I love winter. For me, there is something inately satisfying about the season. I love snow (though I prefer it no more than ‘slog’ deep) and the crisp temperatures.
Winter is so beautifully quiet and still, its colors remarkably unpretentious and pristine. The air is so clean and fresh, one can breathe in winter. My favorite holidays fall in the cold months, and there is no other time so perfect for curling up in a comfy chair with a cup of hot spiced chocolate beside a warm fire.
Winter automatically lends itself to introspection, and the new year to a recap of the previous year, of what was and what might have been, and an honest evaluation of the best next moves. Winter also lends perspective, and encourages expectations.
Writing occupied a large chunk of thinking about expectations for 2018. Not only do I hope to finish the Ballads of the Roses series with Marc’s story, The Stones of Rose, and a novella, Taming the Pale Rose, but I am planning a trilogy, Realm of Carthanna, best described as fantasy medieval romance.
If all goes as hoped, Taming the Pale Rose, a prequel to The Stones of Rose, will be available around the first of March, and since I am more or less writing both books together, Marc’s story should be out about not long after.
Here’s a sneak peek at the newest cover:
I wish for all of you that your best expectations are met in the coming year.
Wishing Happy Holidays to You, My Readers!
May they be filled with your dreams (and hectic only in a good way).
Thank YOU for a wonderful year!
I’ve chosen the “merry month of May” to focus attention on my “sweet” Victorian-era debut novel,
To Dream of Langston.
I’ve given it a gorgeous new cover I think you’ll love as much as I do. This book remains one of my personal favorites of all my novels (I’m still in love with Jamie and Jayce, lol), and I’m sharing it on sale – 99¢ – for this month.
When love is lost and innocence betrayed, how does the heart survive?
From the untamed moors of North Yorkshire to the bluegrass pastures of Kentucky, one woman’s passion carries her from love’s first bloom to a dream of love everlasting.
On the brink of womanhood, Katherine Fairbanks glories in the sweet love of the boy next door. When her life is brutally ripped apart by tragedy, she seeks only peace. But betrayal sweeps her far from home and into the hands of a man she dares not trust.
While struggling with his own darkness of the soul, Jayce Langston must help his family recover from the devastations of Civil War. He has little interest in taking a wife, but when a mysterious woman pursued by thugs drops in a swoon at his feet as he leaves a New York club, Jayce is both captivated and intrigued. He returns with her to his Kentucky stud farm in hopes of learning her identity.
Together, they must learn to trust the love growing between them even as they work against terrifying odds to secure a future where love triumphs over loss.
Get it here, for 99¢ – but only for the “merry month of May”:
Spring storms and computer problems aside, the newest release in the Ballads of the Roses, Scent of Wild Roses (Book Four), is now available.
A knight of King Henri and a beautiful serf are caught up in a web of intrigue … and the lure of abiding love. Return to the post-Conquest world of the powerful D’Auvrecher family with subterfuge, duplicity, and danger….
Sir Evart D’Auvrecher, home from Crusade, travels through the New Forest to take up a newly assigned duty. His journey is interrupted—the hard way—when outlaws attack.
Captured, tortured and abandoned to a slow death, Evart is rescued by Annice of Aiglantier, an apprentice healer with an unusual talent. Her birth is a mystery, her early years cloaked in shadows, yet Evart is captivated by her exotic beauty. Love blossoms between them like the wild roses of her home, Aiglantier Keep.
Soon they learn the attack against Evart was but one strand of a complex web of intrigue—a net in which they are now entangled. The deadly scheme threatens the very throne of England. While they seek to solve the mystery of Annice’s past, they must also work to unravel the conspiracy before England is embroiled in civil war.
Annice stiffened and drew herself up to face him.
So, she rallied her defenses. They would do her no good. In battle, all was fair, and Evart had privately declared war. The desire, the hunger-the lust-between them held powerful, mind-numbing sway. He would use its sweet burn to beguile, to overwhelm the resistance of her will.
In an instinctively protective gesture, her hand went up between them, palm out.
He stopped, giving her chance to hold him at bay. With bare inches separating them, he towered over her.
“So,” he said, keeping his tone conversational, as if they discussed naught that could tear out both of their hearts, “you would deny love, cast aside hope of lifelong joy, all for some misguided notion of self-sacrifice?” She made no answer, but the gray of her eyes darkened almost to black. “Very well,” he said. “For the nonce, I will do as you ask. I will accept this foolish barrier you place between us. But think not I will leave it at this. You are my heart, Annice, my life and my future, and naught you say or do will change my determination to make you mine for all of our days. There is that which I must do, a task I must fullfill on the day after the morrow, which cannot be set aside. I will be away from the keep for a time, but when I return, we will deal again on this matter.”
Her beautiful eyes had gone huge. “Evart.”
