The Viking’s Captive by Quinn Loftis – Excerpt and Giveaway!

The Viking’s Captive by Quinn Loftis

(Clan Hakon #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: November 27th 2018
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

Prophecy spoken.

Alliances broken.

Will duty come before love?

The Viking’s Captive is the exciting sequel toThe Viking’s
Chosen
by USA Today Bestseller Quinn Loftis.

Two worlds collide in this epic historical fiction centered on an undeniable chemistry
that smolders against the odds. Richly written and injected with moments of humor, this
action-packed romantic tale will leave you breathless.

Novels in The Clan Hakon Series Include:

The Viking’s Chosen (February 12, 2018)

The Viking’s Captive (November 27, 2018)

The Viking’s Consort (Fall 2019)

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EXCERPT:

Chapter 1

“If you vomit on my lap, I will most likely throw you overboard,” Dayna, my incredibly helpful sister, told me for the fourth or fifth time.
“If you hadn’t come running after me like a sodding fool, you wouldn’t have gotten yourself captured. Then you wouldn’t even be on this boat, and you wouldn’t have to worry about me vomiting on you, now, would you?” I asked as I clutched my midsection. My stomach seemed to think it should take its cues from the ocean upon which we sailed. It rolled and flipped just like the waves.
“First, if I hadn’t come after you, then that would make me a coward and not much of a sister, so that was never an option. Second, if I hadn’t gotten captured, then you would be all alone with no one to hold your hair while you vomit, now, wouldn’t you?”
“Do we have to use the term vomit in every sentence?” Hilda, the Hakon clan Oracle, healer, and Torben’s mother, asked dryly.
“Apparently, we do since you just used it yourself,” Dayna pointed out.
Hilda shot me a sly grin, with one eyebrow raised, asked, “You don’t mind if I just put a small hex on her, do you?”
“She is my sister, so I’d rather you didn’t.”
“Thank you,” Dayna said a bit smugly.
“But if you feel it’s absolutely necessary, I guess I could overlook it,” I added, earning me a pinch from said sister.
I had no idea how long it had been since Magnus, Torben’s jarl, had captured us. On one hand, he’d done me a favor. I certainly wasn’t going to have to marry Cathal now. On the other hand, my sister and I were now the prisoners of a man who was slowly losing his mind. I wasn’t sure which was worse, being married to a madman or being stolen by one. For whatever reason, I seemed to have suddenly become a hot commodity to lunatics. I chuckled to myself.
“Pray tell, sister, what is so funny?” Dayna asked.
“Madmen want me,” I said as I groaned and shifted my head, which was indeed lying in my sister’s lap, where I very well might have been sick at any second.
“Do you think she’s already delirious from being at sea?” Dayna asked Hilda.
Hilda snorted¾a most unladylike sound. “We’ve only been at sea for half a day at most. If she’s already delirious, then we are going to need to shore up her constitution.”
I was just about to tell her where she could shove her shoring up when I quickly covered my mouth and sat up. I refused to vomit. If I did, it would feel like Magnus was winning in some bizarre, silent game between the two of us. Once I was sure I could open my mouth without anything but words coming out of it, I addressed Hilda. “I am feeling more than just my own illness, worry, and fear.” I pressed my hand to my heart and rubbed it as if that could somehow remove the ache. “There’s a pain deep in my breast.”
Hilda nodded. “That would be the anchor bond between you and my son. You are feeling his worry and fear as well as your own. And knowing how deeply Torben feels anything, I imagine he is in quite a bit of distress, though he won’t show it on the outside.” She shook her head. “No, he’s a warrior through and through. On the outside, he will look as though he could slit your throat without a second thought. But on the inside, he is frantic to get to you.”
“Is that why you weren’t wailing about the possibility of Torben being dead when Magnus said he was?” Dayna asked.
“I would know if he were dead. A part of me would die inside as well.” I looked back to Hilda. “Will he kill Magnus?” I asked.
She nodded. “It is his destiny to become jarl of the Hakon clan, as it is your destiny to rule at his side. For that to happen, the old jarl must die. Magnus will never relinquish power willingly. Our two nations will grow stronger, not only because they embrace one another’s differences, but because they need new blood. Your offspring will be strong.”
The boat gave a mighty heave, and Dayna and I both nearly fell off the small bench upon which we were perched. Hilda didn’t appear bothered at all by the motion. She noticed the expression I was giving her and shrugged.
“I’ve lived at sea a long time. She and I are well acquainted.”
“Forgive me for speaking out of turn,” Dayna said, gripping the seat beneath her as though it might try to toss her into the bottom of the boat, “but your life has been about as fun as a house rat’s on cleaning day if you’ve spent that much time on the ocean.”
Later in Chapter 1
I closed my eyes once again and focused on the man my heart and soul longed for.
“Torben?” I asked hesitantly. There was no response, and I felt the momentary spark of hope dwindle. How could we have just found one another, just accepted what we were to one another, only to be ripped apart? Was life really that cruel? I snorted inwardly. Yes, you fool, it is. The fact that I had been betrothed to a monster like Cathal was proof that life was a cruel joke at times. It dangled bits of tasty fruits in front of your face that, when you snatched them from the air like a famished horse, you discovered were rotten and putrid.
“It’s not so bad, love.”
His voice once again filled my head, and I felt my heartbeat begin to race. It pounded painfully in my chest as I waited, scared that I’d only imagined him.
“I need to hear your voice, too. Speak to me, Princess.”
“It’s really you? You’re not just a figment of my imagination?”
“That depends, is your imagining of me better than the real thing?”
“Nothing beats having you before me, breathing, flesh and blood. But if this is all I can have for now, then I will take it,” I admitted without shame.
“I am real, Allete. Our bond is strong. I refuse to give you up.”
I smiled to myself. “Your mother said something similar about you.”
“She knows me well. How are you, my love? Has he hurt you?” The words came out in a husky growl.
“No, he hasn’t touched me. Not yet, anyway,” I added before I could censor myself.
“What do you mean, not yet?” His voice was a deadly whisper.
Okay, so I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that.
“Allete,” he warned.
“Well, you see, there was this warrior that needed my help,”
“ACCH! You healed one of his men?”
“Don’t sound betrayed, Torben. It’s not like I lifted my petticoat and flashed the man.”
“Thank you for that image, Princess,” he said dryly.
“I’m a healer, Torben. You know I cannot ignore the call of my magic.”
“And how did Magnus respond?” he asked, sounding very much like he didn’t really want to hear the answer.
“Your mother seemed to think that his interest in me has grown. She said he no longer sees me as just a healer, but as a woman, a potential lover,” I admitted slowly. I could feel the anger and worry inside of him. It was like lava building inside a mountain, growing hotter and more volatile by the minute.
