller, much slighter than him, but tucked nicely under his chin for all that. The realization slid through his mind as fast as an arrow bolt, then he was answering.
“I need your help.”
He had not meant to say that. He wanted to get her walking, get them farther into the trees, away from the others. “Come with me now. No trouble.”
He prodded her side with a finger and she jerked sideways, flinching as if she feared a dagger thrust. “I promise I will not hurt you or your boy,” he added.
“Such vows are easy to make,” she answered at once, reaching out again. “Give me my son.”
He prodded her shoulder. “Walk first.” He did not tell her there were horses nearby, one step at a time was enough.
Still the woman did not move. She stared at how he held Jack, balanced against his hip, and more suspicion flared in her face. “Why—”
I cannot waste more time on this. Edith is ailing. Valens scooped baby Jack into her arms and picked both of them up. Ignoring her instant struggles, he began a shuffling retreat, flanked by the two men. When the girl opened her mouth to yell, he silenced her by pressing his lips onto hers.
Refusing to acknowledge either the guards' knowing smirks or the blistering agony when the annoying, squirming, necessary wench bit him, he staggered deeper into the forest.
How had he ever thought this would be easy? Once I have them back at home, it will be.
He could only hope.




Valens the Fletcher and His Captive is book 2 of my Medieval Captives Series. Book 1, Sebastian the Alchemist and his Captive, is already out.




He takes her for hate. Will he keep her for love?

Sebastian, lord of the tower in the northern high lands, is a proud, bitter man with a dark past. An alchemist and a warrior, he has had lovers but knows he is ugly—experience and betrayal have taught him that.  When Melissa, the beautiful, neglected daughter of two old enemies, falls into his possessive hands he is determined to hold her. Why?

As one of the detested and defeated Felix family,  Melissa must cling to her courage when she is claimed as a war-prize by the tall, grim Sebastian. Expecting torture and ravishment, she finds instead a peace and sanctuary that she has never known. Treated with kindness for the first time in her life, Melissa begins to blossom.

But there are secrets and old betrayals between them. Sebastian’s abiding jealousy is not easily quelled, especially when someone at the tower seeks to destroy his growing love with Melissa…

Medieval Captives 1

Read Chapter One 



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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lindsay Townsend: Medieval curses and more

Medieval people believed in magic, both good and bad. Spells and charms cast with evil intent were called curses and several have survived from that time. The Anglo-Saxons believed in both charms and curses, including a curse chanted against a wen or boil. The little wen is told to go away, to become smaller and vanish into nothing (Her ne scealt thu timbrien, it says - “Here not build your timbered house.”)

The Vikings also believed in the power of words and words for magic and curses. In one saga a witch called Busla issues a curse against King Hring, who has captured and threatened to kill Busla’s foster son. The curse is chanted at night (a good time for such dark matters) and Busla’s magical threats are made manifest.  In lines of poetry, the witch claims that her curse will cause Hring to go deaf, make his eyes to the leave their sockets,  make his bed like burning straw and make him impotent. In addition, any horse he rode would take him to trolls– and more.
“Shall trolls and elves and tricking witches,
shall dwarfs and etins (giants) burn down thy mead-hall…”
 The king is still reluctant and  Busla chants the strongest part of her curse, magic so dark that she does not utter it at night but which will cause Hring to be torn into pieces and flung into hell.  Faced with these gruesome outcomes, the king swears an oath to release his captives. The witch then stops the curse.

Curses could be used both as items to propel malice and as a curious form of protection. Curses were often attached to medieval and Anglo-Saxon wills, mostly to ensure the last wishes were observed, or for more day to day purposes.  The will of Siflaed (composed between 1066-68, soon after  the Norman conquest of England, which may explain the strength of the curse)  states “Whoever alters this, may God turn his face away from him on the day of judgment.”   The Will of Wulfgyth, dated 1046, promises that anyone who detracts from his will shall be denied all human comfort and joy and be delivered into hell “and there suffer with God’s adversaries without end and never trouble my heirs.”  

This form of invoking God by means of a curse to protect others remained popular throughout the Middle Ages.  In 1407, the Will of Thomas of Tyldeslegh gives a hundred shillings of silver to a John Boys to make him an apprentice in a trade and “If anyone hinder this, may God’s curse be upon him.”
                                                 
Curses could be used by medieval people everywhere and in all circumstances. When a monk  in 1420 discovered that the monastery cat had peed  on the manuscript he had been copying, the monk cursed the cat and recorded his curse—with a small drawing, showing pointing hands toward the cat pee—

Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.

