Medieval Monday ~ Conflict: Gods of the Highlands by Bambi Lynn

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00068]Welcome to Medieval Monday and our ongoing theme of conflict. There’s so many ways to interpret this meaning. I’m delighted to have Bambi Lynn here today! She’s sharing an excerpt from her book, Gods of the Highlands. Love her stories! Enjoy!

Excerpt:

The Comyns stood little chance against the demi-gods they faced. Lucan was a formidable warrior, but both Tanis and Cam could defeat ten or twenty men alone. Sirona’s heart staggered as she watched them. A group of Comyns clustered around Cam, another attacking Tanis. She thought she saw Rhain amongst them but it was hard to see.

She spurred her horse around the edge of the fray, shouting to no avail. Her cries were drowned by the clang of steel against steel and the shouts of fighting men.

On the opposite side, Fergus had set his sights on Lucan. Their swords clashed like hammers on anvils, ringing in her ears and threatening to split her head open. They were vicious and ruthless in their efforts, but in the end, a mere mortal was no match for a man with the blood of the gods coursing through his veins.

She spotted Rhain in the melee, locked in combat with her brother. She ignored Màili’s demands to pull back to the relative safety of the trees, renewing her plea for them to stop. Suddenly, the battle between Tanis and Rhain came to a violent head.

“No!” Sirona screamed as she slid down from her horse. She hit the ground hard and dropped to her knees, crying out in pain. When she looked up, Rhain lay motionless on the ground. Over him stood a blonde woman, no taller than Tanis’ shoulder. She was dressed like a shield maiden of the old Norse legends. She faced Tanis with a fierce expression, her sword held before her, its lethal blade catching the sunlight and setting off a blinding glow.

Tanis grinned at her like an idiot before she attacked him, forcing him to the defense, a position he was not used to. She sliced at him, jabbed her blade at his most tender areas, screamed at him in a language Sirona could not understand but, by the woman’s tone, recognized as the vilest of insults.

It seemed the battle would never end, that neither opponent tired. But with one fatal mistake, the mysterious pixie-woman gained the advantage. Before Sirona could blink, the woman had Tanis on his back, his sword hand empty and the tip of her weapon at his throat.

Sirona had had enough. She hiked up her skirt and tore across the grass to where the woman held her brother at sword point. “Stop!” she called. When she reached them, she flung herself between Tanis’ prone body and the warrior woman. “Please,” she begged.

The rest of her family seemed to gather their senses as well and within seconds, the strange woman found herself staring down three more Highland blades. For a moment, no one spoke.

It was Màili who broke the silence. “Bitch,” she fairly spat at the other woman. She lifted her chin, silently daring the blonde woman to make a move.

“Whore,” the woman sneered back. After another long moment of tense silence, she sheathed her sword and turned away.

With a sigh of relief, Sirona gave Tanis a quick once over to be sure he was unhurt, before giving into despair over Rhain’s fate. Dreading what she would find, she looked over her shoulder to the spot where she’d last seen him lying at Tanis’ feet.

Both Rhain and the woman were gone.

Blurb: 

They grew up orphans, relying on each other to keep the secret of their heretical powers from the other members of their clan. Now a vengeful pagan god is after them, using them in his relentless pursuit of a soul so powerful, its possessor will be able to command Lucifer himself. Camulus is unbeatable in a fight, but cannot defend his heart from a fallen goddess. Sirona can heal with nothing more than a touch. When she is captured and her secret discovered by a rival clan, only the laird’s youngest son can save her from being burned at the stake. Tanis commands the elements, but meets his match in a celestial being from heaven who is anything but angelic. Lucan can create anything…except life. That he must do the old-fashioned way. Together these cousins must band together if they have any hope of defeating the god of death and ensuring a bright future for themselves and their kin.

Buy Links: 

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Highlands-Books-Camulus-Sirona-ebook/dp/B01C0TMB8M/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gods-Highlands-Books-Camulus-Sirona-ebook/dp/B01C0TMB8M/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1088918569

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gods-of-the-highlands-books-1-4-bambi-lynn/1123657476;jsessionid=63322B60FB64E7DCDAC488DF502A12F5.prodny_store01-atgap01?ean=2940152836158

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/gods-of-the-highlands-books-1-4-camulus-sirona-tanis-lucan

Page Foundry: http://www.inktera.com/store/title/0c0173de-59c5-4027-a0ec-101a273e1300

Scribd.: https://www.scribd.com/book/301238218/Gods-of-the-Highlands-Books-1-4-Camulus-Sirona-Tanis-Lucan-Gods-of-the-Highlands

24symbols: https://www.24symbols.com/book/x/x/x?id=1173432

My guest next week on Medieval Monday is Lane McFarland!

