First Kiss Friday with Jude Knight

It’s always a pleasure when I can welcome back Jude Knight to my First Kiss Friday blog. Today, she’ll be sharing an excerpt from her novella in the Bluestocking Belles’ boxset, Fire & Ice. It’s currently available for pre-order. Release date is February 4th.  Happy reading, my lovelies!

In this excerpt from Melting Matilda, a novella in the Bluestocking Belles’ box set Fire and Frost, Matilda is remembering their first kiss. For the scene with the actual kiss, you’ll have to wait until next year. Jude has rewritten the story of the house party from the novella The Bluestocking and the Barbarian into the novel To Wed a Proper Lady. Matilda and Charles are two of the secondary characters, and it will be out sometime early in 2020.


Matilda stared in shock at the elegant figure before her. If the Granite Earl was imposing in his daytime wear, he was enthralling when dressed for the evening, all in black but for his white cravat and gloves, and his embroidered silver waistcoat.

“Miss Grenford?” He was too polite ever to sound impatient, but his imperious hand hinted that he expected an answer, and assumed it would be affirmative.

Jessica gave her a nudge. If Matilda did not accept Lord Hamner’s invitation to dance, she would be unable to accept any others this evening, and then Aunt Eleanor would wish to know why. She managed to smile and curtsey.

“Thank you, my lord.” She placed her hand in his, and even though they were both gloved, his touch set her quaking. Heaven’s mercy! It was a waltz: an entire set dancing with him alone, holding his hand, his arm around her, staring into his eyes. Why had he asked her to dance?

No one she had danced with since she came out—whether bored, charming, slyly lecherous, condescending, pompous, or openly eager to court the favor of Her Grace or Aldridge through her—no one affected her like Lord Hamner.

She had felt it the first time they danced, a week or so into her first Season, nearly two years ago. A tingle when they touched. An awareness of his physical presence even when they were separated by the patterns of the dance. An aching response in her own body, as if she were suddenly hollowed out and yearning for something unknown.

He did not ask her again that Season, though they frequently attended the same events.

The next time was at the Masquerade Ball held at the duchess’s Christmas house party at Christmas that same year. When she accepted his invitation, she hoped that her previous response reflected her inexperience. But all the dances in between, all the partners in between, made no difference. If anything, the sensations were worse.

He felt something, too, she was sure, because he became stiffer than ever, and would barely look at her. When the music ended, he held his arm away from his body and escorted her to the nearest side of the floor. Noticing how flushed she was, he suggested some fresh air, but as soon as they were alone, the proper distance between them vanished. He kissed her. She kissed him back, her heart singing, only to drop through her dancing slippers when he walked away. She repulsed him with her wanton response: she just knew it.

He left the party the next day, but that was nothing to do with Matilda. Lady Felicity, but her friends called her Fliss, told those closest to her that he had proposed—and Fliss had refused him–the very next morning after that magic kiss, the rat.

Melting Matilda

Her scandalous birth prevents Matilda Grenford from being fully acceptable to Society, even though she has been a ward of the Duchess of Haverford since she was a few weeks old. Matilda does not expect to be wooed by a worthy gentleman. The only man who has ever interested her gave her an outrageous kiss a year ago and has avoided her ever since.

Charles, the Earl of Hamner is honour bound to ignore his attraction to Matilda Grenford. She is an innocent and a lady, and in every way worthy of his respect—but she is base-born. His ancestors would rise screaming from their graves if he made her his countess. But he cannot forget the kiss they once shared.

For more about Fire & Frost, including preorder links, see:

About Jude Knight

Have you ever wanted something so much you were afraid to even try? That was Jude ten years ago.

For as long as she can remember, she’s wanted to be a novelist. She even started dozens of stories, over the years.

But life kept getting in the way. A seriously ill child who required years of therapy; a rising mortgage that led to a full-time job; six children, her own chronic illness… the writing took a back seat.

As the years passed, the fear grew. If she didn’t put her stories out there in the market, she wouldn’t risk making a fool of herself. She could keep the dream alive if she never put it to the test.

Then her mother died. That great lady had waited her whole life to read a novel of Jude’s, and now it would never happen.

So Jude faced her fear and changed it–told everyone she knew she was writing a novel. Now she’d make a fool of herself for certain if she didn’t finish.

Her first book came out to excellent reviews in December 2014, and the rest is history. Many books, lots of positive reviews, and a few awards later, she plans to keep publishing until she runs out of years.

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First Kiss Friday with The Earl Takes A Wife


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Welcome to another First Kiss Friday, my lovelies! Today it’s my pleasure to give you an excerpt from The Earl Takes A Wife that is currently available for pre-order. In this scene, Adrian has just given Celia a necklace for her 18th birthday and she kissed his cheek. Read on and enjoy, gentle readers.


Her impulse to bend forward to kiss Adrian’s cheek may have been an innocent enough gesture in her mind, yet her heart apparently thought differently, given its rapid rhythm. Could he hear the staccato sound that betrayed her feelings for him whether she voiced them aloud or not? Surely he could, since he was standing so close. Was she the only one who felt as though the world was tipping, as if his mere presence made her head spin?

She should step away. She should distance herself from the man who caused such reckless behavior. She should mumble an apology and flee into the ballroom as fast as her slippered feet could carry her.

Yet here she stood, even daring to step closer when she felt the slightest pull from Adrian’s hand on her elbow. It was so subtle that Celia could easily mistake such a harmless touch as nothing. Instead, she hoped he desired her closer. Her reaction to the gift may have been her undoing. She was unsure her heart could stand much more.

He took several steps backward, plunging himself into the shadows of the night, but not releasing her hand. Fool that she was, Celia willingly followed his lead. Not caring she was no longer in sight of those who may be watching, her spirits soared knowing Adrian… yes, Adrian… wanted to steal a few moments alone together.

Had she not dreamed of this moment for months since they were first introduced at Hollystone Hall? His sister Miranda’s words that Celia should make Adrian jealous in order to win him were but a small memory. She had told Miranda months ago that she could not resort to such a ploy and such unladylike behavior, that it was not becoming of a genteel lady. Miranda had laughed, telling Celia sometimes harsh measures were needed in order to obtain what the heart desired.

Clearly such foolery had not been necessary, because here she was with Adrian. He led her into the dark of his own accord and not because she made him jealous with another. A brief glimpse of the marquis flashed in her mind, but she brushed away the image of his face, knowing she had made no commitment to the man despite her father’s wishes. Phillip did not own her heart, and he never would. It belonged to Adrian from the first moment she had seen him.

Lost in her thoughts, Celia realized they had not gone far, and for that, she was grateful. She could still easily make a hasty escape if necessary, especially if they heard someone approaching.

Adrian gently maneuvered her against the brick of the manor in the shelter of a trellis filled with ivy vines. He placed his body as a protective shield so she was efficiently hidden. Her mind worked furiously. Had he done this before with some other willing lady? Was she just another conquest?

His long fingers reached out and took her chin, tilting her face upward so she could do nothing more than stare into those mesmerizing blue eyes. The corners of his mouth lifted into a sensual grin, and Celia was lost to everything but him.


