Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Guest - Maggie Tideswell

Good morning! We've got South Africa author Maggie Tideswell visiting us today. She's answered some interview questions and I thought you might enjoy reading her answers. Enjoy!

Oh and here's a link to my review of her Dark Moon http://star-crossedromance.blogspot.com/2012/12/review-dark-moon.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Interview with Maggie Tideswell

Have you ever written outside the romance genre? If not, do you ever plan to?

No Lynda, I think romance is my thing. I don't think I will ever write outside the romance genre. Having said that, my novels all touch on other elements, for instance in Dark Moon there is murder and suspense, and in Moragh, Holly's Ghost there is a family saga and a ghost. The theme that binds each novel together, is romance. I would like to write a murder mystery, but there will have to be an underlying thread of romance in it. Love makes the world go round.

What’s your earliest childhood memory?

An Enormous spider in the mailbox. I was about 3 years old, and it was one of the high points of my day to collect the mail. I could just see into the mailbox. On this day the biggest spider I have ever seen had climed into the mailbox and was sitting on top of the mail. I went hysterical because I couldn't get the mail. My mother came running, thinking something dreadful had happened to me. In the end the maid calmly reached into the mailbox and gently pulled the letters out from under the spider. The next day the spider was gone.
It really was a big spider. Its legs covered the entire bottom of the mailbox. To this day I am not friendly with spiders -0 they have just too many legs. 

If you could pick anyone in the world to be the cover model(s) on your latest release, who would it be?

For the Dark Moon cover model, I would choose Tom Cruise to portray Jarred. Tom screams military and as Jarred is a navy man, Tom would be a good fit.

What’s the one question you wish people would ask you when you tell them you’re a writer? How would you answer it?

I want them to ask me if being a witer isn't a lonely occupation, so that I can answer that I don't have time to be lonely surrounded by my characters for company all the time. I would also like people to ask me where I get the stories from, so that I can answer it is like watching movies in my head, that the stories really tell themselves.

Do you have a favorite character out of all the ones you’ve written? If so, who is it and why is s/he your favorite?

All my characters are special, but if I have to pick one as a favorite it would have to be Trevor. He is such a creep. I love writing bad boys.

What themes do you like to write?

My most favorite theme is that nothing is as it seems, that there are things that are hidden. People aren't what they pretend to be and situations aren't as one perceive them.

What is the ONE novel you think everyone should read? And why.

I don't think there is one novel that would appeal to every single person on the planet. People are too diverse and their interests too varied. I think that is something that all authors must understand. At best one can hope to reach some people who will enjoy and appreciate one's work.
 
What draws you to write paranormal?

Because it is para- normal, one can make anything happen. I particularly like to include witchcraft into my stories because it has been so erouneously portrayed in the media and books and films. I deal with it in the more serious light it deserves without my novels becoming textbooks on the craft.

How do you spend a typical writing day?

A writer has to write every day. I write first thing, before I even glance at my emails. If I don't the day is gone before I get to it and then more often than not, my mood has changed and I don't want to write. So my typical day looks like this - I work on which ever novel I am currently writing for as long as it takes. I know when it is time to stop, but I have been known to work 18 hours solid, but those are special days. It's normally about 5 hours of writing. Then I will get to emails and facebook and other promotional sites and by then it is time to cook dinner for my husband. I don't like to work at night.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
-- Lynda Again,
    I hope you all have enjoyed this interview as much as I did. Be sure to check out my review of her book, Dark Moon 

    Have a Blessed Day!

Review - Dark Moon


Dark Moon
Maggie Tideswell
All Things That Matter Press
2011



Dark Moon, by Maggie Tideswell, takes the reader on a chilling ride from start to finish.

Elle has gone on a solo camping trip and during the middle of a midnight storm, she is raped and nearly killed. Her escape is emotionally charged and terror filled. When she gets home, she's intent on capturing her rapist who she believes is a serial killer who has stalked the area for a while. Unbelievably, she is contacted by a woman, her birth mother Sybil, who tells her she is a witch and her rapist is her brother. Sybil entreats Elle to join with her in her mystical pursuit of the killer.

