Medieval Monday with Ashley York

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It’s my pleasure to welcome back Ashley York for another Medieval Monday. Let’s learn why Ashley loves writing medieval romances! Enjoy.

Where History takes a passionate turn says it all! My medieval stories take place in the 11th and 12th century, the High Middle Ages. I love the fact that survival was not guaranteed and life was not easy. Babies died, food was fought over, and enemies were everywhere. This lends itself to creating complex characters that live life to the fullest, seeking satisfaction in all their pursuits whether it be in warfare or love, while knowing how brief there time may be. That equals passion! The fact that they live in a Christian society adds restraint to their decisions while they struggle with the many things, seen and unseen, and their pagan past hovers over them like a storm cloud.

This is an amazing time period where universities were just coming into prominence, empires were being established, and human ingenuity was on the upswing. I write my characters without an eye toward the outcome of history. Just because we know William of Normandy will conquer the Kingdoms of England in 1066 doesn’t mean we have to act like the Saxons were ripe for an invasion. Just the opposite! Let’s extol their strength and unity and their proud, though diverse, heritage. Let’s not give the ending away!

BIO: Aside from two years spent in the wilds of the Colorado mountains, Ashley York is a proud life-long New Englander and a hardcore romantic. She has an MA in History which brings with it, through many years of research, a love for primary documents and the smell of musty old libraries. With her author’s imagination, she likes to write about people who could have lived alongside those well-known giants from the past.

Find all my books at: https://www.ashleyyorkauthor.com/books

First Kiss Friday with guest Jasmine Haynes and a Giveaway!

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Another First Kiss Friday and it’s always a pleasure to welcome back Jasmine Haynes who writes incredible erotica stories. Today, she gives us a the first kiss scene from her eBook, The Girlfriend Experience, which is currently #FREE. Jasmine is also offering a giveaway to one random comment of an eCopy in the Courtesans Tales series entitled Payback. Get busy leaving those comment and get out a fan. You’re going to need it after reading this scene. Happy reading!

Excerpt:

Chase had experienced paid companions, but none had been like Marianna. She wasn’t practiced. She was real.

From her magic picnic basket, she’d pulled a bowl of sliced peaches and two champagne flutes. She plopped a slice in each glass, then handed him one, which he filled, followed by the other. Tapping her flute to his, she saluted—“Cheers”—and swallowed a quarter of the glass, then closed her eyes, tipping her head back. “Oh God, that’s good. I haven’t had champagne like that in ages.”

He’d have thought she had it all the time.

She opened her eyes. “You haven’t tasted.”

“I was watching you.”

She was still a long moment, regarding him, assessing his words. Then she must have decided she liked what he’d said, because she graced him with another of her smiles and held out the plate of drumsticks.

“One drumstick, then a peach slice. It’s to die for.”

He chose a piece of chicken, the scent mouthwatering. Like her. “Delicious,” he said, licking the stickiness from his fingers.

Instead of giving him the peach bowl, she selected a slice, then fed it to him. After the tang of the teriyaki, the juicy peach was heaven. He savored it along with the flavor of her skin, sweet as the peach. He’d never cheated on his wife. He hadn’t had sex with another woman in over twenty years. Since Rosie died, he couldn’t even remember thinking about sex.

But he thought about it with Marianna, enjoying the image as much as he had the peach.

She ate a slice herself, and he took pleasure in the sensual cast of her eyelids, the low, throaty moan of appreciation. Then, going down on her elbow beside him, she pushed the plate of chicken at him. “Eat. I made a lot.”

He ate, but he liked it better when she fed him.

“So tell me what you do.” She nibbled daintily on a drumstick without getting messy.

“Business.” He didn’t want to talk about work. That would only lead to bad memories.

She dropped her chin to give him a look through her eyelashes. “That’s illuminating.”

“Sorry.” He stroked a lock of hair from her cheek. Touching her skin, he wanted more. He wanted her to touch him. “I haven’t done this in a long time. I’m not good at making conversation, and I’m a little nervous.”

“Done this?” She flipped her palm out expressively.

He held her gaze. “Gone out with a woman.”

“Are you recently divorced?”

A pulse beat at his temple. He thought about lying. “My wife died a year ago.”

She gasped. “Oh, I’m so sorry.” She laid her hand on the blanket a scant inch from his, their fingers almost touching.

He thought of telling her the truth about why Rosie died. But then maybe he didn’t really know the why of it. He only felt the guilt in his gut. Dammit, he was not going there now. He wanted to pretend for a little while longer that he wasn’t a basket case.

As if she understood how close to the darkness he was at that moment, she smiled gently. “Got any kids?” she asked.

Marianna could only hope the question would save the situation. Chase’s sudden smile dazzled her, the abrupt change amazing. Thank God, because she’d totally blundered that one. Isabel should have told her he was a widower. She wondered why he didn’t wear a ring. You took it off for divorce, but not for death. But hell if she’d ask that.

“I’ve got a daughter,” he said, a beam of light in his eyes. “Krista. She’s a sophomore at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.”

She gasped. “Oh my God, she’s a Poly Dolly.”

He chuckled. “I’ve never heard that one.”

She felt the mood lifting. “I graduated years ago. Maybe they don’t use it anymore. But it’s sure better than being called an Aggie.” In the midst of taking a peach slice from the container, she glanced up in case she’d offended him. “Not that I’ve got anything against Aggies.” Cal Poly had been a big agriculture university even when she was attending.

He snagged a piece of chicken. Another good sign. “Don’t worry, she’s not an Aggie. She’s doing graphic design.”

“So tell me what she looks like.”

He lips creased in a doting-dad smile. “She’s beautiful.” Everything was different about him when he spoke of his daughter. He came to life. His eyes brightened.

“Duh,” she said. “With your DNA, I’m not surprised.”

Chase licked teriyaki from his fingers, and she had the most incredible urge do it for him. Suck his fingers clean. Her face heated. So did everything else.