“He won’t touch me,” I said, attempting to reassure him. “I’ll cut off his hands before I let him, and Dayna has threatened to gut him like a fish.”
“You must be careful about insulting him, Allete. There are worse things than death. I need you to survive, but… I’ve seen Magnus do unspeakable things, even to his own men. And that’s nothing to what he does to his enemies.
“I will survive, but you need not worry that it will be at the expense of him getting anywhere near me.” I didn’t have to say that I would die before I let Magnus violate me; it was understood in the tone of my voice.
“I love you,” Torben said suddenly. The longing that filled his voice matched my own. “I never thought I could feel this way about someone, but I do. I want the chance to know you more, to have a life with you. I want to see you swollen with my children and tired from being up all night nursing. I want to hear your laughter at my bad jokes and to taste your kiss after years of togetherness.”
If someone had told me, a few short months ago when I met Torben, that he would say such moving words to me, I would have laughed. But here we were, destined for one another yet unable to be together. Here he was, my Viking, whispering words of love in my mind, yet I could not touch him.
“We will have those things and many more,” I said finally after several minutes of silence. “It’s worth fighting for, Torben. I will fight to the death for you. I love you.”
I heard the sigh he breathed out as if he were standing there beside me. I could nearly feel his warmth, and I couldn’t decide if it was a gift or a curse.
Hilda’s voice intruded on the blissful moment. “The expression on your face suggests we are witnessing something no mother should ever witness between her son and his bride.”
“Your mother is summoning my attention,” I told him, hoping he could hear in my voice the affection I had for her.
“By all means, don’t leave the Oracle waiting. Reach for me as often as you need. Our souls communicating like this will help keep you anchored and strong. And if you can help it, do not heal any more of those bottom-feeders.”
“Thank you for your words of wisdom, Oh Mighty Viking,” I crooned. “I will do my best to resist the call of my magic to heal some scallywag.”
Chapter 2
“I’m going to cut off his fingers one at a time, and then I’ll cut off his hands, and—”
“You’ve had lots of practice at cutting off appendages. Perhaps while you’re cutting on the jarl, you could thank him for giving you the experience,” Brant said, interrupting my tirade.
“He won’t be able to respond because I’m going to cut out his tongue, so I don’t have to listen to his lunacy,” I snarled. Leaning down, I cupped some water from a small stream into my hand and slurped it into my mouth. We’d pushed the horses hard all night and late into the day. Both the animals and my men needed a break, no matter how badly I wanted to keep riding.
“So, what I hear you saying is there will be a lot of cutting,” Brant chuckled. “Is this before or after you torture him and make him wish he’d never been jarl of Clan Hakon?”
I narrowed my eyes on him. “He has your woman, too, ya know?” I saw the way Brant’s jaw tightened even though he tried to appear nonchalant.
“Yes, I know,” he responded. “But she can probably kick his arse. I should be more worried about the poor, unsuspecting men who are going to be dealing with her. The lass has quite a temper.”
I snorted. “Wicked temper,” I muttered under my breath, though I wasn’t talking about Dayna. My thoughts were on another princess whose temper could be quite as volatile as her sister’s, though Allete would be more likely to set traps for her enemies and watch silently as they fell. Dayna would simply run them through with a sword, laughing all the while.
Chapter 3
Two days had passed since Magnus had captured me and my sister and tossed us onto the ship that had become our personal hell. I never knew men could smell so bad or that I could hate singing with such a passion. I mean, damn it all, who in the bloody hell had taught these men those songs?
“Ugh!” Dayna groaned. “Do they ever shut up?” She was lying on the cot that doubled as her bed, hands covering her ears, but it was no use. It was as if the crew knew how much we hated the singing and sang louder for the sole purpose of torturing us.
Hilda shook her head. “They believe their singing keeps away the sirens.”
“Sirens?” I asked. “You mean they really believe there are women who live in the sea and lure men from their ships into the depths?”
She nodded. “Some swear they’ve seen it happen. Mind you, they wouldn’t tell you about the barrel of ale they drank before they saw it happen.”
“If they’re so scared of these sirens, then why do they ever bother to sail at all?” Dayna asked.
“Because when the jarl says to do something, his men obey—sirens or no,” Hilda answered. “Someone has to be in charge. Someone has to lead. Unfortunately, our current leader doesn’t always have the clan’s best interests at heart.”
“That’s why Torben needs to take over,” I said. It wasn’t a question. I felt a sense of urgency and worry flow through me, and it wasn’t my own. I knew I was sensing Torben’s emotions, as if speaking his name had somehow stoked the power of the bond between us. I’ll admit it was comforting to be able to feel him, but, at the same time, it made me long for him to be there with me.
“It takes a strong person to lead, and not just physically, though that’s certainly part of it among the Northmen. The clan follows the man who’s proven himself by besting challenges to his claim of leadership. Magnus, crazy as he may be, is still a skilled swordsman. And he doesn’t fight fair, so he’s going to win by any means necessary. My people don’t see that as a negative thing. A true leader must be strong of both mind and body. The Vikings see Magnus’ tactics as cunning, using every resource available to him.”
“And you believe Torben can kill Magnus?” Dayna asked.
Hilda smiled. “Without a doubt. Torben is destined to rule. And now that he has his other half, the prophecy can be fulfilled.”
There was a commotion above, and the singing stopped. Praise all that is holy, I thought.
“Land ho!” a man yelled.
“Land!” Dayna and I yelled at the same time. I considered kissing the dirt when my feet touched down on the earth again. If I learned nothing else on the voyage from England to… wherever our captor had taken us, it was that I was not meant to be on the ocean. Dry land, with firm ground beneath my feet, that was my home.
“Let’s go and see where the mad jarl has taken us,” Hilda suggested as she stood and walked to the ladder.
We followed her up to the deck and found the crew was scurrying about like ants defending a recently kicked-over hill. They ran to and fro, tossing tools and pulling ropes. But I noticed a rhythm to their scrambling. It almost seemed like a dance on the deck of the ship. Each man knew his own steps, and somehow, they managed to keep from running over one another.
I finally lifted my eyes up from the organized chaos to see the land that had caused all the commotion. There was nothing significant that stood out. I shivered as I stared at the beach directly ahead of us. It was only then that I noticed the temperature outside was much cooler than when I’d last been on deck. At least I knew the direction we’d travelled. North.
“Do you know where we are?” I asked Hilda.
“Hmm… brown sand resting in front of a thick, impassable forest… yes, of course. I know exactly where we are.
“Really?”
“No, of course not. I’m a seer, not a cartographer. One beach looks like another.”
Dayna laughed. “I want to be like you when I grow up.”