Storm Fenton is a psychologist who has been dating Trevor Heardt for a year and hopes to 'seduce' him into proposing marriage. But before she does, she goes to a deserted beach to sunbath in the nude. While there, a mystery man appears and makes love to her. She doesn't know his name or what he does and subconsciously refers to him as the love of her life but she still wants that proposal from Trevor. Until she discovers she's pregnant with mystery man's child.

Trevor is both cold and controlling. He's livid when Storm tells him she's pregnant and storms out. But he soon returns telling her that he's sorry for his reaction and then surprisingly tells her she will never have the child. Storm is adamant that she won't have an abortion.

Jarred Walters, a Navy Captain, can't forget the beautiful woman he discovered on the beach. Even though she didn't object to his lovemaking, the fact that he seduced a virgin makes him want to find her and beg her forgiveness…as well as her hand in marriage. He's determined to locate her and when he does, he won't let her go. Ever.

I enjoyed this story with its twisty plot and edge of the seat danger for the protagonists. The paranormal elements were well done which is a bonus as far as I'm concerned. However, the use of multiple points of view (each character had a POV scene or two) was a trifle confusing. Since the story opens with Elle, I thought she was the principle protagonist only to discover later that it was Storm. But once I got into the rhythm of the story, this many points of view was less distracting than I first expected.

I was a little less enamored with Storm and Elle. Storm, as a psychologist, seemed far too fragile to deal with other people's emotional problems but that isn't my main complaint. She was too wishy washy when it came to choosing between Trevor and Jarred. I can see how she might want to be true to Trevor but, in my opinion, she allowed him to continue his cruel and punishing behavior, refusing to see how disturbed he really was. Some of that was due to a 'spell' cast on her but I don't want to spoil the plot by giving too many details. Jarred, her self-termed stalker, was a more romantic hero but also very controlling. Oddly, I didn't seem to mind his dominance since it centered on protecting Storm but perhaps that was because he was a far more sympathetic character (certainly more sympathetic than Trevor). Then there was Elle, who I liked for her bravery and determination to find and jail her rapist but her devious single-minded pursuit of Jarred when he had firmly announced his love of Storm…Well, that lost my sympathy very fast.

Obviously, I liked Jarred best of all the characters. Not surprising since I am a romance author and I almost always like the hero best. But he also seemed the most honest, with himself and with the reader, and that's a trait I value highly. For the same reason, I liked Sybil (Elle's mother). Sybil seemed to be a strong, honest character, the kind of person I would like to know. 

All in all, I liked Dark Moon very much but it isn't a romance as traditionally defined. There are a few instances where hearts race and blood pounds but all the ,action, is off stage. That's okay but that isn't why I say it's not a traditional romance...at least as we define it here in the USA. While the romantic elements are strong, the main point of the story was the action/mystery plot (save the girl, capture the villain) and not the romance itself.

If you like plots that center on the action/adventure, that have a seat-of-your-pants edge of danger and a very good mystery, then I recommend Dark Moon. You'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guest - Nancy Lee Badger

Good morning all! Today's guest is author . Nancy has a fascinating post for us today AND she's got a very generous 'Christmas' giveaway so make sure to check below to see how you can enter the drawing.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Moonstones, Herbs, and Magic, Oh My!

Writing a time travel paranormal romance requires one big decision: how do I make my characters travel through time? Since my latest books take part partially in New England, I could not use walking through a portal at the Scottish standing stones. (think Stonehenge) I could use a magical amulet, which I do use as a prop, but neither my heroine in My Honorable Highlander nor My Banished Highlander own the magical gem. My heroines are modern day witches who barely practice their craft for anything besides healing. In fact, they are both into herbs, potions, and the power of stones. In their quest for more knowledge, they meet an old crone who just happens to sell such items in her vendor tent at the New England Highland games.


In order to facilitate my characters’ journeys, I researched the properties of stones and plants found in both Scotland and New England. Many exist, and I give them to my characters to help them travel in time. Accidently, it seems.