“Is that a compliment?” he asked.

“Yes, you’re very handsome.” Pretty damn hot, actually.

He blinked, then his mouth curved in a sexy half smile. “Thank you.” His lips glistened with a touch of lingering teriyaki. Marianna wanted a taste of that, too.

He was obviously grieving for his wife. He didn’t want a real girlfriend. He wanted someone to ease the loneliness for a little while. And she’d almost botched everything totally. She’d even had trouble thinking of things to talk about. Which shouldn’t have been a problem since she had to make small talk all the time with potential buyers. Chase unnerved her in a way Brock Ransom hadn’t. Perhaps because this was more like a date. A blind date one of her friends had set her up on.

And because Chase was much more devastatingly attractive.

She searched for something scintillating to say. “So, Cal Poly is my alma mater, but I’m a real estate agent now.” Oh God. She closed her eyes and waited for him to say, But I thought you were a whore.

He didn’t. Instead, he lifted her chin with the tip of his finger, waiting until she opened her eyes.

“I think we should start over.” His eyes were a gorgeous bottle green.

“We should?”

“Yeah. Here I am with a beautiful woman who’s prepared a delicious feast for me and I’m making her struggle to come up with conversation.”

He had the most amazing eyelashes, thick, dark. “It’s not your fault.” It was her job to be scintillating. She sucked at being a courtesan. Though the thought of that particular word under these circumstances brought a smile to her lips.

He raised one brow. “Tell me.”

Her face always gave her thoughts away. Why not tell him? “I was thinking that I sucked at being a courtesan.” Her smile grew, then she laughed.

“An interesting choice of words.” His eyes deepened to an earthier shade.

“Then I realized that’s what I’m supposed to do.”

“You are a very naughty woman.”

She loved the way he said naughty. He stroked a finger down her throat, then slowly pulled away, leaving her skin tingling.

“I haven’t done anything naughty”—she fluttered her eyelashes—“yet.”

Holding her gaze, he dipped into the bowl of peaches and held one out to her. “Eat this.”

Entranced, she took the fruit from his fingers as if he were a hypnotist. A drop of juice slid off her lip. His eyes glued to her, she licked it up.

“Now suck this.” His tone was smoking as he stretched out his hand.

She drew his finger into her mouth and sucked off all the leftover nectar. So good, she had to close her eyes to savor his taste mixed with the peach and teriyaki.

“I would say you were a perfect courtesan,” he whispered.

Her body was suddenly a blaze of sensation, a flush along her skin.

Like Sleeping Beauty, she needed his kiss and she needed it now.

Putting her hand on his face, she gave him her lips.

Tentative, sweet, a delicious combination of peaches, teriyaki, and hot male desperation. She swept her tongue across his lips, asking. He parted for her. She’d never felt so in control of a kiss, not the aggressor so much as the director. Touching his tongue with hers, she quickly backed off, teasing. He watched her, his eyes smoky with desire. She leaned in again and gave him her mouth. When she would have pulled away once more, he slid his fingers through her hair, held her to him, and the kiss became his. He used his tongue, his lips, sipped her, tasted her fully, teased, then rolled her under him.

Angling his head, he took her deeply. The crush of his body heated her inside and out. She forgot it was about money. She forgot he was a stranger. She wrapped her arms around him and kissed as if she were the longtime girlfriend he’d fantasized about. He groaned, holding her still. Just when she couldn’t bear another moment without his hands all over her, he backed off, then laid his forehead to hers, eyes closed.

“Christ,” he murmured, his breath fanning her cheek. “You make me feel starved.”

“I’ve got more food.”

He chuckled, real laughter, no cutting it off. “Food is not what I’m hungry for.”


The Girlfriend Experience (Courtesans Tales, Book 1)

By Jasmine Haynes

Romances to make you blush set in a glitzy, sensual world of powerful people and the courtesans they’ll pay anything to have.

An exclusive and secret agency, for over two hundred years Courtesans has specialized in providing entertainment of a sexual nature. Its clients are rich, powerful, and influential men and women, and one only meets a courtesan through referral from trusted sources. Courtesans facilitates bringing together men and women to satisfy any sexual need imaginable, matching the perfect courtesan with just the right client. The agency prides itself on training its courtesans, male and female, to interpret and fulfill its client’s greatest fantasies, even the secret ones no one dares to say aloud. The price is high, but everyone who’s ever had the pleasure of a date with a courtesan will agree, the fantasy is worth every penny. And sometimes it changes your life.

To Marianna, money is the measure of a person’s worth. Even as a child, she learned that from her father, a self-made man. When an old college friend tells her about life as a courtesan, the fabulous dates, opulent trips, valuable trinkets, and how much a man is willing pay to have a beautiful woman on his arm, Marianna wants it all. Thrust into a world of powerful men, suddenly she holds all the power. And all the worth.

Until she finds herself falling for her “date.”

A widower, Chase has sought to ease his guilt and pain in relationships without commitment or expectation. And especially not love. Until he discovers Marianna and begins to treat her like his girlfriend rather than a paid courtesan.

Now Marianna stands to learn the biggest lesson of all, that money doesn’t buy self-worth. It certainly can’t buy love. And money becomes the reason she’ll lose Chase, the very man who is worth everything.

The Girlfriend Experience is free right now everywhere!  Kindle  iBooks  Kobo  Nook

Courtesans Tales in Order

The Girlfriend Experience
Payback
Triple Play
Three’s a Crowd
The Stand-In
Surrender to Me
The Only Way Out
The Wrong Kind of Man
No Second Chances

Bio:

NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author Jasmine Haynes loves giving readers sexy, classy stories about real issues like growing older, facing divorce, starting over. Her books have passion, heart, humor, and happy endings, even if they aren’t always traditional. She also writes gritty, paranormal mysteries in the Max Starr series. As Jennifer Skully, she writes laugh-out-loud romantic comedies laced with a heavy dose of mystery. Look for Jennifer’s new series written with Bella Andre, starting with Breathless in Love, The Maverick Billionaires Book 1. Having penned stories since the moment she learned to write, Jasmine now lives in the Redwoods of Northern California with her husband and their adorable nuisance of a cat who totally runs the household. Join her newsletter for updates on contests, new releases, and freebies by going to www.jasminehaynes.com.

