Thursday, March 30, 2017

Norseman's Salvation Cover Reveal

It's done! Finally!

Yes, Norseman's Salvation, Book Three in The Norsemen Sagas, is complete.

I'm diving in to the process of the first review/edits. It's been some time since I started the book until this week when I finished it. At first, I moved at a pretty good pace when this story first came to life last year. Interestingly, this one takes place between books 1 and books 2. Not sure why certain characters make more noise than others at various times. Anyway, when I happened to get the rights back last year to seven of my other other books, the time it took to revise (very heavily in some cases) and relaunch those books sent Salvation to the back burner. However, in looking back, I think that actually worked out for the better, because the plot continued to simmer in the back of my thoughts while I toiled away on updating those other books. Ultimately, that extra time enabled me to pull together some loose ends, and find a realistic way to weave all those ends together. And being a historical romance novel allows for venturing into the realm of fantasy, so I was able to twist things around the way I wanted them. ;-)

This book of course also includes A Kinky Twist on History! love scenes, which I hope have taken on an added dimension since Jolinn (BTW, her name is pronounced Yo-linn) is equal to the hero, Brosa, on many levels. As a shield-maiden, she dares far more than the other heroines in the Sagas, for she has the heart of a warrior, as well as the heart of a woman. And she will use both in her attempt to win Brosa, but circumstances will put her in a position where she must fiercely resist being a mere slave, or worse, a concubine to be used on a man's whim.

Yet, when she finds herself facing that exact scenario, her need to defy her situation is tempered by her need to give in to the man in question, not only because she has loved him for many years, but because his insistence on bending her to his will brings the most delightfully carnal pleasure.

I'm going to share a little sneak peek below, but first I want to show off the sexy new cover, created by my favorite cover artist, Winter Bayne. I can't say enough how much I adore her work – I provide the clinch (cover pose) and she brings the characters to life and really captures the essence of the story. This cover features super sexy Michael Foster and I am so excited to finally have him grace one of my books.
Stay tuned for pre-order and release date info. I should have all that shortly.

Feast your eyes on this gorgeous cover:

Here's the blurb for Norseman's Salvation:

Can She Survive  His Cruelty - And Save His Tortured Soul?

Jolinn Gallarsdottir has trained hard to become a fierce shield-maiden. Hoping to impress Brosa Sorensson with her skills, she seduces him when he is vulnerable, in an attempt to win his heart as well.

Wracked with guilt over his failure to save his men, Brosa has spent many months attempting to restore his honor and once more gain the blessings of the gods. The goal is pushed further out of his reach when he beds Jolinn, tarnishing his reputation further. He vows never to let it happen again, though he cannot escape his thoughts of a dark-haired temptress with a sexual appetite to match his own.

When Jolinn's request to go raiding with the men is rejected, she stows away, disobeying her father's orders. As punishment, she is given to Brosa as his slave. Vowing to prove her worth as a warrior and his equal, she defies him at every chance.

Determined to dominate Jolinn and bend her to his will, Brosa soon finds himself enjoying her fire and their battles lead to more passion. But when the gods ask him to make the ultimate sacrifice, will everything between them be destroyed?

Contains A Kinky Twist on History! love scenes, including bondage, spanking and more!

Aaaand here's the sneak peek. As always, be careful where and when you read this. ;-)  A little background – Brosa has returned to his village after journeying with his men. Two years earlier, they'd suffered a terrible defeat - in the attack that opens Norseman's Revenge, book 1 in the series. Since that time, Brosa has been dealing with his failure and trying to win back the gods' blessing. He's made progress with the successes he's had, but every so often, like at this point in the story, he finds himself again feeling really guilty and shamed. Jolinn, who has long pined for Brosa, is now a shield-maiden, all grown up and anxious to show Brosa just how much.

Sensing someone watching him, Brosa turned, once again meeting the dark eyes of the lovely woman who had seated herself at his father's table. She seemed familiar, but he found himself unable to recall her name. She offered a smile, accompanied by a strong attraction clear in her gaze. For the first time in months, he felt a stirring of desire, his own gaze dipping to her full lips. Did she taste as sweet as the mead she now sipped? The urge to find out took over his thoughts, addled as they were from the ale.

He motioned her to come and sit beside him. The innocent way her eyes widened, followed by the immediate broadening of her grin, stirred him further. A moment later, she'd taken up the intended seat, her eyes focused on him adoringly. Again, he found him struck by her familiarity, but again, failed to recall her name or who she was.

"You are enjoying the feast?" she asked. Her voice, low and husky, sent a shiver along his spine.

He nodded, unwilling to voice the lie. "And you?"

"I am glad you are all returned safely, even if Geira did not accompany you. She is happy where she is?"

"You are a friend of hers, then?"