In the first book in the series, Haven MacKay uses a potion suggested by the old crone that consists of mint, apple buds, and yarrow root. Haven has used yarrow root to staunch the flow of blood on injured friends, and is concerned to see the old witch use it in something meant to be swallowed! Haven stashes it in her pocket along with pieces of opal and quartz for attraction. You see, she plans to conjure a man to love. She has failed in that department, recently. When she adds a hunk of amber for luck, strength, and love, she hopes for the best.

Research was the key. I used several books, the internet, and a fascinating folded map of Scotland that included plants native to the huge island. I have included a few helpful book titles and internet sites at the end of my article.

An ancient book of spells is in Haven’s tent at the Highland games, where she is helping her friend Iona by pretending to be a Scottish villager. I had fun creating spells. I am also a fan of the TV series Charmed and simply followed their example of a simple three-line rhyme. Here is an example:

Rain and fire, trees and grass;
I wish to be in my lover’s grasp.
Hear my plea so mote it be.

I made up several spells throughout both books, and the results are fun. In the second book, Iona is prevented from speaking the spell all the way through, with disastrous results!

Elsewhere in both books, Haven and Iona need to treat their headaches. When Iona is stuck in 1598 Scotland without aspirin, she seeks out willow bark, the original source of aspirin. When Iona treats a woman’s burned arm, she resorts to items she has brought with her such as confervae, known to the locals as linarich. She also uses the popular ragwort. The only problem is that some of the people who witness her healing powers cry witch!

Minerals and gemstones have been thought to contain power, which is why my third book’s heroine, Skye Gunn, wears a moonstone around her neck. Skye is a bit wild, and as the daughter of the Laird of Clan Gunn in sixteenth century Scotland, she knows she has a certain power over men. I chose the moonstone because, besides its power to protect a traveler, it is balancing, reflective, promotes well being and joy, and alleviates emotional tension. When she meets a present-day blacksmith and must gain his help, things heat up and no magic amulet is going to keep them apart!

The back covers of my books show a necklace made up of a hunk of amber. Amber was created millennia ago from the petrified sap of long-dead trees. Amber is related to the fire element and the sun, which might be one reason my villainous sorcerer is after it! Old Dorcas wears it to bring wisdom and balance to her life. As she tells all who will listen, she is as old as dirt and her amber necklace keeps her going. When it is stolen, things turn upside down.

I have lists of reference materials that gave me the ideas of which stones or herbs to include in my romantic story. The research was fun and very enlightening. As I write, I keep a purplish hunk of amethyst by my computer, along with a lovely green piece of malachite. My research tells me that malachite is a powerful healing stone that can also be used for money, love, and for centering and balance. Amethyst, a more commonly found stone, calms fears, is healing, and good for peace, happiness, and love. Since it also is known to provide protection from negativity, keeping it close while I write prevents me from making my villains TOO evil. Ha!

If you feel a story is enhanced by the use of herbs, stones, and spells, I would like you to read my latest release in my Highland Games Through Time series, My Banished Highlander

Here are some links that could help:
www.babynology.com (yes, some people name their kids after gems)

And some research books I love are:
The Scots Herbal by Tess Darwin
Crystal Therapy by Doreen Virtue
Wicca & Witchcraft for Dummies by Diane smith
MAP: Clans & Tartans of Scotland/Collins/2008

My Banished Highlander

When his clan convicts Cameron Robeson of treason in 1598 Scotland, the last thing he thought his cousin the Laird would do was banish him to the future. With a certain woman on his mind, he plans revenge while surrounded by the sights and sounds of the modern day New England Highland Games. His plans go awry when a comely redheaded lass wearing the Mackenzie plaid lands at his feet.

Iona Mackenzie is worried about her friend, Haven, and searches for answers among the tents at the games. Whom can she trust to help? Her father? The handsome blacksmith? Or, the tall, golden-haired Highlander? Romance takes a back seat because saving her friend is her priority, no matter how great Cameron can kiss.

