Friday, September 23, 2016

Happy First Birthday, Norseman's Revenge!

One year ago today, I began my journey into self-publishing. It's been a very interesting year - some mistakes were made, and lots of information was embedded into my brain. I didn't know then how much my writing/publishing career would change, unexpected opportunities came up shortly after I started out and I was glad to have the chance to seize upon those. It's been a rather chaotic year, but it's been well worth the ride. And I'm still on  it - I learn something new every day.

Anyway, today marks the first "birthday" for Norseman's Revenge! To celebrate, the book has been graced with a gorgeous new cover, by my favorite cover artist, Winter Bayne. It has also been marked down to .99 for a very limited time.

This tale, set in 9th century Scandinavia, is the first in The Norsemen Sagas. The idea for this book came to me several years ago, and I began to craft Geira and Kori's story right around the same time History Channel's "Viking" series began. I'll admit, certain factors from "Vikings" did inspire and influence me, though I found it more often sent me on a search for more information. I learned a lot about the Scandinavian people, and they weren't as barbaric as many think. In fact, they were actually quite civilized, most of the time. But when they raided, or went a-viking, as they called it, they were ruthless in their tactics, giving them their much-deserved terrifying reputation.

Another thing that many people don't know is that in Scandinavian society, women had more rights and were seen more as equals to men, in contrast to a lot of other civilizations of the time. Thanks to "Vikings," many people are familiar with Lagertha, a shield-maiden who becomes a jarl in her own right. A shield-maiden is a female warrior and can be just as ruthless and brutal in battle as her male counterparts. Even so, women did still tend the "traditional" chores and tasks of caring for the home and family. They shared the farming or fishing duties with the rest of the family. They pretty much did it all. Personally, I think that shows what incredible strength Scandinavian women had – and maybe puts them more on a par with today's women – I think of them as Dark Ages working moms. Then again, it could also be a very heartbreaking time to live in. As Vikings has portrayed, mortality rates were much higher back then, particularly for children. Like any period in history, people tended to have larger families, in the hopes that at least some of the children would survive until adulthood. Surviving the loss of one child seems an insurmountable mountain to get over, losing more than one would break many people. Yet, these women did survive and continued to build their families, well aware of all the risks. They carried the sorrow of their losses throughout their lives, but they lived in a time where death lurked everywhere. Then again, back then a sneeze could raise the worries of a possible outbreak of disease, while now we pop a couple of cold meds and go on our way. 

But the Scandinavian people did not fear death the same way other cultures and societies did (and do). The warriors welcomed the chance to go to Valhalla and party with the gods. They entered battle with the hopes of winning, and if not, then dying bravely so the Valkyries would carry them away. The women also went to Valhalla, though unlike the warriors and shield-maidens, different reasons and acts got them in. Their version of heaven.

I think of Geira, the heroine in Norseman's Revenge, as a very strong woman, though she is no shield-maiden. Her instincts guide her in many ways – they have to, she's been stolen away from her family on her wedding night and claimed as the slave of her husband's enemy. Geira recognized early on that her husband was no prize, and finds her abductor to be more honorable, even if he can be quite cruel.

Kori also realizes Geira's strength. He knows that truthfully, she is innocent of the crimes that have sent him on his quest for vengeance, but his honor demands that he treat her as a slave. But he soon grows to admire her courage, her intelligence, and of course, her passion. Wouldn't be a sexy romance without that, now would it? :D

So, here's the big reveal, the gorgeous new cover:

And the blurb and the links to purchase the book:

* Kidnapped on her wedding night might be a blessing from the gods. *

Geira Sorensdotter awaits her new husband, but she's filled with doubts about the man and the marriage. Those doubts are forgotten when the village is attacked, her husband is struck down and she is tied up and carried off amidst the raid.

Kori Thorfinnson has waited years to take revenge against the man who murdered his wife. But he soon finds the innocent young woman he's taken as his personal slave is not his enemy, despite her marriage to his foe. Her courage in defying him, her caring heart, and the fiery passion she shares stirs feelings Kori hasn't known since his wife died. Afraid to lose Geira, he binds her to him in many ways – not only with rope, but with his body, his collar and his brand.

