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Excerpt Party: Unwrapping Romance-Claiming Her

Happy Holidays, Historical Romance Lovers!

One of the best parts of the holiday season is gifts. And romance readers know the best gifts often come between the covers of a romance novel.

A group of my historical romance author friends & I have collected these fun, exciting excerpts from our stories to help you find great books to kick back with this hectic holiday season.

It’s some of the best historical romance out there!

This one’s from CLAIMING HER, a big, sexy, enemies-to-lovers romp through Elizabethan Ireland.

If you love alpha heroes, fun banter, & scorching hot sexytimes, you’ll love CLAIMING HER.

Here’s an excerpt from the second surprise from the opening scenes.

Aodh Mac Con Rardove has returned to Ireland and taken the castle the Queen of England refused to give him.  He intends to conquer everything: the castle, the lands, the lady. 
Unfortunately, this lady has no intention of being conquered. 

He must find a way to win her…or lose everything he’s fought for his whole life.

(Note: Hero’s name is Irish, and pronounced like the beginning of ‘Aidan.’)

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

…She stepped back, her lips parting. The paleness in her cheeks went even paler. He’d shocked her.

The realization caused a small, strange tinge of disappointment, that a woman who’d held an English castle beyond the Pale with only ten men would be shocked by such a thing. It seemed somehow…diminishing. But then, Aodh had a taste for rebellion today, and nothing but more of the same would serve.

Still.

A movement at the far end of the hall caught his attention. One of his captains, Cormac, poked his head through a door, caught his eye and nodded, then ducked back out. Good. They’d made it to the north side, which meant they’d secured the entire castle. Rardove was his.

And so where was the hot satisfaction of conquest? The rush of triumph? Where was…everything?

Lying at the bottom of the same cold pit that had marked his life for too many years to count, no doubt. Intrigues, battle, courtly maneuvers, it was all the same: naught.

Apparently even coups of castles did not rise to the level of interest anymore.

He turned his attention back to Katarina. “My lady, if you will—”

All he saw was a blur of green silk, then her small, bunched fist smashed into his face.

The impact, hard and square, landed directly on his jaw.

Caught utterly unaware as he’d never been before–never, not even when his father’s head had been cut off—Aodh reeled sideways.

The retreat gave enough room for her to launch herself forward. She slammed her shoulder directly into his ribs so hard and fast he grunted. He stumbled backward and hit the ground, her on top, twisting and kicking.

She jammed a knee into his bollocks, and he doubled over protectively, at which point she grabbed one of his fingers and twisted it back almost to breaking. Her other hand—so sinuous and slender it was all but ungrippable—snaked between their writhing bodies and tugged his accursed dagger out of its sheath.

Disappointed, indeed.

With a roar, he lunged up off the ground, lifting her with him. Predictably—dimly, he noted he was already predicting things about her—she wrestled like a hellcat. Whirling hair, arms, legs. Kicking, biting, punching, swiping with the knife.

First things first.

He caught hold of the feminine fist snaked around the hilt of his blade and slammed it to the wall above her head, gripping her wrist so hard she cried out, but she did not, of note, stop fighting.

He finally had to pin her to the wall with his entire body, her toes dangling half a foot in the air, their faces pressed together, cheek to cheek, until he stilled everything that was writhing and flailing and kicking on her curving, rampant, berserker body.

Fire burned in his veins, urging him to smash and destroy. He reached over with his other hand and wrenched the blade out of her grip, then tossed it to the ground behind him.

He inhaled slowly, forcing himself to calm. They stood like this for a moment, her body pinned between his and the wall. He supposed she could still kick his shins, but she’d impact against his greaves, and it would hurt her far more than him.

She seemed to agree. At least, she didn’t move.

He pulled back a few inches and let her feet drop to the ground. Breathing fast, she flung her head, spraying hair across her face. It was pale and beautiful, with slim, dark brows arcing over what appeared to be intelligent brown eyes. A shocking discovery.

“If you were a man, I would kill you right now,” he said in a low voice.