She blurted his name as though they were already lovers and felt a blush color her face crimson, hoping he could not see it in the dim light. Her hands moved of their own accord to tentatively touch his waist. At her apparent encouragement, he stepped even closer until she could feel the very heat of him against her young trembling body. His hand slid to her cheek; the thumb rubbed a gentle pattern as if to calm her, but she was anything but calm. The anticipation of his kiss was going to kill her.

A heavy sigh escaped him. “You should leave.” His voice was strained as though he was struggling within himself.

“Yes… I probably should.” Her hands crept upward to finger the buttons of his waistcoat, the floral pattern in deep contrast to the rest of his dark attire. A mental image from her dreams of undressing Adrian on their wedding night startled her, and she quickly shifted her hands to the edge of his jacket as if holding onto him might give her strength and the support she needed to remain level headed.

His breath was warm against her temple when he placed a soft kiss at her hairline before he touched his forehead to her own.

“You are not leaving,” he murmured, his hands moving down her arms as if she needed warming. His voice was low and husky, causing her flesh to shiver in anticipation of the unknown.

“I cannot,” she managed to croak out, while she tried to find a way to breathe. Somewhere in the recesses of her mind she knew she must flee but she ignored the warning, especially when her stomach flipped as his arm swooped around her waist.

“Why not?” he asked, pulling her closer so there was no doubt left in her mind that he wanted her. She may be young, but she certainly understood the fundamentals of what might happen when she took the hand of a rake and plunged into the coolness of the night.

Celia wound her arms around his neck, touching the curling edges of his brown hair. God only knew how much she had been dying to do that since Hollystone Hall. She swallowed hard and rushed onward, her fate sealed to this man whether he knew it or not. “Because I have dreamed of your kisses from the day we first met,” she confessed, her words louder than she intended, as though such an admission should be shouted for all the world to hear.

Adrian muttered something beneath his breath before he gave her a little shake. “I made you a promise I would behave as a gentleman,” he growled. But he did not let her go, and his face showed an internal struggle.

His voice made her shiver yet again, but she kept her place within his embrace. “I would expect nothing less.”

He took her face into the palms of his hands in order to study her reaction to his touch. She covered one of his hands with her own. “If we stay out here, I have no doubt I will break my vow,” he replied.

“Then, before I lose my nerve to ask you…” Celia hesitated only an instant before she rushed on in an urgent plea, “…kiss me, Adrian. Kiss me like—”

…you love me, she finished inside her head when he cut off her words; for she could not speak when Adrian did just that. Kissed her. Right there. In the moonlight. With half of Society but a breath away.

His kiss was demanding at first. She had no idea what to do with her mouth, since this was her very first kiss. He must have realized that fact because everything changed between them. He softened his lips on hers as he possessed her mouth, but still, their situation was charged with an unseen energy that Celia never wanted to end.

Unsure what to do, she at first stood as still as one of the marble statues in her uncle’s garden. A gentle urging from Adrian encouraged her to open her mouth and follow his lead. A willing pupil, she allowed the master to teach her what he enjoyed, and she discovered that she enjoyed it, too.

He easily slipped his tongue inside. Warm fire erupted in her veins, while her tongue tangled with his. A low moan escaped her, unbidden but easily detected in the silence of the night. A tell-tale sign of the true depth of her feelings for the man who kissed her senseless.

Nothing had ever prepared her for the heady rush of sensations that enveloped her whole being. His arms tightened around her. She clutched at him like she was starving, and only Adrian could satisfy her cravings. Nothing mattered. Not the ball. Not her sisters. Not Phillip. Not even her father. If Adrian could kiss her like this, then surely he, too, must care for her. Did he love…?


They tore their lips apart as the sound of her name continued to echo off into the night. Her breathing heavy, she melted into Adrian’s arms, placing her head upon his chest while she heard his own heartbeat running wild. He was just as affected as she was.

The Earl Takes A Wife:
A de Courtenay Novella (Book Two)
By Sherry Ewing
Release Date: October 29th
Pre-order for only $0.99

It began with a memory etched in the heart.

Lady Celia Lacey is too young for a husband, especially man-about-town Lord Adrian de Courtenay. But when she meets him at a house party, she falls in love and cannot get him out of her mind. Will he ever think she is old enough to become his wife?

Adrian finds appealing innocent Lady Celia Lacey impossible to forget, though she is barely out of the schoolroom and a relative by marriage. If they are constantly in each other’s company, then how can he move on without her?

His sister’s deceptions bring them together but destroys their happiness. Can they reach past the hurt to the love that still burns?

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First Kiss Friday with Caroline Warfield


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If you’ve never read any of Caroline Warfield’s stories you are missing out. But today on First Kiss Friday she’ll be sharing the first kiss scene from her latest release Christmas Hope. Happy reading and enjoy, my lovelies! Take it away, Caroline.

At this point in Christmas Hope, Harry has known Rosemarie a little over a month. He met her when she rescued his grandmother’s Bible from the Somme. It is Christmas 1916 and life is very uncertain. This kiss is a promise.


Harry pulled the Bible over. Most of the pages were warped from water damage, and some were stained from the mud, but it felt familiar all the same. It never failed to fill him with thoughts of home. I will take them there.

Foolish that. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring, or when this war will end.

Rosemarie returned, looking as flustered as she had when she found him at her door. “He’s asleep,” she said as if he didn’t know it.

“Rosemarie, may I stay tonight?” His gaze never left hers.

She put up both hands as if to defend herself and blushed.

Before she could speak, he rushed on. “I mean no disrespect. I will sleep on the floor by the stove. Soldiers are used to sleeping rough.”

Her body relaxed, and she blinked.

He continued, “I rented my own boat this time. I can leave, but it’s dark, and I—” He sighed. “I really want to spend Christmas here.”

She stepped closer then. “I want it, too,” she whispered.

Her face was inches from his. She reached up a hand to push back his hair. He leaned in to smell her scent, all roses and woman.

Before he could close the distance for a kiss, she put a hand on his chest. “You will sleep on the floor. By the stove,” she said tartly, one brow raised.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said, smiling.

He took her mouth gently. At her eager response, passion flared, and his kiss deepened before moving to her neck and the warm spot under her ear. The sound of her moan almost undid him.

An urge to ask her to marry him almost drove him to foolish declarations. Not now. Not yet. But perhaps someday. When all this is over, I will take her home. Let tomorrow bring what it brings. For now, this kiss will have to be enough.

He lifted her, carried her to her rocker, enfolded her in his arms, and began to kiss her in earnest.

Christmas Hope
By Caroline Warfield

After two years at the mercy of the Canadian Expeditionary force and the German war machine, Harry ran out of metaphors for death, synonyms for brown, and images of darkness. When he encounters color among the floating islands of Amiens and life in the form a widow and her little son, hope ensnares him. Through three more long years of war and its aftermath, the hope she brings keeps Harry alive.

Rosemarie Legrand’s husband left her a tiny son, no money, and a savaged reputation when he died. She struggles to simply feed the boy and has little to offer a lonely soldier, but Harry’s devotion lifts her up. The war demands all her strength and resilience,  but the hope of peace and the promise of Harry’s love keep her going.


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About the Author

Award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

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First Kiss Friday with R.L. Merrill


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Today for First Kiss Friday, I’d like to welcome back my dear friend, R.L. Merrill who will share an excerpt from her upcoming novel. Happy reading, my lovelies, and take it away, Ro!

