My March newsletter is up on my website. Click here to find out what’s happening in my world.
As you can see by the invitation, The Romance Reviews are celebrating their 4th anniversary with a party! There are more than 350 authors and publishers participating in this month long event, including me–which means more than 350 prizes up for grabs during the entire month!
In order to play the games, you need to register and be logged in at TRR (The Romance Reviews) site. Registration is free and easy.
I’m giving away a digital copy of DRAGON KNIGHT’S MEDALLION to one lucky winner who answers my question correctly. My Q&A will appear on March 30, from 12:00am EST to 11:59pm EST. I will give a huge shout-out the day before to remind everyone.
In the meantime, head on over and register to start playing the fun games. Click here for the link.
Please welcome the lovely Jenna Jaxon to Medieval Monday. I’m featuring the third book, Beleaguered, which is book 3 in the Time Enough to Love Series.
When death holds sway in the world, can even the greatest love survive?
Finally in France, Alyse and Thomas return to their roles as courtiers to Princess Joanna. Their passion for one another continues to smolder hot and deep—until one fateful encounter changes everything.
During a formal banquet, Alyse must share an intimate dance with Geoffrey, her first love. His searing touch proves Alyse’s love and desire for him is as strong as when they first met. Tormented by this revelation, Alyse is bitterly torn between the love of her life and her love for her husband.
Into this agonizing situation, the disaster of the Black Death rears its head, decimating the princess’s retinue and threatening all their lives. Alyse, Thomas and Geoffrey must try to save the princess from the ravening disease but at a dire cost to themselves. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both of the men she loves. But which love will survive?
Geoffrey hurried on with a suggestion. “’Twould be the work of a few moments for me to teach it you, my lady.”
It would have to serve. She shot a look over her shoulder at her husband, who nodded and laughed with the princess though his eyes were trained on her. Best get on with it then. The sooner ’twas done, the better.
“Your skill at dancing is such that you would certainly learn the steps with but slight instruction from me.” Geoffrey leaned so close his voice, against her ear made her jump and recall herself. She stepped back and looked at him.
His practiced courtier’s smile flickered at her, and she caught something deeper shining in his eyes that she fought not to see. Her heart stuttered a beat.Her body flushed with the anticipation of dancing with him again even as misgivings swirled in her mind. No good would come of this dance, but Thomas watched closely to see that she acted cordially to Geoffrey. Would that it was an act.
With a sense of heavy foreboding, she extended her hand to him. “Very well, Sir Geoffrey. What must I do first?”
He placed her hand atop his arm and led her to their place in the circle of dancers then grasped her hand to pull her around to face him.
The moment his hand touched her skin, a streak of fire shot through her. Her mouth went dry, and her gaze flew to his face. Surely he felt that as well?
He stared back, his eyes mirroring all too clearly the blaze that coursed up her arm.
In a daze, she looked around at the other dancers, expecting them to stare accusingly at her. As if they could see this sinful feeling that tore at her soul. At a loss for how to act, she raised her gaze to beseech Geoffrey. “What do we do now?”
’Twas an apt question for, God forgive her, at the touch of Geoffrey’s hand, all thought of her husband had fled. She was back on the deck of the Phillipa, facing him once more. Loving him once more.
Geoffrey cleared his throat, his face flushed, and said simply, “Follow me.”
Then they were twirling around the circle, hands clasped, arms touching intimately, He seemed to brand her wherever he touched. The figure reversed, and her other side was scorched as if a red-hot blade seared her. Her gaze locked onto Geoffrey’s, and the music, the dancers, the Great Hall and all its inhabitants melted away until all that was left was the whisper of his breath in her ear and the heat of his body pressed close against her.
He leaned in closer to whisper, “I must lift you now.”
Before she could grasp that staggering news, his arm went around her waist and he lifted her, twirling them around full circle. She panted, blood pounding in her temples, roaring in her ears.
They continued to dance, but she moved as though she were a doll made of rags, her legs barely able to stand. Her world narrowed to the single source of light and life that was the man who held her in his arms again. The man whose love she could no longer deny. Despite the agony of the betrayal, in the core of her being she knew neither the vows she had spoken to Thomas nor the passion they had enjoyed in his bed would ever match the intensity of love and belonging she shared with Geoffrey. As soon compare a candle’s flame to the sun.
