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.

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