I'm getting close to wrapping up Book 2 in the Norsemen Sagas, Norseman's Deception. As with every other book I've written, this one had its share of fun days and really trying days. Mostly fun, but the trying part arose from the fact that the main characters, Thora Korisdotter and Ari Hugisson, spend a significant part of the book alone. As you can guess from the title, Ari has quite a few secrets he's keeping from Thora, and making the story compelling without revealing all too soon is a bit tricky. Thanks to my awesome critique partners, I got myself out of those tight spots and was able, I think, to make the characters' journey, both literal and figurative, realistic and believable. For the most part.
For those of you who read Norseman's Revenge, Thora will be familiar to you, and though she's grown quite a bit since that book, she's the same headstrong and stubborn young woman who doesn't like to show any vulnerability. Of course, Ari has a way of making her feel more vulnerable than ever, and it doesn't hurt that he's smoking hot. So I thought I'd share a little sneak peek of Norseman's Deception, as well as the cover. I expect to have it available for pre-order sometime in the next few weeks and will share that info as soon as it's available.
Anyway, here's the preliminary blurb and a taste of Thora and Ari's story – enjoy!
He saved her Life – Can The Gods save her Heart and Soul from the mysterious loner's Dark Desires?
Fearing an arranged marriage, Thora Korisdotter flees her village, vowing never to return home. With her two pet wolves beside her, she is confident in her safety, and protected by the loyal animals. But when outlaws attack, wounding one of her beloved pets, she is thankful for the mysterious stranger who arrives just in time to save her. Now in his debt, she must repay him as he asks – with her body.
Ari Hugisson has wandered for years after being cast out of his clan as an outlaw. The time of his banishment is nearing its end, and Ari has the proof he needs to clear his name and unmask the real murderer – his brother. But when he comes across a beautiful woman under attack, he is compelled to step in and save her. He knows just the way to make her repay her debt, with the passion he senses lurking just under the surface of her fiery nature.
When Thora learns Ari has lied to her and knows well the man she was to wed – his brother – the betrayal cuts deep and she determines to leave him at the first opportunity. But the passion he stirs is unlike anything she has ever known, even if he sometimes insists on treating her as little more than a slave. When he confronts those who would see him killed, will she stand beside him and defend him, even at the risk of losing her family?
And the cover - and yep, I made this one myself too!
Here's that sneak peek – Thora is in debt to Ari since he's saved her life and they are trying to come to an agreement as to how she will repay that debt:
"We must discuss your debt."
Ari's words hung ominously between them. Thora gulped, her mouth dry as sand.
"You saved me, and Kata as well."
He nodded, but said nothing.
"I have no coin to repay you, but perhaps we can reach an agreement."
"Perhaps. What can you offer?"
"Well, I am not traveling to The Thing, as you are, but I can give you some of my provisions. Do you have any clothing that needs repair?" She nodded to his horse. "I am also quite skilled at –"
"I was thinking of a different kind of service you can provide."
Thora bit her lip, refusing to voice the question to which she already had the answer. His rescue would cost her dearly, it would seem.
"Do you know what I am asking, Thora?"
His gaze continued to bore into her, and her heart thudded against her ribs. She knew, she was no fool, but wasn't sure she wanted to admit it. She'd not given much thought to laying with a man before, had never been drawn to any man enough to want to. But she was drawn to this one and the realization she half-wanted to agree to his demand frightened her.
She hesitated. "Surely there is something else you will take in payment."
He shook his head. "I don't want anything else."
His words sucked the air from her lungs. "And if I refuse?"
He shrugged. "I can take what I want."
"You would rape me? Then why did you waste your time saving me?"
Again, he shook his head. "It won't be rape. You'll want it."
She forced a brittle laugh. "You are very sure of yourself."
He grinned. "I am."
"I will sic Kati on you."
He threw his head back, his laughter echoing around them. "He is more concerned with his mate."
Ari nodded toward the wolves. Thora turned, dismayed that Kati did indeed appear to be ignoring them. But as if sensing her gaze upon him, the wolf looked at her, then at Ari, before resuming his protective position beside Kata. Thora frowned. Still, she had no doubt that if Ari laid a hand on her and she screamed, Kati would come to her defense.
She faced Ari once more. Again, the force of his desire, for there was no longer any doubt that’s what she read in his stare now, started that fluttery feeling in her belly. His gaze roamed lower, lingering on her breasts, sparking a tingling sensation that tightened her nipples. She inhaled sharply, fingers clenching at her sides. A strange weakness swept over her.
"You want it, too."
The husky timbre of his voice spurred another flash of heat between her legs. The unfamiliar sensation wreaked havoc in the jumble of her thoughts, and she found herself staring hard at his lips. A half-smile curved his mouth and he inched closer. Barely aware of his hand moving toward her, she remained motionless, still captivated by his mouth. He drew her close, taking her lips with near-bruising force, and the little moan hovering near the top of her throat escaped.
Fire washed over her, the blood scorching in her veins. His mouth moved slowly, deepening the kiss further, his tongue brushing against her lips. Startled, she gasped and he swept deep inside, leaving her head spinning. Her hands moved of their own accord, sliding to his shoulders, tightening against the muscle there, as if she could steady herself against the turbulent tide of yearning that left her bewildered and breathless.
The rumble of his muted laugh vibrated through her and she found herself hauled against him, her body pressed tightly to his. Her fingers slid into his hair, the velvet of the strands rousing more of the wicked sensations assailing her. And still his mouth devoured hers. Her response strengthened and she dueled his tongue, forgetting where they were. Nothing mattered anymore, nothing but this passion he'd sparked. She wanted more.
He drew away, leaving her bereft, and breathing as heavily as he. Long fingers slid along her cheek to her throat and she arched her head back, silently urging him to continue. He chuckled, the sound jolting her from her reverie.
"You see? You want it as much as I."
She said nothing, couldn't deny the truth, even as she wanted to slap the smug smile from his face.
"Give yourself to me. Come with me to The Thing."