Today I’m celebrating my daughter, Noelle’s 40th birthday! She came into my world at a very young age, and we both had to learn and grow together. I consider myself blessed to have this amazing, beautiful, and giving woman in my life.
As you can see in this picture, she is a huge lover of animals, especially dogs. She was dressed up for a Christmas party, but off came the heals to greet the dog. I keep telling her she needs to work with animals, so perhaps in her new chapter/decade in life, she might take that path.
So instead of creating a decadent dessert, I’m sharing a bean salad, since I know she’s a very health-conscious person and would enjoy. However, I’m sure she’ll have something sweet on her birthday, too.
THREE BEAN SALAD WITH GOUDA
(Adapted from Whole Foods Market)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 – 15oz. can no-salt black beans, rinsed and drained
1 – 15oz. can no salt kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup steamed, cooled and chopped green beans.
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup diced Gouda cheese
½ red onion, diced
In a large bowl, whisk together honey, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add black beans, kidney beans, green beans, tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, and Gouda. Refrigerate for an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Taste before serving and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Please welcome the talented H.K. Carlton to Medieval Monday. Let’s take a glimpse into her Scottish medieval, The Devil Take You. It takes place during the time of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, so I’m definitely looking forward to reading this book.
Scotland – 1307 – During the Scottish Wars of Independence
Gard Marschand will stop at nothing in his pursuit to regain what is lost. Concealing his true identity, he will associate with his enemies, kill his own countrymen, even sell his soul to the devil if all else fails. He will lie, cheat, steal, rape and siege his way across two countries gaining power and reputation in his malevolent wake. His determination all consuming, until King Edward commands Gard to lay siege on Ross-shire holding, where Braelynn Galbraith obliterates his single-minded purpose.
Braelynn Galbraith wants peace for her beloved Scotland, marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Callum, and a house full of children. In that order. But evil incarnate in the form of Gard Marschand, turns her life inside out and destroys all hope of a decent marriage.
Can Gard abandon his deep-seated need of revenge for a love that might just save his soul, or will he succumb to the demons that hound him and surrender to the devil within?
Braelynn ran as if the hounds of hell were on her heels. They could very well be this time. She ran while she prayed. “Please God, if ya get me outta this one last scrape I promise I will ne’er pass another message ta the rebels again.”
She should have learned her lesson from the last two outings, almost captured both times. This would be her last, one way or another.
She’d been pursued many times throughout the years and always managed escape. But things were getting much too dangerous. These were not English soldiers on her heels this time. She knew not who hunted her but the steady beating of hooves bore down on her. Brae ran for the caves to lose them there, just as she’d done the day she glimpsed William Wallace two years past, days before his capture. She remembered begging and pleading with the vicar to allow her to accompany him that day. He said it was too dangerous and he himself would carry the message to the rebels; but when he’d let slip that William might possibly be at the meeting place, she threatened to follow after him if he did not simply acquiesce and allow her this.
She’d not spoken to Wallace, only gaped at him from afar. This great man dedicated as she to her country’s freedom. He had not been what she expected. From the tales people told, he was an impressive ten feet tall and indestructible. He was not ten feet tall, she’d found out that day. He looked to be just a normal man. And to her sadness he had not been indestructible. His capture and subsequent execution threw the country and her own little shire into further turmoil.
Brae rounded the burm and with an additional burst of speed made for the bluff, fistfuls of her skirt bunched in her hands to keep her legs free. But before she reached the crags, more horsemen appeared on the cliffs. The lass skidded to a halt, caught between the two. The men behind her rounded the burm. She turned, the men on the cliffs were retreating. She realized that perhaps the horsemen in chase were not after her at all.
Brae had to make a decision and fast. She chose to follow her first instinct and hide in the caves, using the darkness and the tunnels to escape as she’d done in the past.