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Quote for the Week of May 22, 2016

Waterfall on the Isle of Skye ~ Mary's trip

Waterfall on the Isle of Skye ~ Photo by John Morgan

 

“Each time someone stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.” 

–Robert F. Kennedy

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Mary’s Tavern Recipes ~ Peaches and Berries Crisp

Brunch at the Morgans

Brunch at the Morgans

Welcome to my tavern! Did you know that Beltaine (May 1st) marked the start of the Celtic season of summer? It sure feels like it here in my town, so I’m delighted to share a dish that’s full of the fruits of summer. Now, don’t bash me for saying it’s summer, when it’s only late spring. Of course, there are still some places dealing with chilly weather conditions, too. Yet, for now…let’s pretend. :)

As you can see in the picture, my husband and I spend most of our time eating our meals outdoors. We love the early mornings and evenings, especially during the summer months when the temps can soar over 100! It’s peaceful and relaxing.

I’m sharing a recipe that’s perfect for any time of day. Since there’s only two of us, I usually split the recipe in half.

What fruits are you looking forward to this late spring/early summer? Any vegetables? Do share!

PEACHES AND BERRIES CRISP

Filling:

6 cups peaches, chopped, peeled and pitted

2 cups berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or a mix)

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 lemon, grated and juice

Topping:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup light brown sugar

¾ cup quick cooking oats

¼ cup shelled pistachios or slivered almonds

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently. Set aside for at least 10 minutes for fruit to release its juices. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13×9-inch baking dish.

Combine all topping ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbly, about 30 seconds. When I’m in a hurry, I slice in butter and use a pastry cutter to combine.

Pour filling into prepared pan. Sprinkle your topping mixture over the fruit and press lightly with your hands on the filling. Bake for 1 hour until golden brown.

 

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Medieval Monday ~ Conflict: Knight of Runes by Ruth A. Casie

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Welcome to Medieval Monday and our ongoing theme of conflict. My guest today is the fabulous Ruth A. Casie, and she’s sharing an exciting excerpt from her book, Knight of Runes. Enjoy!

Excerpt: 

England ~ May, 1605

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.

Blurb:

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.

Buy Links:

Amazon  BN KOBO   iBook  HQN- Print

My guest next week on Medieval Monday is Bambi Lynn!

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Quote for the Week of May 15, 2016

Notre Dame, Paris, France

Notre Dame, Paris, France

“It is not genius, nor glory, nor love that reflects the greatness of the human soul; it is kindness.” 

–Henri-Dominique Lacordaire

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Spotlight New Release ~ A Sacrificial Matter by Ilona Fridl

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I’m delighted to share a new release by fellow Wild Rose Press author, Ilona Fridl! Her latest story, A Sacrificial Matter ~ First Amos and Sarah Darcy short mystery based on the Dangerous Times series is sure to be a page-turner. (Note: this book releases tomorrow, but feel free to pre-order your copy now!)

Let’s take a peek into the story…

 

Blurb: A naked man in a graveyard… Detectives Amos and Sarah Darcy have dealt with quite a few unusual mysteries, but who cut down the naked man in the graveyard with a broadsword at midnight? When Sheriff Sam Lindsey calls on them to help solve the murder, Sarah risks her life to go undercover into a world of spiritualism and crime to find the murderer and the motive.

Excerpt: Around two ‘o clock that afternoon, Sam came in to see them. “Well, we know who the man is. He was identified by his wife and brother. He’s Abner Wells and works as a bookkeeping clerk at First National Bank.”

Amos stroked his mustache. “That doesn’t sound like a wild-eyed pagan to me. Did you get a chance to question his wife?”

“She’s Lidia and was quite upset as you may guess. I asked her if she knew about the spiritualist group and she didn’t know anything about it.”

“How about his brother?”

“His brother is Calvin Wells. He’s a liner captain working for a passenger company and he said he never heard of a group like that.”

Sarah was silent for a moment. “It’s possible she’s covering up something. Seems to me if a model citizen was involved in a group like that, they wouldn’t want it general knowledge what they were doing.”