“I assure you, demoiselle, you will not again find it so easy to gainsay me. You are meant for me, Annice, and I for you. So, I believe, it has been from our births. Aye, there will be a reckoning between us then.”
He settled his gaze on the wispy confusion of her unbound hair. He leaned into her, crushing her gently with his heat against the wall where she stood braced. He slid his hands into those midnight waves to anchor her head as he took her lips.
She gasped at the first brush, that first tempting touch, and her eyes drifted shut, hiding her desire. Her palms on his chest did not push him away.
He deepened the kiss, tapping into her passion, pulling it from hidden depths until she moaned her pleasure.
His hands abandoned her hair to stray downward, seeking warmth, softness, yielding curves, drawing forth from her little cries as he relinquished her lips to trace kisses along her chin, nuzzle the soft skin beneath her ear and nibble the smooth expanse joining neck and shoulder. When her body writhed inside the prison in which he caged her, he pulled away only enough to allow her arms to lift and grasp his shoulders.
The action gave him unlimited access, and he took it, yielding no quarter. He tightened his arms around her and pulled her close, and closer still, his hands on her hips joining her feminine undulations to his male surges.
Frantic little croons broke from her lips. Her hands fluttered over his shoulders and up into his hair, seeking, stroking, caressing. She gasped and tensed as his assault intensified.
He returned to claim her mouth, giving and plundering, both at once. He wrapped himself around her, tightened his hold, offered one final, surging assault on her senses and then… stopped.
He dropped his arms and stepped away.
It cost him. Oh, how it cost him. But he would win this conflict between them.
I am so pleased to offer Lanterns In The Mist, my newest release set in pre-Revolutionary Colonial America.
Slightly darker than my usual style, Lanterns In The Mist contains scenes with *graphic content* that may disturb some readers.
Borough of Norfolk – 1759
Virginia bootmaker Duncan MacCabe needs a partner and wants a wife, but not both. So what is a pragmatic man to do but combine the two. When he learns a bride ship is en route to Norfolk with women aboard who might fit his qualifications, it appears his problem is solved.
London bookkeeper Susanna Cooper is desperate. With her father’s sudden death, the family livelihood is gone. Her only sibling, a younger brother, abandons her to sail to China. All other options exhausted, she joins the complement of a bride ship headed for the Colony of Virginia. The only guarantee: employment or a husband.
Destiny joins Duncan and Susanna and love binds them, but a pitiless adversary, his desire for Susanna thwarted, plots a chilling vengeance to separate them—forever.
Susanna witnessed everything. Her eyes blinked, but she could not close them, nor could she force her gaze far enough to one side to avoid the images.
Once, blood spurted from the ruffian with such force the droplets arced to splash upon her face. Crimson colored her senses, as everything within her range of vision seemed drenched in a gushing fountain of blood.
An eternity passed.
The horror became so great she swooned. The respite lasted for an unmercifully brief period.
Finally, blessedly, the ruffian’s eyes glazed. He struggled to draw a gurgling, agonized breath through the gag, but the effort failed. Though his body did not move, it seemed to collapse. The light in his eyes faded.
Through it all, her captor hummed a tuneless croon. A beatific smile curved his lips. He pushed back the cowl and removed the mask.
That serene, euphoric gray gaze bent upon her.
Lanterns In The Mist is now available at Amazon and B&N:
Wishing to all of you a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
The authors of the de Wolfe Pack World by Kathryn le Veque have put together a collection of stories, many of them related to, or the inspiration for, the de Wolfe Pack novels. I’ve joined with nine other authors to bring you this collection. I hope you enjoy:
A World of Romance!
It’s an exciting day for the authors in the Kindle World of Kathryn le Veque’s de Wolfe Pack World – in which I am proud to be included. Together we are sponsoring an amazing giveaway: a Kindle Fire pre-loaded with all of the World of de Wolfe Pack Amazon Kindle Worlds re-launch books. Whether your taste in romance is Medieval or Victorian, Viking or Highlander, Western or Regency, Contemporary or Time Travel, we’ve got it covered.
Brábanter’s Rose, a novella of the Ballads of the Roses, picks up where For Love of the Rose left off, with Brabáncon Elrik of Breda completing his final mission in the second Harrowing of the North:
A mercenary with a bloodstained soul.
Elrik of Breda has had enough of death and seeks a place to build a home and live in peace.
An innocent with a secret.
Yrsa of Ottham has lived too long with loss and rejection. She yearns for a place where she belongs.
Sometimes, the intervention of Fate creates magic.
Together, they embark on a quest to fulfill the longings of their hearts… but the cost may be higher than they could ever dream.
Find it here: AMAZON
Come share in the excitement of the Kindle Worlds relaunch of Kathryn le Veques’ de Wolfe Pack World!