The young woman scurried over the rocks and under the overhang, sliding through the arch that water and wind had eroded over time. Brae launched herself into the mouth of the first large cave she came to. Hiding in the dark she inhaled deeply, drawing breath after breath into her burning lungs. She listened and waited as her breathing slowly returned to some semblance of normalcy. Brae lifted her skirt and picked her way through the empty tunnels, confident now that she had safely lost her pursuers. Relief flooded her. She let out one last breath and lowered her guard.
In the next instance she found herself thrown against the slimy rocks as a stranger’s filthy hand covered her mouth. Brae squirmed and screamed into his smelly palm.
I know most of us are longing for warmer temperatures and the first signs of budding growth on trees, so I pray it will happen soon for my friends on the east coast.
I didn’t seem to mind the rain when I was eating my croissant next to St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. It could have been snowing and I still would have managed a smile for the camera.
When I was trying to decide what recipe to post, I thought of my dad. He loved my scones, especially my Cheddar Dill Scones. I would make half a batch with jalapeno peppers and the other without. He loved the ones with jalapenos–the hotter the better. These are great with soups, or make a mini sandwich. My husband loves to stuff a couple slices of salami inside.
Stay warm, my friends!
CHEDDAR DILL SCONES
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon of dill weed
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut up
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 – 2 Jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped (OPTIONAL)
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk (I often substitute buttermilk)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put flour, baking powder, dry mustard, dill weed, and salt into a large bowl. Mix well.
Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers, until the mixture looks like fine granules. Add cheeses and jalapenos (if using) and toss to mix.
Break egg into milk and beat with a fork to blend well. Pour this over flour mixture and stir with a fork until a dough forms.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured board and give 10 to 12 kneads. Cut dough in half. Knead each half briefly into a ball, turn smooth side up, and pat or roll into a 6-inch circle. Cut each circle into 6 wedges. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Please welcome the lovely J. A. Snow today. I am featuring her fabulous historical series, An American Family, which is based on her own family ancestors who came across with the Pilgrims and settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
First, here’s my interview with this talented author.
Describe a typical writing day.
A typical writing day for me depends totally on whether it is a weekday or weekend! I write novels because I love to write but unfortunately book sales, even when they are good, hardly pay ALL the bills. I took a year and a half off to get my historical series launched but now I work three to five days during the week and I admit usually I haven’t energy enough to write after a long day toiling over spreadsheets and journal entries. So the weekend is definitely my productive time. Early morning! I am up before dawn usually, especially if I dream a chapter in my sleep (which I frequently do!) My “desk” is my dining room table and it has stacks of reference books, genealogy records, encouraging cards from readers and friends, and tablets and pens and, well, it’s kind of a mess, but it is where the stories take shape.
I’m an early morning writer, too. I love when an idea or plot happens in a dream.
Can you tell us about your current work-in-progress?
My current work in progress is my historical series AN AMERICAN FAMILY based entirely on my own ancestors (I researched my family tree for over thirty years before putting the stories to paper) I am on my fourth book now called “Escaping the Yoke” which takes my family through the American Revolution. (Book One was The Snows of Somerset County which was about my family’s roots in Porlock, England in the fifteenth century. Book Two called “Blood and Cobblestones” follows them to the streets of London during Tudor times. Book Three “Pilgrim Girl” is about the life of my eleventh generation great grandmother, Constance Hopkins Snow, who came to America on the Mayflower.) I expect to write at least two more books on the Snow family and then I will branch out to another line of my family…perhaps Scotland or Norway, and follow them forward as well.
This is absolutely fascinating! I’m in awe at your research.
How do you relax after a day of writing?
Relaxing? I usually snuggle with my eighteen year old cat (I call her my fire cat as I rescued her from a house fire six years ago) and watch Turner Classic Movies or a DVD of Game of Thrones.
Rescue animals are the best. I’m a huge fan of TCM and Game of Thrones!
What’s your favorite item on your writing desk?
A cartoon I picked up on Facebook awhile back of a King sitting on his throne saying “I’m concerned about my legacy…..Kill the historians!!”
Now for some fun questions. Do you prefer…
Champagne or Beer?