Sam glanced at her. “You may be right. I’m going to the bank to question people who knew Wells there. Since you’re doing all this research on spiritualism, could you find a way to get into one of these groups?”

Sarah thought for a moment. “Maybe it would be better for me to work undercover. Amos would still be well known in the community.”

Amos studied her. “As long as they don’t try to sacrifice you. Then I will have something to say.”

“I could disguise myself. Kata could help me with that.” Her cousin worked in costuming at the Golden North theater.

Sam nodded. “If you do, keep me informed of where you go and what you do. That way we can keep an eye on you.”

Sarah sobered. “Yes, we know it can be dangerous, don’t we?”

*****

Buy Links: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sacrificial-Matter-Ilona-Fridl-ebook/dp/B01DI1Y5CQ

The Wild Rose Press: http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/3820-a-sacrificial-matter.html

Reviews for the Dangerous Times series: 

Silver Screen Heroes and Golden North

What Night Owl Romance Reviews has to say about Silver Screen Heroes:

“This book has it all. Suspense, romance, mystery, history.”–Vee

Top Pick          Rating 4.75 hearts out of 5

Between the Lines says:

“Wow! What a story! Excellent read.”–Marianne Gibson

4 star   Great Read-A Keeper

What Night Owl Romance Reviews has to say about Golden North:

“Ilona Fridl’s Golden North is truly an adventure worth joining.”–ursshebear

Top Pick    Rating 4.75 hearts out of 5

BRONZE SKIES:

“A quick and enjoyable read that drew me in from the

first page to the last even without reading the first two

books… I look forward to reading more books by

Fridl in the future.”

~Romancing the Book (4 Roses)

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About the author ~ A transplanted Californian who lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Mark, and a well-worn computer. This is her first novella and has six novels with The Wild Rose Press.

Website: www.ilonafridl.com

Publisher: www.thewildrosepress.com

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Medieval Monday ~ Conflict: The Highlander’s French Bride by Cathy MacRae

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Welcome to Medieval Monday and our continuing theme of conflict. My guest today is the lovely Cathy MacRae. She’s sharing a powerful scene from her story, The Highlander’s French Bride. I was holding my breath while reading the excerpt. Enjoy!

Excerpt: 

Horses whinnied, sensing danger in the air, but the people about her remained silent, anticipation evident in the lines of their bodies and the expressions on their faces. To her left she glimpsed a man as he eased forward, wearing the Hospitaller colors of white cross on a black tunic. A furtive look on his face, his hand drifted to the sword at his belt.

Slipping her dagger from the pocket in her cloak, Melisende turned toward the man, hand fisted on the knife’s hilt, angled just below belt level. “This is their fight, not yours, monsieur knight,” she admonished softly. His head turned at her words, distaste on the sneer of his lips as he saw who gave him challenge.

Melisende nudged him with the tip of her dagger, glancing down as she did to ensure he understood her threat, offering him a chance to reconsider. “Should you wish to assist, you will do so as a eunuch.” The knight blanched and stepped a pace away. Giving her an angry look, he disappeared into the crowd.

A quick look showed Kinnon’s men scattered at the perimeter of the crowd, and Melisende took a deep breath, satisfied they would do their best to keep others from interfering. The ring of steel shifted her attention back to the combatants.

Jean-Luc circled Kinnon. Melisende cringed to see the subtle change in Kinnon’s balance as he favored his injured leg. His gaze bore into Jean-Luc as he deflected the knight’s attacks. Melisende fumed. Fall, Jean-Luc. Trip over your overwhelming ego and be done with this nonsense. Furious barking sounded from within the stables. Jean-Baptiste!

Jean-Luc lunged again, just inside Kinnon’s defensive circle. Kinnon parried the thrust, but did not advance. “Fight me!” Jean-Luc roared. “Let us see who is the better man.”

For a heartbeat, nothing happened. Jean-Luc’s guard relaxed, the line of his shoulders drooped slightly, allowing the tip of his sword to dip down. “Coward.”

Kinnon’s attack was a blur of motion, and Melisende gasped, afraid his leg would betray him. He beat Jean-Luc back, his sword hammering against the knight’s, the ring of the blows nearly one continuous flurry of sound. In an instant, Kinnon was inside Jean-Luc’s guard. Holding the knight’s sword to the side, braced against his own, he rammed Jean-Luc with an uppercut from his left fist that sent the knight sprawling. He landed on the ground amid the dust, sliding a few feet from the force of Kinnon’s blow. Still clutching his sword, Jean-Luc thrust it tip-down into the earth, using the hilt to brace himself as he struggled to rise.