Author Bio:

Quinn is an award winning author who lives in beautiful Western Arkansas with her
husband, two sons, Nora the Doberman, and Chewy the Cat who thinks he’s a dog. She
is the author of 17 novels, and 2 novellas, including the USA Today bestseller, Fate and
Fury. Quinn is beyond thankful that she has been blessed to be able to write full time
and hopes the readers know how much all of their support means to her. Some of her
hobbies include reading, exercising, crochet, and spending time with family and friends.
She gives all credit of her success to God because he gave her the creative spirit and
vivid imagination it takes to write.

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Excerpt of Imperial Passions by Eileen Stephenson – Plus a Giveaway!

Imperial Passions: The Porta Aurea
by Eileen Stephenson

Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Blachernae Books
Paperback & eBook; 387 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

At the center of Byzantine society, fifteen-year old orphaned Anna Dalassena lives with her grandparents among the most powerful men and women in Constantinople. But the cutthroat politics of the Great Palace sends the family into exile in a distant corner of the mepire. Her bleak situation finally turns promising after meeing a handsome young soldier, John Comnenus, and his brother Isaac, before the are finally permitted to return home.

The vicious power struggles, uprisings, and betrayals at the highest levels of the empire push Anna and John unwillingly into its center as they struggle to deal with their own tragedies. When rebellion puts her life and those of everyone she loves at risk, is the reward a throne for her family – too big a gamble?

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Excerpt

For those of you interested in 11th century Byzantium, here is an excerpt from my novel, Imperial Passions – The Porta Aurea. This scene takes place in the church of the great monastery of St. John Stoudion, not far from the Porta Aurea (Golden Gate) of Constantinople. It marks the end of the 5 – 6 month reign of the young and foolish Byzantine Emperor, Michael V Kalaphates. This incident was described in some detail by Michael Psellus in his Fourteen Byzantine Rulers history.

Setting the scene: Rioting has broken out in Constantinople as the people have become outraged at the shabby treatment Michael V has given his adopted mother, the rightful Empress Zoe. Anna Dalassena, her grandparents and two women servants have gone to the Monastery of St. John Stoudion where Anna’s uncle is a monk and they hope to be safe until the commotion has died down, not realizing they have entered the eye of the storm.

The End of Michael V Kalaphates

“The emperor is here, with his uncle Constantine. They are with the hegoumenos. They’ve begged for sanctuary, and to be tonsured as monks. They sailed from the palace to our dock a little while ago.”

Grandfather swore under his breath. Suddenly, the sounds of the angry mob were close and I turned to see an immense number of people swarming up the street that had been empty only moments earlier. Uncle Simeon looked over my shoulder, his usual calm gone.

“Theotokos help us,” he prayed, then pulled us in before barring the gate. “Come with me. I’ll put you in an alcove in the church. It should be safe there. They won’t dare desecrate the sanctity of the church.”

Uncle Simeon secured the gates to the monastery before turning us all towards the church. I grabbed hold of Maria and Alethea’s hands and we raced through the gardens towards the archway that held the door the monks used. We’d been in the church many times before, but always from the visitors’ entrance, never from the monks’. Uncle Simeon rushed us through a back corridor and up steep stairs to a gallery overlooking the nave. He glanced over the railing, then gasped.

“They’re here,” he whispered, looking towards a few figures we could see through the entrance in the iconostasis.

That time of day, the gallery was in shadows, hiding us while we could see all that transpired below.

The man I had seen proudly attired in imperial purple just a day earlier, was now in the plain robes of a monk, his head pink where he had just been tonsured. Another man stood near him, also pink with the tonsure, but a beardless eunuch. They were pleading for protection from the Hegoumenos, Matthias, their hands grasping the altar.

The door to the church crashed open below and a voice called out, “They’re in here.” The rabble rushed in while the two new monks frantically grabbed the altar, crying out “Sanctuary! Sanctuary!” repeatedly. I thought the people would seize the men at that moment, but the hegoumenos raised a hand.

“Stop! Stop! Not one step further, you are in the house of God. I will not have you desecrate it with violence.” Matthias, a soft-spoken elderly man, would have had better luck trying to stop the waves from lapping on the shore than to deter this mob.