Geira quickly learns just how despicable her husband was, and despite her difficult circumstances, grows to care deeply for Kori, her captor. Still, dreams of freedom linger. But once she finds herself with child, she must plan her escape, to save herself and her baby.
However, Kori has plans of his own.
** Contains explicit love scenes featuring A Kinky Twist on History! bondage, spanking, ménage à trois scenes and more!

And lastly, an excerpt to whet your appetite for this lusty tale of domination – it's Geira's wedding night:

He stood beside the bed, the comments and laughter continuing. Somehow the noise faded, drowned by her thudding heart. Einnar held her stare, lust clear in his gaze. He leaned over and pressed a chaste kiss to her lips, amid more howls and whistles. She silently willed him to hurry, to remove her crown so the others would leave.

Instead, he continued to kiss her, the warm pressure of his lips calming her agitation. When he drew away, she found her fear had receded. Maybe her worries had been for naught. He stared at her for several moments then smiled

"I now claim you in body as well as spirit." He reached up and gently removed the crown of branches and flowers. He set it aside and leaned close, running his fingers through her unbound hair. Another kiss stirred warm sensations in her belly and she found herself responding. This she could endure.

Einnar eased away and looked behind him. "We are alone now."

She peered over his shoulder and saw everyone had indeed left. A wave of relief came over her and she sighed. While some clans still insisted on having witnesses to the deflowering, she hated that idea and was glad his people didn't adhere to the old custom.

He sat beside her and reached for the pitcher on the table next to the bed. He poured the mead into a wooden cup and handed it to her.

"Drink, you'll be calmer."

That he showed concern now further perplexed her. The charming flirt he sometimes appeared to be made her curious. She peered closely into his face, finding only a troubling arrogance and expectation. Accepting the goblet, she took a large swallow. When she returned the cup, he did the same, then moved to climb under the blanket with her. His warm body pressed against her. Worry churned in her gut.

"Geira, look at me."

She lifted her head, slowly, half-afraid at what she might find. Concern and tenderness softened his expression, though a strange gleam kept her worries roused. The knot in her gut tightened.

"I thank Freyr for his blessings. He clearly found my sacrifice worthy."

Geira recalled the gathering and spraying of the boar's blood. Her husband had shown great skill in the ceremony. The ease of the sacrifice assured a fertile marriage. Still, doubts about the joy to be found in the union lingered.

A gentle caress of her shoulder didn't stir further fear. It didn't stir anything. Her earlier yearning returned with force. Why didn't her husband inspire the passion she so longed for? Though her mother had been gone for several summers, Geira recalled the adoration her parents had felt for each other. Even if they stood just a few inches away, the love they shared had shone clear in their longing gazes. They always found a way to express their utter devotion, with a kiss, or a glance, or a sliding of their hands as they passed. That's what Geira wanted. But she didn't feel anything remotely similar to that now. Was that the root of her concerns?

Another stroke of his hand and she forced herself to concentrate, willing her body to respond to his touch. Surprisingly, it did, her nipples peaking into tight buds. The sensation was far less intense than she hoped

"We will share many pleasures in this marriage. Trust me on this."

His voice had thickened, deepened. His desire came easily. Why didn't hers? She took a deep breath, determined to hide her true feelings

"I do, it's just –"

The door crashed open, screams of terror and pain now filling the air. In the doorway, a hulking dark warrior stood, sword raised

Einnar leapt to his feet, diving for the pile of clothes where his own sword lay. He barely had a chance to raise it when the other warrior swung, forcing Einnar into a defensive position. Geira screamed, terror pounding in her head. 

"Einnar of Fellsskoger, I claim my vengeance!" The invader's voice thundered within the small hut.

Geira scrambled out of the bed when the intruder fixed his furious stare on her.  Cold fear pooled in her belly when he strode across the room. Another slice at Einnar sent her husband to the floor, clutching his gut.