The clouds that plagued the land the past many days sped away. Stars popped into the clear sky, filling the dark expanse with the magic of light. As the night deepened, the temperature dropped. Yrsa shivered.
From across the fireless pit, Elrik spoke, his voice quiet. “Come lie with me, Yrsa. I can hear your teeth chattering.”
One of the things most enjoyable about writing historical romance is that integral component of the subject, research. History is endlessly intriguing as one delves into cultures, customs, languages and habits of peoples who lived in times and places far different from one’s own.
Whether I study the refined societies of the ancient Brythons (Britons), the fierce and dauntless Viking culture or the tangled web of Norman/Saxon relations, I occasionally feel as if I’ve wandered, not into another time, but onto an alien planet. Amazingly sophisticated levels of knowledge and technology often coexisted hand in hand with erroneously bizarre—and sometimes deadly—beliefs.
One of the most gripping areas of inquiry is the art of war. Brutality and conflict have characterized humanity’s struggle for life from the very earliest of oral tradition and written record. There is an undeniable fascination in the study of the ancient methods of conquest.
An enduring aspect of the making of war throughout the centuries is the mercenary, that hardy soul peculiarly of ‘foreign’ birth and trained in the art of combat-for-pay. Also known in those early days in Europe by the various terms ‘mercennarios’, ‘solidarii’ and ‘stipendiarii’, the reputation of these warriors was such they might be hated and feared or glorified and blessed, both at once.
More often than not their chosen profession was vilified by the general populace, but not, as is the modern viewpoint, because they owed loyalty only to the lord who paid them. It was common practice of those days for knights and warriors to fight for coin [even Crusaders]. The monarchs and noblemen who hired them understood their own exalted positions—and frequently their very lives—depended on these skilled fighters. They used them as extensively as their coin would allow.
Historians agree mercenary armies in general were no more rapacious than regular troops. ‘Ravaging’ and ‘siege-craft’ were, and often still are, standard methods of warfare practiced by armies. Kings routinely pursued the ‘scorched earth’ policy as the first step in launching war.
As specific units, there were among the mercenaries those with reputations as ‘honorable’ fighters, and those who became famous for their brutality, cruelty and excessive use of force. One particular band generally classed with the latter was the Brábanters [aka Brabáncon, Cotereaux or Routiers (‘ravagers’)], so called because they originated from the area called Brabant, at that time located in parts of what is now the Netherlands, Belgium and France. [Brabant was made a duchy of the Holy Roman Empire, c. 1190.] Later men of this affiliation were drawn from all areas of northern Europe.
Generally, Brabáncon fought on horseback, though many were also highly trained foot soldiers. The expense involved in hiring them was significantly greater than other early medieval troops, for they were among the finest fighters of their day. Warfare was their chosen way of life.
History records that more than one king owed his continued reign to the service of these elite warriors. One example was King Henri II’s successful use of their skills in the Battle of Dol, Brittany, during the rebellion of 1173.
Among the most famous among them was Mercadier, “prince of the Brábanters” and commander of mercenary forces in southern France [Third Crusade]. He pledged loyalty to Richard I, Coeur de Lion, whom he faithfully served until the king’s death (and after, when he captured the archer who shot and killed the king and had the man flayed.)
Brabáncon archers—crossbowmen—may be the originators of the word “gaffle”. This was a steel piece on a crossbow that provided the leverage to bend the bow. They were also excellent pikemen, and many were highly skilled in the use of sword and lance.
Considered among the most ruthless and brutal of the mercenary forces, they terrorized entire populations. As a result, the Third Lateran Council of 1179 condemned them en masse, directing that all who hired them be excommunicated.
Finally, the Magna Carta of 1215 banished all foreign mercenaries from England (which King John promptly ignored by hiring large numbers of Brábanter forces under the leadership of Walter Buc.)
They first appeared in England with William the Conqueror, though it was not until the time of King Stephen they appeared in significant numbers. King Henri II used them extensively, but for the most part kept them out of England (they served him mostly in France). A little over a century later Brábanter mercenaries served in the Hundred Years War, fighting with the English armies in Cambrai and Tournay, France.
Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases. Christopher Coredon with Ann Williams.
Henry II: A Medieval Soldier At War, 1147-1189, 1189, John D. Hosler
Mercenaries in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, Hunt Janin with Ursula Carlson
Chivalry in Medieval England, Nigel Saul
English Historical Documents. 4. [Late Medieval]. 1327-1485, edited by A.R. Myers
Mercenaries of the Angevin Empire: Reputations and Royal Power, Andrew Rice, Florida Gulf Coast University
A Glossary; or Collection of Words, Phrases, Names and Allusions to Customs, Proverbs, Etc., Robert Nares
The Influence of Low Dutch on the English Vocabulary, E.C. Llewellyn