Contact

Newsletter signup: http://bit.ly/SkullyNews
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Medieval Monday with guest Cathy MacRae

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Please welcome Cathy MacRae, my guest today for Medieval Monday. Let’s read why Cathy writes Medieval Romance.

Romance in a Kilt

Welcome to my world of Medieval Romance! I have always been drawn to historical romance, and love re-reading some of the first books that welcomed me to that special time and place. Books by Kathleen Woodiwiss and Judith McNaught still hold much-loved places on my bookshelves right alongside more current favorites. They are a whirlwind of drama, passion, and promise, where trust is everything, and sometimes love develops in the most unusual places.

I am intrigued by history. The what-ifs and whys; the research into the actions of a few people who set the course for many. You will find often gritty history coloring the background of all of my stories.

My books in the Medieval Era are a blend of high drama and romance set against a backdrop of treachery, hardship and duty. And in a time when women were stronger than history tells us, and marriage was rarely for sigh-worthy reasons, I find it fascinating to relate stories of relationships that blossom into love.

Cathy MacRae is an Amazon best-selling author whose stories feature strong heroes and feisty heroines set in the Highlands of Scotland. Her hobbies include gardening, photography, travel and cooking. Cathy lives on the sunny side of the Arbuckle Mountains with her wonderful husband, three dogs and a cat (who runs the house), and enjoys spending time with sweet granddaughters who are the heroines of her heart.

You can find Cathy MacRae’s books on her website at http://www.cathymacraeauthor.com

First Kiss Friday with Emmy Z. Madrigal & a Giveaway!

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Today on First Kiss Friday I have as a guest Emmy Z. Madrigal and her characters from Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe. Emmy is offering an eCopy of her novel to one random comment so please be sure to show her some love.  Happy reading!

Excerpt:

He and his staff doted on her day and night. Three days passed and with each day, she became thinner, weaker, and paler. There were moments of clarity every so often, when she’d be strong enough to chat, but she still did not know who she was or where she’d come from. The fog the laudanum withdrawals kept her under wouldn’t let go completely.

At night he would try to sleep in the adjoining room while Mary watched her, but he’d hear his doe tossing and turning and inevitably rise. He’d send Mary to bed and spend the night sleeping in the chair next to her bedside, as his suffering beauty clung to life with a will he admired.

“My Lord,” Benjamin woke him one evening deep in the night. “You must sleep yourself. In a bed. You don’t look well. Please take heed.”

Alexander ambled up, shuffling to the bed in the adjoining room in a half-wake state. He fell onto the covers with his clothes on and Benjamin removed his boots.

“How many days has she been here, Benji?” Alexander asked in a whisper.

“Four, My Lord.”

“Did she eat any more today?”

“No, My Lord,” Benjamin said quietly, as if ashamed to admit it. “Sleep now. We shall see to her.”

Alexander let exhaustion take over. The last thing he remembered was saying a prayer that his little doe would survive the night.

A few hours before dawn, Alexander woke to the sound of someone in his room. His eyes fluttered open, but he knew he was still dreaming. An angel stood before him, dressed all in white, a halo of golden curls atop her head.

“I’m so cold. I can’t get warm,” she whispered.

He lifted the blankets beside him. “Come, it’s warm in here.”

She hesitantly padded across the room on bare feet and laid down next to him. He wrapped his arm around her from behind and pulled her ice cold body into his warmth. She cuddled into him, shivering as their difference in body temperatures clashed.

Alexander closed his eyes and smiled, loving the feel of a soft feminine body next to his. What a wonderfully pleasant dream to calm him when he needed comfort the most.

***

When Alexander woke, a certain part of his anatomy had become aware of a warm female body next to his. He sat up, realizing his little doe had crawled into bed with him.

Good Lord, you’ve done it now! He held his head and scolded himself. At least he still wore his clothes, but that wouldn’t matter to anyone who found them in bed together. Her purity was tainted and he had to get her back in her own bed before anyone noticed. He rose and crept over to the doorway. Kate slept in a cot beside his doe’s bed, fast asleep. How could he get past Kate without waking her?

He looked back at his bed and the beauty upon it. She had color to her cheeks, her expression serene. Perhaps his warmth had done her some good. He pulled the blankets around her shoulders and smoothed his hand over her curls. For once, she wasn’t sweating. The fever seemed to have abated.

Thank God for that. Perhaps she would see the other side of her illness soon. He could get her home, where she belonged, but he had grown so attached to her, he wasn’t sure he wanted her to leave.

Her eyes opened and he drew back, wondering which doe he might find. The pained patient or the well-spoken young lady he’d come to favor?

“Wh-where am I?” she asked and glanced around.

“Er…” Not exactly the question one wants to hear when a lady wakes in one’s bed.

“Oh, yes…” She sat up. “I’m sorry. I know this isn’t right.” Tears sprung to her eyes. “What you must think of me! I just…I was so cold and the fire had gone out in my room. The servant was asleep and I came in to see if you might have any firewood. I…It was so warm in here and I guess I just longed to be held. When you offered I…I didn’t have the strength to deny it. I’m sorry. I knew you were half-asleep. I shouldn’t have taken advantage.”

She cried earnestly and he couldn’t bear seeing her blame herself.

“No, no, love. Please. Shhhh.” He reached out to her, but feared his touch would make her more uneasy. “Do not blame yourself. It shall be our secret. Nothing happened and we can go on as it has always been.”