"Einnar!" she shrieked and attempted to run toward him. The warrior caught her by the arm before she darted past. She kicked and pummeled him with her free hand, but he quickly captured her other wrist, forcing them both into his tight grip

"Bastard! Let me go!" She looked over at her husband, who struggled to his feet, sword in hand.

"Unhand my bride!" His voice was not nearly as strong as before, blood seeping from the wound slashing his stomach

Geira fought the urge to retch, focusing instead on pulling against the restraining grip of her captor. She swore at him, unable to free herself. His strength overpowered her, her attempts to escape futile. Hopelessness welled within, but she forced it aside, refusing to stop fighting, twisting and squirming against his hold

"She is mine now, repayment for your crimes against me!"

The booming words sent ice along her spine and Geira froze.

"What? No, I am not yours! Let me go!"

She caught Einnar's stare and her blood chilled. He knew exactly what this giant meant. Anger speared the fear, escalating her panic. What had her husband done? The earlier doubts flashed again in her mind. Had she been right all along, and everyone else so terribly wrong?

"Einnar, what does he mean?"

He took an unsteady step toward her, then another before collapsing to the floor. She screamed again, and tugged against her captor, surprised at how quickly he released her, making her stumble. Just as quickly, she was brought up short by the rope now binding her wrists.

"By the blood of Odin I will see you dead!" she swore. Fright left her limbs heavy and trembling. The strength to stand seeped from her legs, yet she somehow remained upright.

The warrior threw his head back and laughed. "You can try, but it's useless to fight."

"You killed my husband." She looked at Einnar's lifeless body.

"He earned it. He's lucky I killed him so quickly!"

Geira choked on a sob, drawn by fear of her own fate, rather than her husband's. "Please let me go. I don't know what this is about. I've done nothing to you. Please. Let me see to him."

A fierce stare accompanied a shake of his head. "He's dead."

Einnar's blood pooled beneath him, the puddle growing larger. Oddly, Geira felt no real sadness. Squeezing her eyes shut, she turned away from her dead husband.

The raider tugged on the rope, drawing her close, then bent, hoisting her onto his shoulder. She kicked and screamed, pounding his back with her bound fists.

He strode through the open door. Geira twisted and tried to free herself, lifting her head. She froze at the sight greeting her.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In the Mage's Arms - New Cover Reveal! Pre-Order Info!

Here it comes - Book 2 in The Magiste Chronicles - In the Mage's Arms! I'm super happy to have this book available again. I made some extensive changes as I went through the story - quite a few times,  I found myself cringing. Actually, way more than a few - there were far more scenes than I'd hoped that needed an overhaul or complete rewrite. I got positively ruthless with that delete key! lol But overall, I am very happy with this new version and think the story is so much stronger than before. Best of all, it's got a super sexy new cover, by Winter Bayne. The woman is just incredible, and I am loving the designs she's come up with for The Magiste Chronicles. Stay tuned for more of her talent.

In the Mage's Arms is available for pre-order now, in several places, with more to added in the coming days. This book tells the story of Lily, an Enchantress gifted with healing powers who has turned her back on magic, and Aidan, unexpectedly evolving into a Mage – a potentially crippling process. Only Lily's touch stops Aidan's pain, creating quite a dilemma for both. She must face the truth of who she is and Aidan must learn to be honest - it's the only way he'll earn Lily's trust. Takes a while for that to get through. ;-)

Immerse yourself in a world where magic is part of daily life, practiced by the Magiste, whose bloodlines can be traced back for centuries. Over the years, they've learned to use that magic in some of the most deliciously wicked ways. Featuring Magically Kinky! love scenes, In the Mage's Arms is sure to make the cool autumn evenings feel like it's the middle of July! Pre-order your copy today (additional retailers to be added in the coming days) and read a sneak peek below!

** He Needs Her Healing Touch, She Craves His Passionate Mastery **

Lily Prentiss wishes she could ignore her inborn healing magic so she can live life on her terms, not follow the path her Magiste family chose for her. But when she stumbles across Aidan Marchand in the excruciating throes of evolving into a Mage, her touch is all that stops his pain and she can no longer deny her powers. When the sexy Dom seduces her into willing submission, she finds she doesn’t want to resist and actually enjoys giving up control.

