Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Sequel to "The Snow Bride". Medieval Romance Novel "A Summer Bewitchment" out now!



A sequel to THE SNOW BRIDE.



Genre HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Publisher PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS
Date of Publication NOV 14th 2019

ASIN: B07ZTMNWZ9
 Free with Kindle Unlimited
Buy Links Amazon USA 
Amazon UK  Amazon Canada Amazon Australia
Blurb


Can a knight and his witch save seven kidnapped maidens? Sir Magnus and Elfrida strive to find the girls, but at what cost to their marriage?

When a shadowy piper kidnaps seven beautiful girls, can a wounded knight and his witch-wife save them? Will Sir Magnus and Elfrida find them in time—and at what cost?
Magnus, the fearless, battered crusader knight, and his fey wife, Elfrida, are happily married, but each of them carries a secret. Elfrida believes that being peasant-born will one day undermine her husband’s love for her. Wounded and scarred, Magnus fears nothing—except, perhaps, that he will not be able to give Elfrida her greatest wish—children.
Their fears are sharpened when high-born Lady Astrid appears at their manor and demands their help to find the seven missing girls. Though the lady clearly regards low-born Elfrida beneath her, why has she truly sought out Magnus, a ruthless knight? Which one of the kidnapped girls does she really want to recover so badly—and to what hidden purpose?
In the scorching summer heat, Magnus and Elfrida search together for the missing girls. Will they be able to rescue them in time? And can their own marriage survive?

Here is an excerpt from the opening chapter:


England, summer, 1132

“I am the troll king of this land and you owe me a forfeit.”

Elfrida glanced behind the shadowed figure who barred her way. He was alone, but then so was she.

Do I turn and run along the track? Should I flee into the woods or back to the river? He is close, less than the distance of the cast of a spear. Can I make it hard for him to catch me? Yes.

But catch her he would.

Play for time.

“Indeed?” she asked, using one of her husband’s favorite expressions, then sharpened her tone. “Why must I pay anything?”

“You have trespassed in these woods. In my woods.”

The nagging ache in her shoulders and hands vanished in a tingling rush of anticipation. Elfrida dropped her basket of washed, dried clothes onto the dusty pathway, the better to fight. “King Henry is lord of England.”

“I am king here.”

A point to him. “I kept to the path, and then the river.”

“That may be so, but I claim a kiss.”

He had not moved yet, nor shown his face. The summer evening made his shadow huge, bloody. Her heart beating harder as she anticipated their final, delicious encounter, Elfrida asked, “Are you so bold? My husband is a mighty warrior, the greatest in all Christendom.”

“That is a large claim.” He sounded amused. “All Christendom? He must be a splendid fellow. The harpers should sing of him.”

Elfrida raised her chin, determined to have her say. “I am proud of my lord. He is a crusader. He has seen Jerusalem and he has learning. He can whistle any tune. He defends all those weaker than himself.” Should I say what I next want to say? Tease him as he has teased me? Why not? Are we are not playing? “Go back to your woods, troll king.”

She heard the crack of a pine cone as he shifted. In a haze of motion the troll king was out of the tree shade and into the bright sunset, dominating the path in front of her. Taller than a spear, broad as a door, he had a face as stark as granite, of weathered, broken stone. Heavily scarred—many would say grooved—he had the terrible beauty of a victor, a winner wounded but unbowed.

A ribbon of heat, like hot breath, flickered across her breasts. He was so magnificent , so handsome. She both loved and hated defying him, even in jest. Striving for calm, she said, “You will come no closer.”

“Or what, little laundress?”

That tease irked her. “The clothes and bedding do not wash themselves. Not even for you, troll king.”

He smiled, a daunting unfurling of that scarred, sword-cut face. The churning heat in her belly swept up into her cheeks and down to her loins.

“I am a witch, besides,” she added, though not as coolly as she would have liked. She saw the gleam in his large brown eyes pool into molten bronze.

“You would put a spell on me, elfling?” he challenged.

“Perhaps I already have.” Her tone and mouth were as dry as the summer. How much farther can we stretch this sweet foolishness?