She sniffled and took a deep breath. “It’s not…I am not…”

He retrieved his handkerchief from his coat hanging on a nearby chair. Handing it to her, he sat on a stool by the bed, leaning forward in hopes to console her. He couldn’t watch her cry on his account.

“It’s only that I woke from the most horrid dream last night, but then I realized, it wasn’t a dream but a memory. My father is dead. The person I loved most in the world is gone. I feel like my heart will break in two. It’s more painful than this illness. My whole world is crumbling around me.” She sucked in a large breath and panted, unable to catch her breath.

“I am sorry, truly.” He put his fist to his mouth to hide the anger welling up inside him. He held her hand and ran his thumb over her fingertips. He’d never known the pain she felt, but he could see the anguish in her eyes.

“That is not all. I think…no, I know…that I cut my own hair.” She bit her lip, tugging at the short locks at her temple. Tears streamed down her cheeks and she ignored them, so preoccupied with self-hate. “I don’t understand it. I feel like I’ve been confused for so long. Doing things I would never do…and then father’s death…and I wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral. Then I remember the scissors I took from the sewing box…” She stared straight ahead as if seeing the vision of herself playing out in front of her.

“But why?” he asked softly, not as an accusation, but trying to understand.

“I don’t…” She sniffled. “There are pieces missing. I can’t recall it all. It’s as if my memory is written on a piece of parchment, but rain has washed away the ink and with it, bits of my past. I catch glimpses and then they are gone. One moment I see so clearly and the next, I feel as if perhaps everything I think I know is a dream. The worst part is that I feel I’ve been doing these bad things, but had no control over myself doing them.”

He gripped her hand tighter. Perhaps she was mad. Maybe not from Worthington Hall, but mad just the same. But no, he couldn’t believe it. His mind raced, having an argument with himself.

Why not believe it? It would solve the mystery about her.

Because I’m in love with her.

In love with an insane lost girl?

My lost doe. Oh Lord, we’re made for one another because I am mad, too. Longing to feel her soft body near him, he wished he was still in bed, so he could curl up behind her and nuzzle her ear.

“Say something, please.” She looked to him, her sad eyes defeated.

He had no response and before he knew what he was about, he leaned forward and placed his lips on hers. His kiss deepened and he found her lips open to his. She wanted him close, too. Could it be that she loved him as well?

But she is lost and crazy. His brain screamed, “Stop!” But he couldn’t. He reached up to her neck, massaging the short curls there. How soft and inviting they were. She whimpered and he grinned, knowing she wished him to continue.

Alexander’s reason stepped in to put an end to the heaven he felt. I am taking advantage of a poor, helpless, mad woman who looks to me for protection. My God, man, get a hold of yourself!

Alexander broke away and stood. His breathing heavy, he couldn’t even see straight as he crossed the room and gripped the window pane.

“Lord Harrington…Alexander…” Her meek voice spoke in a quiver.

“I am sorry. I am…incorrigible. I should not have…” He looked at her but couldn’t bear the embarrassment written so plainly on her cheeks. “Pardon me. I must go.” Grabbing his coat, he walked into his doe’s room.

Kate woke and looked up at him, startled.

“See to her. She was cold and slept in the other bed last night, closer to the fire.” In my bed.

“Y-yes, M’lord.”

Alexander left the house, barking orders at Benjamin about taking care of his doe. He went to the stable and saddled his horse faster than one of the stable boys could wake and get dressed to do so. Galloping away from Denwood, Alexander focused his frustration on riding.

Blurb:

Lord Alexander Harrington’s life is rather tame until a shoeless, coatless waif is found wandering his estate with no memory of who she is. Despite his stoicism, Lord Harrington finds himself drawn to the lost girl who he compares to a scared doe. Caring for her illness despite speculation of her mental state, he develops feelings for her.

Is she an escaped lunatic, or simply a lost woman desperately in need of his help? A revelation about his own family’s history with the mental asylum down the road causes him to question his feelings. When a massive fire breaks out on estate grounds, will he lose her forever?

Buy Link: (Print or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com)

https://www.amazon.com/Lord-Harringtons-Lost-Emmy-Madrigal/dp/1535426276

About Emmy:

Emmy Z. Madrigal is the author of the Regency Novella, Lord Harrington’s Lost Doe. Her previous works include the New Adult series Sweet Dreams Musical Romance and the Chick Lit series Anime Girl.

Website: http://emmyzmadrigal.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EmmyZMadrigal

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Emmy-Z.-Madrigal/e/B004G34P6W

 

Medieval Monday with Barbara Bettis

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It’s another Medieval Monday and we’re continuing our theme this month with getting to know the participating authors. Let’s read on to learn why Barbara Bettis loves to write Medieval romances!

I’m not sure what calls to me so strongly from the Middle Ages, but whatever it is, has done so my entire life. I think it may be rooted in the stories I devoured when I first started reading. Myths, folk stories from different cultures, tales of Knights of the Round Table, they all captured my imagination. It was a different, fascinating world where anything was possible—in theory. Throughout school, history was a favorite subject, and I loved to delve into the events—and lives of the people—of the past.

As I did so, I recognized that the knightly tales of derring do from my childhood were set amidst times of turmoil, deprivation of the many and reward of the few. I usually root for the underdog, so when my studies introduced me to mercenaries and the bad reputation many of them enjoyed (and they probably did enjoy them), I immediately thought, “But they all must not have been bad. What of the ones who fought to better themselves and didn’t practice cruelty?”

Life was not easy for most people. In the eyes of society at that time, bettering oneself usually meant acquiring land. Few folks had the means or opportunity to do so. Later in the Medieval period, landed-society’s restrictions didn’t allow for commoners to aspire to knighthood, except for very limited exceptions. But in the earlier days, it wasn’t all that unusual for a commoner to rise by reason of bravery, strength, and audacity. All but one of my stories have featured such mercenaries who strive to better themselves by acquiring power and land.