He waited for her response—everything now was a test, every moment a potential tipping point. Would she recoil? Be wise and retreat, apologize, surrender, run scared?

Would she be like everyone else?

She shifted the only thing he didn’t have restrained, her left hand, and laid what turned out to be the cold edge of a blade against the side of his throat.

“If I were a man, sir,” she whispered back, “you would already be dead.”

Goddammit.

It was his dagger, one of many strapped to his body. In the mêlée, she’d succeeded in getting it free. In the distraction of staring into her eyes, trying to ascertain if she was mad, she’d succeeded in lifting it to his throat.

A rush went through him, hot and intense. “You are left-handed,” he observed grimly.

“When necessary.”

A humming filled his stomach. He’d come for battle, and that this slim audacious woman had given it to him–undefended, in a hopeless situation, outmatched and overpowered–bespoke great boldness. Of a kind he’d not seen in a long time.

Either that, or idiocy.

She did not appear idiotic. Of course, she’d not appeared reckless either, out in the bailey. She’d seemed calm, clever, pale, and beautiful. Then she’d launched her body into his and turned into a bold, roaring-mad hellcat.

Perhaps everything in her was latent. Who knew, idiocy might rear its head at any moment. Or more boldness.

Although it was difficult to see how she could become more bold than she was at the moment.

Small wisps of hair brushed beside her mouth. Aodh knew battle and fights; her lips ought to be dry with fear, parched and tight. But they were wet. Parted and wet, her chin up, her cheeks a sort of hot red. Her slim body was pressed hard against his, female curves barely detectable through his armor. But the vivid flush of her was clear.

Her mad, energizing, fearless self was the clearest thing on his mind.      

That and the blade pressed against his neck.

He laughed low in his throat. It had been a long time since he’d felt this hum inside him. Since he’d felt this energized, this vital.

He leaned closer until his mouth was an inch from hers, until he felt the honed edge of his own blade indent the flesh of his throat.

“Do it, lass,” he whispered. “Or drop it. Now.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

I wonder if she’ll drop it….

WANT MORE??

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♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Time to check out all the other amazing excerpts!

Hop over to each one and enjoy the romantic surprises.

KRIS KENNEDY-Medieval & Elizabethan Romance
https://www.facebook.com/kriskennedybooks/

ELIZA KNIGHT- Scottish Medieval Romance
https://www.facebook.com/elizaknightfiction/

CATHY MACRAE-Scottish Historical Romance
https://www.facebook.com/cathymacraeauthor/   

ERICA RIDLEY-Regency Romance
 https://www.facebook.com/ericaridley  

COLLETTE CAMERON-Regency Romance
http://facebook.com/collettecameronauthor

TAMARA GILL-Regency Romance
https://www.facebook.com/tamaragillromance/  

LORI ANN BAILEY-17th Century Scottish Romance
https://www.facebook.com/LoriAnnBaileyauthor/

LAUREN ROYAL-17th century Historical Romance
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChaseFamilyReaders/   

EMMA PRINCE-Scottish Medieval
 https://www.facebook.com/EmmaPrinceBooks/   

JULIE JOHNSTONE-Medieval Romance
https://www.facebook.com/authorjuliejohnstone

CECELIA MECCA-Scottish Historical Romance
http://www.ceceliamecca.com/unwrappingromance/

MADELINE MARTIN-Regency Romance
https://www.facebook.com/MadelineMartinAuthor/

KATHERINE BONE-Pirate Romance
https://facebook.com/authorkatherinebone

Go find some new historicals to love!

 

Unwrapping Romance: Themed Historical Romance Hop Links

Happy Holidays, Historical Romance Lovers!

One of the best parts of the holiday season is gifts. And romance readers know the best gifts often come between the covers of a romance novel.

ON DECEMBER 4TH, a group of historical romance author friends & I are collecting fun, exciting excerpts from our stories to help you find great books to kick back with this hectic holiday season.

Come read excerpts where surprises abound, truths are unpacked, and the best gifts come in unexpected, heroic packages.

It’s some of the best historical romance out there!

