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The Promo Ho and Cabbage Rose Fairy contests continue!
Who but a Viking could survive the harshest climate—a planet encased in ice? Or at least in my imagination they were the perfect people to populate my world. New Iceland is covered in snow, its ocean coated with a thick layer of ice. On the surface, it appears to be uninhabitable. I hope you enjoy a glimpse of the rugged world and men of New Iceland.
“Perfect Read.” Fresh Fiction
“A steamy and fascinating adventure…” Romance Reviews Today
“Clash of cultures, clash of myths, clash of powerful personalities…how many authors can bring out on paper the excitement and more-than-willing suspension of disbelief that old fashioned adventure stories once brought us?…a wonderful, action-packed, emotional roller-coaster of a read.” Alien Places
“With the intriguing meshing of the past with the future this was an engrossing read…” Top Pick!, Night Owl Reviews
What a Viking wants, a Viking takes.
When his younger brother goes missing, Dagr, Viking warrior and Lord of the Wolfskin Clan, will do whatever it takes to get him back. But nothing could have prepared him for Honora—a feisty, intelligent woman who is nothing like the women of his world—women who are content to serve their men in all things. Drawn to her despite her recalcitrant nature, Dagr is determined to show her who’s boss both in bed and out.
When the two enemies-turned-lovers join forces to find Dagr’s brother they are thrown into a rousing adventure full of danger, intrigue and erotic abandon. Can their passion truly unite them or will their different worlds lead to destruction for them both?
Eirik Ulfhednar glared into his opponent’s reddened face and adjusted his hand, just a slight movement to improve his grip, and then bore down with all his might. The muscles of his forearm and bicep burned. A spike of adrenaline seared his blood.
Harald, who had boasted his prowess over drinks, didn’t seem so confident he’d win this contest now. His lips pulled away from his teeth in a feral snarl, but his bushy red brows rose, betraying his surprise that the man in front of him, so much younger and more privileged than he, hadn’t already crumpled.
A smile eased up the corners of Eirik’s mouth, and he narrowed his eyes. He would prove he was every inch his brother’s equal and deserving of respect from the crew at the mining camp. Respect that they’d denied him since his arrival that afternoon.
However, respect had to be earned from these fierce, rough men. An accident of birth didn’t grant an Ulfhednar, a Wolfskin, any special favors inside this clan. Further, Eirik’s status wasn’t helped by the fact that the last time he’d visited the camp, he’d been a gangly teen with blemishes on his face, tagging behind his elder brother.
But Eirik wasn’t a boy anymore. This challenge was a good place to prove it.
Without a hint to warn his opponent, Eirik opened his jaws and yawned, then squeezed harder around Harald’s huge fist and slammed it into the table.
The crowd surrounding them roared. Large, meaty hands slapped his shoulders in congratulations. Eirik gave Harald a chagrined smile and stood to reach over the table and offer his hand.
Harald shook his head, scowling, looking none too happy to have been bested, but he gripped Eirik’s wrist. “You won fair. Only other man who ever bested me was your brother.”
Prideful pleasure warmed Eirik, and he wondered why he’d been so resistant to return to this rough camp. He’d thought he wouldn’t enjoy it. That the journey itself would bring back hurtful memories of his father. However, his brother had been right about his needing to learn more about his heritage than just the art of battling like a Norseman. His brother was right about most things, and it was time for Eirik to accept that fact.
He let the crowd draw him toward the sleeping quarters of the mining camp’s longhouse. Blue-gray light gleamed through the curved ice-block walls and ceiling where “windows” had been cut in the animal skin lining. Although it was nearing time to sleep, daylight rarely waned in this region of New Iceland.
The smells of roasted animal and a pot of savory stew permeated the longhouse since no vents were cut to allow them to escape. A chimney had no place in the ancient structure, built in the time their ancestors had first arrived on this cold planet.
“Tell us of your journey,” Harald said, taking up one of the stools set around the crude fire pit. Chunks of the precious ore the miners cut from the earth deep beneath the icy crust lay nestled in the bottom of the pit, emitting an eerie glow and warmth that tempered the cool, wet chill lingering in the air.
With the melodic sound of water dripping from the walls nearest the pit and the earthy smells of the men around him, Eirik relaxed, ready to spin a tale worthy of the brother to their clan-lord, for he’d traveled to this frigid outpost without the comfort and safety of a tracked snow-eater by land. He’d come the more direct route, by ice-skiff, over the frozen waters. A feat made even more bold by the fact his father had been lost, no trace ever found, during a similar trek to this mine which lay farthest from the Wolfskin’s seat of power.