A couple of the larger men pushed the sputtering hegoumenos to the other side of a door near the altar, shutting it and ending any further monkish interference. Uncle Simeon, up in the balcony with us, was the only monk to witness to the retribution dealt the two miscreants.

One of the men in the crowd, with light brown hair that poked out at odd angles, a beaky nose and receding chin, and wearing the garb of a palace official, pulled away from the mass of people and began berating first Constantine, and then Michael for their sins against the empress. The two men cowered, hands gripping the holy altar.

“Was there anything she ever did that could have justified your cruel treatment?” Looking directly at Michael, his angry rebuke continued, “The empress is your adopted mother and has been only kindness and generosity to you. I saw it with my own eyes. And this is how you repay her? With baseless accusations and imprisonment?”

The crowd surrounding them cried out in assent to these statements, shaking fists and waving swords at the two figures clinging to the altar.

The beardless one began stammering a reply, pointing a finger at Michael. “It was him—I couldn’t stop him. I tried to but he would’ve killed me.” He gibbered on, lapsing into incoherent sobbing excuses for what had happened.

The one who had been emperor gaped at his uncle’s efforts to absolve himself from any blame. He started to speak, looked around at the crowd and thought better of what he had planned to say, then began again.

“It is true, I sinned against my kind mother, the empress.” Michael stopped and gulped hard, looking around to gauge the impact the admission had on his listeners. “But I’ve repented and taken the holy vows and tonsure, as I deserve for my wickedness. My kind mother has told me she forgives me. Please, please have mercy.” With that, he bent his face to the altar and rested his cheek against it, almost daring the mob to pull him off.

The rabble was slowed by this speech of repentance, but not stopped. The anger and outrage throbbed through the air, thirsting for blood. A few men with spears jabbed their weapons at the two, sometimes pricking the skin and rousing the crowd to greater frenzy as bloody cuts appeared. I heard one woman call out to finish them off.

Suddenly, two soldiers entered with about twenty of the Varangian guards. I recognized among the Varangians the tall blonde guard called Harold who three years earlier had escorted my family to our ship and exile. Grandfather whispered that one of the men was Constantine Cabasilas, the one who had gone to bring Zoe’s sister, Theodora, back from her convent.

In the fading light I tried to see who the other man with the Varangians was. His shape looked familiar when I realized with a shock that it was John Comnenus.

Cabasilas ordered Michael and his uncle to leave with him, that the new empress Theodora had ordered it, Zoe conveniently forgotten for the moment. All eyes were on the sobbing men gripping the altar, and I moved out into the little remaining light in the church that came through the windows. John had been speaking to some of the Varangians when my movement caught his attention and he saw me, eyes widening in disbelief. Grandmother pulled me back into the shadows.

“Didn’t you see him? That’s John down there with the soldiers,” I whispered urgently to her.

“I don’t care who it is, we need to stay hidden until this mob is gone,” her voice edgy at my recklessness.

Michael and his uncle were steadfastly refusing to leave the altar, but none were ready yet to physically remove them from it.

Cabasilas tried another way to remove them willingly from the church, but I think he was lying when he spoke.

“I swear by the Holy Relics of the holy St. John of this Church, and by the Theotokos, that you, Michael, and you, Constantine, will come to no harm, by order of the Empress Theodora. But you must leave with me now,” he concluded.

It did no good; they still refused to be moved from their sanctuary. At that, Cabasilas lost all patience. He nodded at the leaders of the mob. The two men were pulled from the altar and dragged, screaming desperately, out to the street in their new monk’s robes, sick fear in their cries.

I turned to Grandmother, shaking at what I had witnessed. Her pale face was as shocked as mine. The church grew quieter as the crowds surged through the doors back to the open area outside. Almost without realizing it, we were drawn like iron filings to a magnet, turning to look through the windows at the front of the church down at the scene below.

The mob poked and taunted Michael and his uncle, making ribald jokes about the old eunuch, nicking them with their swords, spinning them around until they fell, weak kneed and dizzy, into a heap. Damp spots on their robes showed the fear they felt. Suddenly a beefy man appeared carrying a brazier with several pokers sticking out of it.

“Phillip, welcome, we have been waiting for you so this party can begin,” Cabasilas said with sick humor.

It seemed Michael’s uncle recognized the man before Michael did, and let out a horrified moan before falling into an unnatural silence, resigned to his fate. Michael took a few more seconds before he, too, realized the inevitable. Yet he, instead of accepting the punishment as his uncle did, fought frantically, if unsuccessfully, against it. Several men took pleasure in restraining him with the occasional fist.

Phillip came up to the men with his instruments at the ready, the crowd closing in on them. The view from our vantage point was crystal clear.

Suddenly I heard the eunuch speak, “You there,” to Cabasilas, “make the people stand back, so all can see how bravely I bear my punishment?”

Cabasilas looked over the crowd before nodding and people spread back in anticipation of the gory show. The old uncle looked in vain for mercy, before lying down on the cold stones, ready for Phillip’s hot irons. Phillip started to bind his victim’s arms but Constantine stopped him.

“If you see me flinch, then nail me down. Until then, leave me as I am.”

With a shrug, Phillip took up the first of his hot pokers, touching close to first one eye of the man, and then the other. Constantine took his punishment bravely, not moving or screaming at all, despite the agony he must have felt. Michael, seeing his uncle’s now blind face, began wailing and struggling more. The grinning soldiers forced him to the ground and bound him more tightly. Still he writhed, trying to escape punishment, forcing more men to grab and hold him down. It was not long, though, before he shrieked like a wounded animal from the first wound.

Voices in the crowd muttered, “Got what he deserved,” and “Piece of horse shit,” and “Dug up your bones.” Most approved what happened, but a few of the women fell back in shock.