Happy October! It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year for weirdos like me and I thought I’d share a little First Kiss snippet from my upcoming funny paranormal release Ghoul Me Once, out October 21st!

A little background… Last summer I received a message from one of my heroes in the writery business, Robyn Peterman. She invited me to write a book in her Magic and Mayhem Universe and the resulting book, Shifted, came out in June. I introduced my characters Louis and Maggie into her world of Assjacket, West Virginia and many hijinks ensued. The pair are Intervention Specialists from the Afterlife and in Shifted they were ordered to bring together a mute water witch named Layla with wonky magic and a hexed gator Shifter Garrett Cocodri, on the run from his past. In book two, Layla and Garrett have new responsibilities, including caring for Garrett’s childhood best friend Johann, who’s in quite a predicament. In this excerpt, Johann has found a kindred soul in Garrett’s cousin Clarabelle and they’re out stargazing in her secret magical garden.


Johann had been feeling safe and secure in their little corner of the garden, but the bigger picture started to hit him.

            “Clarabelle, I’m sorry if my being here has made things more complicated for you. I don’t want to be a burden on you. You seem like you already have your hands full.”

            “No, no. That’s not what I meant. I just meant…it’s been hard, maybe a little lonely, but things are looking up.” She lifted her gaze to his and gave him a lazy, welcoming smile.

 He felt her breath on his cheek.

            The longing he experienced in that moment was far more potent than anything in his life—

            He pulled back quickly and put distance between them.

            He took a breath for courage.

            “Clarabelle? I cannot thank you enough for all you’ve done for me, but I have to know…why? Why would you help me? Why share your secret garden with me? I’m a monster.”

            Clarabelle looked down at their hands and sighed. “Maybe because I saw in you a fellow outsider. Maybe because you looked as though you’d lost your best friend in the world and I know that feeling. Maybe because…”

            Before Johann knew what was happening, she’d pressed her lips to his in a kiss that was revelatory. Clarabelle’s lips tasted like a promise, like a wish come true, like the answer to his prayers.

He took a chance and threaded his fingers into her hair, pulling her closer, deepening the kiss. She smiled against his lips and tangled her leg with his while clutching at the shirt she’d loaned him.

When he heard fabric tear, he pulled back.

            Now she was the one looking mighty hungry. She seemed to realize it at the same time as Johann, and her eyes went wide.

            “I’m sorry. I gotta go. Stay here? I’ll, um…see you tonight?”

            She scrambled up off the ground and ran for the house, not once looking back.

And if Johann wasn’t completely losing it, it appeared she was pulling off her dress as the back door opened.


Stupid hormones!

Clarabelle got tangled in her dress as she tried to yank it off. She sped through the house, the dress covering her face, and just before she reached the door, she ran into something hard. A laughing something hard.

            “What in the hell are you doing?”

            She yanked the dress back down so she could see and found Beau standing in front of her.

            “I need to shift,” she said through clenched teeth. “Move!”

            He chuckled and started to move, but he wasn’t fast enough. She shifted into her gator right there in the living room, tearing her dress.

            Beau’s laughter and taunts followed her as she attempted to make a break for it, heading for the water. “Now who’s wreckin’ their clothes, huh, sis?”

            Grrr, she was going to clobber him when she came back.

            For now, she needed to swim. She needed to clear her mind.

            She needed to cool her jets.

            What the heck had she been about to do? She kissed Johann!

Ghoul Me Once has a healthy dose of hope, love and rock ‘n’ roll as well as shifters, witches, and a lovesick ghoul. I hope you’ll check it out as well as the other books at! You can find me and all of my other stories at Sign up for my newsletter-y thingie and let’s keep in touch! Thanks again to Sherry, who is one of the most incredible women I’ve met on my authory journey. I appreciate the heck out of her and thank you all for letting me join you for First Kiss Friday!

Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance…

First Kiss Friday with Mercy Hollow


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Hello, my lovelies, and welcome to another First Kiss Friday. Today I’d like to introduce you to author Mercy Hollow who will be sharing an excerpt from her paranormal romance, Grim: Legions of the Claimed. Happy reading and enjoy!


Three hours later, Sensual emerged from the Task’s house. The moon’s light shone down on her. The crisp November air refreshed her spirit. No loss of herself and no blank line on her back.

Something singed into her shoulder blade. She didn’t have to look to know it was the husband’s name. Her first completed task. It was already crossed off from her previous Consequences, but it didn’t matter. Below the first, another burn scripted into her skin. Two completed tasks? She glanced back at the house and the drawn curtain, the low lights, the husband and wife coupled in their bed for the first time in months. It was only a piece in repairing the rift between them. But still, it was a first step.

“Now that’s Service.” She smiled.

At the end of the driveway, a car was parked outside the gate. She approached. Grim leaned against a plain, black SUV. As she neared, he pushed off the car and stood tall and hard-worn, like a favorite pair of boots.

“I don’t need you to save me.”

One side of his lips curled up. “I know.”

“Really? Then what are you doing here?”

“I was on call tonight. I knew you were here. I figured, after hours in that house, you might be hungry.” He opened the passenger door.

She let her vision peruse him and his perfect informality, like freshly-laundered, cotton masculinity. “You’ve been here for hours?”

He held her gaze, motionless. “I’m a very patient man.” He pulled in a breath. A hint of flutter stirred his eyes. He regained control and waved at the seat. “Dinner?”

She brushed past him close enough to feel his heat. “Breakfast.”

His eyes flared.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself, big boy. I was talking about a twenty-four-hour diner, not serving myself up as a dish.”

“Of course.” He bowed to her.

A ten hour shift at work and a four hour shift for the Legion crept into her bones. She flopped into the seat. Pain dug at her back, and she shot forward. The freshly burned names stung.

His brow tightened. “Another Consequence?”

She shook ‘no’ and pulled down the collar of her shirt. The man’s name decorated her skin.

“But…I thought…” He turned away. “The Legion is hard to best.”

She scoffed. “You think I’m that easily swayed?” She pulled her shirt lower. The wife’s name shone below her husband’s.

His expression widened. “How…you Serviced them both?”

“I gave them both what they needed.”

Warmth radiated off him. He set his hand on her arm. His touch was steady and calm.

None of this rattles him.

“What did they need?”

“Each other. To remember what it was to be seen. Vulnerable. To let someone in.”

He closed his eyes. “I can’t imagine.”

“Me either.” She touched his face. Ran her fingers down his cheek to his lips.

He fell forward, bracing himself on the SUV’s roof. His vision flickered to her. Desire bled into his eyes.

Her lips parted.

He leaned in, moving in slow motion, drawn through the mud the Legion had cast upon them.

She couldn’t imagine letting someone that close, but she was inches away from knowing.

He shook himself like a reality check and shifted away.

He’s not ready. “Service is meant to give them what they need, not what they want. People often don’t know what they need. Have you not read the Guides?”

“Slice doesn’t allow that. He hates the Founders like everyone else in the Legions.”

“I don’t hate them.”

“You don’t? Why? They Claimed you. Made you Service.”