When a magical amulet and an angry sorcerer send this unlikely couple back through time, more than one heart will be broken. Danger, intrigue, and threats surround them, and feelings between Iona and Cameron grow hot and steamy. They fight the sorcerer and search for Iona’s friend, the woman he vowed to steal from his cousin. Will the strong-willed Highlander and the present day witch stop fighting long enough to listen to their hearts?

With a letter in her hand and a Highlander at her back, what could go wrong?

A little Bit About my latest series:

My Banished Highlander is the second book in the Highland games Through Time series which started with My Honorable Highlander. Though fine to read as a stand-alone novel, I highly recommend you do not miss the first story. I am working on Book #3, My Reluctant Highlander. Both the first book and the second are available everywhere digitally, and are also available on-line at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in print.


FIVE (5) lucky people will be chosen to win a digital copy of their choice of My Honorable Highlander or My Banished Highlander. Simply answer this question when you leave a comment:

What SCOTTISH ITEM or PERSON would you like to see under the Christmas Tree?

Also, either leave your contact info, book choice, and format with your comment OR email it to me with ‘STAR’ in the header to 01953nancyl@gmail.com

About the author: Nancy Lee Badger loves chocolate-chip shortbread and wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, Nancy moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, the Celtic Heart Romance Writers, and is a proud Army Mom. 


How to Contact Nancy Lee Badger
Website        http://www.nancyleebadger.com
Blog              http://www.nancyleebadger.blogspot.com
Twitter         https://twitter.com/NLBadger

Where to Buy My Banished Highlander
Amazon Buy link        http://amzn.to/PAYBbX       
Barnes & Noble           http://bit.ly/OREYO7
AllRomanceEBooks    http://bit.ly/Qgdymm
Smashwords                http://bit.ly/OIbim4
KOBO                          http://bit.ly/QbuM3F

ALSO AVAILABLE IN PRINT!  http://amzn.to/Su5a1G

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
-- Lynda Again,
    I told you it was a fascinating post, didn't I? Don't forget to enter her drawing, those books sound terrific!

    Have a Blessed Day!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Vampire Trivia

We had a bit of a scheduling problem so I don't have a guest today BUT I have some interesting Vampire trivia if you're interested.

Ready?

Many scholars argue the word "vampire" is either from the Hungarian vampir or from the Turkish upior, upper, upyr meaning "witch." Other scholars argue the term derived from the Greek word "to drink" or from the Greek nosophoros meaning "plague carrier." It may also derive from the Serbian Bamiiup or the Serbo-Crotian pirati. 




The Muppet vampire, Count von Count from Sesame Street, is based on actual vampire myth. One way to supposedly deter a vampire is to throw seeds (usually mustard) outside a door or place fishing net outside a window. Vampires are compelled to count the seeds or the holes in the net, delaying them until the sun comes up.







One of the most famous "true vampires" was Countess Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614) who was accused of biting the flesh of girls while torturing them and bathing in their blood to retain her youthful beauty.






Vampire hysteria and corpse mutilations to "kill" suspected vampires were so pervasive in Europe during the mid-eighteenth century that some rulers created laws to prevent the unearthing of bodies. In some areas, mass hysteria led to public executions of people believed to be vampires.

Thresholds have historically held significant symbolic value, and a vampire cannot cross a threshold unless invited. The connection between threshold and vampires seems to be a concept of complicity or allowance. Once a commitment is made to allow evil, evil can re-enter at any time.




Prehistoric stone monuments called “dolmens” have been found over the graves of the dead in northwest Europe. Anthropologists speculate they have been placed over graves to keep vampires from rising.





The legend that vampires must sleep in coffins probably arose from reports of gravediggers and morticians who described corpses suddenly sitting up in their graves or coffins. This eerie phenomenon could be caused by the decomposing process.


I'd heard of a lot of this but hadn't heard the bit about dolmen before. Kind of interesting, huh?

