Wednesday, 2 November 2016

One Winter Knight. A Medieval Romance Anthology


One Winter Knight is a medieval romance anthology filled with stories perfect for a snowy winter and Christmas-time. My story is 'Sir Thomas and the Snow Troll.'

Here's a blurb and the first chapter.

LINDSAY TOWNSEND—SIR THOMAS AND THE SNOW TROLL
Sir Thomas no longer knows who he is, or even who his natural father is. Adrift, Thomas sets out on a winter journey to discover more, finding adventure and passion on the way that he ever expected. Fiery Ruth, a young woman who has escaped a terrible servitude to live alone in the northern forest, is proud of her independence from all others...but can Thomas protect her from the dreaded and terrible Snow Troll?


Two lost souls, striving through long winter nights and days, find each other—but can they begin to truly live?

Winter 1134, Northern England

You were always the son of your father’s soul. You were not his seed but you were always his heart. He loved you my child, never doubt that.
His mother’s voice pounded in Sir Thomas’s head as he rode through the forest, his mind as purposeless as a ship without a rudder. Believed to be on her death-bed, Christine of Carcassone had confessed to her son what Thomas had long suspected—that his father, Sir Guillelm of Normandy and Tissaton, was not his sire.
Sir Thomas, Tom to his family, squire and friends, snapped the ends of his horse’s reins against his right thigh, caught between pity, exasperation and relief. For of course his mother, contrary as ever, had then rallied after her confession and was even now on her feet and gadding, chattering of the Yule to come, keeping the servants busy with Christmas preparations. She had gaily waved him off that morning, assuring him she would be quite safe and well.
“You know how I love Christmas, Tom, and the whole month beforehand with all the gathering and cooking and preparations. My ladies and I will be very happy and snug in the keep. Take that long face of yours away! Go forth and seek your natural father! Look to your roots! You have my blessing.”
Beneath her bright and airy manner Christine had been determined and Tom, torn between staying at Tissaton to hover over her or striding out to find his native father, had found himself agreeing. Now, after riding for several hours along the great north road in the northern forest, he was less sure.
I am pushed from my nest like a dazed fledging chick but Mam is surely right, as she usually is. Tom knew Sir Guillelm had loved him. It had been in his father’s every look and smile and gift, in his teaching Tom to ride and count and to fashion baskets and panniers and reed fertility charms from the rushes of Tissaton’s sprawling, watery estate. Scarcely a month since his father’s death and Tom still missed him with a tearing ache in his chest, still longed to hear his stumbling footsteps on the floor of the great hall and see that cheerful, gap-toothed smile.
I will call him father still, for he was ever one to me.
Is this how a cuckoo feels? Tom scowled at the idea and snapped his reins again, wincing as his mount reacted with a surge of speed along the snowy track and the persistent, nagging wound in his backside stung and ached anew. A knight for three years since he had won his spurs in Normandy, Tom had become used to carrying injuries from the battle and tourney fields, but this embarrassing stab was slow to heal.
Were my father alive, I would ask his advice. I will not ask the other.
The other was how Tom thought of his natural sire, the one who had cast his seed into his mother and then abandoned her. He snapped his reins a third time as his mother’s voice hissed in his head, cold and hard as the winter sleet he rode through.
Never think that, my son! she had scolded, soon after they had buried his real father and she had taken ill herself, dropping the equivalent of a siege boulder on his head before making a miraculous recovery and then taking him to task. Tom could picture her clearly, round and red as a robin and as furious, hopping about the solar of Tissaton keep, barely a day after she had left her fatal sick-bed.
“Magnus does not know of you,” she had told him then. “I took care he would never know. He was a lad, a squire, just fifteen years old, when I tempted him into my bed and took his virginity. A fine, sweet romp for us both, and a parting with no ill-will on either side. Magnus wanted to court me, but I told him no. I was ten years older, and I had my sights fixed on your father, Sir Guillelm. A fifteen-year-old swain did not suit my purpose.”
Fifteen years old. God’s bones! All lads are idiots at fifteen.
Catching her son’s distaste at her seduction, Christine stared back at him until Tom had blushed. “It was Yule and feasting and Magnus was handsome, then,” she had snapped. “Do you think only men can feel desire?”
“But Sir Guillelm—” Tom had started, unsure what to say, but feeling he should protest.
His mother folded her arms beneath her bosom and glowered still more. “Had a loving, splendid son and the heir he needed,” she answered swiftly. “You were both tall and dark and if your features do not match your father, your gestures do. Guillelm was always proud and pleased of you.”
“Of another man’s bastard!”
“A youth, not a man, Tom, and a single time, only. I married your father within a month of bedding Magnus. Once we were betrothed, I was always faithful to Guillelm, so for years I thought you were his.” Her round face softened and her pretty gray eyes sparkled. “We were content, very content.”
Remembering her flushed and dreaming expression Tom could not snarl, not even when his horse skidded on an ancient cobblestone on the old Roman road and the wound at the top of his thigh flared again. His parents had been happy, and for an age he had dreamed of a marriage like theirs.
It was a marriage built on a lie, and yet...