He raised thick black eyebrows, while a breeze flicked and flirted with his shoulder-length curls. “Is that Christian?”

She wanted to cross her arms before herself, to shield her body from his bold stare. At the same time she longed to strip herself naked for him, unlace his tunic and caress him. Unsure how he might react, she armed herself with words instead. “I am a good witch, Magnus.”

“Indeed.” Again he looked her up and down, glanced at her buckets, basket, and clothes. “Should you not have an escort, wife?”

Do I tell him I sent Piers off to help? Are we still playing now or is he truly angry?

Looming over her, he was close enough for her to touch him. To caress his strong body will be like stroking sun-warmed stone. Distracted, she shook her head. “There is the sheep shearing…”

“Done.” He tossed a stack of rolled, lanolin-scented fleeces at her feet. “I did my share and more and, as I have said already, I claim a reward.”

He winked at her and she found herself smiling in return. “Forfeit and reward, too, sire? Is that not greedy?”

“Are we in Lent, that I should fast?” He raised his hand, cupping her face with supple fingers. “But you are too dainty to linger alone, witch or no.”

He traced the curve of her lips with his thumb and, as she trembled, he gathered her firmly into his arms. “Any man will try to spirit you away.”

“Hush!” She made a sign against the evil eye and wood elves, but he shook his head at her caution.

“I have faith in your magic craft, Elfrida. But a passing knave or outlaw? He is quite another matter. He would see you as a tempting piece, my wife, my lovely.”

“I am not helpless,” she protested, but her heart soared at his loving words. His mouth, as crooked and scarred as the rest of his face, stole a kiss from hers.

He smelled of lanolin, salt, and summer green-stuff, and tasted of apples and himself. Elfrida closed her eyes under his tender onslaught, her thighs trembling.

“Troll King?” she murmured, when they broke apart slightly. “Is that how you wish me to address you in the future, husband?”

“‘Sire’ will do, or ‘greatest knight in Christendom.’ Those will do very well.” He kissed her again.

“You rob me, sire,” she murmured, a breathless space later.

“Of kisses?” He sounded delighted at the idea, the beast, and grinned when she pinched him.

“Even one-handed I can do that better than you.”

He demonstrated, squeezing and lightly slapping her bottom, chuckling as she thrust her hips back against his fondling fingers. A shred of modesty remained as her wits dissolved into a sweet blaze of need. “Magnus, what if someone comes?”

Monday, 28 October 2019

Magic and magic-makers in medieval courts #MedievalMonday Blog for Halloween

Seal from a manuscript by John Dee (sourced from Wikipedia Commons)Magic played a strange and ambivalent role in medieval society. Wise-women and wizards were sometimes tolerated or revered or sometimes persecuted as witches, particularly if their 'magic' went wrong. Yet at the same time, priests could perform magic and utter charms as well as prayers to combat evil or demons.

All levels of medieval society believed in magic, including the courts. Magicians might be employed at European courts as entertainers, as alchemists, as healers or as diviners. In the later Tudor period we have John Dee, who served Elizabeth I as her astronomer and occultist, and the alchemist and astronomer Paracelsus. In myth we have Merlin, one of the most famous magicians of them all, who was on the edge first of Uther Pendragon's court and then of King Arthur's, and feared and respected in equal measure. In France in the 14th century, the astrologer Thomas of Pisano made figures out of wax to destroy the invading English by magic.

Astrologers, alchemists and magicians, promising gold, health and power, were often welcomed at court and given high status. Yet their places were always vulnerable. Jealous rivals could accuse them of using magic in an evil way, as happed to Mummolus, a shrewd military tactician of the sixth century AD, a time when Frankish Gaul was split into several kingdoms. Accused of witchcraft by Fredegund, queen to Chilperic I of Soissons, Mummolus was tortured and died of his wounds.