Which translates as:

Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.


Curses as medieval swear words can be found in this article here:

The ultimate curse could be considered to be excommunication, where a person and a person’s soul is cut off from God and the comforts and body of the church. This was feared as a terrible punishment but was not seen as being permanent, since a person could make amends and have the excommunication lifted.  Bishops and popes used excommunication as a political weapon and means of control.

 Objects could also be used in a malicious way. An amulet containing such vile materials as human waste, a splinter of wood from a gibbet or menstrual blood might be hidden under a bed to cause anything from impotence to sickness. Corpses of dead animals, such as black mice, were sometimes wrapped in cloth and buried under a threshold to create trouble for the inhabitants. Sympathetic magic, where a witch would ‘milk’ a knife stuck in the wall of her cottage, would enable her to steal milk from a cow. In Lucerne in 1486 2 women were accused of making hail by pouring well water over their heads. In Coventry in the 14th century a sorcerer created a wax figure of his neighbor, then drove a spike into the figure’s head and then heart. The neighbor died. In the 1130s the Jews of Trier were accused of making a wax figure of the archbishop and melting it in a fire to cause his death.

Some people were believed to have the power in themselves of cursing others, particularly if members of their family had been accused of sorcery. In 1454 at Lucerne a woman called Dorothea  was widely believed to be an ill-wisher—her mother had been burned as a witch and Dorothea, being unpopular, was accused in her turn.

Certain things were considered to be inherently cursed or evil in the Middle Ages. The wood of the elder tree was believed to be unlucky (it was said Judas had hung himself from an elder tree)and it was also thought to be a witches’ tree. Elder wood can easily splinter, so strictures against its use were in some ways sensible.  Juniper was another plant with a mixed reputation. Although a sprig of juniper was believed to protect the wearer from curses, to dream of juniper was said to foretell bad luck or a death.

What could protect against curses? Rowan was said to be a strong protector. The rowan tree, taken from the Norse “runa” meaning charm, was often planted close to houses to protect the household  against evil. Around Easter time medieval people would make small crosses from rowan wood to give further safety to the house.

Illness, famine, flood, plague and all manner of misfortunes in the Middle Ages were believed to be either due to God’s anger (as with the Black Death) or the result of a curse. Given the state of knowledge about the natural world at that time, the idea of deliberate evil by a person (or in some cases an animal) makes a strange kind of sense. Moreover people were comforted when they could use prayers, amulets, witch bottles and, in extreme cases, the law to protect themselves against the occult forces.

Belief in magic was strong in the Middle Ages. I write about curses and have characters use, or fight against them, in Dark Maiden, The Snow Bride and A Summer Bewitchment . I touch on the idea of God's anger and the Black Death in To Touch the Knight and belief in magical creatures in The Virgin, the Knight and the Unicorn 


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive - OUT NOW! 10% off till 6th Jan!

Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive

Medieval Captives 1

Lindsay Townsend

OUT NOW FROM HERE

AVAILABLE: Tuesday, December 30th


This title is offered at a 10% discount. Offer ends midnight CST, January 6th




He takes her for hate. Will he keep her for love?

Sebastian, lord of the tower in the northern high lands, is a proud, bitter man with a dark past. An alchemist and a warrior, he has had lovers but knows he is ugly—experience and betrayal have taught him that. When Melissa, the beautiful, neglected daughter of two old enemies, falls into his possessive hands he is determined to hold her. Why?


As one of the detested and defeated Felix family, Melissa must cling to her courage when she is claimed as a war-prize by the tall, grim Sebastian. Expecting torture and ravishment, she finds instead a peace and sanctuary that she has never known. Treated with kindness for the first time in her life, Melissa begins to blossom.


But there are secrets and old betrayals between them. Sebastian’s abiding jealousy is not easily quelled, especially when someone at the tower seeks to destroy his growing love with Melissa…


A BookStrand Mainstream Romance.


STORY EXCERPT:

Sebastian settled back in his chair. He still had many petitions to read and tomorrow he would fight a duel, with mace and daggers, but for the rest of the evening…Yes, he could grant himself the time, the indulgence. Ignoring the dull ache in his lower back, he stretched his long arms above his head.


“Robert.” He spoke quietly to the gangling chestnut-headed squire patrolling by the door. “Send the girl to me. Then get some rest before you fall over.” The youth had only lately recovered from a fever and even in the firelight looked as pale as the falling snow outside.