“We were not blessed with children,” Christine had added, after a heavy, breathing pause. She had stared from the small lancet window in the solar, her pleasant features becoming as pale and blank as the snow outside. “After our first year of marriage, Guillelm was not strong, or hale or vigorous.”
Tom nodded, recalling how his father had frequently taken to his bed, especially in winter.
“If he ever wondered about you, as I imagine he did when you grew more and more like Magnus in looks, he was prudent enough to recognize you as his heir. You are a good son, Thomas. Guillelm was proud to claim you as his scion and tactful enough never to ask questions. And now those who might have made trouble for us are all dead, of age or disease or war.”
Tom had shuddered at his mother’s cool assessment. The larger part of him wanted to flee the solar, with its cushions and bed and books, and disappear into a new battle-fray. He did not because he
respected his father, Sir Guillelm, who had trusted him with his lands and title. Only this fall, when the man was still alive, Tom had promised the older man that he would care for Christine—Guillelm had insisted on that vow.
He never asked aloud, but father realized I was less than his. And yet, he loved me. I know he did.
You were always the son of your father’s soul.
Perhaps Guillelm’s actions had been directed by self-interest and prudence, as his mother’s had certainly been, but there was a loving kindness, too, Tom thought now, ducking under a low arch of trees to avoid a tangle of wind-whipped branches. Yet perhaps, damn all the heavens, his mam was right. Guillelm had loved him.
Would I be as generous with a child not of my own flesh and blood?
The fact he did not know chilled him.
Again, he drove his heels into his horse’s flanks and the black surged forward, foam falling hot from its gleaming mouth. Off in the distance, the low winter sun burned in Tom’s eyes and the bare trees seemed to crowd ever closer. For an instant, he wondered if he had strayed from the track, but then the puzzles of the moment overcame him afresh.
The other, the man whose face he wore, what kind of creature was Magnus? Brooding, Tom hunched lower in his saddle and considered what his mam had said. Drawing knowledge from her was always as tricky as taking honey from a hive, but he recalled the most.
“He was so handsome then, just like you, my son.”
“Then?” Tom had prompted, flinching as his mother sighed.
“He was almost pretty at fifteen, though not any more. Magnus, so I have heard, was much cut about in his final crusader battle.”
A crusader! At just twenty years old, Tom was still boyish enough to feel his heartbeat racing up in awe.
“He was at Azaz,” his mother added.
A great battle, Tom thought. This Magnus must be a mighty warrior. I am still glad Sir Guillelm is my real father.
“He is married, or so I have heard. A slip of a wench, a red-head. They live over beyond Great Yarr and have a son. Of course, the babe must survive infancy, but I have heard it does well. Still, you can make a claim on Magnus, if you wish. I think you should. After all, you are his mirror, and a knight making his way. He will be proud of you.”
A baby son, Tom had thought, a strange sinking sensation sucking at his bones, a healthy baby son. I have no place in this new family. And yet, Great Yarr was only twenty miles away, off to the north.
He was brought back to sharp attention by his mother’s next statement.
“’Tis said to be a love-match, which is typical for Magnus. He ever let his heart rule his head.”
Unlike you, Mam?
Tom winced as the grinding cold bit through his leather cloak and a heap of slush and sleet tumbled from an overhanging branch onto his head. What was he doing out in this white murk, quit from all company?
Because I am fit for no human-kind at present. Had I stayed, I would have roared and raged at my mother and told her the dark truth, that I am ashamed of her. Yet, who am I to judge?
He had broken his promise to his real father, too, and that made him more ashamed. Christine had manipulated him, suggesting he seek out his roots, whatever that meant.
If the other is married now and has a child, what am I? Mam said he would be proud of me, but for what?
Peering through the ever-falling sleet, shaking his head to rid his eyelashes of the snowy crust, Tom decided he was lost. His whole flight from Tissaton had been a poor design, half-baked notions of seeking out his native parent, and for what? Material as ever, his mam had strongly suggested he make a claim against Magnus, but truly how could he accuse Magnus of anything? The lad, as he had been as an eager fifteen-year-old, had tried to court Christine.
If I find him, what then?
The idea of intruding on a grizzled warrior, who had earned his respite, plus a new wife and baby, sickened Tom.
He wheeled his horse about, determined to turn back, if only to gallop to the closest town where he could squat down in a stew or inn over Christmas and leave those with true connections to themselves.
Distracted, he missed the overhanging cloud of mistletoe and blundered head-first into the mass, almost swallowing a milky berry. Rearing back, he overbalanced and skidded from the saddle, untangling his feet from the stirrups just in time.
The snow stopped falling around him for an instant as the world seemed to slow, and then he was down, struggling to right himself like a clumsy beetle tipped onto its shell.
I may die down here. The thought held no malice or alarm, sliding through his mind like a shaft of sunshine.
Get up! He told himself and rolled sideways.
Agony lit through him as the wound on his backside burst open. Tom fought the dancing black dots in front of his eyes but the pain closed about him, choking as a fist, and he felt himself going.
At the very edge of his consciousness, before he blacked out, he thought he heard a voice exclaiming, “Idiot male!” but then, he knew no more.