A crash sounded from the stable as the upper half of a stall door burst open, slamming against the wall. Jean-Baptiste leapt through the opening, landing on the ground at a hard run. He skidded to a halt before Jean-Luc, teeth flashing in the early light as he fought against Kinnon’s sharp command to hold.

“Get up,” Kinnon barked at Jean-Luc.

Clearly stunned from the blow, the man levered himself up, but slipped, falling to one knee. Kinnon kicked the weapon from Jean-Luc’s hand and stood one foot on the blade to keep him from picking it up again. Using the tip of his sword, he forced Jean-Luc’s chin up.

“I can finish this here, or ye can admit ye are an arrogant bastard and hie yerself away to yer barracks. Either way, it ends now.” He slid the blade a bit forward, toward the tempting pulse in the knight’s throat.

Jean-Luc spat in the dirt. “Keep la prostituée,” he snarled.

With a forceful kick to the man’s chin, Kinnon laid Jean-Luc in the dirt. “I dinnae call that an apology.”

He turned with a slight wince, and strode to the edge of the crowd, snapping his fingers for the dog to follow. With a last sniff at the prone knight, Jean-Baptiste bounded after Kinnon as he pushed through the throng, a dark scowl on his face.

Melisende gathered her skirts and ran after him, catching him as the Scots converged on him. “You are injured!” she exclaimed, half-questioning him, half-chiding him for fighting on a leg that was a possible liability.

His furious gaze stopped her. “He was drunk!” He stopped and snapped at his men over his shoulder. “Get the horses.” Half of them barreled their way through the crowd, the rest formed a guard about him and Melisende. Jean-Baptiste eyed them warily, hackles up.

“Forgive me,” he said to Melisende. “I am not angry with ye. I did not provoke him, and he was rather uncomplimentary about ye.” He cast a look at the knight’s form still sprawled on the ground. “Mayhap he will wake a better man.”

Blurb:

Heir to a lairdship, Kinnon Macrory is driven to prove his worth by fighting the English on the battlefields of France. His dreams of heroic valor are destroyed by the realities of war—the atrocities visited by fellow soldiers on the very people he is sworn to protect. Three years in a French prison for a crime he did not commit leave Kinnon longing for the one thing of beauty in his war-torn life—a young woman of great kindness and wisdom named Melisende.

Melisende de la Roche struggles to stay one step ahead of soldiers who would imprison her for helping an injured Scotsman wrongly accused of treason. She finds refuge in her uncle’s shop—until a chance encounter sends her fleeing into the unknown once again, haunted by the beguiling friendship with the troubled young Scotsman she is certain she will never see again.

Determined to find the woman of his dreams, Kinnon returns to France, only to discover a trail of clues to Melisende’s whereabouts. Their reunion will open the doors to passion, but half-truths and lies from the past could destroy the one thing they both are willing to fight for—each other.

Buy Link: Amazon: https://www.amzn.com/dp/B018OHXKHK

My guest next week on Medieval Monday is Ruth A. Casie! 

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Quote for the Week of May 8, 2016

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“Be willing to take the first step, no matter how small it is. Concentrate on the fact that you are willing to learn. Absolute miracles will happen.” 

–Louise L. Hay

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Mary’s Tavern Recipes ~ Rocky Road Popcorn Bars

Summertime Movies2!

Welcome to my Tavern! Since it’s the month of May, my first thought was the start of all the summer movies. Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War kicks off the summer movie season today.

Now when I go to the movies, I have to bring snacks and water. Yes, I know the theaters frown on you bringing in your own food and drink, but it’s bloody expensive! Although, I must confess to a weakness for buttered popcorn. Absolutely delicious! And on occasion, I will purchase the decadent snack.

However, this oldie, but goody treat I found in my old recipe box from decades ago, is one that I’ll be making in batches and freezing until my next trip to the movies. Wait! Who am I kidding? Freezing sounds like a great option, but there won’t be much to stash away after my husband spies these.

Do have any snacks you take into the theaters? Do share and know your secret is safe within Mary’s Tavern.