“No. Two hooded men Claimed me. The Founders’ antigen designated me to a position that assesses the true need of a person and helps them attain that. This whole ‘call Service for sex’ thing is manmade, not the Founder’s intentions.”

“How do you know?”

She pointed at the names on her back. “Those names are proof. You all should read your own rules.”

His eyes sparkled. “I like that you aren’t afraid.”

She fell serious. “I like that, deep down, you are afraid.”

The words seemed to puncture his shield. He scooted back, shut her door, and got in the driver side. “I haven’t had breakfast for dinner in forever.”

“I haven’t had dinner since my Claim. The nausea is a bitch. Does it ever fade?”

He tilted up like a repressed memory raced to the front of the line. “I forgot how tough it is in the beginning. Give it a few months. Your body will never be the same again, but the side effects of slow functions fade to tolerable.”

“Oh goody. Tolerable. Sounds…what did you call it? Delightful.”

He laughed again. “I’m not going to live that down, am I?”

She smirked. “Not a chance.”

He started the car and pulled onto the street. “Where to? Any favorites?”

She sighed. “Can I be honest?”


“I’m tired. Hungry. And I want to take a shower. I work all day in a diner, and the thought of going back to one makes my feet hurt.”

“I can take you home. If that’s what you want.”

“What I want is some company. I’m not used to an empty house, or any down time. It’s only been a few months since my dad died and taking care of him was my life. It’s hard to shift gears after so long.”

“I hear you on that one.”

She touched his arm.

He stared at the contact, then focused back on the road.

She slid her hand away. “I could make you breakfast.”

He stopped at a red light and watched her, like the husband had looked at his wife.

Did he see the firm line of her jaw, the hard work on her hands, the exhaustion that had settled into her eyes? Or could he see beyond life’s drudgery?

The light turned green, he eased on the pedal, and tapped his thumb on the steering wheel. “You shower, and I’ll probably ruin it, but I’ll make breakfast.”

She snickered. “Ruin breakfast? Impossible.”

“Then I will try my best not to accomplish the impossible.”


 AT SENSUAL’S brownstone door, Grim tried to keep his distance. The scent of the gardenia bush, the one that seemed to live on her skin, permeated through him.

She opened the door and lingered in the threshold.

Going in is a bad decision. He retreated to the stairs’ edge.

“You coming in? I do keep my kitchen inside my apartment.”

“I have an important meeting tomorrow. One I’m not looking forward to. I shouldn’t come in.”

“Yeah, right.” She chuckled, strolled into the apartment, and left the door open.

He stared at the open door. Just breakfast. He tucked his car keys in his pocket and pushed himself into her home.

Inside, half the living room was empty. Long indentations marred the carpet like a heavy bed had lived there. Lined on top of a bookshelf, several pictures chronicled a man’s life – standing, then using a cane, then in a wheelchair.

On the far side, a couch butted against the wall, a grappling dummy perched in the corner beside it. A photo of Slice was taped to the dummy’s head. He tensed and scanned around. Where did she get a picture of Slice?

She leaned against the wall. “What? Our Ruler? I don’t like him.”

Alert rose inside Grim. “What did he do?”

“I hear he’s a wretched man. Upset a friend of mine.” She strutted toward the open door of her bedroom but turned back. “And he makes your life miserable. I don’t like that.” She pulled off her sweater. A little white T-shirt hugged her frame and hinted at a black bra underneath. She tossed the sweater into a hamper by the door. “Shower. And you…get on those pancakes.” She winked and strode into the bedroom.

The shower’s spray came to life in the background. Images trickled past his internal wall — water combing through her golden hair, soap clinging to her skin, not wanting to let go, her eyes closing, steam filling her lungs, rushing inside her, and finding a home.

Stop it. You shouldn’t be here. Make her breakfast and leave.

He dragged himself to the kitchen and scanned around. “Foreign territory.” He’d never understood the need for kitchens, having lived his whole life with people whose idea of cooking was cracking open a wrapper or a menu. From a cupboard he pulled out a bowl. Above, books lined the shelf labeled with words like gourmet and cordon-bleu. At the end, a title called out as his savior – Yummy!

“That sounds possible.”

He grabbed the book and flipped to the recipe for Make him happy waffles. “Close enough.” He rummaged in the fridge for the ingredients, along with a bag of powdered sugar and a container of strawberries. On a back shelf he found a griddle and plugged it in.

He read the book’s instructions. “Preheat griddle.” He gave himself a thumbs up. “Already done. Easy enough.” He measured, stirred, and poured the ingredients onto the hot iron. He closed the lid and batter oozed over the sides onto the counter.

No.” He snatched a hand towel and scooped the mess into a pile. Ten wet paper towels later the counter was batter-free.

He rolled up the sealed top of the bag of powdered sugar and gripped the edges. He pulled. Tears ripped open under his fingers below the still-sealed top. White fluff poofed in the air and cascaded down his hands. A sugar rush invaded his senses.

No.” He grabbed the hand towel and wiped his powder-covered arm. Batter smeared on his wrist and, with the sugar, made paste.

Smoke rose from the crease in the griddle and dark dough crusted onto the sides of the iron.

“No. No, no, no, no.” He yanked open the griddle. Half a blackened waffle clung to the top, half to the bottom. The top half flopped off and splatted on the liquidy, uncooked center. He looked at the unused non-stick cooking-spay on the counter and rubbed his forehead. Powdered batter stuck to his face.

He whispered, “Help.”

A moist washcloth appeared before him. He spun around.

Thin white sweatshirt, sprinkled-donuts pajama pants, white socks, and underneath, the sexiest woman he’d ever seen offered him aid.

He bit his lower lip. Sweet, raw dough coated his tongue. He wiped his face with the cloth.

She surveyed the mess. “I’m impressed, you did accomplish the impossible.”

“I suck at this.”

“Oh, yeah. Big time.” She laughed and unplugged the griddle. She touched the tip of a strawberry to the sugar in the bag, popped the red fruit in her mouth, and laid the remains of the sugar bag in a plastic container.

She grabbed two bowls, some milk, and a box of cereal. “Breakfast.”

He slid the box out of her hand. “Now this I can do.” He poured the cereal and milk and placed several strawberries on top of each bowl.

She grabbed two spoons and bowed. “Master Chef.” She handed him a spoon and clinked their utensils together in cheers.

“Sorry I destroyed your kitchen.”

She waved it off. “I’ll get it later.” She dug into her cereal.

“You eat. I’ll clean. With Slice, I’ve become an expert at cleaning messes.” He scanned around and exhaled. “Can’t imagine what it would be like to have my own place. Be able to decide when I clean a mess.”

She jumped up, sat on the one unsullied part of the counter, and ate another spoonful of cereal. “You never lived alone?”

He knelt and wiped up the sugar and batter on the floor. “I took care of my parents until they died, worked for Slice slinging drugs. And here, I’m under his roof again.”

She nibbled on the end of a strawberry. “Do all the Shields live with their Ruler?”

He wiped the counter next to her. The combination of sweet dough and sweeter woman made his posture melt. “Each Ruler has about fifteen of us, give or take. Myself, my friend D.S., and this new young guy, Rigor live with Slice. Now that we’re back in Chicago he lets the rest of his Shields live in places throughout the city. Sovereign Shields are required to reside with their Ruler.”

