Saturday, 2 November 2019

Sequel to "The Snow Bride". Medieval Romance Novel "A Summer Bewitchment" out now!



A sequel to THE SNOW BRIDE.



Genre HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Publisher PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS
Date of Publication NOV 14th 2019

ASIN: B07ZTMNWZ9
 Free with Kindle Unlimited
Buy Links Amazon USA 
Amazon UK  Amazon Canada Amazon Australia
Blurb


Can a knight and his witch save seven kidnapped maidens? Sir Magnus and Elfrida strive to find the girls, but at what cost to their marriage?

When a shadowy piper kidnaps seven beautiful girls, can a wounded knight and his witch-wife save them? Will Sir Magnus and Elfrida find them in time—and at what cost?
Magnus, the fearless, battered crusader knight, and his fey wife, Elfrida, are happily married, but each of them carries a secret. Elfrida believes that being peasant-born will one day undermine her husband’s love for her. Wounded and scarred, Magnus fears nothing—except, perhaps, that he will not be able to give Elfrida her greatest wish—children.
Their fears are sharpened when high-born Lady Astrid appears at their manor and demands their help to find the seven missing girls. Though the lady clearly regards low-born Elfrida beneath her, why has she truly sought out Magnus, a ruthless knight? Which one of the kidnapped girls does she really want to recover so badly—and to what hidden purpose?
In the scorching summer heat, Magnus and Elfrida search together for the missing girls. Will they be able to rescue them in time? And can their own marriage survive?

Here is an excerpt from the opening chapter:


England, summer, 1132

“I am the troll king of this land and you owe me a forfeit.”

Elfrida glanced behind the shadowed figure who barred her way. He was alone, but then so was she.

Do I turn and run along the track? Should I flee into the woods or back to the river? He is close, less than the distance of the cast of a spear. Can I make it hard for him to catch me? Yes.

But catch her he would.

Play for time.

“Indeed?” she asked, using one of her husband’s favorite expressions, then sharpened her tone. “Why must I pay anything?”

“You have trespassed in these woods. In my woods.”

The nagging ache in her shoulders and hands vanished in a tingling rush of anticipation. Elfrida dropped her basket of washed, dried clothes onto the dusty pathway, the better to fight. “King Henry is lord of England.”

“I am king here.”

A point to him. “I kept to the path, and then the river.”

“That may be so, but I claim a kiss.”

He had not moved yet, nor shown his face. The summer evening made his shadow huge, bloody. Her heart beating harder as she anticipated their final, delicious encounter, Elfrida asked, “Are you so bold? My husband is a mighty warrior, the greatest in all Christendom.”

“That is a large claim.” He sounded amused. “All Christendom? He must be a splendid fellow. The harpers should sing of him.”

Elfrida raised her chin, determined to have her say. “I am proud of my lord. He is a crusader. He has seen Jerusalem and he has learning. He can whistle any tune. He defends all those weaker than himself.” Should I say what I next want to say? Tease him as he has teased me? Why not? Are we are not playing? “Go back to your woods, troll king.”

She heard the crack of a pine cone as he shifted. In a haze of motion the troll king was out of the tree shade and into the bright sunset, dominating the path in front of her. Taller than a spear, broad as a door, he had a face as stark as granite, of weathered, broken stone. Heavily scarred—many would say grooved—he had the terrible beauty of a victor, a winner wounded but unbowed.

A ribbon of heat, like hot breath, flickered across her breasts. He was so magnificent , so handsome. She both loved and hated defying him, even in jest. Striving for calm, she said, “You will come no closer.”

“Or what, little laundress?”

That tease irked her. “The clothes and bedding do not wash themselves. Not even for you, troll king.”

He smiled, a daunting unfurling of that scarred, sword-cut face. The churning heat in her belly swept up into her cheeks and down to her loins.

“I am a witch, besides,” she added, though not as coolly as she would have liked. She saw the gleam in his large brown eyes pool into molten bronze.

“You would put a spell on me, elfling?” he challenged.

“Perhaps I already have.” Her tone and mouth were as dry as the summer. How much farther can we stretch this sweet foolishness?