To read the rest and more stories, please go to Amazon Com or Amazon UK 

This anthology is FREE with KU (Kindle Unlimited.)



Sir Thomas' father Magnus is the hero in 'The Snow Bride' and 'A Summer Bewitchment' and he and Elfrida appear in my 'Medieval Captives' Series.

All these novels and novellas are on Amazon, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, Bookstrand. Excerpts and Reviews of these can be seen at Bookstrand, from my author page there. http://www.bookstrand.com/Lindsay-Townsend 











Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Historical Romance Collection Volume 2 - Boxed Set of 3 Books. OUT NOW!


AVAILABLE: Thursday, October 6th Box Set #58: Lindsay Townsend: The Historical Romance Collection, Volume 2 (All 3 books for $3.99)
In Blue Gold, Pharaoh Sekenenre has many enemies, family and foes who want to take his throne. But his most dangerous adversary is the storm-god Set. It is a time of famine. To prosper, a man must be civilized—and ruthless. The conflict for control of Egypt reaches its climax in all-out war. Behind it all is the God Set, with his question: “What am I?”
In Bride for a Champion, Alice Martinswood has no choice but to obey her father’s final instruction and marry his champion, Simon Paton. Bewitched by Alice, Simon vows to help find her younger sister. After misunderstanding Alice’s tears of joy on their wedding night, Simon swears he’ll never touch her again, a promise Alice makes impossible to keep. Will they find the missing sister as they track through medieval London? Will they find true love with each other?
In The Virgin, the Knight, and the Unicorn, Sir Gawain is on a quest to catch a unicorn. His companion, the dairy-maid Matilde, loses no time in clashing with the young knight and remains resistant to his attempts at controlling her. As they proceed on their quest, the couple begin to compromise and a fondness grows. When Matilde is taken by outlaws, Gawain realizes, almost too late, what she means to him. But can he save her in time?
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance


Click on each link for detailed blurbs, awards, ratings, excerpts, and reviews for each book in Lindsay Townsend: The Historical Romance Collection, Volume 2.












Excerpts


BLUE GOLD
STORY EXCERPT

“What a man, my father! He has the speed of a leopard.”
“My boy, son of my great wife! What a son for a warrior-Pharaoh!”
Sekenenre and Kamose toasted each other again, and the nobles lifted their own tall goblets and drank, pledging allegiance to both. Torches blazed throughout the banqueting hall as men and women dropped off their wigs and entertainers practiced final flourishes in the odd dark corners. Ahhotpe kissed the cheek of the slave-girl who had brought her another perfume-cone and, with a sigh of pleasure and relief, shook off her own wig.
“Allow me.” The Pyramid loomed at her elbow. He placed the cooling cone of perfumed grease on her hair. Ahhotpe shivered as the perfume-cone melted and ran in a delicious fine rain down her face.
“Thank you, my lord.” She glanced from Zoser to Sekenenre. Her father and younger brother were very drunk. She was very drunk. She looked again at the Pyramid.
He took her practiced smile as an invitation to join her on the couch. Kamose saw but did nothing. And how could she resist a man so much bigger and stronger than herself? Alive with the wine, Ahhotpe was in a mood to enjoy.
“My arms are full of flowers, and my hair is weighed down with perfumes.”
She waited for him to complete the verse, as her father would have done, or to lay his broad head in her lap and have her say the rest of the poem, as Kamose did. The Pyramid merely grunted and tugged on her anklet bangle.
“We’re betrothed, little bird. I don’t want you to keep staring at Kamose.”
“I’ll gaze only at you, my lord.” His face in the torches seemed sleeker, his dark eyes, lined with malachite, lustrous as the beads of his arm-bracelets. Ahhotpe saw new possibilities for Zoser. Being engaged to the man had its advantages.
Two nobles, shouting and throwing bones at each other in an argument over a Senet game, gave Ahhotpe and the Pyramid their opportunity.
“It’s getting to be a real riot.”
“Father’s drunk. Everyone takes their cue from him.” Ahhotpe pushed aside a tipsy slave, who fell giggling against her couch. “Why not come and study the paintings in my room? They’re by a Keftian artist, and very fine.”
The Pyramid cupped her breasts and licked his lips. “Let’s go to my room instead, and trade parts.”
“Such a coarse expression for love.” Ahhotpe, with a drunken little smile, held up her arms to Zoser. He scooped her from the couch like a barbarian, throwing her over one shoulder.
Raising her jiggling head and squinting back into the hall, Ahhotpe noticed Kamose sprawled on purple cushions, ponderously explaining how he had saved Pharaoh’s life. Her father, fondling the Pyramid’s mother, smiling at everything Kamose said, talked earnestly to a drunken acrobat. None of them saw her undignified exit.
Ahhotpe lowered her head, feeling the broad flanks rub against her face, and ran her thumbs between the Pyramid’s legs.

* * * *

Later, lying in the warm dark circle of the Pyramid’s arms, Ahhotpe was talking to herself. This habit, born of a lonely childhood, she would never lose. Zoser snored.
“This fat pig who rutted on me and fell asleep afterwards as though I were a slave has done me a true service. Any doubts I had concerning him are gone. Sleeping with the Pyramid has cleared my mind. A pity though, that it was such a dismal lesson.”
Ahhotpe smiled and scratched her nails across the man’s broad chest. Zoser twitched and rolled onto his back.
“Sleep on, prince pig, and let me puzzle for myself.” Ahhotpe drew aside the Pyramid’s hairy forearm and wormed out of bed, taking the bedclothes with her. Zoser’s hand groped for the covers, and she quirked a golden eyebrow.
“Ah, you must learn to do without. How much better it would have been for you, Zoser, had your mother ever taught a little self-denial. Of course, if she had, I wouldn’t be here yet. You wouldn’t have let me come until our official wedding night, and then it would have been too late.”
Ahhotpe blew him a kiss. “I’m glad you’re as you are, pig.”
Swiftly, she sped onto the balcony. In this last hour before dawn, the night was as cold as it would ever get. A mist of dew wet her bare feet. She heard a hippo grunt, a donkey braying somewhere, both sounds carried by the Nile. Ahhotpe leaned out and listened to the closer shufflings of the palace night-watch. All was well.
“By Amun—well, why shouldn’t I use Kamose’s oath?—there’s the wine cup!”
One hand hugging the covers round her middle, Ahhotpe darted back to the bedchamber and retrieved the silver cup. She and the Pyramid had drunk from this vessel, pledging each other before love. Zoser had drunk from it afterwards, too.
“His mistake.” Ahhotpe took up the water ewer and walked back to the balcony. She washed out the silver cup and replaced it on the table, filling it with new wine.
Carefully, she applied new lip-paint and then took a good long draught from the cup. The imprint of her lower lip showed red against the metal.
She sat on the bed and listened to the Pyramid’s breathing.
She heard his breathing stop.
She waited.