Here’s a teaser from a surprise moment in my story, KING’S WARRIOR. 

It’s a sexy medieval romp through France and England, with a dangerous, charming Irish warrior on the run & the innocent woman whose life he ruins…until he gives her something far greater in return.

It’s Knight & Day…set in the middle ages!

Tomorrow, one from Claiming Her and all its bantery, sexy fun.

All the links! Check us out tomorrow.

KRIS KENNEDY-Medieval &Elizabethan Romance
https://www.facebook.com/kriskennedybooks/
ELIZA KNIGHT- Scottish Medieval Romance
https://www.facebook.com/elizaknightfiction/
CATHY MACRAE-Scottish Historical Romance
https://www.facebook.com/cathymacraeauthor/   
ERICA RIDLEY-Regency Romance
 https://www.facebook.com/ericaridley  
COLLETTE CAMERON-Regency Romance
http://facebook.com/collettecameronauthor
TAMARA GILL-Regency Romance
https://www.facebook.com/tamaragillromance/  
LORI ANN BAILEY-17th Century Scottish Romance
https://www.facebook.com/LoriAnnBaileyauthor/
LAUREN ROYAL-17th century Historical Romance
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChaseFamilyReaders/   
EMMA PRINCE-Scottish Medieval
 https://www.facebook.com/EmmaPrinceBooks/   
JULIE JOHNSTONE-Medieval Romance
https://www.facebook.com/authorjuliejohnstone
CECELIA MECCA-Scottish Historical Romance
http://www.ceceliamecca.com/unwrappingromance/
MADELINE MARTIN-Regency Romance
https://www.facebook.com/MadelineMartinAuthor/
KATHERINE BONE-Pirate Romance
https://facebook.com/authorkatherinebone

Behind The Scenes: King's Warrior

Time to drag you behind the scenes!   

I wanted to show you some storytelling decisions that go into writing a book, and show you how real-life research can fuel a story.

This one’s about King’s Warrior.

First, a little backstory on the story.

Originally, King’s Warrior was part of an anthology of connected stories, & mine was kicking things off, so I knew I wanted something big and exciting for all the other stories to reference.

The theme for the anthology was a ‘captured’ theme.  

The stories were all going to be connected via this theme,  all have Celtic heroes, and all were going to have a jeweled dagger running through them.  The SAME jeweled dagger. And yet, the stories were going to span hundreds of years.

Since my story was appearing first in the anthology, I wanted to set up a compelling, exciting ‘story’ for the dagger that the other authors were going to be working with.

I knew I wanted to set it during the 2nd Crusade, with King Richard the Lionheart and all that crazy jazz. Lots of potential for drama, but where to focus…and get my dagger??

Assassination, of course. Of a Crusader king. By ANOTHER Crusader king.  Amiright??

The History

Okay, so what REALLY happened?

In 1192, Conrad of Montferrat,  Marquis of Montferrat (Northern Italy) and one of the leading crusaders, was elected King of Jerusalem by the other crusader leaders, although he’d ruled as de facto king as a result of his marriage to the heiress to the crown, Queen Isabella, in late 1190.

(I’m not even going to go into that crazy, convoluted history, but it’s worth a look!)

Anyhow, England’s King Richard was pretty unhappy about this bonhomie among the other crusading leaders. Richard didn’t want Conrad to be king: he wanted someone else.

In fact, Richard had lobbied hard for one of his own vassals to be elected king.  More specifically, one of his troublesome vassals, in the even more troublesome duchy of Poitou, Guy of Lusignan.  But Guy wasn’t a popular…well, guy.  He wasn’t brave, he wasn’t honorable, and he wasn’t really a very good fighter.  Also, he was a right arse. I suspect no one in the entire world actually liked Guy. 

But Richard was extremely motivated to hoist his independent-minded, belligerent vassal off on the Holy Lands where he would trouble Richard no more. 

Alas, the English king’s candidate was outvoted by the other crusader kings.

I’ll go out on a limb and say this wasn’t something the strong-willed Richard appreciated. 