He raised thick black eyebrows, while a breeze flicked and flirted with his shoulder-length curls. “Is that Christian?”

She wanted to cross her arms before herself, to shield her body from his bold stare. At the same time she longed to strip herself naked for him, unlace his tunic and caress him. Unsure how he might react, she armed herself with words instead. “I am a good witch, Magnus.”

“Indeed.” Again he looked her up and down, glanced at her buckets, basket, and clothes. “Should you not have an escort, wife?”

Do I tell him I sent Piers off to help? Are we still playing now or is he truly angry?

Looming over her, he was close enough for her to touch him. To caress his strong body will be like stroking sun-warmed stone. Distracted, she shook her head. “There is the sheep shearing…”

“Done.” He tossed a stack of rolled, lanolin-scented fleeces at her feet. “I did my share and more and, as I have said already, I claim a reward.”

He winked at her and she found herself smiling in return. “Forfeit and reward, too, sire? Is that not greedy?”

“Are we in Lent, that I should fast?” He raised his hand, cupping her face with supple fingers. “But you are too dainty to linger alone, witch or no.”

He traced the curve of her lips with his thumb and, as she trembled, he gathered her firmly into his arms. “Any man will try to spirit you away.”

“Hush!” She made a sign against the evil eye and wood elves, but he shook his head at her caution.

“I have faith in your magic craft, Elfrida. But a passing knave or outlaw? He is quite another matter. He would see you as a tempting piece, my wife, my lovely.”

“I am not helpless,” she protested, but her heart soared at his loving words. His mouth, as crooked and scarred as the rest of his face, stole a kiss from hers.

He smelled of lanolin, salt, and summer green-stuff, and tasted of apples and himself. Elfrida closed her eyes under his tender onslaught, her thighs trembling.

“Troll King?” she murmured, when they broke apart slightly. “Is that how you wish me to address you in the future, husband?”

“‘Sire’ will do, or ‘greatest knight in Christendom.’ Those will do very well.” He kissed her again.

“You rob me, sire,” she murmured, a breathless space later.

“Of kisses?” He sounded delighted at the idea, the beast, and grinned when she pinched him.

“Even one-handed I can do that better than you.”

He demonstrated, squeezing and lightly slapping her bottom, chuckling as she thrust her hips back against his fondling fingers. A shred of modesty remained as her wits dissolved into a sweet blaze of need. “Magnus, what if someone comes?”

Monday, 28 October 2019

Magic and magic-makers in medieval courts #MedievalMonday Blog for Halloween

Seal from a manuscript by John Dee (sourced from Wikipedia Commons)Magic played a strange and ambivalent role in medieval society. Wise-women and wizards were sometimes tolerated or revered or sometimes persecuted as witches, particularly if their 'magic' went wrong. Yet at the same time, priests could perform magic and utter charms as well as prayers to combat evil or demons.

All levels of medieval society believed in magic, including the courts. Magicians might be employed at European courts as entertainers, as alchemists, as healers or as diviners. In the later Tudor period we have John Dee, who served Elizabeth I as her astronomer and occultist, and the alchemist and astronomer Paracelsus. In myth we have Merlin, one of the most famous magicians of them all, who was on the edge first of Uther Pendragon's court and then of King Arthur's, and feared and respected in equal measure. In France in the 14th century, the astrologer Thomas of Pisano made figures out of wax to destroy the invading English by magic.

Astrologers, alchemists and magicians, promising gold, health and power, were often welcomed at court and given high status. Yet their places were always vulnerable. Jealous rivals could accuse them of using magic in an evil way, as happed to Mummolus, a shrewd military tactician of the sixth century AD, a time when Frankish Gaul was split into several kingdoms. Accused of witchcraft by Fredegund, queen to Chilperic I of Soissons, Mummolus was tortured and died of his wounds.