All my stories feature strong women, not at all the norm of the period. Yet discoveries tell us there were more strong women than we realize, although most of them were wed or in the church. I imbue my heroines with strength of character given the times in which they lived.

I love creating the stories of strong heroines we women would like to be and of heroes we’d love to live for.

Bio:

Barbara Bettis grew up in the rural Midwest, where reading was a reward for chores well done. So you can bet she did her chores well—and fast. She loved history and English. She’d intended to major in English, but when she arrived at her small, Liberal Arts college, one of the European history professors was on a Rhodes Scholarship. Once she met the English professors, she defected.

Thus, she received her BA in English with a strong minor in history and her Master’s in English. After working as a newspaper reporter and editor, Barb returned to college and taught English and journalism, later earning a doctorate in Higher Education with an emphasis in journalism.

After her husband died, some former students lured her into their critique group, where she began writing fiction. A trip to Scotland and England solidified her love of the Isles (the small tour group set up a ‘Barb’s Castle Alert’ on their train journeys). Her earlier fascination with the Middle Ages led her into her medieval stories, where she’s been roaming around ever since.

Now that she’s retired from teaching, her ambition is to write an angst-ridden, tortured hero set in the High Middle Ages, but somehow her guys end up with inappropriate senses of humor. Perhaps in the future….         www.barbarabettis.blogspot.com

First Kiss Friday with guest Rozsa Gaston

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Welcome to another First Kiss Friday. Today’s guest is a new author to me named Rozsa Gaston. This book looks fabulous and I’ve already grabbed my copy. We hope you enjoy this first kiss scene from Rozsa’s book, A Sense of Touch. Enjoy!

Excerpt:

THAT EVENING, THE horse nuzzled Nicole as Philippe crouched low, examining him. All traces of his sadness of a few hours earlier were gone.

“The wound looks better,” he remarked. “No more red around the gash. And look at him. Back to his old self!”

“You tickle me, Petard,” Nicole giggled as the horse burrowed his large muzzle under her arm.

Philippe looked up, his expression hard to read. The crackling energy she felt from him at times was back. Suddenly, he no longer seemed like a youth anymore, but a full-grown man.

She watched as his eyes followed where the horse’s muzzle was on her body. Philippe’s every muscle seemed alert, alive.

Digging into her further, the horse’s huge head knocked her off balance; she stumbled back.

Philippe’s arm shot up to steady her, hugging her around her lower back. With his other arm, he grabbed her just below the soft curve of her backside. It was a place no one’s hands had touched since Nicole had matured the spring before.

The sensation of him holding her so firmly, of his eyes locking onto hers, gripped her as tightly as his arms did. No longer in danger of falling, she felt as if she were. Strange new slithering shards of energy traveled up and down her torso and legs. Petard had moved back, his head turning in the direction of a bird’s cry from behind where Philippe crouched.

Returning Philippe’s gaze, she placed her hands on his shoulders. Underneath her fingers, she could feel the tautness of his muscles; even more so, the focused attention at which they stood, as if waiting to receive direction from her.
Of course they were.

She slipped down to his crouching position. His hands slithered up over either side of her torso until they rested under her arms. His thumb-tips pressed lightly into her collarbones, then more firmly.

Staring at him, she sensed a boundary present, a decision underway. It was hers to make, judging by the attentiveness with which he held her.

Slowly, with one hand, she covered his and pulled it out from under her arm, sliding it over her breast. What was she doing? All she knew was that she would have her moment before her father married her off to the rich older nobleman he had decided upon for her. Her time to reach for what she wanted was now, before she disappeared forever into the confines of married life; far from this youth with the gray-green gaze that moved her strangely when it fixed on her.

His sharp intake of breath told her he was cognizant of the forbidden territory they now traveled. Would she allow him to wander farther?

Taking her hand off his, she waited to see what he would do. Slowly, he moved his hand over her other breast then back again and, finally, sure of its terrain, it proceeded to the middle of her chest and upward to the base of her throat, against her warm, bare skin.

It was as if her heart had slowed down, along with time itself. Each beat seemed deeper, more resonant. She raised her head, waiting.

With fingers splayed, Philippe’s broad hand traveled up, twisting as it went to fit the line of her jawbone. There it rested, his palm cupping her chin, his index and middle fingers on her cheekbone. His thumb rested on the side of her mouth.

She opened it slightly and felt his thumb journey along her lower lip and back. Her entire body quivered.

“Philippe,” she whispered.

“My Nicole,” he murmured back.

“Am I?” For the moment, she belonged to herself, but by the following summer she would be a married woman.

“I wish you were,” he answered, then moved his face toward hers until their noses touched. “And you?” he asked, almost imperceptibly.

“I wish I was,” she answered, closing her eyes and letting go of every conscious thought that could come between them. There were many, but at that moment there were none.

His kiss was tender at first, then firm, heady. As it deepened, his hands came around her back, pressing her to him.

When she opened her eyes, she saw that his own were wild, as if starlit, with an expression in them she had never seen before. A hint of danger glinted there, yet she knew him, didn’t she? Was he not still her Philippe, the youth whose hair she washed ?
Reaching for him, she pulled him to her. This time, it was her lips that sought his, opening beneath his, feeling his tongue press into her mouth, tasting and probing. Not expecting such an intrusion, she pressed her teeth gently down on his tongue, bidding him stop till she was ready to proceed again.

Soon enough, she was. This time, she put her own tongue into his mouth, dancing and rolling over his. They were like two lambs frolicking in a pasture. His taste was delicious, unlike anything she had savored before—fresh, young, and virile. Perhaps hers was, too, judging by the way he breathed so deeply.

His breathing sped up, and he stood, lifting her to her feet with him. She flung her arms around his neck and craned her head up, receiving his kiss in the pink and purple rays of the setting sun. Never had she felt like this before, never did she want to let go of this moment.

“Nicole! Are you there? Nicole!” a voice called. Great shuddering gasps came over her, whether from awe at what had just taken place, or shock at having it end so suddenly, she knew not.