"Brosa, don't you recognize me?" the dark-haired woman asked.

He didn't answer for several moments, admiring the thin braids woven through her long locks. Once more, his gaze returned to her lips and the urge to taste her grew stronger. He leaned close.

Her hand on his chest stopped him. "Brosa, you don't know who I am, do you?"

He fought the urge to shove her hand aside and haul her against him. Instead, he shook his head.

"Forgive me, I do not."

She laughed, a light carefree sound that somehow carried over the din of the feast.

"It's me. Jolinn."

He gaped at her. Jolinn Gallarsdotter? She couldn't possibly be. Jolinn was no more than a child.

"I am no child!"

He'd spoken aloud? The ale had truly scattered his wits.

"I am a woman now," Jolinn continued. "A shield-0maiden. I've trained hard these last two years."

"But… how… I mean –"

Another laugh and he found himself enraptured by the sound.

"You have not been here in Allesgatt for most of the last two years. Between your journey to Fellskoger, and your journeys after, you spent little more than a couple of days at a time. I am not surprised you did not recognize me."

"Jolinn. A shield-maiden. Your father must be proud."

Some of the happiness faded from her eyes before she offered a nod. "And you? Are you proud of me?"

He recalled the little girl who had dogged his every step years ago. He had indulged her, and honestly had enjoyed her attentions, flattered by her childhood adoration. But now, she was a woman, and to see that adoration in her eyes again roused very different emotions.

"I am surprised at how… lovely you've become." The truth sparked a blush creeping into her cheeks, one he found attractive. It must be the ale making him feel this way. That and the fact he had been too long without a woman's warmth.

He turned to his trencher, picking up a rabbit leg and biting into it. The juicy meat did nothing to stop the ever-growing desire. He reached for another piece of meat and handed it to her. The smile of thanks incited another rush of desire. She was truly lovely, lovelier than any other woman he'd known.

But surely she knew what a failure he was as a warrior. Why did the thought of her disappointment feel like a rusty axe slicing into his gut? He averted his gaze, unable to look into those dark adoring eyes a moment longer.

"Brosa? Are you unwell? Or just drunk?"

He gave a bitter laugh. "Jolinn, I am many things. Drunk is but one of them."

"Maybe you should rest. You've had a long journey and with all that ale, surely you must be anxious to find your bed."

Despite the ale, there was no mistaking the invitation in her words. Was little Jolinn actually trying to seduce him? No longer little. Though mostly hidden beneath the leather armor she wore, he still made out her sensual curves. His fingers suddenly itched to touch her, to remove the apron and the dress underneath. To stretch her out beneath him and savor the heat of her body.

He shouldn't. He was no longer worthy of her esteem, might never be again until the gods saw fit to forgive him for allowing his clansmen to die. Damn the gods! Jolinn was clearly offering herself. This might be his last chance to be selfish and take what he wanted.

She leaned in close, placing a hand on his arm. Slowly, her fingers crept upward, until they rested on his shoulder.

"Come, Brosa. I have the perfect place for you to seek your… rest."

She squeezed his shoulder and stood. Brosa glanced around. No one seemed to pay them the slightest notice, the clan too caught up in the feast. Contests of skill and strength had broken out among several of the men, accompanied by both shouts of encouragement and slurs.

She held out a hand and he took it, allowing her to pull him up and lead him from the longhouse. The cool night air was welcome against his warm cheeks and he remained silent, content to follow. She hesitated before a small cabin, turning. The moonlight illuminated the combination of eagerness and uncertainty lined into her face.

"Will you come inside with me?" she asked, her voice soft and hesitant.

"Do you know what I will ask of you?"

She nodded.

"If you are sure –"

"I am," she said, perhaps a little too fast.

He smiled, lifting a hand to touch her cheek, sliding to the back of her head. He held her still and lowered his head.

At the first touch of his lips against hers, he lost all restraint and devoured her mouth, sweeping his tongue past her parted lips to taste her sweetness. Spurred by desire and the amount of ale, the kiss grew hungry and demanding and he clenched his fingers in her hair to hold her near.

When her tongue dueled his, he lost all restraint, sliding his hands to her buttocks and pressing her hard against him. His cock ached already and the feel of her fingers sliding around his neck, her arms holding him tight, spurred him to reach behind her for the door and shove it open, stepping her backward into the small cabin.

He finally needed to pull away to catch the breath she'd pulled from him with the heat of her desire. Slowly, her heavy-lidded eyes opened and he nearly lost his restraint once more to see the fiery passion he'd felt a moment before. He kicked the door shut and yanked her hard against him.

"You are brazen."

He didn't give her a chance to answer before claiming her mouth once more. She gave the sweetest little whimper, but never backed away. When his fingers found the clasp behind her neck holding the leather armor in place, hers attacked the ties of his own tunic. He kept his lips fused to hers, fearing if he relinquished the kiss, she might vanish.

