Thursday, January 26, 2012
Elfrida, spirited, caring and beautiful, is also alone. She is the witch of the woods and no man dares to ask for her hand in marriage until a beast comes stalking brides and steals away her sister. Desperate, the lovely Elfrida offers herself as a sacrifice, as bridal bait, and she is seized by a man with fearful scars. Is he the beast?
In the depths of a frozen midwinter, in the heart of the woodland, Sir Magnus, battle-hardened knight of the Crusades, searches ceaselessly for three missing brides, pitting his wits and weapons against a nameless stalker of the snowy forest. Disfigured and hideously scarred, Magnus has finished with love, he thinks, until he rescues a fourth 'bride', the beautiful, red-haired Elfrida, whose innocent touch ignites in him a fierce passion that satisfies his deepest yearnings and darkest desires.
Now out at Bookstrand Publishing 2011
Now out at Amazon, too!
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Read Chapter One
Here is another new excerpt to tempt you:
Elfrida stirred sluggishly, unable to remember where she was. Her back ached, and the rest of her body burned. She opened her eyes and sat up with a jerk, thinking of Christina.
Her head felt to be bobbing like an acorn cup in a stream, and her vision swam. As she tried to swing her legs, her sense of dizzy falling increased, becoming worse as she closed her eyes. She lashed out in the darkness, her flailing hands and feet connecting with straw, dusty hay, and ancient pelts.
“Christina?” she hissed, listening intently and praying now that the monster had brought her to the same place it had taken her sister.
She heard nothing but her own breath, and when she held that, nothing at all.
“Christina?” Fearing to reach out in this blackness that was more than night and dreading what she might find, Elfrida forced herself to stretch her arms. She trailed her fingers out into the ghastly void, tracing the unseen world with trembling hands.
Her body shook more than her hands, but she ignored the shuddering of her limbs, closed her eyes like a blind man, and searched.
She lay on a pallet, she realized, full of crackling, dry grass. When she scented and tasted the air, there was no blood. She did not share the space with grisly corpses.
I am alone and unfettered. Now her heart had stopped thudding in her ears, she listened again, hearing no one else. Chanting a charm to see in the dark, she tried again to shift her feet.
Light spilled into her eyes like scalding milk as a door opened and a massive figure lurched across the threshold. Elfrida launched herself at freedom, hurling a fistful of straw at the looming beast and ducking out for the light.
She fell instead, her legs buckling, her last sight that of softly falling snow.
* * * *
Magnus gathered the woman before she pitched facedown into the snow, returning her swiftly to the rough bed within the hut. Her tiny, bird-boned form terrified him. Clutching her was like ripping a fragile wood anemone up from its roots.
And she had fought him, wind-flower or not. She had charged at him.
“I wish, lass, that you would listen to me. I am not the Forest Grendel, nor have wish to be, nor ever have been.”
Just as earlier, in the clearing where he had first come upon her, a brilliant shock of life and color in a white, dead world, the woman gave no sign of hearing. She was cold again, freezing, while in his arms she had steamed with fever. He tugged off his cloak and bundled her into it, then piled his firewood and kindling onto the bare hearth.
A few strikes of his flints and he had a fire. He set snow to melt in the helmet he was using as a cauldron. He swept more dusty hay up from the floor and, sneezing, packed it round the still little figure.
No beast on two or four legs would hunt tonight, so that was one worry less. Finding this lean-to hut in the forest had been a godsend, but it would be cold.
Magnus went back out into the snow and led his horse into the hut, spreading what feed he had brought with him. He kept the door shut with his saddle, rubbed the palfrey down with the bay’s own horse blanket, and looked about for a lantern.
There was none, just as there were no buckets, nor wooden bowls hanging from the eaves. But, abandoned as it surely had been, the place was well roofed, and no snow swirled in through the wood and wattle walls. Whistling, Magnus dug through his pack and found a flask of ale, some hard cheese, two wizened apples, and a chunk of dark rye bread. He spoke softly to his horse, then looked again at the woman.
