CONTEST UPDATE: The winner of the free download of Conquests is… DebraG!
UPDATE: Such a strange week. Some of you had asked for updates. So, quickly, this is what’s happening with the 7-year-old. This week’s tests ruled out cancer anywhere else in her body but her tibia. Yay! Feels so weird to be happy that she only has cancer in one spot. And they’ve set her surgery date for Thursday. She’s undergoing a brand new procedure and will be in a cast until after Christmas. We’ve been going crazy trying to think of all the things that have to be done—get a ramp, wheelchair, move her bed to the living room… The lists go on and on. I’ll keep you posted.
So, time for some fun!
Are you taking any trips this summer? Going to the beach? The lake? Going someplace cold to escape the heat? Comment for a chance to win a free download of Conquests: An Anthology Of Smoldering Viking Romance!
Vikings. Fierce warriors who terrified all in their path as they raided and marauded, enslaved and murdered during Europe’s Dark Ages.
But these rough men from a rugged land were also sailors, explorers, craftsmen, and highly sought after mercenaries.
Conquests: An Anthology of Smoldering Viking Romance will transport you to the realm of fantasy where such fearsome and loyal men are relentless potent lovers. Whether the lady of the keep demands a few stolen hours of pleasure with a captured Viking warrior or the handsome Northman is the one seducing his captive, you will find plenty of lusty adventures in settings as far-flung as Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Byzantium, Moorish Spain and the New World.
Let your fantasies run wild to a time when men wearing bearskin shirts and shining iron helms could capture a fierce maiden’s heart!
Get your copy here! It’s just $0.99 for 13 stories!
Here’s an excerpt from “The Captive” by Lizzie Ashworth…
“Dane, do you know why you were brought here?”
Elspeth, Lady of Hystead, gathered her thick red skirts and sat on the curved stool at the side of the room, opposite the spot where the broad-shouldered man stood. Her hungry gaze drank in the powerful strength of his legs, the ripple of muscle in his chest and arms, the iron line of his jaw. Even wounded, even smeared with the grit and gore of battle, his body glistened with male vigor.
Candlelight reflected off the lime-washed walls and framed the warrior’s furious stare. He strained against the bonds holding his wrists behind him and stretched the short length of rope between his ankles. Animal skins covered the stone-paved floor under his feet, one of few luxuries in the humble room with its bed, bucket of hot coals, and side table.
She turned to the two armed men who’d brought him. “Go now and bar the door until I call.”
An angry string of words followed the men as they departed. Elspeth heard the bar fall into place with a heavy thump.
Pale blue eyes flashed toward her, defiant.
“What of our language do you know, Dane? Can you speak?”
“I know enough,” he snarled, his words heavily accented. “What is your intent, woman?”
“My name is Elspeth, and it pleases me to see you.” His anger excited her, although she tried not to reveal any hint of her swelling desire. She sipped from her cup of ale. “Will you drink?”
His tongue slid over the crease of his narrow lips, but he gave no answer.
“You must be thirsty.” She poured another cup from the ewer and carried it to his mouth, tilting it forward.
He drank deeply. The line of his jaw slackened slightly, and she remained beside him, more intrigued than ever by his bristling strangeness. The grime of battle still coated his face and arms, but elsewhere, his body had been covered with clothing and armor, now mostly removed, so that he stood in rough pants that hung from his hips. Blood smeared from cuts on his arms and hands did not disguise the inked design scrolling over his tanned arms. A section of his yellow-white hair clumped against his scalp in a dried, darkened mass while the rest fell in tangles around his shoulders.
“Are all your kind so beautiful?” she asked quietly, trailing her fingertip across his chest. His nipples lay flat on the domed pectoral muscles and more ink patterned a fantastical beast between them. Hardly a hair curled there, although lower on his abdomen a faint line of darker hair collected downward to disappear at the waist of his pants. Her gaze lingered there briefly as her pulse quickened.