Still they were not finished. Another anguished scream rose from the man who had been emperor, as the poker pierced his other eye. I stood mesmerized until the mob’s cheering broke the spell, and I turned around. Someone put his arms around me as Michael’s anguished cries echoed in the square.

The ghastly job completed, the mob dissipated like a morning mist on the Marmara. It had had its fill of blood and laughed in satisfaction at their accomplishments. Monks emerged from the monastery to tend the two blind men in the street, leading them to its infirmary to bind up their wounds.

I finally looked up and realized it was not Grandfather’s arms around me as I had thought, but John’s. I leaned against him in relief, wiping my tears on his shirt.

About the Author

I was born in Fort Worth, Texas, but after a peripatetic childhood ended up in the Washington, DC area, where I attended college, married, worked a day job in finance, and raised three children.

My first book, Tales of Byzantium, contains short stories taking place in the middle years of the Byzantine Empire. My second book and first novel, Imperial Passions – The Porta Aurea, introduces Anna Dalassena, the extraordinary mother of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Comnenus, and an unstoppable force in her time.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 19
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, November 21
Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, November 22
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, November 23
Review & Excerpt at Locks, Hooks and Books

Monday, November 26
Feature at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, November 27
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, November 28
Excerpt at Tea Book Blanket

Thursday, November 29
Review at Passages to the Past

Monday, December 3
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, December 4
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 6
Excerpt at Introvert Booklover

Friday, December 7
Feature at Jathan & Heather
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, December 10
Review at Bookramblings

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a beautiful Byzantine-style Sterling Silver Bracelet! To enter, please see the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Imperial Passions

Enjoy a Christmas Historical Romance with A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews – Giveaway!

A Holiday by Gaslight
by Mimi Matthews

Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Perfectly Proper Press
eBook & Paperback; 172 Pages

Genre: Historical Romance/Christmas/Novella

 

 

A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion–or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.

Available on Amazon

Praise for A Holiday by Gaslight

“Matthews includes all the required elements of a cozy English Christmas and a classic Victorian love story. Matthewsí novella is full of comfort and joyóa sweet treat for romance readers thatís just in time for Christmas. A very merry tale of romance thatís perfect for the holiday season.” -Kirkus Reviews

“Matthews (The Matrimonial Advertisement) pays homage to Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South with her admirable portrayal of the Victorian era’s historic advancements in addition to courtship struggles arising from societal castes. Revealed incrementally throughout are family circumstances molding the characters of both Sophie and Ned, allowing their genuine identities to evolve naturally, just like their sincere and sweet romance…Readers will easily fall for Sophie and Ned in their gaslit surroundings.” -Library Journal, starred review

“A Holiday by Gaslight is a real delight. Completely satisfying as a graceful love story, it also doubles as a family drama and an authentic presentation of the 1860s that reads with the simplicity and visual gusto of a period movie…It’s a sweet tale filled with believable characters…Fun to read and fun to read again, this book is one of my favorites now.” -Readers’ Favorite

“This is magical, it beautifully entwines a gorgeous Victorian Christmas, social prejudices of the era and the most marvellously different cast of characters that you would ever want in a historical romance…[A] wonderfully charming and vividly rich romance, that will have the readers swooning with absolute delight. Perfect!” -Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

“A perfect holiday treat for Victorian-loving romantics. Sophie and Ned’s sweet romance is sure to steal your heart.” -Lena Goldfinch, bestselling author of The Unexpected Bride

“This is the epitome of what historical romance is all about. Like all of Mimi Matthews’ books, her characters are full-bodied and evenly matched; the details are historically accurate, coloring the pages with vibrancy. Sure to warm your heart–perfect read for the holiday season!” -Christina Boyd, The Quill Ink

About the Author

Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Ladyís Guide to Fashion and Beauty, The Lost Letter) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.

For more information, please visit Mimi Matthewsí†website†and†blog. You can also connect with her on†Facebook,†Twitter,†BookBub,†Pinterest,†Google+, and†Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, November 13
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Wednesday, November 14
Review at Proverbial Reads
Feature at Tea Book Blanket
Feature at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Friday, November 16
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads
Feature at View from the Birdhouse

Monday, November 19
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 20
Review at A Darn Good Read
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All

Wednesday, November 21
Review at Amy’s Booket List

Friday, November 23
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, November 26
Review at Jennifer Tar Heel Reader

Wednesday, November 28
Review at Donna’s Book Blog

Friday, November 30
Review at The Lit Bitch

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of A Holiday By Gaslight! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Giveaway is open to US residents only.
Only one entry per household.
All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Holiday By Gaslight

Jaws of the Wolf by Charlotte Jardine – Excerpt and Giveaway!

Jaws of the Wolf
Charlotte Jardine
(The Visigoth Chronicles, #1)
Publication date: October 30th 2018
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult

He’s her father’s slave. She’s promised to another. But war changes everything.

Tervingi Territory, 376 AD. Gelvira dreams of becoming a powerful jeweler. But the arrogant son of a tribal elder wants her for a wife instead. After a Hun raid sends her people into exile, her chance to master the ancient secrets of her craft are stripped away…

Adafuns yearns to become a great warrior and win Gelvira’s affection. But as a slave in her father’s service, he has little chance of either. Captured and carried off by the Huns, Adafuns’ dream of being a warrior could come true… at the cost of losing Gelvira forever.

With her people starving, marrying the tribal elder’s spoiled son may be Gelvira’s only hope to save her family. Will Adafuns reunite with the exiles in time to free Gelvira from her loathsome vows?

Jaws of the Wolf is the exciting first novel in the epic Visigoth Chronicles series of YA adventures. If you like strong heroines, thrilling action, and rich historical detail, you’ll love Charlotte Jardine’s page-turning saga.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

After the meeting broke up, Gelvira sat by the fire, mulling over everything she’d heard. The wood creaked as someone sat beside her. Their reiks’ son, Widin. She scowled. She wasn’t in the mood to talk to him. Not after the way he’d treated Pa.