BRIDE FOR A CHAMPION
STORY EXCERPT

I command you to marry the bearer of this letter. This is the man, the one I told you of, Alice, the one who saved me. My champion Simon Paton, come all the way from Constantinople. Marry him, bear him a son and heir and forget Henrietta. Do your duty by me.
Lady Alice, crouching on her knees with a cleaning rag and a ribbon of her missing sister’s in one hand and her father’s last letter in the other, knew she did not look her best. But what did that matter? Her father was dead and the dead no longer care for appearances. Since the loss of Henrietta, she did not care, either.
She glanced at the man’s travel-stained cloak and mud-splattered boots without looking up into his face. Her steward should not have brought the fellow into her presence, should have given her time to compose herself and greet him in the great hall, but she sensed Simon Paton had ordered otherwise.
And my steward obeyed him. Already my people take orders from him, because he is a man.
“Forgive my appearance, Lady Alice,” said the stranger in a deep, faintly accented voice, clearly indifferent to whether she forgave him or not. “I had business to attend to in London. I have come as soon as I could.”
Alice dropped the yellow ribbon back into her sister’s clothes chest. She had been searching the chest again for any sign that would point to where Henrietta had been taken and by whom, but her father’s last letter contained a devastating order. Marry him.
The letter shook in her hand. Swiftly, she dropped it into the chest and closed the lid. “Your name, sir?”
“I am Simon Paton. Your father’s champion.”
The bearer of the letter. The man I am commanded to marry. “You were with my father in London?” She almost choked on her next question but she had to know. “At the end?”
“I was, my lady. Your father died well and at peace.”
 Alice wished she could cry, she longed for some relief. When word had come ten days ago of her remaining parent’s death from fever she had expected to feel something. Instead her heart felt numb. Her beloved younger sister was lost to her and her father—their father—had disowned Henrietta weeks before. Henry Martinswood had always demanded absolute obedience from his daughters and, by her elopement, Henrietta had failed him. Yet now, by letter, he orders me from the grave. Marry this man. Give him sons. Do your duty. Always obedience and no word of love. Our father never loved his girls.
“My lady?”
Still without looking at Simon Paton directly, Alice reluctantly clasped his fingers and allowed him to draw her to her feet.
“My lady, you may be assured that your father died and is buried as he wished, in London.”
Beside the longed-for son that his London mistress had borne him, Alice guessed, wondering how this new knowledge did not pierce her soul. She had never met the young Henry, her father’s namesake, but when the child had died two summers back Henry Martinswood had become still more cold and grim toward his daughters.
“Lady Alice. Look at me, Alice.”
Hearing her name said so gently, she looked up for the first time and stared, forgetting the tingling pins and needles in her legs, forgetting everything.
He was big, this Simon Paton, tall, well-made and starkly-handsome, black-haired and with a head-full of straggling, fierce curls. Tanned from many eastern suns, he was dressed in a mantle that was strange to her, very dark and at the same time glossy, like the plumage of a raven. His clean-shaven, pox-free face, as lean as a hermit’s, thrust at her like the prow of a great ship.
He was smiling, or at least a shadow of a smile hovered round his full lips—though not his eyes. Simon Paton’s eyes—a dark blue, almost black, ringed with curling black lashes—gazed at her in a coolly intense, measuring way, as if judging her. He had a contained energy in him, as if he was ready to wrestle with angels, yet at the same time found the challenge distasteful. An unhappy man, she thought, yet also a striving one.
The woman to win his heart will be most lucky. The idea—more a feeling than a thought—flashed through her and was gone, dashed aside by his next words.
“Alice, I understand your father’s last wishes. I applaud them. Before he died, he spoke to me of them. When we are married, you will be safe. I shall protect you.”
Thoroughly disconcerted, Alice wrung her hand from his. “He discussed my marriage with you?”
“To ask my consent.”
Yes, you are asked but I have to obey. It was the way of the world but she did not have to like it. “And my consent?”
He waved that aside. “You need a man to be safe. I agreed, subject to my seeing you.”
Alice clenched her teeth together, too proud to ask if he approved of her. Simon Paton was clearly enjoying her discomfiture.
“Shall we take a glass of wine or tisane together, my lady?” he went on smoothly. “Toast our nuptials tomorrow?”
So soon! Alice dipped her head, afraid her face might show her alarm. “Will you call my maid Beatrix, to serve us?” she asked this tall stranger—my husband to be—thinking he could be useful at least.
“Such duties are for a woman,” came back his curt response. “I will await you here and we shall plan how best we shall manage together.” His dark eyes gleamed as she jerked her head up. “How you will obey me.”
“You may be sure I shall be most agreeable,” Alice snapped, aggrieved afresh. “I shall fetch a tisane.”
She withdrew, her head high and her heart hammering within her.
If he is so keen to marry me, might he also help me to find and recover Henrietta? Or will he be only too keen to gorge himself on my father’s lands? Will this Simon Paton be thrilled with my dowry and delighted to keep me in my place? Such thoughts horrified her and she shivered. Would I were a man, in command of my own fate!