“I will be right there,” she called, quickly breaking away from him and smoothing her hands over her gown.

“Where are you? I don’t see you!” Marie de Volonté exclaimed.

Good. Nicole looked up at Philippe and put a finger to her lips.

Catching his stunned expression, she giggled. Inside, her heart stirred, not her loins. But now, for the first time, she knew what it was to have her loins stir, too. She had never known before. It was a powerful sensation, as if an ancient call from the wild was pulling and straining at her, rendering her reason senseless, her senses as tight as the string of a well-tuned lute.

Putting her hands up to her hair, she smoothed it over her shoulder, checking with her fingers that no telltale hay or grass was caught in its long locks. Satisfied, she smiled at Philippe.

“Tomorrow?” he murmured.

“Tomorrow morning. Take care of my stallion,” she bade him.

“Take care of my heart, and bring it back tomorrow,” he replied.

Her own heart leaping for joy, she turned and ran toward Marie de Volonté, still searching for her on the far side of the paddock. “Here I am!” she sang out, finally ready to be discovered. As she caught up to the young noblewoman, she prayed Philippe had hidden himself.

“Happy to be working with Petard again?” Marie asked. Her face was impish.

“He’s better today. My poultice is working its magic,” Nicole told her.

“Something is working its magic,” Marie replied, studying her closely. She reached over and plucked a stray piece of straw from Nicole’s hair.

Nicole looked at her guiltily then caught herself. “How did you know I was here?” she asked sharply.

“I didn’t. I asked Cook where you were and she said to go ask the stable-boy.”

“Oh, you mean Dom.” Relief flooded her. She would use what she knew about Marie and him to keep her quiet.

“No, not him,” Marie answered.

“Then who?” Alarm rose in Nicole’s stomach.

“The one over there.” The younger girl pointed toward the barn.

“No one’s over there,” Nicole said, straining to see in the gloaming.

Marie looked in the direction Nicole did. “Oh. Well, he was there a minute ago. I asked him, and he pointed over there,” Marie indicated where Nicole and Philippe had just been.

“Do you know who it was?” Nicole asked, hoping it hadn’t been Philippe that Cook had meant. Besides Dom, there was another young stable-hand who mucked out the horses’ stalls. Had he seen them? If so, how much had he seen? Her heart thumped wildly at the thought. He was said to be slow-witted, but that didn’t mean he was mute. No one was at court.

Marie shrugged. “No.”

“What did you see?” Nicole’s heart thumped.

“Nothing, my lady. Your eyes are as full of magic as your healing hands,” Marie answered blithely as she sauntered up the path.

“What does that mean, pray tell?” Nicole demanded. Unused to being on the defensive, she didn’t like it. She would switch positions as soon as she found a way.

“Lucky the one they touch, that is all,” Marie replied mysteriously.

“What one do you speak of?”

“I will not say,” the younger girl giggled, then put her finger to her lips in an identical manner to the way Nicole had just done with Philippe.

There was nothing more Nicole could do than swallow the next thing she wished to say. It wouldn’t do her any good to blurt it out; it would just incriminate her further. Biting her tongue, she joined Marie in laughter, praying that the younger girl would keep a secret. Besides, Nicole felt like laughing too. Her heart danced for joy at the memory of Philippe’s touch.

 

Blurb:

In July of 1497 Anne of Brittany, Queen of France, gives birth to a son. Within hours the child joins the five dead siblings who came before him.

In the mournful weeks that follow, fifteen-year-old Nicole St. Sylvain meets Philippe de Bois, a young horse trainer breaking in one of the queen’s stallions. The attraction between the two is immediate, but duty and honor bring their romance to an abrupt halt. They work together to heal the horse’s infected hoof, then part ways.

As the daughter of a wealthy but untitled merchant, Nicole exists in a precarious social position. Her family has money, she is the sole heir, but she is only noble on her dead mother’s side. An arranged marriage to an established noble family will secure her future but dash any hope she has of a life with Philippe.

When the queen’s only living child falls ill, she remembers Nicole’s skill as a healer. If Nicole’s healing sense of touch can save the royal child, will the queen reward her with the greatest desire of her heart—marriage to her one true love?

Buy Link: Amazon

Bio:

Rozsa Gaston writes about men and women who follow their hearts as well as their bliss. Her motto? Stay playful.

She studied European history at Yale, and received her master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia. In between she worked as a singer/pianist all over the world. She lives in Bronxville, NY with her family.

Gaston is currently working on Anne and Charles, sequel to Sense of Touch, a fictional account of the life of Anne of Brittany, Queen of France, with first husband Charles VIII of France, during the years 1488-1498.

Her other works include Dog Sitters, Budapest Romance, Running from Love, Paris Adieu, and Black is Not a Color. Post an online review of Sense of Touch and she will thank you with a complimentary e-book edition of your choice of any of her other books at http://bit.ly/RozsaGastonbooks.

Find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rozsagastonauthor.

Follow her on Twitter at @RozsaGaston

or on Instagram at rozsagastonauthor

Visit her blog at www.rozsagaston.com

Happy Release Day for A Kiss For Charity!

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Today I’m happy to announce the release of my novella, A Kiss For Charity, which first appeared in the Bluestocking Belles’ 2016 box set, Holly and Hopeful Hearts. I hope you’ll support me by picking up a copy for only $0.99. You’ll also find extra bonus material from original posts that appeared in the Belles’ Teatime Tattler blog. Enjoy this excerpt of Nicholas and Grace’s first encounter! A Kiss For Charity is officially launched!

 

Excerpt:

Arms of steel wrapped around her waist to prevent her downward pitch. Her rescuer’s cape whirled around their bodies as though the cloak itself would conceal them from the night and those around them. Fathomless dark eyes were all but hidden in the black mask that concealed his features, yet, a flicker from the walkway lanterns hinted at their color. His eyes were brown, much like his hair, she surmised, if the curls that formed around the edges of his hat and mask were any indication.