“It must be a lot to take in,” Widin said. “Most of the men will be riding to war. Sorry, not to war. To rebuild old Roman fortifications.” His face darkened and he compressed his lips.

“Did you come to Erdeu to round up warriors in Lord Angmar’s name?” Gelvira asked.

He smiled. “Also to see you.”

She glanced around. Praise the Great Mother, Ma hadn’t heard. She’d be planning their wedding feast.

Widin motioned toward her amulet. “This is new. Did you make it?”

She nodded. “After the raid. I worked on it in the evenings, to take my mind off the Huns.” There was no way she’d tell him its purpose.

He traced the outline of the wolf. “I would have thought flowers or birds more appropriate for a maiden?”

A shiver ran through her. A wrongness. Then heat flared from the metal.

Widin snatched his hand back. “It … burnt me. Was it made using the Becoming One?”

“Yes,” she replied, head spinning with excitement. Had her amulet really done that?

He scowled. “Our people are under attack. You shouldn’t be wasting your time making baubles.”

“It’s a practice piece,” she replied, biting down on her anger. “Master Raginmar used it to teach me the rudiments of the Becoming One.”

“Ah, I see.” Widin’s black look faded. “You must make me something useful, once you’ve mastered the art. I’ll need the gods’ aid far more than you, safe behind your palisade.” He wound his fingers through hers and pulled them against his chest.

Ma noticed the gesture, and beamed.

“If it wasn’t for the Huns, I’d marry you before summer’s end,” he said, leaning close so his breath brushed her skin. “My father would prefer I took a wife who brings more political advantage. He doesn’t see it, but you’ve much in your favour: you’re well born, brave, and quite lovely to look at. And your jewellery will bring me renown, now you’re learning the Becoming One.”

“You honour me,” Gelvira replied, lowering her eyes so he couldn’t see her dismay. Marry him after the way he’d behaved? She couldn’t bear the thought. “As you said, you’re a warrior. You must deal with the raiders first. At times like these, marriage must wait.”

For one terrible moment, she felt almost grateful to the Huns.

Author Bio:

Charlotte Jardine writes Historical Fiction, Contemporary Romance and Romantic Adventure. Her books feature courageous heroines, big-hearted heroes, adventure and love.

Her love of history came from reading the adventures of Asterix and Tintin at a young age and continued into adult life, when she studied Classics and Roman History to postgraduate level at university.

While working as a desk slave by day, she spends her evenings escaping into other worlds via her writing.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook

GIVEAWAY!

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A Different Kind of Fire by Suanne Schafer – Giveaway and Blog Tour

A Different Kind of Fire
by Suanne Schafer

Publication Date: November 1, 2018
Waldorf Publishing
Paperback & AudioBook

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

Ruby Schmidt has the talent, the drive, even the guts to enroll in art school, leaving behind her childhood home and the beau she always expected to marry. Her life at the Academy seems heavenly at first, but she soon learns that societal norms in the East are as restrictive as those back home in West Texas. Rebelling against the insipid imagery woman are expected to produce, Ruby embraces bohemian life. Her burgeoning sexuality drives her into a life-long love affair with another woman and into the arms of an Italian baron. With the Panic of 1893, the nation spirals into a depression, and Ruby’s career takes a similar downward trajectory. After thinking she could have it all, Ruby, now pregnant and broke, returns to Texas rather than join the queues at the neighborhood soup kitchen. She discovers her life back home is as challenging as that in Philadelphia.

A Different Kind of Fire depicts one woman’s battle to balance husband, family, career, and ambition. Torn between her childhood sweetheart, her forbidden passion for another woman, the nobleman she had to marry, and becoming a renowned painter, Ruby’s choices mold her in ways she could never have foreseen.

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | BookBub | Waldorf Publishing

Praise

“Writer Suanne Schafer spins a unique tale of a turn of the 19th century Texas heroine and her way of artistic expression. Her paintings shock her contemporaries and the love she’s drawn to shocks herself. A Different Kind of Fire depicts the journey of a determined woman to meet life on her own terms.” –Pamela Morsi, USAToday Bestselling Author of 26 books including The Cotton Queen and Bitsy’s Bait & BBQ

“If you love historical novels about women who throw off the shackles of feminine convention, then this book is for you. In spare but sensuous prose reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy and E. Annie Proulx, Schafer brings Ruby Schmidt to life–a woman who doesn’t belong in the late nineteenth century but gradually finds her place in the twentieth. You can’t help but root for Ruby as she grows from Texas farm girl, to a freethinker and lover of men and women in Philadelphia, and finally into a consummate artist. This is a powerful and deeply satisfying read.” –Helena Echlin, co-author of Sparked and author of Gone

“An exceptional first novel. Schafer has woven a cohesive tale from disparate elements–a stark life in the rugged countryside of 1890s Texas vs the gentility of an arts academy in the East; a traditional marriage and motherhood vs a secret and haunting sexuality. Unequivocally recommended!” –Michael R. Hardesty, Author of Amazon Best Seller, The Grace of the Ginkgo

“With rare artistry, Schafer paints a life both creative and cursed in A Different Kind of Fire.–Willa Blair, Award-winning Amazon and Barnes & Noble #1 bestselling author of His Highland Love, Highland Troth, Highland Seer, and ten other books

“The saga of a young woman determined to follow her dream, whatever obstacles cross her path.” –MJ Fredrick, author of A Texas Kind of Love, Smitten in a Small Town, and twenty-five other books, a two-time Epic Awards winner and a four-time RWA Golden Heart finalist

Suanne Schafer’s A Different Kind of Fire is a powerful story of a Gilded Age artist who brooks convention both in her art and her love. Read this book: It has both the depth of emotion of a modernist novel and the epic scope of a historical saga.–Alicia Rasley, author of The Year She Fell, an Amazon bestseller