“I will sleep when you do, my lord.” Robert gave a brief, jerky bow and slipped from the stone chamber, his rapid footsteps fading in the vastness of the tower. Sebastian returned to his reading, making notes on the parchment, listening to the spit of the flames, and waiting. What will she be like? He had only caught a glimpse yesterday, when he had claimed her as his prize. The child of an old enemy and my first, unrequited love. What have her people told her about me?


The door swung open, slowly at first and then in a rush, as if whoever was entering was determined not to be cowed. Headstrong, just like her mother. Amused, Sebastian rested the tip of his writing quill on the tabletop to watch an energetic, vivid figure hasten into the chamber.


“Idonotcarewhatyoudotome, butdonothurtmypeople…”


Sebastian raised the quill and the spate of words instantly stopped. “Closer,” he commanded, when the creature remained still, glancing behind her at the closing door. “Look at me, girl.”


She took a step forward this time, halting exactly in the shadows cast between the torches and firelight so that her face and form remained hidden. Arrogant and stubborn, just like her father. A whip of irritation cracked down his spine.


“Artos, guard,” he ordered the black wolf he had saved as a cub from a hunter’s trap. Artos yawned, stretched himself up from the rug by the fire, and trotted to the threshold. With widening eyes the girl studied the wolf as it began a steady pacing back and forth before the entrance.


“He is not my familiar, if that is what you are thinking.”


“Your shadow, then.” The girl swung round to face him. Her voice was low, cracking a little from nerves or disuse. “He is handsome.”Unlike you. The unspoken words filled the chamber like the apple-wood smoke.


Sebastian pushed back his chair and strode toward his captive, circling his prize as she stood stiffly at attention, her head held perfectly straight, her hands clenched by her sides, half-hidden in her once gaudy, now tattered, green and gold robes. In the shifting alliances of these lush and rugged highlands her kindred had backed the wrong overlord and lost. In the scramble afterward between the northern princelings for booty and lands, Sebastian had been able to take the girl, claim her by right of revenge. Revenge. What a monster she must think me, this dainty youngster, to make her pay for ancient hurts her father wreaked on me, for the old betrayals of her mother. Does she even know that pitiful tale?


He circled her again, sensing her quiver as he loomed. She was a brunette, but there all similarity between them ended. Where he was tall and lean and intense, large-jointed and craggy, precise from years of deliberate, often hard-won control, this tiny girl shimmered like a flame. Where his hair was black, dull and fine as silk, hanging straight to his broad shoulders, hers was the color of brimstone and treacle, long, heavy ropes of shining curling waves, sunset brown shot through with chestnut. Her father’s coloring, and wasn’t Baldwin always aware of his good looks? As for her mother in her—Sebastian halted before the girl and, with a long finger, tipped up her chin, glimpsing a pair of bright brown eyes in a freckled, delicate face. The child shifted, lowering her head in a gesture of apparent submission. The shape of her eyes are the same as Rosemond’s, but not the color. Her mother had blue eyes and gold hair and smiled like a Madonna, all the better to beguile men.


“Like but not like,” Sebastian murmured, releasing his grip and continuing his prowl. The girl was easily a head shorter than himself, small and thin, where Rosemond had been tall and stately. “How old are you?”


“Eighteen.” The bright eyes fixed on his and a spark of heat tingled from his chest to his groin in response. He saw her blush and wondered if she had also sensed the spark. “Eighteen, Sir Sebastian.”


He scowled at her address, disliking the arrogant assumption behind it that only knights had value. Just like her father. “I am no knight, girl, remember that,” he barked. She trembled and he could not decide if that was due to fear or revulsion. Watching the pretty glow drop from her face like a fallen ribbon, he decided it was both.


Irritated and a little ashamed with his behavior, he closed his eyes, desperately trying to entomb his own past within himself. “Who would care for such a lanky thing as you?” His mother had first told him that. “Sallow, dark, possessive,” a previous lover or two had complained, before each one had parted with him due to his jealousy. “An ugly, crook-nosed brute...” Sebastian remembered that description only too clearly, the taunts “ugly” and “crook-nose” following him throughout his service as a page, then squire, before he had turned his back on the cruel, glittering world of chivalry. And who had first called him ugly and crook-nosed? Baldwin of course, this girl’s father, jibing and taunting, bullying and tormenting, setting on him with his friends and cronies, four, five, six against one. Sebastian had stomached that but then worse followed—he had heard Rosemond agreeing with Baldwin, the pair laughing together, laughing at him. After all I did for her and tried to do for her, after I helped her, after I told her I loved her.