Awareness of her hands on his shoulders, shoving, pushing him away, cut into the haze overtaking his logic. He stumbled back a step before steadying himself.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sleepy Hollow

One of my favorite shows, Sleepy Hollow, returned last month. I had mixed feelings at first. You see, last season, one of the lead characters, Abbie Mills, portrayed by Nicole Behairie, died in the finale. I was devastated. Beyond the fact that she was an amazing character on her own, Abbie's bond with fellow Witness Ichabod Crane, was a huge part of the reason I fell in love with the show. (And of course, it doesn't hurt that Tom Mison is hot as hell!)

Like most other viewers, I loved the chemistry between them, which was in large part, because of the actors involved. Behairie and Mison played perfectly against each other, and Abbie and Ichabod's pairing was a perfect combination of loyalty, friendship and love. Even though Ichabod was in love with his wife Katrina, the deep abiding love between Abbie and Ichabod went deeper than that, even though it was never acted upon. 

The show in its first season was fresh and unique and filled with comedy, drama and endless scares. Washington Irving's Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman alive and well in the modern day! What a cool idea. In the second season, the show lost its footing a little bit, and I was not the only one who felt the storylines focused a little too much on showcasing Katrina (Ichabod's wife in this twist) and her son, and Abbie seemed to be relegated to the backburner, a supporting character in her own show. The missteps were troubling, but the show was still better than most of everything else on TV, as far as I'm concerned.

Season three brought the relationship between the Witnesses back to where it had been in some ways, in others it was still a little off, but for the most part was back on track. I looked forward to watching every week. But when the finale aired, and Abbie sacrificed herself to save Ichabod and the others, along with the world, I swore I'd never watch again. There was quite a bit of backlash about the character's demise, and a lot of it centered around a woman of color being cut from her own very diversely casted show. I understand, although because I really don't watch a lot of TV in general, that factor didn't home for me as much, What bothered me was that I had finally found a show that was compelling and funny and fun, and now it looked like it was all over. I did a little digging and while I don't know the entire story behind Nicole Behairie's departure, what I learned made sense. I wasn't sure whether I wanted it to come back for another season. When a fourth season was finally announced, I found myself still torn. Do I watch and be further devastated that they really destroyed the show I adored, or do I watch and hope like hell if somehow managed to recreate the magic of that first season?

I watched. I couldn't help it. Of course, the allure of Tom Mison was a big factor, but also, I reasoned that without Ichabod Crane, there really never would have been a show, so I decided to give it a chance. I'm really glad that I did.

Sleepy Hollow has once again captured my imagination and I wait anxiously for each new episode. It has also returned to inspiring me – I write like crazy after it's over. The new location of Washington, DC gives a fresh look and feel and the new characters have some fantastic chemistry with the returning characters, Ichabod, and Abbie's sister Jenny. The addition of a new Witness, a child this time, was a great twist. Ichabod works really well with Diana, who happens to be the mother of Molly, the new Witness, and is one hell of a bad-ass herself. Watching her navigate the new twists and turns her life has taken has been fascinating and Janina Gavankar has been great in the role.

There's only been one problem this season – with the show airing on Friday's my Little Guy's hockey practice interferes with my opportunity to watch the show in its entirety in its first run. I've been able to catch several episodes in full upon first airing, but for the most part, I have to DVR and watch later. Although, to be honest, I DVR each episode no matter what and re-watch it the following week.

This week's episode was one where I had to miss the first run. And damn it, of course it had to be the one when Ichabod and Jenny return to Sleepy Hollow with their new team. I finally sat down today to watch it. I can't wait to watch it again.

They jumped right into the supernatural from almost the first minute, and while the storyline was, as always, an edge-of-your-seat foray into the supernatural, what I loved most was the flashbacks and memories of Abbie. Ichabod remembering how he came to be resurrected in the 21st century was touching, but I sort of felt this episode was a tribute to Abigail Mills. For the season, so far, Abbie was never far from Ichabod's and Jenny's thoughts and I truly appreciated that she was mentioned regularly, not forgotten as if the character had never existed, as sometimes happens when actors leave their shows. But this episode was different. To me, Abbie's presence was strongly felt throughout, and the flashback and memories fit perfectly into the storyline. The usual comedic touches were A1, but the sorrow Ichabod and Jenny still feel over Abbie's loss was potent and tear-jerking. I also think the new team members gained a better understanding of the real meaning and weight behind Abbie's death, and the effect it ultimately has on all of their lives.

So, the writers and producers and cast of Sleepy Hollow – well done! I am hooked as never before and cannot wait to see where you take us for the rest of the season, and I hope like hell you get picked up for a fifth season.