“I absolutely LOVED A Different Kind of Fire. Suanne Schafer is a passionate writer with a gift to transport the reader back to the 1800’s. With her book in one hand and my iPad in the other, I learned so much about artists and their work. Ms. Schafer’s words are so visual, I actually watched the story play out with every riveting page I turned. Fantastic character development. There was no stone left unturned. “A Different Kind of Fire” gets a standing ovation and five stars from me. Five stars.” –Tracy Stopler, Award-winning author of The Ropes That Bind

“I was amazed by Suanne Schafer’s poetic and laconic turns of phrase. She has the gift of being simultaneously ornate and succinct, which is no easy task.” –Joshua Mohr, Author Sirens, All This Life, Fight Song, Damascus, Termite Parade, Somethings That Meant the World to Me

“Told in a rich, sensual, style, A Different Kind of Fire is a book about reconciling the irreconcilable. It is a book about boundaries: the dilemmas they place upon those would dare rise above them. The book is also a study in contrasts rather than a polemical treatise. Is Ruby a heroine or a victim?–a free spirit or a narcissist? These questions are ultimately left to the reader to decide.” –James Hanna, Author of The Siege, Call Me Pomeroy, and A Second, Less Head and Other Rogue Stories.

“Suanne Schafer’s A Different Kind of Fire tackles the sensitive subject of bisexuality in 19th century America with grace, compassion, and empathy through fully developed characters in a story readers will cherish long after the book ends.” –C.S. Fuqua, author of Walking after Midnight ~ Collected Stories

“An evocative and compelling story of a Texas-bred ranch girl-to-woman straddling the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and her conflicting and sometimes illicit desires for her art, her lovers and the freedoms some women were just beginning to glimpse. Ferberesque in scope, A Different Kind of Fire harbors the twists and turns of a thriller and the braided threads of explosive affairs that cannot possibly coexist. Schafer’s marvelous book exudes undiminished spirit in the face of terrible loss.” –Guinotte Wise, author of Night Train, Cold Beer, winner of H. Palmer Hall Award

“Insightful, loving, and endearing, A Different Kind of Fire, will draw you in and keep you spellbound. Suanne Schafer weaves Ruby Schmidt’s journey from love in rural Texas to art school in sophisticated 1890s Philadelphia. Ruby’s struggles and triumphs over 100 years ago ring true to the challenges still faced by 21st century women.” –Kristine Mietzner, Founder, The Women Veterans Writing Workshop of California

About the Author

Suanne Schafer, born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War, finds it ironic that grade school drills for tornadoes and nuclear war were the same: hide beneath your desk and kiss your rear-end goodbye. Now a retired family-practice physician whose only child has fledged the nest, her pioneer ancestors and world travels fuel her imagination. She originally planned to write romances, but either as a consequence of a series of failed relationships or a genetic distrust of happily ever-after, her heroines are strong women who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them.

Suanne completed the Stanford University Creative Writing Certificate program. Her short works have been featured in print and on-line magazines and anthologies. Her debut women’s fiction novel, A Different Kind of Fire, explores the life of Ruby Schmidt, a nineteenth century artist who escapes—and returns—to West Texas. Suanne’s next book explores the heartbreak and healing of an American physician caught up in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, October 29
Book Nerd
Creating Herstory
A Chick Who Reads
Passages to the Past
The Reading Woman

Tuesday, October 30
Jathan & Heather
CelticLady’s Reviews
The Book Junkie Reads
Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Historical Fiction with Spirit
So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, October 31
A Book Geek
Umut Reviews
100 Pages a Day
Just One More Chapter
What Is That Book About

Thursday, November 1
Tea Book Blanket
Amy’s Booket List
Donna’s Book Blog
Clarissa Reads it All
What Cathy Read Next

Friday, November 2
The Writing Desk
Puddletown Reviews
Hoover Book Reviews
Locks, Hooks and Books

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away A Fiery Bookish Prize Pack, including a literary scarf, beaded velvet bookmark, a copy of A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE & $10 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to readers in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do You Enjoy Vikings and Historical Fiction? Read an Excerpt from the War King by Eric Schumacher. Giveaway!

War King
by Eric Schumacher

Publication Date: October 15, 2018
Creativia Publishing
eBook; 279 Pages
ASIN: B07GT3DB13

Series: Hakon’s Saga, Book 3
Genre: Historical Fiction/Vikings

 

 

It is 954 A.D. and a tempest is brewing in the North. Twenty summers before, Hakon Haraldsson wrested Norwayís throne from his murderous brother, Erik Bloodaxe, but he failed to rid himself of Erikís family. Now the sons of Erik have come to reclaim Erikís realm and avenge the wrong done to their father and their kin.

They do not come alone. With them marches an army of sword-Danes sent by the Danish King, Harald Bluetooth, whose desire to expand his realm is as powerful as the lust for vengeance that pulses in the veins of Erikís brood.

Like storm-driven waves, the opposing forces collide in War King, the action-packed sequel to Godís Hammer and Ravenís Feast.

Available at Amazon

Praise for the Hakon’s Saga

“I was swept up in the action and enthralled by the descriptions of Hakonís struggle.” -Roundtable Reviews

“I highly recommend this historical fiction novel, both for its entertaining story and historical information.” -Historical Fiction Review-

“A story of war, family, sacrifice, honor … one that keeps your blood pumping and your fingers turning pages rapidly. I can’t wait to dig into the next.” -Goodreads Review

Excerpt

Slowly, he slid from under the bearskin and sat on the edge of his bed. As he worked the stiffness from his muscles, he became aware of the sounds and smells of early morning: the faint scent of beeswax candles that had long since surrendered to the night air; the stale stench of the previous night’s feast; the snores of his hirdmen in the great hall; the fragrance of his mistress Gyda, who lay curled under the bearskin beside him.