In 1441 Eleanor, duchess of Gloucester, was accused of using ‘treasonable necromancy’ against King Henry VI in order to advance her husband. She was imprisoned for life, while the astrologers Thomas Southwell and Roger Bolingbroke, together with Margery Jourdemayne, ‘the Witch of Eye‘, were condemned to death. In the mid-1480s Richard III of England accused Elizabeth Woodville (previously married to a Lancastrian) of having bewitched his late brother Edward IV into marrying her.

Even the court of the medieval papacy was a place where members could be accused of magic - because magic-making was seen as a part of life and a way of gaining or keeping favours. In 1317 the bishop of Cahors was tried for using magic against Pope John XXII and trying to smuggle magical images into the papal palace in loaves of bread.

Magic and the belief in magic figures in my latest medieval historical romance, The Snow Bride. Elfrida the heroine is a white witch and she must do battle with an evil necromancer who has kidnapped her sister. You can read more about the story and an excerpt here



THE SNOW BRIDE (THE KNIGHT AND THE WITCH 1) https://amzn.to/2MZZan0    

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

A Summer Bewitchment - out today in large print

My medieval historical romance, A Summer Bewitchment, is out today, published by Linford Large Print. You can order it from your library, or from Amazon.


Here's the blurb:

Can a knight and his witch save seven kidnapped maidens? Sir Magnus and Elfrida strive to find the girls, but at what cost to their marriage?

When a shadowy piper kidnaps seven beautiful girls, can a wounded knight and his witch save them? Will Sir Magnus and Elfrida find them in time, and at what cost to themselves?

Magnus, the battered crusader knight, and his witch-wife, Elfrida, are happily married but in secret turmoil. Elfrida dreads that her difference in rank with Magnus will undermine his love for her. Wounded and scarred, Magnus fears he will not be able to give Elfrida children.

Their fears are sharpened when high-born Lady Astrid appears at their manor and demands their help to find seven missing girls. The lady clearly regards peasant-born Elfrida as beneath her notice, but why has such a woman sought out Magnus, a country knight? Who does she really want to recover so badly?

In a scorching summer, Magnus and Elfrida search for the missing girls. Can they recover them in time? And will their own marriage be the same?

Available from Amazon here
Amazon UK here



A Summer Bewitchment is Book 2 of The Knight and the Witch series. The first book, The Snow Bride, is already out with Prairie Rose Publications in ebook and paperback.

She is Beauty, but is he the Beast?

The Snow Bride is up on Amazon Com and Amazon UK and free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

Read Chapter One here



Thursday, 1 August 2019

The Snow Bride - Medieval Romance from Prairie Rose Publications. Blurb/Chapter One/Excerpt

Up now for pre-order is one of my personal favourites, The Snow Bride, due out on August 15th from Prairie Rose Publications

Blurb  

She is Beauty, but is he the Beast?                                                                                                                                   

England, winter, 1131

Elfrida, spirited, caring and beautiful, is also alone. She is the witch of the woods and no man dares to ask for her hand in marriage until a beast comes stalking brides and steals away her sister. Desperate, the lovely Elfrida offers herself as a sacrifice, as bridal bait, and she is seized by a man with fearful scars. Is he the beast?


In the depths of a frozen midwinter, in the heart of the woodland, Sir Magnus, battle-hardened knight of the Crusades, searches ceaselessly for three missing brides, pitting his wits and weapons against a nameless stalker of the snowy forest. Disfigured and hideously scarred, Magnus has finished with love, he thinks, until he rescues a fourth 'bride', the beautiful, red-haired Elfrida, whose innocent touch ignites in him a fierce passion that satisfies his deepest yearnings and darkest desires.

It's up for order on Amazon Com and Amazon UK and free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

Read Chapter One here

Here is another excerpt to tempt you:

Elfrida stirred sluggishly, unable to remember where she was. Her back ached, and the rest of her body burned. She opened her eyes and sat up with a jerk, thinking of Christina.


Her head felt to be bobbing like an acorn cup in a stream, and her vision swam. As she tried to swing her legs, her sense of dizzy falling increased, becoming worse as she closed her eyes. She lashed out in the darkness, her flailing hands and feet connecting with straw, dusty hay, and ancient pelts.