THE VIRGIN, THE KNIGHT, AND THE UNICORN
STORY EXCERPT

“The girl you want is weeding in the great field this morning,” Lord John told Gawain. “You will know her by her beauty. Her name is—”
Gawain ignored the rest of his lord’s speech. The girl was a peasant, so why should he bother with her name? Did serfs have names? He gave a stiff bow of farewell to Lord John, nodded curtly to Lady Petronilla, and mounted his palfrey.
Riding to the great field, Gawain spotted the girl at once. She was the youngest, cleanest and the prettiest of those peasants toiling along the rows of peas and beans, a small, slender blonde, nimbly weeding along the flowering rows of his lord’s field strip. Pleasantly surprised to find her so comely, he stood up on his stirrups and hailed her. “You!”
You plunged her hoe into the soil and looked up at him. Her eyes, gray as steel, flicked over him, a long, cool stare. Without speaking or bobbing a courtesy, she spun about on her bare feet and stalked away.
“Hey!” Gawain called, astonished that she dared to turn her back on him. Half of him wanted to ride her down, but that would mean trampling his lord’s crop, so he had to content himself with nudging his horse along the ridge between the field strips to follow her. Gaining on the disrespectful wench with his bay’s every stride, he watched her kiss a wizened field-worker on the cheek and pick up a neat cloth bundle clearly left at the end of the strip. Now I have you.
“Follow me, girl,” he ordered, smirking at the dust his horse raised as he cantered past her. When he looked round after a few paces, he saw her lagging way behind, making no effort to run. “Make haste!”
“I am,” came her instant reply. “Though I am a dairy maid, I do not yet have four legs. If I might ride with you, we would go faster… Sir.” Staring at him full in the face, she added his title deliberately late.
Scarcely believing her insolence, Gawain glanced at the other, crook-backed serfs. Had any been fit, he would have clubbed this wench to the ground and taken another, but, looking properly at her fellow peasants for the first time, Gawain realized they were all old. There were no more maids in this field to take in her place.
Reining in, astonished afresh, he saw by the wench’s half-smile that she knew this, that she had probably even planned it that way. Temper scorched through his body. Catching his darkening mood, his horse snorted and laid back its ears. He tugged the reins again. “Easy.”
“Do you speak to me, your horse, or to yourself, Sir Gawain?”
She spoke with a rough accent, her mouth soiling his name. Incensed that she should know it, he swung down from his horse and stepped closer.
The girl stood her ground. She was a foot smaller than him, dressed in patched but clean green skirts and an earth-colored tunic. Her blonde hair was partly hidden by a short veil, but her face was not hidden at all. She studied him as if they were equals, as if she had a perfect right to look at him.
For an instant, her beauty cooled his anger, as a sparkling frost may coat and still a pool. Cloud-gray now, her eyes were fringed with long, golden lashes and shone with intelligence and life. Her skin was flawless, rich cream and roses. Gawain found his hand rising seemingly by its own will, to touch her perfect cheek. Forget the unicorn. This wench beguiles me, but where is the treasure or renown in that? Quickly, he jerked his arm down and gripped his belt instead.
“Do we begin the quest, Sir Gawain?”
Gawain twitched, irritated afresh that she should speak to him. I should speak first.
“May I make a suggestion?”
“No,” growled Gawain. “I need nothing from you but your obedience.” Tired of talk, he snatched her off her bare feet, cast her over his shoulder, strode back to his mount, and slung the writhing, gasping girl across his horse’s neck. As she opened her mouth yet again to protest, he leapt into the saddle, spurred hard and rode off at a canter, laughing when her head bounced against the bay’s muscled flank and she shut her eyes tight. Keeping her secure with a heavy fist in the middle of her back, he galloped for the woods.
The forest where I shall find and slay the unicorn, where this wench will be my lure, but first she will learn, indeed she will learn.
As he reached the end of the fields, where the trees began, Gawain was smiling.


Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Lord and Eleanor - a knightly romance. Out Now with money off

Their love crosses and breaks all bounds but can it survive?



Spirited Eleanor is a peasant will do anything to help her younger siblings… and even considers becoming the mistress of Richard of Wykeford, her lord and the local landowner, a handsome, charismatic widower who cares for his children.

Although Richard wants her for her beauty, he also needs her knowledge. As a local wise-woman, she knows cures and poisons, and an unknown poisoner is at work somewhere on his manor.

The closer the two become despite the social gulf between them, the more their danger grows until matters come to a dangerous head when Eleanor is kidnapped.



Title        The Lord and Eleanor
Author Lindsay Townsend
Genre Historical Romance
Release October 25, 2016
Pages 63
ISBN 978-1-77127-854-6
Price $3.99 (Sales price $1.99)
Tags         Knights, medieval, castles, ladies, courtly love, romance, historical romance, family romance, bondswoman

Coming soon to all vendors. Available to order with money off here

Excerpt

Eleanor heard the hated phrase, bondswoman, whispered ‘round the circle like a curse. She released the rope and dug her fingers hard into her grazed palms, fighting not to lose her temper.

“A freewoman now, sir,” she reminded the court. “My father won our freedom.”

“Some freedom, when you scrape and scratch a living on a pocket of land.”

“Land gained freely from the forest,” Eleanor countered, “where we hinder no one’s rights.” Her head was beginning to ache and not from the late-spring sunshine. For how long would the term “bond” be a collar around her and her family’s throats?

From the corner of her eye, she saw the lord raise his hand. He wore a full-sleeved tunic dyed a rich dark blue, deeper than bluebells or cornflowers and edged in gold.

Costly robes for a rich, powerful man. Her thought was confirmed as the clerk and the crowd at once fell silent.

The lord spoke. “You dug a pit close to where your people or beasts were threatened. You lined it with stakes and covered it with rushes or other strewings and baited the center. How long did it take for the wolf to take the bait and fall in?”