Aidan has more to worry about than just his rapidly maturing powers – his business partner is blackmailing him into funding a venture that involves kidnapping young girls both magical and mortal, and selling them as sex slaves. Even as Lily’s touch eases Aidan's pain, he knows staying with her puts her in danger from his enemies. But the gift of her sexual submission helps him even more than her healing how can he let her go?

** Contains lots of explicit Magically Kinky! love scenes of the paranormal kind, including magical sex toys, potions, bondage, spanking and more!

Here's that Sneak Peek, Lily and Aidan are about to come face to face:

The sudden shock of a fiery knife twisting in her side, ripping her apart, sucked her breath from her lungs. Panic and fear crashed into her. Panting heavily, she looked down. No blood. She spun about and the searing pain suddenly stopped. She barely had a moment to search for her attacker when the burn sliced into her again. She doubled over, stomach heaving.

Vision blurred, she again searched for an assailant, but there wasn't anybody there. Fuck! What the hell was going on? A moment of relief allowed her to gather her wits and her breath.

An agony–filled groan cut through the humid night. Who was that? She still saw nothing but the empty park. Another visual inspection of her body revealed no physical wounds, but the stabbing sparked again, chasing any coherent thought.

Strangely, the pain didn't come from outside. Even though she truly felt as if she'd been ripped open, no physical wound had been inflicted on her. Could this all be in her mind? Mon Dieu, what could it be? She wanted to scream against the noise resonating in her head, each throb sharp and explosive, like crashing cymbals. She couldn’t be imagining this agony; it hurt too much. What the fuck caused it?

Another twist of scalding fire hit, this time racing along her spine. She cried out, falling to her knees. She pressed her hand against her mouth to muffle the scream. Fearful sobs choked her and she fought to hold them back. She could barely see through the suffocating distress.

More cries and moans echoed in the darkness. Where did they come from? Halfway gathering her senses, she looked around again. There. Behind the statue of Jackson. She sucked in several deep gulps of air and forced herself to stand on shaky legs. Each halting step jarred, each rasping breath scorched as she inched closer to the statue. She leaned heavily against the stone and panted. The soreness in her side receded a little, giving her enough strength to creep carefully around the monument.

A man lay huddled on the ground, curled in a fetal position. She focused her attention on him, forced herself to ignore the agony, although the pain had changed, felt different, less intense and overpowering. The man continued whimpering, the sounds hoarse. Lily crawled, each movement slow and careful, so as not to startle him. He gave another rough shout and she froze momentarily before creeping a bit closer. The man clutched his head, gave a violent shudder and cried out again. The sound sent chills racing across her flesh.

After a brief hesitation, she knelt beside him. She tentatively reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder. His obviously pain-filled writhing calmed the instant she touched him. Her fingers tingled where they came in contact with him; not a painful sensation, but rather like a burst of energy that coursed through her, flowing from her into him like an electric current, invigorating and calming at the same time.

When the last of his violent movements stilled, he turned to her and opened his eyes. She froze, pinned by his silvery gaze.

Aidan Marchand.

It had been years since she’d seen him, even longer since she’d exchanged more than a word or two with him. Sort of a relative, since he was her godmother Helene’s stepson. Lily had barely known him; he'd been a few years ahead of her in school. But just like every other girl in the school, she'd briefly entertained a fascinated crush, though the minor obsession with the school's star athlete hadn't lasted very long.

What was wrong with him? Had he been cursed? She needed to get some help.

She drew her hand away and he immediately cried out, his body wracked once more with shudders. The sharp stabbing started again in her side, fiercer than before. She bent over, seeking some way to ease her discomfort. He reached for her. Before she backed far enough away, he grabbed her wrist. Even in the throes of whatever madness held him, his grip remained strong, too strong to break. But he calmed once more.

"Don’t let go."

She barely understood his slurred words. "Wh-what?"

"You’re a Healer. Don’t let go."