Have a Blessed Day!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Guest - Diane Burton


Good morning! We've had a busy two weeks at the Scott household. A roof leak caused plaster damage that had to be repaired and that necessitated a paint job for the living room, stairwell and upper hallway. Then my washer died! So in between cleaning the house for the big Thanksgiving dinner, then moving things out of the living room, confining my very upset alien kitten to my office for three days, then moving things back into the living room and now re-organizing the basement laundry room so a new washer can be brought in...I think I need a vacation! But then I read the excerpt from The Pilot by our guest, Diane Burton. Loved it! Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sidekicks, Buddies and BFFs

Do you have a best friend? Someone who knows you better than anyone—maybe even better than your spouse. Someone you’d want on your side in a fight. Someone who will try to talk you out of doing something foolish, dangerous or both and when they can’t will cover your back, like Trevarr’s buddy in my new sci-fi romance, The Pilot.

The heroes in many novels have sidekicks, buddies and/or best friends. I love sidekicks in stories, especially adventure stories. Forget the lone hero. Give me a guy (or gal) with a buddy any day. Show me the hero and her BFF and I can tell you a lot about her. Their interaction can be fun and also very interesting.

According to Joseph Campbell, the tales people have enjoyed for centuries follow a basic pattern. The hero sets out on a quest, a journey. Science fiction movies and books easily use this structure with Star Wars as a great example. The hero (Luke) sets off on a quest to find Leia, the owner of the droids. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo’s quest is to destroy the ring. In The Pilot, Celara must find her brother to save him from a gangster’s clutches while Trevarr is obsessed with finding his wife’s murderer. Though Trevarr starts out as Celara’s nemesis, their quests merge and they join forces.

Along the way, or even before the start, the hero generally acquires a sidekick, a buddy or a best friend. Think Han Solo, R2D2 and C3PO or Samwise Gamgee. In science fiction romance, that BFF could be the hero or heroine—depending on who the “hero” is. (To keep from writing his/her or s/he, I’m going to make the sidekick in this article a male. Sexist, I know, but it’s easier.)

Just what is the role of the sidekick? Sometimes he’s a sounding board. Other times he reveals backstory. Not in an info dump that bores the reader. (I am so guilty of this in my first drafts.) The friend’s subtle references give the reader insight into the hero’s life. The hero can tell her secrets to her BFF, knowing he will never reveal them.

Another role of the sidekick is to help the hero accomplish his task. One of my favorite moments in the Return of the King is when Frodo refuses to let Sam carry the ring (because of the darkness the ring brings to the soul). So Sam says maybe he can’t carry the ring but he can carry Frodo . . . and he does right up to the fires of Mount Doom. Now that’s friendship.

Sidekicks can also be a source of comic relief. They can say or do outrageous things. In my Switched series, my favorite is Drakus, an alien who is enamored of Terran television. His sometimes mangled expressions often bring needed relief to a dramatic moment. In my newest release The Pilot, my hero’s sidekick, Arjay, is her AI—extremely intelligent but somewhat naive.

Sometimes, the buddy has such strength and appeal, he will get his own story—either because readers demand it or because the writer has fallen in a little in love with him.

Villains can have sidekicks, too—only they’re called henchmen. An interesting henchman (henchwoman?) is May Day (Grace Jones) in the James Bond film A View to a Kill. A satisfying twist is when the henchman “sees the light” and joins the hero. Examples would be May Day and Captain Renault (played by Claude Rains) in Casablanca. “. . . this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Who is your favorite sidekick, buddy or BFF (movies or books)?


The Pilot:

There's no place like home and he just stole hers. Cargo hauler, risk taker Celera d'Enfaden must work with rule-bound Administrator Trevarr Jovano to save her brother from a galactic gangster.