“Five days, my lord.”

“So it fell onto the stakes and perished.”

Eleanor saw the danger of admitting that the wolf’s demise owed little to bravery on her part and so added, “I dug the pit, my lord.”

“And the beast is certainly dead.” The lord, whom she knew as a decent, generous sort but had seen only as a distant figure on horseback before today, sounded amused.

It would be easy for him. Eleanor glowered at the tree roots. It was true he was a widower with children of his own to care for but he would never know true hunger, nor the threat of it.

She braced herself for more questions—about rights and menfolk and her place within her faltering household—but she did not expect what happened next.

“Look at me,” the lord commanded.

She was so startled that she did.

* * * *

Richard of Wykeford, sitting through a morning’s business of stolen dues, stolen crops, stolen rights, had been glad of the distraction of the Fletcher girl. He had known the family since Martin Fletcher, her father, argued to secure his freedom, and the Fletchers were a quarrelsome kindred.

For all that, he admired their zeal and ambition and was sorry Martin had died this spring struck in his fields by lightning. He had sent his reeve to the stricken family to pass on his condolences along with fuel, strewings, bedding, salted meat and fish but a week later Martin’s widow Agnes had also died. Eleanor, their eldest, was caring for a brood of three alone.

As she raised her head and looked at him, Richard decided he must be sure of one more point. He would help the lass but how he did it would depend on whether she had a sweetheart or not.

She must surely have a man. Even as she is, in an old, patched gown, her hair covered by an ugly hood, barefoot and half-starved, she is beautiful.

He had not seen her this close before and he marveled how he had missed her. She was small and slender but her limbs were shapely and when she was not dragging a dead wolf, she would move with poise and grace. A tingle of desire, absent since his Joanna had died, began to sparkle through his long, rangy frame, making him feel more alive than he had for months.

“Yes, my lord?”

Her question reminded him that he had stared for too long.

“You are the head of your household?” he demanded.

Her bright gray eyes clouded with disappointment and he felt strangely ashamed, the more so when she nodded without speaking.

“You have no man?” he persisted. “No brother…”

“No brother older than seven years and no lover either, my lord.”

Richard stared down at her unflinching eyes and knew she suspected part of his purpose.

The clerk beside him began to scold again but he put a hand on the man’s scrawny wrist and shook his head.

“So I pay you the ransom for the wolf,” he went on, a small, ignoble part of him rejoicing as a steady flush of color swept up her face and she nodded a second time. A passionate little wench.

He found himself wondering what color her hair was—her eyebrows and lashes were far lighter than her eyes—but then his daydream was shattered by another voice.

“Lord Richard, you cannot deal with her. She is a witch!”

“Aye and look how her father died as well. Is that not a sign of displeasure from God?”

The clerk hurriedly crossed himself and began to mutter the creed. Richard crossed his fingers beneath the trestle and thumped the table until the grumbles and shouts of the villagers bled out into whispers, echoed by the leaves of the ash tree.

“I am a wisewoman,” the former bondswoman said with a kind of weary patience. “I help women and cure cows.”

“My cow gives less milk than before.”

“She lives,” Eleanor flashed back, quick as a sparring champion. “She had sickened through eating bad hay but she lives.”

In that instant it came to Richard that this girl really needed him, and—if his own fear of poisoning was justified—he needed her skill. They might save each other, but first he had to be sure of her knowledge.

“What is the antidote to snakebite?” he asked.

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Friday, 19 August 2016

Historical Romance Collection - on Amazon. 5 Books for under $4.00/ £3.00!

Box Set #40: Lindsay Townsend - Historical Romance Collection, Volume 1 [Book 1 - Flavia's Secret : Book 2 - A Secret Treasure : Book 3 - Escape To Love : Book 4 - Bronze Lightning : Book 5 - Silk and Steel] (BookStrand Historical Romance Collection)

I'm proud to announce the publication of my first Boxed Set with Siren-Bookstrand. Five sensual, spicy and sweet historical romances set in the exciting and epic ancient world. Experience the passion and adventure of ancient Rome, golden treasure, pagan magic and more!

My Historical Romance Collection Boxed Set is now on Amazon 
Amazon UK 


More details below. Excerpts and Reviews here

Flavia's Secret 
Dare Flavia trust Marcus with her deadly secret?


Flavia's Secret

Spirited young scribe Flavia hopes for freedom. She and her fellow slaves in Aquae Sulis (modern Bath) have served the Lady Valeria for many years, but their mistress' death brings a threat to Flavia's dream: her new master Marcus Brucetus, a charismatic, widowed officer toughened in the forests of Germania. Flavia finds him overwhelmingly attractive but she is aware of the danger. To save her life and those of her 'family' she has forged a note from her mistress. If her deception is discovered, all the slaves may die.

For his part torn between attraction and respect, Marcus will not force himself on Flavia. Flavia by now knows of his grief over the deaths of his wife Drusilla and child. But how can she match up to the serene, flame-haired Drusilla?

As the wild mid-winter festival of Saturnalia approaches, many lives will be changed forever.



Reviews

Romantic Times:

'The ancient locale that is now modern Bath lends a vivid backdrop to a tender love story surrounded by mystery, danger and deceit. Readers will appreciate Townsend's thorough research and fluid style. Well-written secondary characters complement the action.' 

Historical Novels Review Online (amongst reviews for May 2009): 
  
Townsend has a great ear for snappy dialog, and even her most minor characters spring instantly to life with a carefully-chosen sentence or description. Most details of Roman Britain at the time are faithfully rendered, although at its heart, this is a timeless story of two people finding love where they least expect it. Flavia’s Secret is cheerfully recommended. 
  