She set her half-emptied bowl on the counter. “You’ve never lived alone? Had a place?”


She uncrossed her legs and let them dangle off the counter. She slid the towel out of his hand. “You need to relax. He isn’t here.”

“He’s always here.” Grim lifted his shirt, showing his branded shield. He lowered the T-shirt.

“You worried he’s going to kill you? For having breakfast?”

“No. And dying is easy. It’s living that’s petrifying.”

“I get that.” A knowledge and strength shone in her eyes. One he needed. “My dad would say, whenever he had a bad spell, that the day he died would be the happiest day of his life because it would be the day he could give me back my life. Not, day after day, feeling like he was stealing my chance at happiness. I hated when he said that. I loved him. Taking care of him was my choice. But I understood. Being a burden, no matter how loved, is a lot to bear.”

Her words overpowered him. “I’m like your father.”

She touched his hand, stroked over the arches of his fingers. “My dad suffered in silence. Held in so much to make sure I didn’t see his pain.”

He looked up to her.

She stared into him. “But it was like trying to hide hell under a blanket. It burned through him and stole the moments of peace he deserved.”

He closed his eyes. His mouth quivered. “I want you.” He shook ‘no.’

She stroked up his arms to his chest. The sensation penetrated through him. He couldn’t remember the last time someone touched him without malice.

He gripped her wrists and drew himself to her, sliding between her knees, pressing himself against the counter. He leaned his forehead onto hers. Her soft, flowing hair sheltered their touch. “But you’re a vulnerability I can’t afford.”

She brushed his lips with hers.

The contact was a moment of relief. Of breathing without effort. Of forgetting. An illusion of stopped time.

She wrapped her legs around him. “The risk is yours, not mine. Being here with you, now, it’s a choice. One I made. To let my guard down. To let someone in.”

“If I lower my armor I fear I won’t be able to rebuild it.”

She skimmed her lips against his again.

He leaned into it. His mouth on hers, kissing her, tasting her. Strawberry, sweetness, strength.

Vulnerability. Everything and nothing.

He pulled back and closed his eyes. If he looked at her he wouldn’t be able to stop himself. “I can’t afford this. Not now.”

“You know what you can risk. I won’t question it.” She jumped off the counter and led him to the front door. “All my dad wanted was to see me live my life. It’s all he needed to be happy.”

The image of Grim’s little brother, smiling, filtered in.

“But instead I protected my dad. He never got what he wanted. One thing I learned, if you don’t risk, you don’t find out someone wanted the same thing as you, until it’s too late.” They stepped onto the landing. The scent of gardenias swept up on the midnight breeze. “Maybe you need to redefine what vulnerability means. And who you’re really scared to risk. Just because Slice wants you alone and empty doesn’t mean you have to be.”

She moved closer. Her scent swam inside him. Her auburn eyes reached out to him, a flame he couldn’t resist. He grabbed her wrist, and pulled her into him, catching her in his arms. Fear and desire wrestled in his body. “At this meeting tomorrow. Men. Good men will be there. I need to protect them. From me.”

“My guess is you can live with the distance. But what’s eating you alive is not taking a chance before you no longer can. Finding out, too late, you could have had something in your life.”

He tilted in, his lips near hers. Strawberry and powdered sugar called him in further. “With you?”

“I doubt I’m the only one you’re protecting yourself from.”

Diablo. Apollyon. Seeing them tomorrow. The hate in their eyes. A moment he’d avoided for a year. “Reaching out. Trying. It’s better for them if I don’t.”

“Trying is cheap. Regret is six-figures and then some.”

She wrapped her fingers in the back of his shirt. “And me, I don’t need protecting. I need to risk. I need to want something. For me.”

“Why me?”

“Because you don’t need protecting. You need to risk. Need to want something. Just for you. Maybe more than I do.”

He brushed her hair from her face. “That sounds scary as hell.”

She smiled. “Scarier.”

He stroked her face and slid his fingers to her lips. “I’ve never met a woman like you before.”

“Is that a line?”

He smiled. “I wouldn’t even know how to have a line.” His smile faded. “I’m not sure what I know anymore.”

She picked a few gardenia petals and crushed them in her hand. She ruffled her fingers through her own hair, then ran her hands through Grim’s.

The delicious scent rocketed inside him. “You trying to make sure I can’t stop thinking about you?”

She cocked her head. “Yes. I am in competition with that giant shield you wear over your life. Sometimes a girl’s got to fight dirty.”

He swallowed. “I’m going to keep pushing you away.” He leaned in and grazed her cheek with his lips. “Please don’t let me.” He clutched his hand to his chest and hurried down the stairs.

Grim: Legions of the Claimed
By Mercy Hollow

Grim’s Ruler taught him well – dress me, obey me, suffer.

Wrongly condemned to the role of Shield for the youngest of the three ruling brothers.

Enslaved to serve a man he hates.

Bound by honor to love no one.

Ready to stop the loneliness, Grim’s sole focus is the countdown to the Ceremony, the ritual that will end his life but also his vengeful Ruler’s reign.

Stopping a tyrant has a price.

But his won’t be the only head on the chopping block. In the Legion, loyalty is permanent and non-transferable. On that day, all the Shields will die, men worthy of tribute, not execution. He’s ready to pay the price but not ready to watch his brethren die.

When a newly Claimed woman, fated to the designation of Service, rocks his world and gives him a reason to live, will his hope for a future free more than his heart or will it destroy everyone around him?

Grim is the second book in the Legions of the Claimed series about an underground society control by antigen in their blood. If you like broken heroes, gritty underworlds, and villains you long to hate, with a punch of sarcasm, then you’ll love Mercy Hollow’s modern-day Chicago series.

It’s the Paranormal Romance Your Boyfriend Will Steal.

Buy Link:

Author Bio:

Mercy Hollow was born in Florida, where she was terrorized by alligators, fire ants, rabid raccoons, sharks, drunken college students, 100% humidity, and mouse-ear-wearing, heat-loving tourists. She has lived on three continents (four if you count the foreign realm of her imagination) and planted her feet in San Francisco. She has a love of hockey, motorcycles, and anything deemed weird.

She is a freelance editor, workshop presenter, avid facilitator of late-night read and critiques, and slinger of whimsical, on-the-edge humor.

To sign up for the Mercy Hollow slick letter, and receive a free short story go to


First Kiss Friday with Jules and Mia


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It’s First Kiss Friday and it’s always a pleasure when I can bring back my dear friend, Jude Knight. When we get to celebrate a new release, well… that’s even better. We hope you enjoy this excerpt from Unkept Promises. You’re going to just love this book! Happy reading and enjoy.

Seven years after he wed her and left, they meet again

The child bride Jules left in England has changed. She is all grown up and here, uninvited, in his Cape Town house. As they work together to nurse his dying mistress and look after his children, he begins to see that he needs to change as well. In the following excerpt from Unkept Promises, they finally have their first kiss.


Another piercing look, remembered anguish blazing from his eyes. “It could have been so different.” He put the brandy down to rise and take the two steps needed to drop to his knees at her feet, his hands reaching to frame her face. “I have nightmares, thinking about what I might have come home to, if you had not arrived. I can’t imagine how I would feel now, leaving port knowing that I had to depend on hired servants for the safety of my family. I can never thank you enough.”