He made no answer, but inhaled as her finger stroked over one of the nipples. His posture shifted slightly.
“Is this beast meant to say something about you?” she asked, fingering the tattoo.
“It honors the gods,” he grumbled.
“Have your gods served you well today?”
He did not answer.
She brought a basin and set it beside him before pouring water warmed near the hot coals. With a linen cloth, she bathed him, wiping the sweat-stained whisker stubble on his face to remove blood and dirt. A strong straight nose traveled from his smooth brow and centered between prominent cheekbones. His firm jaw cut sharply to a bold chin, oddly contrasting the cruelly sensual curve of his narrow lips.
Her breath stuttered as she worked, each freshened part of his body even more stunning than she had first considered. His skin, marred by various scars from previous battles, stretched like warm silk over bronzed muscle. She sponged carefully around a gash on his cheek and another shorter mark on his forehead. Bruising on his jaw had turned purplish-blue, and more bruising colored parts of his chest and back. Nicks and scrapes laced his forearms, and a crusted gash on his bicep caused him to jump when she pushed the wet cloth against it. The scalp wound proved more troublesome. His height forced her to stand on tiptoe to reach it.
“Bend over,” she demanded, pressing his head forward so that the water could soak the matted hair. He made no sound as she cleaned his injuries. At length, she set aside the basin.
“Will you take food?” She cut a piece of the cheese and broke a part of the loaf of wheaten bread.
His gaze had become speculative, watching with an almost bemused expression that softened the strained lines of his face. “Why do you trouble over me, when I am to be killed?”
“Perhaps that isn’t your fate, Dane.”
“Do you have the power to determine my fate?”
“It seems I do, does it not?”
“Things are not always as they seem,” he replied.
But he accepted the stool she pushed behind him and sat to eat the food she fed him, and after a time, with the loaf, cheese, an apple, and considerably more ale consumed, she noted a certain relaxation in his frame.
“You mean to have me,” he observed and raised one eyebrow in question.
“Yes.” She noted the hint of a smile, which pleased her.
“My hands…” He shifted his shoulders to struggle with the bonds holding his wrists.
She laughed lightly, swallowing past the growing tension in her neck. How she would love to release him, let him tear at her, throw her down, and take her to the ends of her reckoning. “Dane, surely you don’t think me foolish enough to release you?”
He smirked. “My name is Magnus, and I don’t think of you at all,” he replied. “I was not aware the Saxons gave over the task of torture to their women.”
Anger swept up her cheeks, and she held her skirts to kick out the stool from under him.
Unsteady, he gained his feet as the stool flew back.
“Torture?” Her face burned. “You see pleasuring me as torture?”
She thought them of equal age. But she was no maid, rather the wife of a doddering old man who couldn’t keep from dribbling on himself when he pissed. On her, alone, lay the full array of tasks necessary to run such a large estate. Even the thanes sworn to her husband’s service knew she ruled Hystead. Many had made suit to her, surreptitiously, for standards required decorum in such matters. In these uncertain times, she could not risk loss of respect for herself or her husband.
Torture. Her nostrils flared as she met his insolent gaze. Her copper-red hair and green eyes received regular comment from the flatterers, and she knew her form remained comely. This man meant to provoke her.
“To what end do you taunt me, Magnus?” she challenged, standing next to him so the swell of her bosom grazed his chest. “Shall I slap you, cause you pain? Would that please you more?”
He laughed, revealing white teeth and creases in his cheeks. “Battle pleases me.”
She ran her hand over his chest, stroking the smooth skin and lingering over the nipples to toy until the flesh thickened. Her own nipples hardened against her bodice as she noted a hitch in his breathing. He may have seemed carved as the finest work of metal, but he was made of mortal flesh. Her hand slid down to the bulge pressing the front of his pants, and a sly smile grew on her mouth.
“Torture becomes you, Magnus,” she said quietly.