Rocky Road Popcorn Bars

8 cups popped plain popcorn (Or butter, if you so wish)

1 cup unsalted nuts

1 cup chocolate chips

2 tablespoons butter

1 jar Marshmallow Cream

Grease 13 x 9 inch cake pan. Melt butter with chocolate chips. Stir in popcorn, marshmallow cream, and nuts. Press into cake pan and chill. Cut into bars.

Enjoy!

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Medieval Monday ~ Conflict: Time Enough To Love by Jenna Jaxon

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Welcome to Medieval Monday! We’re exploring a new theme–one of conflict. Remember, it isn’t always about the battle. It can be emotional, physical, or sexual. I’ll let you decide when you’ve read Jenna Jaxon’s excerpt from Time Enough To Love. I was holding my breath the entire time I read this scene. Enjoy!

Excerpt:

Both knights had broken two lances on the torso—their scores were even. In order to win, one would need to either break a lance on the helm or unhorse their opponent. Either feat was possible, but highly improbable, given the lateness of the day and the weariness of the jousters. The best outcome would be for one lance to miss, giving the knight to break a lance victory. Another possibility was a draw if both men broke their lances on the torso. A draw would mean no victor; the debt of honor satisfied without a forfeit. That outcome might be best, but she could not help thinking in that case there would have been a great deal of effort wasted for nothing.

Geoffrey nodded slightly within his helm, as though acknowledging a strategy confirmed. Though the decision was unknown to her, she prayed it would make him the clear winner of the match.

In an instant, Geoffrey streaked down the lists. Alyse gasped at the ferocity with which Saracen raced toward his adversary. Lord Braeton drove his horse fiercely as well, but did not seem to reach the black steed’s breakneck speed.

Moments before the collision, Geoffrey angled his weapon upward slightly, aiming again for the helm and its additional points. Her heart flew into her throat. Should his lance glance off, as it had earlier, she would certainly be leading the first dance with Lord Braeton this evening. That prospect no longer held any delight for her, not after the physical pain this match must have cost Geoffrey—and Lord Braeton—and the mental anguish it had cost her. Had she not seemed so enthralled with the earl, mayhap the challenge would never have been issued. Or would not have been so avidly pursued by Geoffrey. If one of them were injured, it could surely be laid at her feet.

Geoffrey must win. He must.

The impact devastated both knights. Thomas’s lance splintered dramatically along Geoffrey’s right shoulder, twisting him around in the saddle and almost unseating him.

Geoffrey’s lance found its mark in the dead center of Thomas’s helm, snapping his head back with the force of the blow. An immediate cry of pain erupted from his helmet. Alyse bolted from her seat, raced out of the berfrois and onto the field.

* * * *

Thomas managed to pull his horse to a stop, and his squires ran to assist him as he dropped to the ground. Almost as quickly, Geoffrey leaped from his horse, cursing as he ran toward his friend.

’Tis my fault if he dies. I was angered at him. Christ, why did I not aim elsewhere and try to unseat him? Geoffrey could barely hold still as his squire removed his helmet. “Thomas! Thomas!”

Men had lowered his friend to the ground, where he lay motionless.

Dear God! The splinters—

He stared in horror at the long wooden slivers poking out of Thomas’s visor.

Sweet Jesu, have mercy. Holy Mary, mother of God, have mercy.

He fell to his knees beside him, afraid to touch him lest he drive the fragments deeper.

“Fetch the surgeon!” Geoffrey threw the command over his shoulder, his attention fixed on the still body. “Thomas.” He couldn’t be dead.

Blurb:

When Lady Alyse de Courcy is betrothed to Sir Geoffrey Longford, she has no choice but to make the best of a bad bargain. The hulking knight is far from her ideal man, and although he does possess some wit and charm, he is no match for the sinfully sensual man she secretly admires, Thomas, Earl of Braeton, her betrothed’s best friend.

From the first, Sir Geoffrey finds himself smitten by Lady Alyse, and, despite her infatuation with his friend, vows to win her love. When Geoffrey puts his mind to wooing Alyse, he is delighted to find her succumbing to his seduction. But when cruel circumstances separate them, Geoffrey must watch helplessly as Thomas steps in to protect Alyse—and falls in love with her himself.

As the three courtiers accompany Princess Joanna to her wedding in Spain, they run headlong into the Black Plague. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both the men she loves. But which love will survive?

Buy Link:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01ACF9L98?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

My guest next week on Medieval Monday is Cathy MacRae! 

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