Strange after all these years that it should still ache so much, as if an anvil had been hurled into his chest. Fighting the despair, Sebastian growled like Artos and shook his head to clear it. Here he was, aged three and thirty, still re-fighting old battles, old hurts. I am pathetic.


He opened his eyes, relaxing his grip on the quill before he shattered it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Regency comedy GOOSED! OR A FOWL CHRISTMAS is Here!



Goosed! or A Fowl Christmas, the first in my Regency The Feather Fables series, is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo and Apple.

BLURB:

The Feather Fables--where birds twitter and chirp and bring romance.

Ah, Christmas, what a glorious season. Decorations, friends, good will to all, a time of magic and miracles.

But not for Miss Julia Shaw. She is new to the area, her farm desperately needs upkeep, and the pittance she earns from her artwork doesn’t pay the bills. And then her pet goose escapes. Making matters worse, when she first meets the devastatingly attractive Lord Tyndall, the abominable man insults her as he returns her goose. No peace and good will for her this Christmas.

Exhausted from a year of business travel, Robert, Baron Tyndall, returns to London only to fall prey to his mother’s matchmaking attempts. Escaping to his country estate, he finds solace with the birds in his aviary. Except that a plague of a goose that belongs to his new neighbor, Miss Shaw, has somehow entered his aviary and wreaked havoc. That disagreeable lady had better keep her misbegotten bird to herself. Too bad she is so lovely. What a horrendous Christmas this season has become.

But even in the blackest depths, a spark of light can glimmer. For at this wondrous time of Christmas, miracles and magic can and do happen.

A sweet, traditional Regency romance with fantasy elements. 61,000 words.

EXCERPT:
What was that infernal din? Catching up her shawl, Julia dashed down the stairs and then out through the front door. Winding her shawl around her, she rounded the house and almost slammed into an unfamiliar gig.

The vehicle blocked her view of the goose pen, from which the honking emanated. But no one was there—her pet goose had run off. She ran around the conveyance and stopped dead.

Her pet had returned! Flapping, honking and biting, the flying goose—He could fly? She had never before seen him do so—attacked a large, stylishly dressed gentleman.

The man, his arms high to protect his head, flailed at the goose. His back was to her, his upended hat lay in the dirt and white feathers covered his black greatcoat. He swore. Loudly.

Julia’s ears burned. “Do not hurt my goose, sir!”

The man batted at the goose again and turned toward her.

Julia gasped. He was the man on the road a few days ago. His dark eyes blazed, his brown hair was mussed, and his sharp cheekbones had flushed from the effort of warding off the goose.

Her pulse raced. He had looked handsome at a distance. Up close, he was magnificent. Tingles raced over her skin.

“This spawn of Satan is your property, madam?” He jerked his head back from the goose’s open bill as the bird dove in for a bite.

“He is, sir, and you will not harm him!” She jumped between the man and the goose.

The goose, breathing heavily, plopped to the ground. Eyes afire, he angled his head around her. He hissed at the man.

“Gracious, what is the matter?” She stroked the goose’s head.

The bird went limp, as if he had been pumped full of air and all the gas suddenly escaped.

She tipped her head back to glare up at the man. Good gracious, he was tall. “He has never acted this way before. What have you done to him?”

The man’s jaw dropped. “I? This feathered blackguard has tried to bite me ever since I saw him. And just now he attacked me.” He scowled at the goose. “If he is your property, you are welcome to him.”



Available at





Also available at the other Amazon stores

Barnes and Noble


Smashwords (note, all formats are available on Smashwords)


Kobo

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hot for Friday: First Kiss

savannakougar.blogspot.com/p/santa-baby-several-stars-away_388.html

Friday hotness kisses, everyone!

Here's the first kiss between my heroine, Kaily, and her hero, Dylan.

~~~

Santa Baby, Several Stars Away

To Kaily, it felt as though Dylan deliberately prolonged the moments before their lips touched because it increased his pleasure, and because it heightened her to a burning want.

His mouth alighted on hers, the sensation feathery. Then, he rested his lips on hers softly yet firmly.

The texture of his mouth, and the wintry coolness thrilled through Kaily, awakening her body, all of her senses—passionately blistering her insides.

Ding, ding, ding...we have a winner, she thought.

Gradually, beautifully, his kiss deepened, his mouth becoming a large dominant force on top of hers. So dominant, she could only succumb, and wish for more.

So much more. Please...oh, please.