“It was a harrowing journey,” Eirik began, pausing as a beaker of mead was handed to him.
“Did you see serpents?” one of the men asked, a hint of awe in his voice. Few dared travel the open frozen sea. They fished near the shores, but rarely ventured over deeper water because of the monsters lurking there.
Eirik nodded and leaned forward. “A pod of the beasts trailed after me from Skuldelev all the way here. Streaks of blue, green, and bright flame shot past me, gliding close beneath the surface of the ice. They circled, closing tighter and tighter. But I let out my sails and skimmed past their death spiral.”
“Did any of them break the surface?” Harald asked. “Did you see their horned heads?”
“I never looked back.” A lesson he’d learned from his brother when he’d first taught Eirik to sail.
If you look back, little brother, you risk losing your nerve. Always, always keep your eyes on your destination.
“But the winds favored me. The bastards pounded the ice behind me with their huge heads.” He gave the men a sly smile, relishing the attention. “The breaks only added a little lift to speed me along.”
Soft laughter surrounded him. Outracing the monsters who ruled the seas wasn’t a sport. The consequences of one mistake could end in an agonizing death—dragged beneath the ice to an underwater berg-cave to be ripped apart and devoured by the pod.
Which was why so few dared. However, Eirik had a long tradition to uphold. The lords of the Wolfskins were fearless; neither the cold nor formidable odds could conquer them. Hence his mode of travel and the bearskin cloak sitting on his shoulders. Even the miners wore the Outlanders’ deep-space clothing which insulated better against the freezing temperatures. Eirik wore garments crafted in the old ways by the women of his clan. Boiled wool undergear and a thicker wool shirt; bearskin chaps tied around his wool trousers. Thick boots made of several layers of cowhide encased his feet.
Yes, his toes were cold, but he could still feel them. If he’d taken a spill in the skiff and damaged the hull or steering skimmers, he’d have frozen to death if the ice dragons hadn’t killed him first. But Eirik would never think to complain about the harsh strictures his brother and he lived by. Their lack of comforts was only a small part of what they sacrificed to make themselves worthy to lead their clan.
Harald lifted his chin to the men around him then bent toward Eirik. “You’ll be wanting to see what we found.” Gone was the blustery, overloud voice. Even his expression changed, shifting from brusque savage to sharp-eyed warrior.
The miners standing nearest turned to face outward to ensure none of the Outlanders in the longhouse came close enough to overhear their conversation.
“My brother wants this kept secret,” Eirik whispered. “Until we’re sure.”
Harald nodded. “Not a word. And our production hasn’t suffered in spite of the extra work. No one will suspect anything’s amiss. The shipping containers are already stacked high in the main cavern in preparation for the next delivery.”
“Does the artifact appear damaged in any way?”
“What we’ve uncovered thus far is intact. We’re working with picks and shovels rather than large drills. When we get close to parts of the mechanism, we use our chisels.”
“Good.” Relieved, he gave Harald a smile. “My brother will come when it’s fully excavated. For now, we pretend I’m here to inspect the mine.”
Harald nodded, and in an instant his expression changed from keen intelligence back to affable companion. “We’ll talk more tomorrow. Below.”
Eirik understood. The less said here, the less chance of discovery. If what the miners had found beneath the ice pack was what Eirik and his brother thought, the Icelanders had a new weapon in their arsenal that would ensure their hard-won freedom. “Tomorrow is soon enough to see the mine,” he said, raising his voice for the benefit of anyone trying to overhear. “Is there a pallet for me?”
“A pallet in a private nook.” Harald winked. “And a woman to warm you while your clothing dries above the fire.”
Low, masculine laughter erupted around the circle as men raised their cups and shared sly glances.
Eirik grimaced. “I’ve frost coating my balls.” He drained his drink. The honey mead, made from the honey of the bees in Hel’s meadow, slid down his throat, warming his belly.
“I bet you do. But we have the cure.” Harald smiled and clapped his shoulder hard, and then shoved off his stool to lead Eirik away from the fire and toward a row of sectioned-off sleeping berths. He pulled back a heavy curtain from one.
Inside, a shelf-like bed stretched across the back wall draped in gray wolf and brown bear skin. A small fire pit glowed in the center of the small cubby.
A woman knelt on the floor beside it, nude but for a soft, woven blanket clutched around her shoulders. Dark, sloe eyes lifted slowly and widened as Eirik entered.
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