“Christina?” she hissed, listening intently and praying now that the monster had brought her to the same place it had taken her sister.

She heard nothing but her own breath, and when she held that, nothing at all.

“Christina?” Fearing to reach out in this blackness that was more than night and dreading what she might find, Elfrida forced herself to stretch her arms. She trailed her fingers out into the ghastly void, tracing the unseen world with trembling hands.

Her body shook more than her hands, but she ignored the shuddering of her limbs, closed her eyes like a blind man, and searched.

She lay on a pallet, she realized, full of crackling, dry grass. When she scented and tasted the air, there was no blood. She did not share the space with grisly corpses.

I am alone and unfettered. Now her heart had stopped thudding in her ears, she listened again, hearing no one else. Chanting a charm to see in the dark, she tried again to shift her feet.

Light spilled into her eyes like scalding milk as a door opened and a massive figure lurched across the threshold. Elfrida launched herself at freedom, hurling a fistful of straw at the looming beast and ducking out for the light.

She fell instead, her legs buckling, her last sight that of softly falling snow.



* * * *



Magnus gathered the woman before she pitched facedown into the snow, returning her swiftly to the rough bed within the hut. Her tiny, bird-boned form terrified him. Clutching her was like ripping a fragile wood anemone up from its roots.

And she had fought him, wind-flower or not. She had charged at him.

“I wish, lass, that you would listen to me. I am not the Forest Grendel, nor have wish to be, nor ever have been.”

Just as earlier, in the clearing where he had first come upon her, a brilliant shock of life and color in a white, dead world, the woman gave no sign of hearing. She was cold again, freezing, while in his arms she had steamed with fever. He tugged off his cloak and bundled her into it, then piled his firewood and kindling onto the bare hearth.

A few strikes of his flints and he had a fire. He set snow to melt in the helmet he was using as a cauldron. He swept more dusty hay up from the floor and, sneezing, packed it round the still little figure.

No beast on two or four legs would hunt tonight, so that was one worry less. Finding this lean-to hut in the forest had been a godsend, but it would be cold.

Magnus went back out into the snow and led his horse into the hut, spreading what feed he had brought with him. He kept the door shut with his saddle, rubbed the palfrey down with the bay’s own horse blanket, and looked about for a lantern.

There was none, just as there were no buckets, nor wooden bowls hanging from the eaves. But, abandoned as it surely had been, the place was well roofed, and no snow swirled in through the wood and wattle walls. Whistling, Magnus dug through his pack and found a flask of ale, some hard cheese, two wizened apples, and a chunk of dark rye bread. He spoke softly to his horse, then looked again at the woman.

She was breathing steadily now, and her lips and cheeks had more color. By the glittering, rising fire he saw her as he had first in the forest clearing, an elf-child of beauty and grace, a willing sacrifice to the monster. Kneeling beside her, he longed to stroke her vivid red hair and kiss the small dimple in her chin. In sleep she had the calm, flawless face of a Madonna of Outremer and the bright locks of a Magdalene.

He had guessed who she was—the witch of the three villages, the good witch driven to desperation. Coming upon her in that snowfield, tied between two trees like a crucified child of fairy, his temper had been a black storm against the villagers for sparing their skins by flaying hers. Then he had seen her face, recognized that wild, stark, sunken-cheeked grief, seen the loose bonds and the terrible “feast,” and had understood.

Another young woman has been taken by the beast, someone you love.

She—Elfrida, that was her name, he remembered it now—Elfrida was either very foolish or very powerful, to offer herself as bait.


This is Book One of The Knight and the Witch Series.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Christmas in July - 4 Medieval and Ancient World Romance Novels

It's Christmas in July time and I have several romance novels that are set at or around Christmas.

Up now for pre-order is one of my personal favourites, The Snow Bride, due out on August 15th from Prairie Rose Publications

Blurb                                                                                                                                     

England, winter, 1131

Elfrida, spirited, caring and beautiful, is also alone. She is the witch of the woods and no man dares to ask for her hand in marriage until a beast comes stalking brides and steals away her sister. Desperate, the lovely Elfrida offers herself as a sacrifice, as bridal bait, and she is seized by a man with fearful scars. Is he the beast?