I would have to prefer Champagne to beer. (Dom Perignon if you’ve got it!) but I normally don’t drink unless it is a special occasion.
Southern drawl or Scottish burr?
Southern drawl or Scottish burr??? That’s a hard one. My mother’s family all came from the south and my father’s from a clan in Scotland so I’d better not pick one!
A ride on a horse or hot air balloon?
This question is easy…I have been a horsewoman since I could walk. Although I let my last horse go a few years back because I did not have time to ride her every day I still love them. I have owned four horses in my lifetime. My daughter raises paint horses. I guess you could say they are in the DNA.
Print book or e-reader?
My daughter bought me an E reader and, although my earlier books are only on Kindle, I just can’t get used to it. I like a real book. That’s why my historical series is in soft cover as well!
To find out more, here is the link for this amazing series: Amazon
Please welcome the wonderful, Ruth A. Casie. Her book, Knight of Runes, is a must read. Time-travel and druids, oh yes! I’m definitely looking forward to this story.
When Lord Arik, a druid knight, finds Rebeka Tyler wandering his lands without protection, he swears to keep her safe. But Rebeka can take care of herself. When Arik sees her clash with a group of attackers using a strange fighting style, he’s intrigued.
Rebeka is no ordinary seventeenth-century woman—she’s travelled back from the year 2011, and she desperately wants to return to her own time. She poses as a scholar sent by the king to find out what’s killing Arik’s land. But as she works to decode the ancient runes that are the key to solving this mystery and sending her home, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic and powerful Arik.
As Arik and Rebeka fall in love, someone in Arik’s household schemes to keep them apart, and a dark druid with a grudge prepares his revenge. Soon Rebeka will have to decide whether to return to the future or trust Arik with the secret of her time travel and her heart.
I should not have stayed away from the Manor so long. Something stirs. Lord Arik’s eyes swept the surrounding area as he and his three riders escorted the wagon with the old tinker and the woman. They sped through the forest as fast as the rain-slicked trail would allow. Unable to shake the ominous feeling of being watched, Arik remained alert. At length, the horses winded, he slowed the pace as they neared the Stone River.
“The forest is flooded. I suspect the Stone will be as well. Willem, ride on ahead and let me know what we face at the crossing.”
Willem did his lord’s bidding and quickly returned with his report. “The river ahead runs fast, m’lord. The bridge is in disrepair and cannot be crossed.”
Arik raised his hand and brought the group to a halt. “Doward,” he said to the old tinker. “We must make repairs. There’s no room for the wagon at the river’s edge. You and the woman stay here and set up camp. Be ready to join us at the bridge when I send word.”
Logan, Arik’s brother, spoke up. “I’ll keep watch here and help Doward and Rebeka.”
Arik nodded and, with the others, continued the half mile to the bridge.
“I am not pleased with this new delay.”
“It can’t be helped, m’lord. We would make better time without the wagon,” said Simon.
“I’ll not leave Doward and the woman unescorted through the forest, not with what we’ve heard lately. We’ll have to drive hard to make up the lost time.”
The frame of the bridge stood solid, the planks scattered everywhere, clogging the banks and shallows. Arik leaped from his horse onto the frame to begin the repairs.
“Hand me that planking.” Arik pointed to the nearest board.
Simon grabbed the plank and examined it. “Sir, these boards have been deliberately removed.”
Arik took the board and lifted it before him. An arrow whooshed out of the trees, and slammed into the plank’s edge. Willem pulled his axe from his belt as Arik and Simon drew their swords. In a fluid, practiced movement, Willem spun and found his mark. He sent his axe flying. The archer fell into the river and was swept downstream, Willem’s axe still lodged in his forehead. A dozen or more attackers broke through the stand of trees.
Arik tossed the board into the river and readied his sword. The enemy was poorly dressed carrying clubs and knives. There was only one sword among them. The leader. Arik’s target.
“They plan to pin us here at the river’s edge. Come, we’ll take the offensive before they form up.” They moved forward, driving a wedge through the enemy’s ragged line, forcing what little formation they had to scatter and fight, each man for himself.