Grace gasped as he quickly maneuvered her off the pathway to save them from being run over by the eagerness of the crowd. She shivered, but not from the cold for she was far from chilled. No. She quivered from the warmth that raced up and down her spine at being this close to a man, let alone held intimately for the first time in many years.

“Are you hurt, my lady?”

His deep voice went straight to her heart. His low tone plummeted down to reach into the very depths of her soul to awaken a part of her that had been left dormant as though she had been waiting for him her entire life. Waiting… yes she had been waiting for someone to come along who would give her this sudden feeling of completeness, even though he was a total stranger.

The realization of what she was doing hit her as if a bucket of icy water had been thrown over the top of her head. He was asking her something, but her brain could not wrap itself around what he had inquired.

“Pardon me?” she asked in a breathy whisper of astonishment, especially when she realized she had been caressing the lapel of his jacket beneath his cloak.

His arm tightened around her. She watched in mild fascination as one side of his mouth turned up in a cocky grin. He knew exactly how her body was reacting to their close proximity.

“I asked if you were hurt, although I might also beg for an introduction.”

“I h-hardly think this en-encounter is a-appropriate,” Grace stammered. Was that actually her voice sounding so unsure of herself?

He leaned down, and, for an instant, she thought he was about to kiss her.

“How utterly charming that I have you all tongued-tied.” His words whispered gently in her ear were almost her undoing.

Before she could comment, Moriah’s voice was heard above the noise of the crowd, and she quickly untangled herself from the man who did nothing to hide his disappointment.

“There you are,” Moriah declared as she stared up at the stranger. Grace could only imagine what was going on inside her friend’s mind, given their recent conversation. “I am sorry I lost you. Are you all right?”

Grace nodded. “Yes… of course. Thank you, sir, for your assistance this evening,” she murmured shyly to the gentleman whose lips turned up into a charming grin.

He raised his fingers to tip his hat towards her. “It was my pleasure to rescue a fair damsel in distress.”

Her eyes followed him through the crowd until he disappeared. Her heart hammered in her chest. What in the world had just happened?

Blurb:

Love heals all wounds but will their pride keep them apart?

Young widow, Grace, Lady de Courtenay, is more concerned with improving her mind than finding another husband. But how was she to know that a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would spark her interest and make her yearn for love again?

Lord Nicholas Lacey has been on his own for far too long after losing his wife in a tragic accident. After a rare trip to a masquerade, his attention is captivated by a lovely young woman. Considering the dubious company she keeps, perhaps she might be interested in becoming his mistress.

From the darkened paths of Vauxhall Gardens to a countryside estate called Hollystone Hall, Nicholas and Grace must set aside their differences in order to let love into their hearts. It will take more than a dose of holiday cheer to see these two on the road to finding their happily-ever-after and a kiss for charity may just be what they both need.

Buuy Links:
Amazon US  |  Barnes & Noble  |iBooks  |  Kobo

Amazon AU  |  Amazon BR | Amazon CA Amazon DE  |Amazon ES   |
Amazon FR  | Amazon IN  | Amazon IT  | Amazon JP Amazon MX |
Amazon NL  |  Amazon UK

Medieval Monday with my friend Mary Morgan

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It’s my pleasure to bring back my friend Mary Morgan who will explain to us why she loves writing those marvelous medieval romances she does so well. Thank you for being my guest today Mary!

“Why I love writing Medieval” by Mary Morgan

I’ve often been asked this question, “Why Medieval romance? Why not Regency, Victorian, or Western?” In truth, I love them all, but my heart belongs to one. It started when my fingers opened a book about the great Irish King, Brian Boru (941-1014A.D.). His story is legendary, especially with the people of Ireland. King Brian led the Irish to the peak of their Golden Age—from poetry, arts, saints, and scholars. A spark ignited within my soul for more.

I sought out tales of knights in shining armor and folk heroes, delving into a life teeming with richness, though at times harsh and violent. Yet, it wasn’t until I devoured the history of Brian Boru that I became immersed in medieval life. From there, I treasured tales of life in castles, traveling on horseback, studying foods and herbs. My list is endless and always growing on medieval ways. Yes, there are even days when I long to travel back in time and explore the history, lore, and beliefs.

Therefore, when it came time to pen my own stories, it only made sense for me to place them all in a medieval setting. One might say I live vicariously through my characters. It’s a love affair with all things medieval.

For more about my stories, please visit my book page: http://www.marymorganauthor.com/books

Author Bio:

Award-winning Scottish paranormal romance author, Mary Morgan, resides in Northern California, with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.

Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. She spent far too much time daydreaming and was told quite often to remove her head from the clouds. It wasn’t until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling–writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.

First Kiss Friday with Sherry Ewing & A Kiss For Charity

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Today on First Kiss Friday I am featuring the first kiss scene from A Kiss For Charity, a sweet Regency era novella that first appeared in the Bluestocking Belles’ 2016 box set, Holly and Hopeful Hearts. The Belles and I will be celebrating the individual release of our novellas this coming Sunday with a Facebook event. We hope you can join us. Keep reading and I hope you enjoy the first kiss between Nicholas and Grace!

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Excerpt:

He bowed. She curtsied. The musicians struck up a chord as if Nicholas had instructed them to do so for his own benefit. He held out his hand. A bold move, but one he was willing to take this night.

“May I have the pleasure of this dance?” he inquired politely, already knowing her answer.

Her gloved hand slipped into his, and he felt as though he had waited his entire life for her to say yes. Yes to the dance. Yes to anything else he might propose, be it for one night or something they might both wish to be a longer commitment.

She was an accomplished dancer. He had already witnessed her talent, yet it was far more pleasurable to watch her when she was now his partner. He wished to know who she was, but the fast-paced dance was hardly a place to carry on a meaningful conversation about getting to know one another.