She was breathing steadily now, and her lips and cheeks had more color. By the glittering, rising fire he saw her as he had first in the forest clearing, an elf-child of beauty and grace, a willing sacrifice to the monster. Kneeling beside her, he longed to stroke her vivid red hair and kiss the small dimple in her chin. In sleep she had the calm, flawless face of a Madonna of Outremer and the bright locks of a Magdalene.
He had guessed who she was—the witch of the three villages, the good witch driven to desperation. Coming upon her in that snowfield, tied between two trees like a crucified child of fairy, his temper had been a black storm against the villagers for sparing their skins by flaying hers. Then he had seen her face, recognized that wild, stark, sunken-cheeked grief, seen the loose bonds and the terrible “feast,” and had understood.
Another young woman has been taken by the beast, someone you love.
She—Elfrida, that was her name, he remembered it now—Elfrida was either very foolish or very powerful, to offer herself as bait.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Carla Kingston claimed to have been accosted by a ghost when she was seventeen years old. In confidence, she told her best friend, who dropped her like hot coals. Ten years later, Bobby Whitten returns with a change of heart, but can he handle watching her enjoy being made love to by a shadow of a person who was murdered more than a hundred years ago? [paranormal, short story - A Ghost Hunter Romance, I like to say]
“Maybe. Zack, I have a strange feel about what's to come.”
“I told you, it’s the two of you together that is stirring them up,” Zack told her.
“You’re being redundant.”
“Stop sucking face and things will quiet.”
“What?” Bobby asked.
“Zack says they’re jealous and trying to get my attention, so we need to stop sucking face.” His eyes narrowed, and she found it amusing to watch him look around the place. “He can’t see us.” She tapped the headset. “Hearing.”
“Oh,” he said before a grin crept across his face.
“Zack, while the troops feel they need to gather, I’m going in to do some fishing.”
“Not a good idea. Too many.”
“I’ll be fine. They love me, you said so yourself.”
“Right now, it may not be unanimous if you get my drift.”
“Yeah, I get it.” It would definitely be worth it if her infatuated ghost was jealous enough to take things to a new level.
“I think it’d be interesting to take Bobby in the house with you and see what happens.”
She laughed. “You’re ornery.”
“Well, go have fun. I’ve got your back.”
“Appreciated. Switching to wireless.” She set the headset down and turned it off. “Remember what I said. Don’t interfere,” she reminded Bobby while putting on a wireless headset and attached the battery pack to the back of her jeans.
“What’re you doing?”
“My job. You can watch and listen, but you won’t be able to talk to me. Nor will I be able to hear you.” Flipping on the speaker nestled between the monitors near a receiver, she informed him, “Only Zack will be able to talk to me.” Carla pulled a jacket on, grabbed her kit, put the file of photos in it and turned at the door. “I’ll be back,” she said in the gruffest tone she could manage. He didn’t smile. She walked up to him and kissed him. “Relax.”
Carla left and crossed the street to enter the property. Her heart pounded against her chest cavity. She latched the gate behind her, took out her handheld thermal meter along with the K2 meter, turned them on and went up the walk to the porch steps and up to the front door. She shivered when she entered a cold spot. “I’ve entered coldness, fifty-one degrees.”
“Daybreak temps been steady at fifty-seven.”
“No visuals, but you,” Bobby added.
She pulled the keys from her pocket. “Going in.”
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Thursday, January 5, 2012
Read Chapter One
The Celtic Rose
Ms. Townsend's tale of these two lonely people joining forces to track him to his lair is non-stop, rich and lyrical. Her voice is distinctive, her writing style a delight, and the ending is both satisfying and promising in that a sequel would be possible. 4 Celtic Roses.
Sizzling Hot Book Reviews
The Snow Bride is and entertaining medieval love story, one of my favorite kinds. I enjoyed that Magnus is willing to woo Elfrida by treating her as an equal, no matter how hard it is for him to do. They have their ups and downs as they learn each other, leading to confusion and doubt on occasion. Both are well rounded, sometimes stubborn and proud characters, and willing to give and take to work together to rescue Elfrida’s sister. I enjoyed the glimpses of life at a noble’s castle, the look at the peasant’s and villages life styles. The banter between Magnus and Elfrida was entertaining, as was the growing love between The Snow Bride and Magnus. 4 Hearts.
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