A man, club in hand, rushed at Arik. Before the attacker could bring his weapon into play, Arik pivoted around him. He raised his sword high, and slammed the hilt’s steel pommel squarely on the man’s head. Arik moved on before the man’s lifeless body dropped to the ground.
Willem and Simon, on either side of Arik, advanced through the melee. Their swift continuous swordplay moved smoothly from one stroke to the next, whipping through the air. They slashed on the downswing and again on the backswing, sweeping their weapons back into position to repeat the killing sequence. The knight and his soldiers steadily advanced, punishing any man who dared to come near them.
“For Honor!” Logan’s war cry carried from the small camp to Arik’s ears.
Arik stiffened. Both camps were now under attack. He pulled his blade from an attacker’s chest. The body crumpled to the blood-soaked ground. Arik breathed deeply, the coppery taste of blood in the air. “For Honor!” he bellowed in answer. His men echoed his call, arms thrown wide, muscles quivering, the berserker’s rage overtaking them.
The remaining attackers paled and fled headlong into the forest.
Motioning to his men to follow, Arik raced toward the camp. He could hear the shouts, and cursed himself for not seeing the danger. He crested the hill and came to an abrupt halt.
Logan’s sword ripped through the air as he protected Doward. The tinker drew his short blade and did as much damage as he could. But it was the woman Arik noticed. Her skirt hiked up, she twirled her walking stick like a weapon with an expertise that left him slack-jawed. She dispatched the attackers, one by one, in a deadly well-practiced dance. A man rushed toward her, knife in hand. The sneer on his face didn’t match the fear in his eyes. She stepped out of his line of attack, extended her stick to her side, and holding it with both hands swept the weapon forward, striking the attacker across the bridge of his nose. Blood exploded from his face in an arc of fine spray as his head snapped back. Droplets dusted her face creating an illusion of bright red freckles. As he fell, she reversed her swing and caught him hard behind his knees. He went down on his back, spread-eagled. She swung her stick over her head and landed a precise and disabling blow to his forehead that knocked him unconscious.
As she spun to face the next threat her eyes captured Arik’s and held. In the space of an instant, time slowed to a crawl. Her hair slowly loosened from its pins and swirled out around her. His breath caught and his heartbeat quickened as a rapturous surge raced through his body. Something eternal and familiar, with a sense of longing, unsettled him. In the next heartbeat, she tore her eyes away, leaving him empty. Time resumed its normal pace. Another attacker lay at her feet.
Arik joined the fight.
My guest next week on Medieval Monday is HK Carlton
Have you already guessed the theme for this month’s recipes? If you answered chocolate, then you are correct! I’m keeping this week’s treat simple. Dipping half of my shortbread in chocolate. Nothing too fancy and I bet many of you have already tried this with other cookies. I’ve included my recipe for shortbread, but if you’re in a hurry and don’t want to bake, use Walker Shortbread. I’m going to make these for the weekend, along with strawberries in chocolate, or pineapple, or orange slices…the list is endless. I encourage you to use your imagination.
“He drew her to the water and feasted upon her body, letting the light and the sweet scent of flowers wash away the bitterness that had bound him in chains.” ~ Excerpt from Dragon Knight’s Medallion
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Love to all!
½ cup butter at room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream the butter until it is light. Beat in the powdered sugar, then the vanilla. Mix in the flour. Knead the dough on an unfloured board until smooth. If you’re using a shortbread pan, spray it lightly with non-stick Pam. Firmly press the dough into the shortbread pan. Prick the entire surface with a fork and bake for 30-35 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes before you loosen the edges and flip it onto a cutting board.
If you don’t have a shortbread pan, pat in eight inch round disk and prick the entire surface. Place on greased cookie sheet pan or in a pie tin.
I used all types of chocolate–from Valrhona to Ghirardelli chips; dark and milk. It’s your preference.
Set a pan with about a cup of water on the stove. Place a bowl inside or on top–making sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl. Turn on medium. Break up chocolate and place in the bowl. Let melt completely. Dip your shortbread and other items and then place on parchment/wax paper. Let cool.
In a pinch? Melt chocolate in the microwave; stir and dip your desired food items.