He leaned forward to press a gentle kiss to her forehead, and she put her arms around him, hugging him close. “Ah, Jules. I have only done what I thought right. Besides, I love them. I do not need thanks for looking after the people I love.”

He lifted her chin and began kissing the tears from her cheeks. She shifted so that a kiss fell on the corner of her mouth, and he pulled back a little, but only to say, “It was the luckiest night of my life when I was captured by smugglers and locked up with you.”

Disappointed that he had stopped, she grumbled, “You didn’t think so at the time.” This seduction would never happen if she left it all to him. She summoned her courage and put her hands on his face to keep it still before pressing her mouth on his. He’d better take the hint, because she had no idea what she was doing.

His lips froze, and she almost pulled away, and then, thank goodness, they softened on hers and began to move. Was that his tongue, sweeping across the seam of her mouth? Those were certainly his teeth, nibbling at her lower lip until she gasped at the wonderful sensations that reverberated through her whole body, and would have gasped again when his tongue invaded her mouth, except her mouth was full and she could manage nothing more than a strangled moan.

He clearly took that as approval, for he deepened the kiss, pressing her back against her chair, his body firm against hers, his face angled to allow him to invade even deeper. No. Not an invasion, for she had invited him in. His tongue retreated and then returned, retreated and returned, until she took the hint and allowed her own tongue to follow his. Ah. This invasion could be reciprocal, and she could make him moan, too.

She applied herself enthusiastically to mimicking his actions, learning what he taught, sinking deeper and deeper into the sensations he created.

A timeless period later, Jules ended the kiss; not releasing her but drawing back enough to meet her eyes, his own hot. “Sweet Mia, even then I could tell you’d make a rare woman. Brave, clever, caring. I saw all of that. I knew you’d be pretty, too.”

She wanted to trust he meant it, but it was a little much to swallow. “How can you say that? I look like a boy!”

Jules’s laugh was disbelieving. “Never! A boy?” His hands rounded her body to run over her breasts, paused briefly to cup them, brushed over her nipples which had somehow become so hard that they ached, then skimmed down to her waist. He spread his thumb and fingers to span her waist on both sides. “I can almost touch my fingers together. You are perfect.”

Did he really think so? “I barely have any curves at all,” Mia protested.

Jules pressed a quick kiss to her mouth, as if to stop her words. “I beg to differ.” He moved his hands, one scooping under her buttocks and half lifting her from the chair, the other coming up to once again cup a breast, the thumb rubbing back and forth across the nipple. “Look. Beautifully curved.”

She could barely think as his movement both relieved and intensified the near pain in her nipple. “So small!” she pointed out. “Gerta–”

Another firm quick kiss. “Does not belong between us. Mia, do you not know I have been lusting after you since I arrived home?” Kiss. “Feeling bad about it, too, when at the beginning I thought you had moved Kirana out of her room and dismissed Maureen. I felt the lowest of dogs to desire such a woman.” Kiss. “But as I learned the truth and got to know you, admiring you more and more each day, my desire grew.” His hand kept moving, and the other pulled her closer, until she was plastered to his body, groin to groin, the hardness behind his falls rubbing close to the place of sudden, desperate need. Beguiled, she shifted against him.

“Ah, Mia,” he groaned, “can’t you tell what you do to me? Sleeping in the room next to me while I lie awake, night after night, imagining you are in the bed with me and I can, at last, worship you with my body as I promised so long ago?”

His mouth was on hers again, and his lips, his tongue, his teeth, his hands, his hard body, all drove her to a place where she no longer knew where she was and barely who she was. She only knew that she yearned, hungered, ached—and that Jules could answer that need.

Then he pulled away, and she reached after him before her mind registered what he’d already heard—a burst of conversation as the kitchen door opened and shut again, and then footsteps approaching.

Jules was already back in his seat, his brandy glass in his hand. His hair was ruffled, his neckcloth half untied, but he had shrugged his coat back on as he crossed the room. She caught a glimpse of red swollen lips before he raised the glass to cover them.

She pulled her shawl over a bare breast she didn’t remember Jules exposing, and grabbed her own glass, just as Fortune came through the room on his way to check on the door.

Unkept Promises

She wants to negotiate a comfortable marriage; he wants her in his bed

Naval captain Jules Redepenning has spent his adult life away from England, and at war. He rarely thinks of the bride he married for her own protection, and if he does, he remembers the child he left after their wedding seven years ago. He doesn’t expect to find her in his Cape Town home, a woman grown and a lovely one, too.

Mia Redepenning sails to Cape Town to nurse her husband’s dying mistress and adopt his children. She hopes to negotiate a comfortable married life with the man while she’s there. Falling in love is not on her to-do list.

Before they can do more than glimpse a possible future together, their duties force them apart. At home in England, Mia must fight for the safety of Jules’s children. Imprisoned in France, Jules must battle for his self-respect and his life.

Only by vanquishing their foes can they start to make their dreams come true.

Not your usual Regency: Jude Knight writes historical fiction with a large helping of romance, a splash of Regency, and a side order of suspense.

Buy links:


Jude’s Bookshop:

About Jude Knight:

Have you ever wanted something so much you were afraid to even try? That was Jude ten years ago.

For as long as she can remember, she’s wanted to be a novelist. She even started dozens of stories, over the years.

But life kept getting in the way. A seriously ill child who required years of therapy; a rising mortgage that led to a full-time job; six children, her own chronic illness… the writing took a back seat.

As the years passed, the fear grew. If she didn’t put her stories out there in the market, she wouldn’t risk making a fool of herself. She could keep the dream alive if she never put it to the test.

Then her mother died. That great lady had waited her whole life to read a novel of Jude’s, and now it would never happen.

So Jude faced her fear and changed it–told everyone she knew she was writing a novel. Now she’d make a fool of herself for certain if she didn’t finish.

Her first book came out to excellent reviews in December 2014, and the rest is history. Many books, lots of positive reviews, and a few awards later, she plans to keep publishing until she runs out of years.

Website and blog:

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Back to reality…


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Where did the last week go? 😳

For those who may not know, last week I took my daughter with me to the Historical Romance Retreat down in Riverside, California. Staying at the Mission Inn is a treat all in itself but throw in other historical romance authors, along with some marvelous readers, and you’re in for a fun time. Arriving from the Bay Area a couple days early gave us a bit of free time before all the madness began.

By Wednesday, we were up on the third floor with Period Finery getting fitted for gowns. VJ Dunraven and her staff are true marvels and half the fun of this retreat was spending time with them again. I am always amazed at the gowns they create not only for their models but for those to rent for retreats like these. Hair appointments and make-up were also available so we could really be pampered to our hearts content!

For Jessica, it was her first time in period costumes (at least since her drama classes in high school) and I was lucky I could get her out of there. Of course, I also ended up springing a surprise photo shoot on her. I just couldn’t resist. She looked too beautiful not to take advantage of the situation. And… I might have embarrassed her a bit in front of one of the models but that’s a mother’s job, isn’t it? Needless to say I just know the pictures Mary took are going to be priceless. I can’t wait to put her on one of my covers!