In 1441 Eleanor, duchess of Gloucester, was accused of using ‘treasonable necromancy’ against King Henry VI in order to advance her husband. She was imprisoned for life, while the astrologers Thomas Southwell and Roger Bolingbroke, together with Margery Jourdemayne, ‘the Witch of Eye‘, were condemned to death. In the mid-1480s Richard III of England accused Elizabeth Woodville (previously married to a Lancastrian) of having bewitched his late brother Edward IV into marrying her.

Even the court of the medieval papacy was a place where members could be accused of magic - because magic-making was seen as a part of life and a way of gaining or keeping favours. In 1317 the bishop of Cahors was tried for using magic against Pope John XXII and trying to smuggle magical images into the papal palace in loaves of bread.

Magic and the belief in magic figures in my latest medieval historical romance, The Snow Bride. Elfrida the heroine is a white witch and she must do battle with an evil necromancer who has kidnapped her sister. You can read more about the story and an excerpt here.



THE SNOW BRIDE (THE KNIGHT AND THE WITCH 1) https://amzn.to/2MZZan0    

Sunday, 4 August 2019

The Snow Bride. Medieval Historical Romance. She is Beauty, but is he the Beast?

'The Snow Bride' - Medieval Historical Romance - New Excerpt

Here's a new excerpt from my medieval historical romance, The Snow Bride. The hero and heroine are in a tower belonging to their enemy, the necromancer.

Excerpt:

Making torches, lighting them, took some little time. Magnus could sense Elfrida’s tension and almost see her fears tearing at her like the harpies preyed on their hapless victims in the old tales that he had heard around campfires in Outremer. She stayed within the tower, calling encouragement to Christina and praying aloud, “To cleanse this space,” she told him. She did not attempt to move farther than the few steps they had come from the threshold, for which he was grateful.
“Your sister must be sleeping deeply,” he said when she fell silent and despondent after no replies. “It is the time of winter dark and solid slumber.”
“Or she is drugged,” Elfrida answered.
 Once he spotted her gazing at him, a cool, farsighted, assessing stare. Where he considered pits and traps, she concerned herself with magical dangers. He knew she felt responsible for his safety, a strange and queer reversal of nature to him, but one he accepted that he could not shake her from.
All will be better with more light, he told himself, fending off a vague feeling of being watched.
Baldwin finally brought two spitting torches. Magnus told the youth to keep up and took a torch from him. “Do you stay here?” he asked Elfrida.
She shook her head—he had not expected otherwise—and he put her between himself and Baldwin. Leading the way, Magnus began to pick a careful path across the nails and snares and wooden stakes, walking steadily and lifting his feet high. All the while, puffing like a small, furious dragon at his back, he could hear Elfrida and sense her taut, barely reined-in impatience. She fairly bristled with it. Not far and all will be well, he wanted to say to comfort her, but he said nothing, for they had reached the stairs, and it might not be true.
Gray, narrow, worn, and unlit, the stairs were also slimy on certain treads. Spilled oil or melted candle wax? he speculated, calling out softly in the old tongue and his own dialect, so Baldwin would know, “Grease, here, step over.” He did not lower his torch. Some things were best left as a mystery.
“Christina, you are safe, beloved. Walter is waiting for you, and all is prepared for your return.”
Elfrida was becoming more urgent and desperate in her wishes. He longed to shield her from this trial but knew it was impossible.
She is a warrior of magic, besides, and a warrior always faces things. She would never forgive me if I kept her out of this.
Yet it was so ponderous, step after step, climbing in the dark, with the stair walls and roof feeling to close in around them, pressing down and choking...
Unless that is just me. Since early youth he had loathed shut-in places, which was why in any siege he had always volunteered for any digging or mining. Now the disgusting, spineless fears of his boyhood shook down the backs of his legs.
If Christina is dead, will Elfrida blame me? No, she will not..
He trod on an object that cracked and slithered beneath his peg foot. He checked the cry bubbling in his throat and kicked the unknown thing away, down the stairs. He heard it flopping into the darkness and vowed to burn the whole tower with fire once they were done.
If Christina is dead or alive, will Elfrida return to her village? Will she want to stay there? Ask her, man, and find out!
He was wary of asking and at the same time eager to ask. As much as Elfrida wanted to see her sister, he wanted to know her mind.
It is my future. Have the stakes ever been so high?
He ran up three more steps and reached the first floor. The staircase continued higher, but now there was a tiny, cramped passageway, again unlit, and at its end, a door.
A blue door, he realized, hearing Elfrida’s gasp of recognition. He spun about and gripped her shoulder tightly, in a gesture of warning and support, then let her go.
He reached out and touched the door with his stump. Elfrida said nothing, did not try to stop him, but he glanced at her for confirmation.
She nodded, her own hands clenched in tight fists, her face unreadable.
“Baldwin.” He handed the lad his torch and set his shoulder to the door, drawing out his knife—better a knife than a sword in such close quarters.
Surprise was impossible, for if there was a guard, he must have heard their plodding trail, so Magnus called a final warning.
“Release your prisoners unharmed and you shall not be injured or killed. Yield now.”
He pushed on the stout wood, astonished to find the door unlocked, and entered.