Historical Romance Club:

Lindsay Townsend's novel, Flavia's Secret, is an enjoyable romantic suspense set in an exotic time and place. The heroine's plight is touching and endearing. The plot, with its evil villain, engages the reader well. This is a good, light historical romance novel that is perfect for summer reading. 

Dear Author:

The historical details are lovely. The time and place are very well done. Brava for picking a spot other than Londinium or the border with the wild Caledonians. I have to admit that while reading the scenes in the baths, I couldn’t help but think of all the Regency and Georgian era books I’ve read with all the characters trooping down to take a glass of the healthful waters – hold your nose while you drink that nasty, sulfurous stuff!

And the conflict between the hero and heroine – i.e. the source of the title of the book – is fantastic. Now here’s a real reason for the heroine to hold her tongue and keep things from the hero. When faced with the possible fate meted out to slaves whose master dies suddenly, I’d do just what Flavia does and then some.

Red Roses for Authors:

The romance between Flavia and Marcus is strong and passionate and the mystery is intriguing. Very enjoyable.

Romance Junkies:

FLAVIA’S SECRET is a passionate historical romance.  Set in ancient England during Roman rule, I enjoyed reading about these two wonderful characters as well as the setting and town in which the novel took place.  Marcus and Flavia were perfect for each other and this book was the perfect read for my ancient history loving soul.  Thumbs up Ms. Townsend!  I loved every word of FLAVIA’S SECRET! 

Long and the Short Reviews:

Flavia's Secret is also an emotionally satisfying read. The story pulls the reader in to share the events and to empathize fully with the main characters. It is impossible to put it down once you've started to read it. Moreover, Lindsay Townsend has achieved what all writers strive for—the reader will wish the story would go on forever.


A Secret Treasure
Rhodes in the late 1930s is a dangerous place to fall in love.
The Greek island of Rhodes: luxurious and hot, beloved haunt of the Sun God, steeped in the mysteries of the past. In the late 1930s during the gathering storm-clouds of war, it is a dangerous place to fall in love.

When pretty, passionate Eve Burnett meets the darkly intriguing Julio Falcone, she is torn. As a man, Julio is powerfully attractive. As a policeman, he is bound to be a Fascist. Her brother, David, who is missing, is connected to the Greek Partisans who wish to liberate Rhodes from their Italian overlords.

Now, as David appears at their parents' house soon after Julio makes Eve's acquaintance, Eve is compelled to hide her brother and a mysterious gold statuette. The Fascists are looking for him and this secret treasure. Soon, Eve realizes that she may be forced to choose between the man she loves and the ultimate safety of her family.

(If you like romantic suspense in Greek island settings, you may also like Night of the Storm, also set in Rhodes, and the Corfu-based The English Daughter, both reissued as ebooks at Amazon and Smashwords, .)










Reviews
Coffee Time Romance:

I liked Eve immediately. She is full of common sense, good values, and is a hard worker. The rest of her family I was not so thrilled about. A more condescending bunch would be hard to find. They treat her like an idiot child and expect her to work ceaselessly to take care of them, when I suspect that they could well afford someone to help her. Julio is a great character; he is trying to get by in a very trying time. He and Eve have a very sweet love story with a lot of suspense, and a particularly vile villain. Ms. Townsend paints a beautiful picture of Rhodes and its towns and people, as well as giving the reader a plot fraught with tension and danger.

Fallen Angel Reviews:

This is no armchair tourist account of Rhodes. It is clear Lindsay Townsend knows the island. She weaves her knowledge of history and setting into A Secret Treasure. Both Julio and Eve are unique, well crafted characters. Their courtship is natural and charming. The bad guy is deliciously bad. It is fortunate that A Secret Treasure is only 102 pages long as you’ll want to read it all in one sitting. 

Red Roses for Authors:

This is an exciting mystery romance that takes place during troubled times, before the Italians joined the Germans in World War 11. As usual, Townsend carries the reader with her to the finish of this story, which ends with a clever twist. Well worth reading. 

The Long and the Short of It:

Suspenseful from its opening lines, Townsend’s A Secret Treasuretakes us on a journey through historic Italy and into a story that charms with its joys, terrifies with its suspense, and more than intrigues with very unusual and interesting setting. 

Wild on Books:

A Secret Treasure catches the readers eyes with its expertly written plot abounding with secrets and suspense. I loved watching Julio and Eve fall in love and the fact that they loved each other so desperately was just icing on the cake. Lindsay Townsend continues to release novels that are emotionally gripping. While A Secret Treasure is not as explicit sexually as some of her other novels, I hardly noticed. I was too involved with the story and Julio’s dreaminess! 





Escape to Love 


Will Severus and Lydia escape a deadly, sensual trap?


Severus is a slave, dragged from the fields to an uncertain future. Warned to expect no mercy from a mysterious young woman who comes to him in the night, he learns that his natural father is his owner, Calvus, and that he has a half-brother, Thallus.

Thallus has no sexual interest in women but he is desperate for an heir. Severus and Thallus' sexy young wife Lydia, whom Severus recognizes as the mystery woman who warned him, are sent to the family palace at Baiae and expected to breed.

Lydia, used to an unconsummated, loveless marriage, is intrigued by the handsome Severus and appalled by her husband's and father-in-law's treatment of him. She finds herself anticipating their lovemaking. She also wants to help Severus to escape because she knows that once he has served his purpose, Thallus and Calvus will never let him live.

They have just a month to escape.