(Of note: Richard really, really, really did not want Guy returning home to bother him, so at this point, he SOLD Guy the lordship of Cyprus (where he could still be called ‘king’) to keep him away from Poitou. Ha.) 

Everything seems good, right? 

Richard got rid of his troublesome vassal, plus some money into the bargain.

Conrad, who was a courageous fighter & leader and respected by everyone, would get the kingship. Happy days ahead in the land of fighting.

Then tragedy–or opportunity–struck. 

The Murder

Two days before he was to be crowned, Conrad was assassinated by, well, two Assassins.  As in, the real-life Assassins. They’d been disguised as monks and had infiltrated the grounds for awhile before they struck. Conrad was basically hacked up in the gardens.

The Assassins fled. One was killed, but one was caught alive.  And guess what?

Under torture, he claimed King Richard contracted them for the kill.

Whaat??   Yup.

Medieval crazy sauce.

Whether or not King Richard was actually involved in the assassination, and whether that involvement was direct or indirect, no one knew. 

A lot of people believed it.  And the rumors spread throughout Europe, driven in large part by the French king’s enthusiastic support of them.

Oh how King Philippe wanted Richard to have done this deed. Or at least be thought to have done it. It would make his take-over of England so much easier.

Because that’s what Philippe was planning, of course. He’d already hie-tailed it out of the Holy Lands, and he was conspiring actively with Richard’s younger brother, Prince John. (Yes, the one who became the evil King John of so many truths & legends).

So, did Richard plot for the assassination of a king?  It was never proven, but it was a compelling enough rumor that the king was required to submit proof that he hadn’t been involved at one point. (A hard thing to do, but there you have it.)

(Second parenthetical: I’m not going into this crazy backstory either, of King Richard’s travels home from Jerusalem et al, but omg, the drama!!!  Another day, another post.)

But whether he did or didn’t conspire, all you need for Story is plausibility, and this was intrigue I couldn’t ignore: King Richard accused of conspiring to commit regicide and assassinate another king.

But I still needed my dagger…

Fortunately, history provided that too.

The Dagger

What you need to know about the Assassins was they really like daggers. Like, a lot. They used them as weapons, but they also used them as threat.

They were legendary for sneaking into the tents of political opponents at night and leaving behind one of their daggers and a note, right next to the leader they’d stood beside, undetected, in the dark.

The message was clear, but in case it wasn’t, they often followed up more overtly. 

For instance, one of their exploits: In 1092, upon his coronation, the new sultan of the Seljuk empire rebuffed a Hashashin ambassador. Bad idea.

One morning soon after, he woke up to find a dagger plunged into the ground beside his bed. Terrified, he didn’t say anything about it–who wants to announce a weakness like that?  A little while later, a messenger from the Assassins arrived, saying, “Did I not wish the sultan well, that the dagger which was struck in the hard ground would have been planted on your soft breast.”

Gotcha. That one was pretty effective.  For decades after, there was a ceasefire between the Seljuks and the Nizari.

Guess what this gave me? My dagger for King’s Warrior! 

The Proof

The way I saw it was…King Richard’s involvement in the murder was never proven.

But what if it could have been??

What if this dagger, specially constructed and engraved with runes that implicated the king, boasting the king’s very own ruby in its hilt, was used in the assassination.  It would be an unavoidable message to Richard, and the world.

The Story

I had my story!

An Irish warrior, once bodyguard to the king, on the run, with a dagger that was (or was not??) used in the assassination of Conrad, hunted by noblemen and kings who’ll stop at nothing to get him and his contraband.

The Romance

Our hero is desperate, cornered…dangerous.  He’ll do anything to accomplish his mission.  Even kidnap an innocent merchant woman and use her as camouflage to escape.

The drama hurts, yes?  :)

If you’ve read King’s Warrior, I hope you loved it, If you haven’t, go check it out!

If you like big adventure and hot romance, you’ll love King’s Warrior because it has a charming, dangerous Irish hero who finds the love of his life on the mission of a lifetime.
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