* * * *

The Snow Bride
She is Beauty, but is he the Beast?

From Amazon here
Amazon UK here
Free with Kindle Umlimited.
Part 1 of The Knight and the Witch Series.
Also a sequel, 'A Summer Bewitchment,' coming soon

Lindsay Townsend

Saturday, 13 July 2019

"Oceans Away" - contemporary romance by Skye McNeil. Blurb and Excerpt



Blurb:

Adopted as an infant, Ireland Leighton grew up in the heart of the Midwest. After inheriting millions from her biological parents, she is determined to help others any way she can. The only string is a business engagement with another millionaire. Ireland returns to Iowa years later to plan her brother’s tropical wedding. The festivities would be easier if her sexy ex-boyfriend stayed out of reach and her future wasn’t already planned.
Time suppressed his feelings for the girl next door, but Gideon Taggart isn’t about to let Ireland escape again. Farmer by day, veterinarian by choice, his second chance with his first love is far from easy. He soon discovers that no matter how much he loves Ireland, she’ll always choose her family over a future with him.
Oceans Away is book two in Skye McNeil’s stand-alone contemporary romance series, Atlas. Each book contains a millionaire to envy, snort-worthy comedy, and visits to many beautiful cities in the world. Yes, all of that, plus each novel ends with a fabulous HEA.


Oceans Away Excerpt, Skye McNeil
“So, who’s this Toby guy again?” Gideon interrupted, still standing next to her.
“He’s my personal assistant.”
Gideon crossed his arms over his chest. “Mmhmm, and what exactly does he assist you with?”
Ireland held in a smug grin. He looked too cute with his eyes narrowed. “Aw, is somebody jealous?”
He straightened. “No.”
Teasing him was much too easy. “That’s too bad.” She fanned herself dramatically. “He’s just my type too.”
“So am I.”
Ireland laughed and cocked her head to the right. “Who says you’re my type? Just because we dated doesn’t mean you’re my type anymore.”
Gideon stepped closer and he lowered his voice. “If your reaction from the kiss the other day—”
“It was just a kiss.”
He didn’t budge, but his eyes showed her statement wounded him. “Then do it again.”
“Wh-what?”
“Kiss me again,” he dared.
Ireland’s stance wobbled. “Why would I do that?”
Gideon smirked, the act sexier than any other she’d seen on him before. “To prove you like kissing me. Oh, and that I’m still your type, whether or not you want to admit it.”
Ireland stared into his eyes, digesting his words at the terrifying truth. She had liked kissing him the other day. She’d always liked kissing him. Locking lips with Gideon wasn’t a problem. Falling for him was. She couldn’t afford to do it again, no matter how badly she wanted to.
He leaned toward her, but only to grab a napkin from the table before the breeze threw it to the grass. She heard her sharp intake of breath and realized she’d hoped he was leaning in to brush his lips to hers.
Gideon chuckled and winked. “Don’t fight it, darlin’,” he said, then took a seat next to Zavier.





Skye McNeil
Author of Romantic Suspense & Contemporary Romance novels that are smart, sexy, and sassy.