In the depths of a frozen midwinter, in the heart of the woodland, Sir Magnus, battle-hardened knight of the Crusades, searches ceaselessly for three missing brides, pitting his wits and weapons against a nameless stalker of the snowy forest. Disfigured and hideously scarred, Magnus has finished with love, he thinks, until he rescues a fourth 'bride', the beautiful, red-haired Elfrida, whose innocent touch ignites in him a fierce passion that satisfies his deepest yearnings and darkest desires.

It's up for pre-order on Amazon Com and Amazon UK and free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

Flavia's Secret, my romance set in Roman Britain and Roman Bath, has its climax during the Saturnalia, the ancient world version of Christmas. You can read more here.

Dare Celtic slave Flavia trust her Roman master Marcus?
In the Roman city of Aquae Sulis (modern Bath), Celtic slave Flavia longs to be free. Her mistress’ death brings a threat to Flavia’s dream: Valeria’s heir Marcus, a handsome, dangerous Roman officer. Flavia is drawn to Marcus but she has a deadly secret to hide and many enemies.

Just 99cents or 99p, free to read with Kindle Unlimited
Amazon UK          Amazon Com

Also in Audio and Large print.













My sweet medieval historical romance, SIR CONRAD AND THE CHRISTMAS TREASURE, is up and out. You can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.

On Amazon. Com here
And Amazon UK here

In print at Amazon.com here
And in print at Amazon UK here

SIR CONRAD AND THE CHRISTMAS TREASURE Amazon Com USA

Amazon UK

TO READ WITH KINDLE UNLIMITED



What is the true treasure of Christmas?

Maggie’s younger brother, Michael, is kidnapped by outlaws, and it’s up to her to rescue him. Appealing to Sir Conrad, the grim steward of the northern English high lands, is the very last thing she wants to do. With the very real possibility that the outlaws know of Michael’s talent—the ability to open any lock, to reveal any treasure—Maggie races against time to find him before his usefulness to the outlaws is ended.

Sir Conrad desires Maggie from the minute he sees her—she makes him feel alive again—and that has not happened since the death of his wife. Though he hasn’t known Maggie before, a strange feeling of familiarity nags, and he agrees to aid the beautiful peasant girl in this quest of finding her brother.

Joining forces, Maggie and Sir Conrad form a tenuous bond. When an assassin attacks Maggie, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit, and Conrad realizes that even Maggie doesn’t know the power she holds. But Conrad not only must keep Maggie safe, he must thwart the dangerous devices of his spiteful older brother, Richard, who has lately returned from crusade.

As love blossoms, Maggie and Conrad must protect one another. Evil is all around them, and doubt is a cruel enemy. Will their faith in each other keep them united? In the world of dangerous courtly intrigue, who is saving whom? Love is all that matters…but can that be enough?


A Knight's Captive - a novel that also has it's climax at Christmas-time

It’s 1066, a year of strange comets and portents, harsh battles, dying kings and Norman and Viking invaders. Compelled to go on pilgrimage in a restive northern England, war-worn Breton knight Marc de Sens knows his first obligation is to his three orphaned nieces. But then he encounters the stunning blonde beauty Sunniva and his life changes forever.

I
Thrust together by betrayal, Marc and Sunniva must find a way to survive these turbulent times, but both hold dark and deadly secrets and trust between them is slow to grow. What happens when their tentative truce is shattered? Will Marc be held captive by his past? Will Sunniva become his willing prisoner? And will they find a way to find love and free themselves?


(Previously published by Kensington Publishing, New York, in 2009. Nominated for the ‘Romantic Times’ Reviewers’ Choice Best Historical Novels Award, 2009.)


Amazon Com 99 cents
Amazon UK 99p


Thursday, 6 June 2019

One Midsummer's Knight - Boxed set of Medieval Romance Novellas

Who dares to seek love on a Midsummer’s Eve when the Otherworldly veil is thin, and anything can happen? Magic runs high, and passions flare on this special night made for taking chances. For this is the night when ritual fires burn bright and invite lovers to consummate the promise of their love—and anything can happen! 