Reviews 
5 Angels - "Escape To Love is a rare erotic romance set in Roman times. The unique setting prompts equally unique sexual positions and variations. The writing sparkles, the research is well woven in, and the emotion builds. Severus is strong yet gallant. The first scene made me sympathetic to his situation. Lydia is witty and brave. Together, they work as a couple. Escape To Love is a extraordinary read." -- Kimber, Fallen Angel Reviews

5 Cherries - "It's very clear that the author did her research, and knows her facts about the Roman Empire. I found those little details she incorporated about everyday life fascinating and they greatly enriched the plot. Parts of this story were laugh out loud funny, and others were just how I like my romance: Hot. Thanks to Lindsay Townsend, I will never look at spanking the same again. I highly enjoyed, and greatly recommend Escape to Love!"  -- Daisy, Whipped Cream Reviews

4 Bookmarks - "Lindsay Townsend's ability to weave historical tales with the amount of passion and sensuality has me completely hooked.  Escape to Love is timeless and true love lasts forever and is able to scale all heights.  Severus and Lydia beat the odds and for that I am glad. Escape to Love is available at Siren Publishing.  Lovers of historical romance will be thrilled with this steamy and sweet novella. I know I was!"  -- Natalie S., Wild on Books

4 Stars - "Escape To Love is written with humor. The scenes where Apollonius is giving the couple instructions on how to create a child are funny." -- Anne Boling, ReviewYourBook


Bronze Lightning 

Can Fearn and Sarmatia's love survive?


Ancient Krete, 1562 BC.

Sarmatia is a trainer for the Bull Rite, the dangerous, glamorous ceremony of bull-leaping that gave a young Kretan entry into adulthood. Fearn is healer from the distant northern Isle of Stones summoned for his skills to the sick-bed of Minos, the Kretan king. They meet on the dusty flagstones of the palace courtyard and both save a life.

A year passes. They are betrothed, but Fearn has returned home and is chosen king of his small northern country. As king, master of storms, he cannot return to Krete. Fearn writes to Sarmatia releasing her from her vows - but is this what they really want?

Sarmatia leaves Krete to search for Fearn. Many months and life-and-death adventures later, she is reunited with him. She and Fearn are still deeply in love but there is an unknown enemy working against them, one who will stop at nothing, even murder.

Bookstrand Publishing
Ebook
Print Book 

Reviews.

Red Roses for Authors
This is a remarkable book in that it takes you back in time. It is well written so that you get a glimpse of the world at that time and it gives you a wonderful mystery as to who is behind the attacks and keeps you guessing as to what will happen next. The many twists and turns keeps you engrossed as you try to figure out who is behind all the mishaps that keep happening.

(Bronze Lightning also won the main Red Roses Christmas Award for 2009.) 


PS: Sarmatia makes a short but tumultuous visit to the vizier Ramose in Blue Gold.

Silk and Steel - A gladiator and a bath-girl fight against the cruelty of Roman masters.



Decimus buys beautiful, red-headed Corinna from Silvinus Cato, a nominal Christian and her cold Roman master. Corinna, also a Christian, is terrified to be sold to a hired killer but finds Decimus to be an honorable, caring man--and overwhelmingly sexy. 



Their lovemaking introduces her to passion she has never known before, and love-spanking that she finds deeply erotic. Happy for the first time in her life, she is horrified when her former master, Silvinus Cato, comes to Decimus' house with devastating information. Decimus, whom she is beginning to care for deeply, has killed Joseph, the holy man who converted her to Christianity. Silvinus Cato says she must be like Judith in the Bible and kill Decimus in his sleep. Corinna is appalled and suspicious. Why does Silvinus Cato want Decimus dead? And what should she do?

After I wrote 'Flavia's Secret', I found myself fascinated by the story of a Roman girl who served as a toga girl in the public baths. Could there be a happy ever after for her and a man equally reviled and desired in Roman society - a gladiator? 'Silk and Steel' is my story of two people redeemed by love. ~ Lindsay ~
A Siren Erotic Romance

Reviews
4 ANGELS: "Silk and Steel is an enjoyable novelette with plenty of steamy love scenes, including some spanking, as well as a good dose of angst. Corinna struggles to reconcile her religious faith with her desires and the nature of Decimus's work, while Decimus is a sexy, practical hero who wants to lavish affection on Corinna and keep her safe from her enemies. With some nice historical detail, Silk and Steel is a fun read." -- Maija, Fallen Angel Reviews

4 STARS: "Silk and Steel is captivating and wonderfully written...Corrina has so much depth and interest as a slave. She shows that being a slave doesn't mean sacrificing all of you. Decimus wants a red head to love and he found her in Corrina. He treats her with love and respect even though she belongs to him. He shows what a true man is; in that he can love a woman and dominate her while still being gentle and loving...The sex was very arousing with a little of everything, including spankings, oral and regular sex. I highly recommend Silk and Steel for anyone who likes a traditional love story or something a little different." -- Heather Nestorick, Just Erotic Romance Reviews

4 CHERRIES: "Ms. Townsend writes an interesting historical. Many try to write about Ancient Rome and end up with fantasy stories. This isn’t one of them. The attention to detail keeps the reader locked in the story from page one. You feel for the characters and want to see them find happiness...And sex scenes? This story is packed with them, but not just run-of-the-the mill scenes. These scenes scorch. I’m not much for spanking, but I felt her passion for him and his desire to please her. My only issue? I want to see more! This has the potential to be a longer story and could be more powerful. It’s great as-is, but I want to know more. If you want a steamy short story for a cool winter night, then you need to grab a copy of Silk and Steel." -- Tiger Lily, Whipped Cream Romance Reviews

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