~~~~~~

For more of Hot for Friday ~bookboyfriendscafe.com~
~~~~~~

~~~ Kaily and Dylan invite you to read their love story ~~~ 

Kaily has been consumed by curiosity ever since Dylan suddenly appears in her small town. Surreptitiously, she watches the mystery man restore a rundown Victorian mansion, all while his charm and sincerity gain him the good will of most everyone. This is especially true when he volunteers to become the annual Santa Claus for the children at the town's park.

The problem for Kaily: No one really knows anything about Dylan's past or where he came from. With her attraction to him growing day by day, she becomes a driven woman. On a desperate whim, she gives herself to him as a Christmas present. Will Dylan be able to resist her waiting naked, but gift-wrapped beneath his tree?

~~~

Excerpt/Buy link: savannakougar.blogspot.com/p/santa-baby-several-stars-away_388.html

Available: SMASHWORDS PREMIUM CATALOGUE ~ KINDLE ~ AllRomanceEbooks

~~~~~~

Happy Hot Reading ~

Savanna

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A DISTINCT FLAIR FOR WORDS, Book 3 of Love and the Library, Is Here!




A Distinct Flair for Words, the latest in my Regency Love and the Library series, is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.
 
Love and the Library - A celebration of the beginnings of love wherein four young Regency gentlemen meet their matches over a copy of “Pride and Prejudice” at the library. 

Book 3: Felicity and Frank

BLURB:
Every woman should have her own Mr. Darcy--unless she prefers Mr. Bingley.


Something strange goes on in that library.

Not one, but two of Mr. Frank Wynne’s friends found the ladies of their dreams at the library over a copy of “Pride and Prejudice”. Magic? Divine providence? Hardly. Coincidence or luck? Perhaps. And to prove or disprove the possibilities, he’ll go to the library and read “Pride and Prejudice”. Day after day after day. To his surprise, the book is funny, and he does like that Bingley chap. His lady doesn’t appear, though. Of course not. But still…

Miss Felicity White adores “Pride and Prejudice”. But while most ladies swoon over Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley is the man after her own heart. Happy, good-natured, cheerful, outgoing Mr. Bingley. She loves him so much, she even rewrote “Pride and Prejudice” from his perspective. Now, if she can only find a gentleman like him…

When Felicity and Frank run into each other, the enchantment of “Pride and Prejudice” and the library just might strike again.

A sweet, traditional Regency romance, but not a retelling of “Pride and Prejudice.” 45,000 words.


I write in the style of my favorite author, Barbara Metzger. If you like her Regency comedies, you may enjoy mine.

EXCERPT:


“I have the most wonderful news!” Felicity maneuvered herself and Frank to the only two seats together. Unfortunately, they were in the middle of the semicircle, with ladies on both sides
Frank sat on the edge of his seat. The chairs’ arrangement was unnervingly like a gigantic feminine claw, ready to snap shut on a tasty treat.
Him.
He stilled. Mayhap if he didn’t move, they would forget he was there. And pigs will fly.
Miss Barrett clapped and the murmuring ladies quieted. “Felicity, please tell us your news.”
Felicity popped up. “You know I have written Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Bingley’s viewpoint.” She gave a little bounce. “Mr. Blackmore of Blackmore Publishing has requested the manuscript!”
Feminine squeals reverberated around the room. Miss Barrett rose to shake Felicity’s hand. “Well done. Mayhap you will pave the way to the future, when others will want to read about the further adventures of the Pride and Prejudice characters.”
Miss Liddell, one of the ladies who had squinted when he entered, squinted anew. “I doubt anyone will want to read about Mr. Wickham’s experiences. Or Lydia’s.”
“Never say never.” Miss Nisbet, seated at Frank’s other side, sniffed. “Some people enjoy tales about villains. I daresay they like to see the blackguards receive their just deserts.” She leaned closer to Frank. “Have you read Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Wynne?”
Gazes on both sides of the pincer-like arrangement of chairs closed in on him. More perspiration broke out on his forehead. “Yes, I have.” Outnumbered. Perhaps he had better say as little as possible.
Miss Liddell squinted again. “You are unusual, sir. Most men do not read novels. Or at least, they claim not to.”
He flashed his most winning smile, the one that normally made the ladies melt. Almost-clergyman he might be, but that did not preclude him from appreciating the fairer sex. “I am not most men.”

AVAILABLE AT

Amazon US 

Also available in all the other Amazon stores.

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords (note, all formats are available on Smashwords):

Apple
 
Coming soon to Kobo.

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