Was it two dances later or maybe three? Nicholas lost track of time but finally, he placed his hand about the lady’s waist to expertly guide her out into the garden. It had been some time since he had allowed himself the pleasure of enjoying a woman’s company, especially in the moonlight.

The evening was cool, and when he saw her shiver, he shrugged out of his jacket since he had left his cape behind in the supper box. He placed the garment about her shoulders. She took hold of the lapels and brought it closer. He swore he could hear her sniff the edges as if she were committing to her memory the smell of his cologne for when he was gone.

Nicholas reached out to remove her mask so he could finally see all of her features.

“No.” She held out her hand to stop his efforts. “The mask stays in place if you wish me to remain here with you.”

“If that is your wish, so be it.”

“It is,” she answered quietly.

Nicholas did not remember it being this difficult to kiss a lady in the moonlight, but she must desire to be with him, too, else she would not be standing outside with him now. He could no longer stand the distance between them. Surely some form of spell had been cast upon him to be acting so rashly.

“Who are you?” he asked, taking hold of both her arms and bringing her closer.

“Does it matter?”

“How else am I to call upon you tomorrow if I know not your name tonight, my lady?”

This unknown woman who teased his senses gave a careless shrug but took a step closer. She placed her hand upon his chest. “Let it be enough that for tonight I am free to do as I please.”

He grinned at her response. One moment Nicholas was staring into her mask and brown eyes, and the next he was lowering his mouth to meet her lips.

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Grace was unsure if it were the moonlight that drove her to such reckless behavior or the thought of having just one moment in time to treasure with a man who wanted to be with a mysterious and, perhaps, desirable woman. In either case, nothing prepared her for the instant their lips met. She supposed, since she did not protest going down the garden path with him, this would be the natural course of what would happen. But still… surely she was slipping at the very brink of tasting heaven itself from their first kiss.

Such a kiss was at first like an introduction when his mouth slowly slid over hers as though he were searching for some hidden meaning to their attraction to one another. There was nothing demanding or urgent in seeing the matter over and done with. No, the kiss was a mingling of breaths. It was two souls connecting in the night. A simple kiss, yet there was nothing simple about it. He stopped as quickly as he started then stared into her eyes, yet she knew the mask hid her features well enough that he would be unable to identify her in the light of day.

Blurb:

Love heals all wounds but will their pride keep them apart?

Young widow, Grace, Lady de Courtenay, is more concerned with improving her mind than finding another husband. But how was she to know that a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would spark her interest and make her yearn for love again?

Lord Nicholas Lacey has been on his own for far too long after losing his wife in a tragic accident. After a rare trip to a masquerade, his attention is captivated by a lovely young woman. Considering the dubious company she keeps, perhaps she might be interested in becoming his mistress.

From the darkened paths of Vauxhall Gardens to a countryside estate called Hollystone Hall, Nicholas and Grace must set aside their differences in order to let love into their hearts. It will take more than a dose of holiday cheer to see these two on the road to finding their happily-ever-after and a kiss for charity may just be what they both need.

Buy Links:

Amazon US  |  Barnes & Noble  |iBooks  |  Kobo

Amazon AU |  Amazon BR | Amazon CA | Amazon DE  |Amazon ES 
Amazon FR  | Amazon IN  | Amazon IT  | Amazon JP | Amazon MX 
Amazon NL  |  Amazon UK



Come celebrate with the Bluestocking Belles
and the release of our novellas

June 4, 2017
4:00 – 8:00 p.m. EDT

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Join our Facebook event here


For more information on my work, be sure to check out the tabs above and thank you for stopping by my blog today!

Medieval Monday with guest Elisabeth Hobbes

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Hello everyone and welcome to another Medieval Monday! We’re continuing our medieval author introductions this week. My guest today is Elisabeth Hobbes who will tell you why she enjoys writing medieval romances. Enjoy!

Why I write Medieval Romance

I’m sure my love of the Middle Ages is mainly due to where I’m from. The city of York has a rich history dating back to the Vikings and Romans but many of the surviving buildings are medieval. We have The Shambles (the low rows of cottages looming towards each other that housed the city’s butchers) the magnificent Minster and Guild houses, streets of Medieval buildings too numerous to mention and the magnificent gated walls which still encircle the town. I spent most of my teenage years wandering around the city looking for a handsome Roman or Viking to sweep me off my feet. Sadly this never happened but growing up somewhere like that it was impossible not to develop a passion for the period as I walked to and from school past castles and ruins imagining the lives and loves of the people who came before me.

The Medieval period had very clearly defined conventions, social structure and strict codes of behavior, and transgressing these had real, life threatening consequences. Not for my characters the genteel Regency ballroom and risk of being ‘cut’ by the Ton. Put a foot wrong in my world and you’ll find yourself on the wrong end of the sword not a snapping fan! It was a time of conquest and conflict, tournaments and battles. Life was harsh and dangerous, life expectancy was low but the period gave rise to the code of chivalry and some of the greatest architecture still standing.

Bio:

Elisabeth’s writing career began when she entered her first novel, Falling for Her Captor, into Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest. She finished in third place and was offered a two book contract. She has since written five novels for Harlequin Mills & Boon with settings and eras ranging from the turbulent events of post-Conquest Cheshire to the thrilling tournaments of thirteenth century York.

As well as writing Elisabeth is a part time teacher and full time mum to two children. She spends whatever spare time she has reading and is a pro at cooking one-handed while holding a book.

Elisabeth’s other hobbies include horse riding, skiing, Arabic dance, fencing and exploring dreadful tourist attractions, none of which has made it into a story yet. She loves ginger mojitos, historical fiction and has a fondness for dark haired, bearded heroes.

Elisabeth lives in Cheshire because her car broke down there when she was house hunting and she never left.

Find Elisabeth at:

viewAuthor.at/ElisabethHobbes
Amazon Author page