In this wonderful boxed set of medieval tales, ONE MIDSUMMER’S KNIGHT holds the key in each story to a “happy ever after” ending! Step into a realm of adventure and magic with these four spellbinding tales of daring, chance, and love with ONE MIDSUMMER’S KNIGHT!

UNICORN SUMMER—LINDSAY TOWNSEND: When the faery queen casts a spell on a knight to change him into a unicorn, there seems to be no hope for him—except the stronger magic of true love!

MIDSUMMER’S PROMISE—KEENA KINCAID: Can a mercenary find his heart’s home with a beautiful healer? Her brother, a seer, says they are not for each other—but can their love change fate?

A FAIR BARGAIN—MELISSA JARVIS: When a maiden trades her own future happiness for that of her sister, it seems all is lost to her—until an Otherworld prince comes to her rescue and seals a different kind of bargain—made of unexpected and forbidden love.

A MISTY KNIGHT--CYNTHIA BREEDING: Can a daring knight’s love bring happiness to a beautiful woman who others call a witch? He must find a way to rescue the stubborn lass before she is killed, but can he do it as a human?

This collection is edited and selected by Cheryl Pierson  for Prairie Rose Publications 


Amazon USA


Amazon UK

Here's an excerpt from my story "Unicorn Summer"


He was bored of eating grass. Unicorn, who had once possessed another name, another form, shook his golden mane and flicked his long black tail in displeasure.
Fairies dress in flowers and sing with the nightingales, cows dispute on where to find the best green forage, horses love to play chase the shadows over the rolling hills and snort tales of adventure to each other. Even chickens banter with dust sprites. Why do I lack such lively speech? Why am I not content?
Unicorn scraped his pale horn on the bare earth and galloped to the edge of the pool. He might have asked “Why am I alone?” Sometimes, in dreams, he heard a woman telling him it was all a punishment, for his pride and cruelty, though when Unicorn woke, he could never remember what his sin had been.
He whickered softly and stared at his reflection in the water. What does it matter that my eyelashes are as long and sparkling as frosted spiders’ webs? What does it matter if my eyes are sometimes blue, often grey, and can spot each tremble of the ash leaves before they fall? Why, with all my flowing beauty, am I solitary?
Who am I? Who was I?                                                                                                          
The rippling spring held no answers but there was something submerged in the deep pool, beyond Unicorn’s hazy reflection. A floating streamer of mane—no, this was hair, human hair—drifted up towards the surface.
What does brown hair floating underwater mean?
Unicorn snorted and stamped the ground. Part of his aching mind knew this mystery should not be beyond him. It was no puzzle at all, even if the long hair was as shiny and lush as the ripe acorns he liked to chew and it clung to the pond’s edge like bladderwrack.
No! Unicorn twisted his neck and bit down on his own flank. The pain shrank down the world and his senses and all at once he understood—There was a body in the pool.
Even as he plunged his head underwater and struggled to grip the hair with his teeth, a pair of flailing hands shot up out of the green-blue murk and grabbed his spiral horn. Unicorn planted his hooves in the churned earth and shuffled backwards. The weight made his head hurt and his shoulders burn but he did not shake the shivering fingers off. One slow step after another he pulled himself and his burden free of the pool.
A final sharp crack as the body broke through and Unicorn could shift much faster, nimbly dragging the figure into a springy soft bank of herbs. The body coughed, rolled onto its stomach and shook like a wet dog, only this was no hound.
A woman, Unicorn realised, and I have rescued her. He tossed his head in a preen, but resisted the impulse to charge off over the hills in a victory gallop.
The woman might need him again.
He settled beside her, careful to keep his sharp horn away from her trembling limbs, and covered her with his black tail. Sleep, he willed her, content as he had not been for an age when she shuffled into his warm side and his sharp ears caught a dainty snore.
When she wakes, I will know her name. But she might ask for his and how could he answer? He glanced at his polished hooves and thought of a way.