I must admit, I think I took more pictures of her than I had her take of me. But you can’t put a price tag on the joy on your daughter’s face when she is having such a fun time. Memories for a lifetime… I just love spending time with her.

Jessica Makens with Michael Foster
Anatolii Shtapenko

You can see why we ladies tend to get a bit distracted when we have such handsome men wandering around at the evening events!

Period Images models. Photo credit unknown

Breakfast with some wonderful readers and author Caroline Warfield.

A workshop about writing gossip with Bluestocking Belles Caroline Warfield and Elizabeth Ellen Carter. I will admit I more or less played Vanna White and passed out candy. Talking in front of people is NOT my strong point!

From Afternoon Tea…

Photo bomb! With Katherine Bone and TJ London

To Harlots & Highwaymen…

The fabulous Renee Bernard

And also Tiara Friday which started last year at the Historical Romance Retreat! Those tiara’s were a last minute purchase and I was lucky they could get delivered on time!

And Friday’s Speakeasy was raided! Oh my!

Just out of prison. Watch out for this gangster! With Katherine Bone
My stunning daughter. I cried when she came back up to the room.
Belle Caroline Warfield and her Beloved.
Belle Elizabeth Ellen Carter and her husband.

And no retreat would be complete without a book signing open to the public. It was so wonderful to see familiar faces and those who took the time to come over and say hello!

The Great Book Exhibition

Our last evening event was a Grand Ball. We were sad to see it end!

Pretty in lavender. Honestly – she’s that tall and I’m not standing in a hole!


Casey was a true sport while I had this little fan girl moment (well… maybe it was a little bigger than intended). I have a premade cover purchased without even having a book for it and its my current screen saver on my phone. People told me to stare at him while they took our picture but I’m afraid I just couldn’t pull it off. Thank you, Casey, for the laughs! 🤣 😁🤣

with Casey Cathcart

And the Golden Ticket winner and our reigning Queen for #HRR2020 was Judy Reed. It couldn’t have gone to a nicer lady and she was so thrilled. Congratulations Judy!









I have so many pictures that we took that the majority are posted on either my Facebook profile or my author page. Feel free to tag yourself, my lovelies.

Photo credit unknown

And with the last breakfast, we all said good-bye and took off in our cars or to the airport. If you’ve never gone to this retreat, I can’t recommend it enough. You’ll have so much fun that you’ll be like we were when we finally made it home… exhausted but with a huge smile on our faces. We loved every minute of this retreat and can’t thank Renee and her staff enough for putting on such a wonderful event for us.

Until the next time… thank you all for the wonderful memories that will last a lifetime!
















First Kiss Friday with Sherry Ewing


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Today on another First Kiss Friday, I’d like to take you back to my medieval romance A Knight to Call My Own. In this scene, Lynet has pushed Ian a little too far and he’s out to prove his point that he will be her husband at the end of the tournament. Enjoy this blast from the past and happy reading, my lovelies!


He said not another word, but made fast work of guiding her down from the lofty parapet walkway. Her slippered feet barely touched the coldness of the stones beneath her, so rapid was their hasty decent down the turret stairs. When they came to the portal of her chamber, Ian backed her up against the solid wood with his arms resting on either side of her, as he had done but recently. There was no escaping him.

They stood, just the two of them, listening to the crackling sound of the lit torches in the passageway. Far more troubling to her way of thinking was her heaving chest as she attempted to gain her breath. She could no longer stand her submissive stance of looking down at her feet, so she raised her eyes to meet his.

When would she stop making such stupid decisions as actually looking at the man, not that she had anywhere else to gaze, given his close proximity. The firelight from the torches in the wall sconces brought out the red of his hair. She would have sighed at the sight of it, but would not give him the gratification. His heavy lidded, hazel eyes took on a light of their own and seemed to search into her very soul. She gulped and watched a gleam enter those knowing orbs whilst a discerning grin formed on his mouth. A mouth that was rapidly closing the distance between them!

“Do not dare─”

Her words were cut off as his mouth quickly took possession of her own, for possess her he did, with just the slightest first brush of his lips. She gasped when a turbulent wave of searing heat radiated throughout her entire body. But, such a profound encounter only allowed him to further plunder her senses as his tongue began to frolic with her own. Sweet Jesus, what in the world is he doing to me?

She felt his hands cup her face ’til he tilted her head, allowing him better access to her mouth. An unexpected moan escaped her. ’Twas, apparently, what he had wanted to hear from her. The sound surely only confirmed his own damn suspicions that she had told a lie when speaking of the effect of Rolf’s kiss. She was certain such a revelation pleased him.

His hands began a slow descent as they roamed down her back ’til he cupped her bottom, bringing her up hard against his solid frame. She quaked in response to such intimacy between them. Her shock did not stop his arm from winding around her waist, keeping her firmly in place as he continued to devour her last shreds of reality. The disbelief of feeling his firmly muscled body pressed up against her own sent any sense of prudence to remain indifferent to him fleeing from her mind. How could one keep a hold on any form of rationality when all she could suddenly feel was the unmistakable form of his manhood pressed intimately against her?

She was lost, and she unexpectedly cared not. Nay… all she could recognize in her feeble attempts to remain level headed was the fact that any control of the situation she may have had up to this point had vanished as soon as Ian had kissed her. Her arms made their way up and around his neck to playfully finger his shoulder length hair. She mimicked what he was doing to her mouth, letting him teach her what he liked. She must have done something right, for she heard his own groan of pleasure whilst he tightened his grip upon her.

Was it just her imagination, or did her body seem to mold itself to his own, as if they had been made for one another, even whilst his hands roamed freely over her backside? And yet, she did not complain, or even make the slightest protest. This was how it felt to finally be in his arms. She had dreamed of this moment for so long, she was almost waiting for someone to come and wake her, for surely she must be dreaming. She reached out and clasped the nape of Ian’s neck as she urged him onward in this journey he was taking her on. ’Twas sheer bliss… bliss ’til she felt herself being rudely yanked from his embrace.

Lynet gazed around with passion filled eyes to see who had interrupted them, but there was no one near, except the man who had proved his point that Rolf was not the knight for her. Aye! The deliberate burning glare in those obnoxious hazel eyes told her he knew exactly what he had done to her, and he was glad for it, the bastard.

Ian leaned down from his towering height so they came almost nose to nose. “Lesson number one, Lynet, is never lie to me again. Rolf is a good man, but he will never be able to make you feel the way I can. I will be victorious at the end of the games, and you will be my wife. You… are… mine.”

A Knight To Call My Own – The MacLarens: A Medieval Romance
by Sherry Ewing

Bestselling author Sherry Ewing presents the continuing saga of the MacLaren’s in A Knight to Call My Own.

When your heart is broken, is love still worth the risk?

Lynet of clan MacLaren knows how it feels to love someone and not have that love returned. After waiting for six long years, she has given up hope of Ian’s return. Her brother-in-law, the Devil’s Dragon of Berwyck, is tired of waiting for her to choose a husband and has decided a competition for the right to wed Lynet is just the thing his willful charge needs to force her hand.

Ian MacGillivray has returned to Berwyck Castle in search of a bride and who better than the young girl who cared for him all those years ago. But Lynet is anything but an easy conquest and he will need more than charm to win her hand in marriage.