He pulled on his clothes, then crept from the room, past his slumbering warriors, and out into the receding darkness. The night sentries mumbled a greeting to their lord as Hakon passed through the north gate of the palisade surrounding his hall and worked his way down a well-worn path to one of two burial mounds that sat like warts on the top of the nearby hill. No one knew for sure who was buried in the mounds, though the skalds liked to say they covered the remains of the first owner of the estate — a king named Augvald — and his son.

Winter had not yet released its purchase on the land, and the frost-covered grass glistened and crunched as Hakon climbed the mound and sat on its crest. He gazed out at the waking world with eyes that watered from the air’s chill. Below him, the waters of the bay quivered in the gentle breeze and lapped against the two warships tied to his dock. Beyond the bay, the Karmsund Strait stretched north and south toward the sea like a dark vein. And beyond the water, east, stretched the rolling hills and valleys and waterways of Rogaland, the fylke to which Hakon’s estate at Avaldsnes belonged. It was only a fraction of the realm he controlled — a realm that now reached from the snow-mantled fylke of Halogaland far to the north, to the rocky tip of Agder in the south, to the forested border of the Uplands far to the east. All of it was under his control or the control of his oath-sworn jarls, and most of those were his kin.

He rewarded the jarls richly for their fealty and in exchange, they fought vigorously to keep peace in the realm. But peace was never constant so long as men sought fame and silver and land. It mattered not that Hakon had restored trust in the laws that his brother Erik had spurned or that, in recent years, he had built a system for coastal defenses to protect his people. Raiders still came to his shores. Men still stole and murdered each other. And feuds raged on. It was the way of things, he knew. Yet the strife left in its wake an older king with streaks of gray in his sandy hair, scars on his body, and lines of worry etched on his face.

Time brought with it more than just physical strife. It brought hard memories of people and places that cut just as deeply as any blade. Memories such as Hakon’s childhood love, Aelfwin, who long ago had sacrificed herself for the sake of Hakon’s army. Memories of his long dead foster-father, King Athelstan, who had raised him as a Christian in Engla-lond and was the first to plant the seeds of kingship and legacy in Hakon’s youthful mind. Memories of his kinsman and counselor, Jarl Tore the Silent, with his damaged throat and his big heart that had just stopped beating in his chest not one moon before. A man whose life he would soon celebrate on the northern island of Frei. Memories of his half-brother Erik, with his wild orange curls and mighty axe and brood of sons — sons who even now terrorized the Northern seas, gaining wealth and power and men, and who would eventually bring their death to Hakon’s realm in full force. Hakon wiped the sleep from his face with a calloused hand and the memories vanished.

A tempest was brewing. Hakon could feel it in his bones, and in his gut, and in the ravens that landed each morning for the past month on the burial mounds where he now sat. Ravens were the messengers of Odin, who brought the news of the world to the Alfather’s ears. Though Hakon clung to a different faith, he had lived long enough to know that the earth held its own secrets and that something was amiss — something beyond his control. Something greater than winter’s thaw and spring’s bloom. The elders, who for decades had held the North in balance, were dying; the young and the brash were gaining strength. Old. Young. Order. Chaos. Like storm-driven currents, the opposing forces were colliding, and when they did, Hakon would have no choice but to face the tempest and resist.

About the Author

Eric Schumacher was born in Los Angeles in 1968 and currently resides in Santa Barbara, CA with his wife, two children and dog. He is the author of two historical fiction novels, Godís Hammer and its sequel, Ravenís Feast. Both tell the story of the first Christian king of Viking Norway, Hakon Haraldsson, and his struggles to gain and hold the High Seat of his realm.

More information on Eric and his Hakon Sagas can be found on his†website. You can also connect with Eric on†Twitter,†Facebook,†Goodreads, and†AuthorsDB.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 15
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, October 16
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Wednesday, October 17
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Friday, October 19
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, October 22
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, October 24
Excerpt at Tea Book Blanket

Thursday, October 25
Interview at Maiden of the Pages

Monday, October 29
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

Wednesday, October 31
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, November 2
Feature at Donna’s Book Blog

Tuesday, November 6
Review at The Coffee Pot Book Club

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away ten copies of War King (ebooks and paperbacks)! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open to readers in North America and Western Europe.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen

War King Launch Giveaway

Are you talking about War King on social media? Then use these tags!

#WarKing #EricSchumacher #BlogTour #Vikings

#HistFic #HFVBTBlogTours #HistoricalFiction

The Knight’s Scarred Maiden (Lovers and Legends Series) by Nicole Locke

Knight's Scarred Maiden, The - Nicole Locke

From the publisher…

A maiden for the mercenary

Mercenary knight Rhain is living on borrowed time. With a vengeful warlord pursuing him, he has accepted his fate—though first he must get his men to safety.

When he rescues mysterious and deeply scarred Helissent from her attackers, Rhain soon wishes he wasn’t marked for death. He can never be the man she deserves—his scandalous lineage alone dictates that—but Rhain can’t resist the temptation to show this innocent maiden how beautiful she truly is…

Lovers and Legends A clash of Celtic passions

Gina’s thoughts…

I fell in love with Helissent and Rhain immediately and then I couldn’t help but root for them throughout the whole book.

Both characters are filled with self-hate from their flaws but are both so lovable, loyal, and courageous. They both fail to see the goodness in themselves but at least they can see that goodness in the other.

The plot is never slow and the secondary characters are quite lovable as well – even if they are mercenaries! I also loved the dialogue, especially whenever Helissent tried to use baking as a metaphor.

My only critique is that I was left a bit wanting towards the end. It felt like the end was wrapped up a little too quickly, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless.

I am now hooked on Nicole Locke and intend to read every book in her “Lovers and Legends” series. If you like medieval romance, this will be a perfect read for you.
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

More reviews from around the book blogosphere…

Have you read The Knight’s Scarred Maiden? Please feel free to post a link to your review in the comments!