From the English borders to the Highlands of Scotland, the chase is on for who will claim the fair Lynet. The price paid will indeed be high to ensure her safety and even higher to win her love.

Buy Links:
Amazon US |  Barnes & Noble  |  Apple Books  |  Inktera | Kobo 24Symbols 
Amazon AU | Amazon CA |   Amazon UK

Also available on audio book:
Amazon  |  Audible  |  iTunes 

Learn more about me on any of the tabs above. Thank you for all your support. I hope you’ve been enjoying my First Kiss Friday blog!

All the best,


Medieval Monday ~ and the winner is…


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Thank you to everyone who participated in our bad boy theme for the last several weeks on Medieval Monday. We hope you’ve enjoyed all the snippets.

The random comment chosen as the winner of an eBook of One Last Kiss from all the blogs for this theme is Linda Campbell. Congratulations, Linda! Please email me at so I can get your eBook to you!

Medieval Monday will resume soon so be sure to check back often!

First Kiss Friday with Rue Allyn


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It’s another First Kiss Friday and today’s guest is fellow Bluestocking Belle Rue Allyn who is sharing a first kiss scene from her latest release, The Herald’s Heart. We hope you enjoy this excerpt so happy reading, my lovelies. Take it away, Rue!

Sherry, thank you very much for the chance to share the first kiss from The Herald’s Heart, released just this past Monday. I do want to give your readers a small warning. Please do not be put off by the start of this scene. It is period appropriate. However, I assure you that Lady Larkin puts Sir Talon in his place very rapidly. Thank heaven he’s a quick learner and is willing to change is ways.


His eyes opened with the dawn. He shifted in the bed and looked over the side at the woman asleep on the floor. She lay curled, shivering within his cloak, only her hair and face showing. He regretted having to leave her there, but sharing a bed with her, no matter how attractive she might be, wasn’t an option. He could have given up the bed to her, but even his chivalry had its limits. ’Twas enough that he’d resisted the temptation her body offered.

A delicate snore snuffled from her. Good. She was sound asleep. He rose and donned his chausses, then sought out the chamber pot behind the corner screen.

When he returned, he found her where he’d left her. One long-fingered hand peeked out, clutching the wool around her. A whiff of lavender knifed through the smell of the keep. He knelt, lifting away the cloak, seeking more of that sweetness. He ached with longing for the comfort he might have found with her.

He sat behind her, lowered his head, and nuzzled his face into her soft cloud of hair, trying to memorize the specific combination of scents she used. God’s bones, but she smelled good. Warm and yeasty, like fresh bread, and was there a hint of pansy among the lavender?

He had a weakness for pansies. His cock lengthened painfully, and he readjusted his position, stretching out along her back. She was soft and warm. A man could resist only so much temptation. He sought and found her delicate nape, then scraped his teeth along her skin until he located her earlobe. He closed his lips over the pliant morsel and sucked. His tongue darted forward to tickle the firmer shell of her ear as his fingers released the knots he’d tied last night. Her bottom wriggled, and her feet swept up his legs. Yes, she wants me. He relaxed against her and moved his hand to her thigh.

She kicked him.

Talon howled in pain and rolled away from her. A thumb’s length higher and she would have unmanned him.

She rolled after him, pummeling his chest and head.

“Cease, vixen.” He raised his arms to ward her off.

“Nay. You sought to maul me in my sleep. I will teach you to try rape.”

Talon set his jaw against guilt. He had touched her without her leave. Still, he had never forced a woman in his life and would not start now. He fought her for control before she could harm herself.

“I intended no rape,” he grunted.

“What else could you intend?” She battled back, raining blows on his chest as she spoke.

In moments, he manacled her hands between their bodies. He used his legs to hold her down while he fumbled with one hand to retie the rope around her. She shifted and bucked below him, causing no undue amount of stress to his aroused flesh, but their positions protected him from direct attack.

Once the rope was secure, he placed a hand on each of her shoulders, weighting her legs down with his own. “Cease,” he shouted when she continued to rage beneath him.

His words had no effect. Was she mad? He caught a glimpse of her eyes as she tossed her head. He had seen such looks on men gone berserk in battle. To stop those men often required a strong blow to the head. He was not about to hit a woman. So he did the only thing that came naturally. He clamped an iron grip upon her chin and ground his lips upon hers.

Her screams became muted grunts, and she stilled. He eased back the pressure on her mouth and suckled on the plush lower lip, urging her to open for him.

She did, but only to bite him.

He whipped away from her, put a hand to his bleeding mouth, and stared at her. “I apologize. ’Twas the only way I could think to make you stop without doing you violence.”

Her lip curled, and he heard a snarl start low in her throat. “You would say anything to try to excuse your lust. You’re a man, so of course the situation is all my fault.”



“I only sought comfort. Then you seemed to want me.”

“The day I want you in any manner is the day the dead will walk.” She sidled as far from him as possible. “What sort of dunce are you to think a woman who kicks you wants you?”

“I thought that before you kicked me,” he mumbled. He pressed hard on his lip, trying to stop the bleeding.

She stared at him with disbelief and frustration and no little fear in the quiet trembling of her mouth.

This had to stop. She did not wish to lie with him. Fine. He did not require it. But if he could not have comfort, he would have peace with her. He would not permit anger, distrust, or fear to get in the way of that.

He pushed himself up. Then grasping her by the arms, he lifted her into a sitting position.

Her mouth dropped open. The muscles in her throat worked, but she remained silent.

“Yes?” he invited, setting her on the bed. Now that she no longer fought him, he would not mind hearing what she had to say. If her words bothered him, he could always gag her, since kissing proved dangerous.

The Herald’s Heart
by Rue Allyn

Her identity was stolen. He thinks she’s a murderer. Will love help them discover the truth?

Royal Herald Sir Talon Du Quereste imagined he would someday settle on a quiet little estate, marry a gently bred damsel, and raise a flock of children. The wife of his daydreams was a woman who could enhance his standing with his peers, and certainly not an overly adventurous, impulsive, argumentative woman of dubious background.

When her family is murdered, Lady Larkin Rosham lost more than everyone she loved—she lost her name, her identity and her voice. She’s finally recovered her ability to speak, but no one believes her claim to be Lady Larkin. She is determined to regain her name and her heritage, but Sir Talon Du Quereste guards the way to the proof she needs. She must discover how to get past him without risking her heart.

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About Rue Allyn:
Award winning author, Rue Allyn, learned story telling at her grandfather’s knee. (Well it was really more like on his knee—I was two.) She’s been weaving her own tales ever since. She has worked as an instructor, mother, sailor, clerk, sales associate, and painter, along with a variety of other types of employment. She has lived and traveled in places all over the globe from Keflavik Iceland (I did not care much for the long nights of winter.) and Fairbanks Alaska to Panama City and the streets of London England to a large number of places in between. Now that her two sons have left the nest, Rue and her husband of more than four decades (Try living with the same person for more than forty years—that’s a true adventure.) have retired and moved south.

When not writing, enjoying the nearby beach or working jigsaw puzzles, Rue travels the world and surfs the internet in search of background material and inspiration for her next heart melting romance. She loves to hear from readers, and you may contact her at She can’t wait to hear from you.

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