Excerpt

     Arjay extracted needle and thread from his uniform pocket and went to work on the back of the dress. Finally, he stood back.
     “This will have to do. I dare not make permanent alterations to the garment which Merchant Namil appears to value. If you do not make any sudden moves when you meet with Administrator Jovano, the stitching will hold. Now, please walk over to the window so I can see how you look.”
     “I look ridiculous.” Even though she groused, Celara did what he asked since the window was only three strides away.
     “Footwear.”
     When he reached for the door handle, she had to stop him.
     “No. No borrowing anything else from Namil. From the length of this dress, his partner had to be a lot taller.” Most fems were taller. “She would have had bigger feet. My boots will have to do.”
     To prove her point, she began to pull on her boots.
     “Uh, I must admonish you not to bend over in the presence of the Administrator. Unless, of course, you wish to entice him with your mammary organs. I understand human males are easily aroused by—”
     She glanced down. Sure enough, she could see straight down her undertunic, her puny little breasts in plain sight. Quickly, she straightened. “Okay, no bending over, no quick moves. Anything else?” Putting her hands on her hips, she tapped her foot.
     “You must adjust your attitude if you wish him to release your ship. I have noted that human males respond more readily to a pleasant demeanor, a soft voice and gentle words. Also, an apology.”
     She walked to the end of the narrow bed and plopped down on it. “I am not groveling.”
     “No, no, no. You must not clomp around like that. You need to walk lightly. Glide.” He demonstrated from the door to the window.
     “That does it,” she proclaimed, flopping back on the bed. “I am not swishing my way into his office.”
     Undeterred, Arjay continued, “I believe you should swish as you walk away from him. Human males are also attracted to the sway of a female’s—”
     With a groan, she threw her arm over her eyes. Then, she bolted upright, ignoring the sound of popping stitches. “Maybe you’ve got the right idea after all, Arjay. Why don’t I just strip off my clothes and jump his bones? Then he’ll be sure to give me back my ship. In fact, I should go and see him right now and get this over with.”
     The thought of mating with the very proper Admin Man made her shiver.
     “Awk.” Giving her a panicked look, Arjay ran to the door and blocked it much the same way she had tried to block Jovano from entering her ship. “It would be best to wait until morning. We still need to work on your speech. And your hair. And . . . and cosmetics to enhance your eyes and mouth.”
     “Isn’t it time you shut down for the night?”

The Pilot is available at Amazon http://amzn.com/B00AE6OH4K
See Diane’s website www.dianeburton.com for other retailers for The Pilot and Diane’s other books.

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America as well as the Mid-Michigan, Young Adult and Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal RWA chapters. She is the author of the Switched series, about twins exchanging places—from Earth to a starship and the reverse. With The Pilot, she begins a new series about strong women on the frontier of space. She is also a contributor to the anthology How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and two grandchildren.

Diane can be found around the Internet at:
Goodreads: DianeBurton Author

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sourcebooks Christmas Spectacular



Sourcebooks is feeling the spirit of the holiday season and we want to share it with you! We’re running our biggest promotion yet: daily discounts on our most popular ebooks, starting December 1 and lasting through December 25! When you sign up, you’ll be notified every morning of which book is going on sale that day. And, when you sign up to receive our daily email notifications, you’ll automatically be entered to win two ereaders: one for you, and one for a friend or family member.

In addition, we’ll also be giving away more fun prizes every single week, from candy, to gift baskets, to books. Sign up today! You’ll be able to see the featured books once you’ve signed up.

Double your chances: Each time one of your friends sign up, it doubles your chances of winning, so make sure to forward your emails to all of your nearest and dearest, encouraging them to sign up, too!

Sign up today for the Sourcebooks Christmas eBook Spectacular  on our ebook promo page (http://books.sourcebooks.com/promos/), for the chance to get great books and great prices, and to win ebooks, candy, print books, and an eReader for you – and one for a friend or family member!

Please feel free to share this information with your readers! Be sure to check out the @sourcebooks and@sourcebookscasa Twitter accounts for daily updates and links each day, as well as the Sourcebooks Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/sourcebooks.

And don’t think we haven’t thought about something to keep the Christmas Cheer going after 12/25… I’ll be in touch later in December with information about what we have planned in the New Year!

Happy Holidays!
Danielle

PS
You can also use the banner above and logo below on your blogs to promote this giveaway—please link to the ebook promo page: http://books.sourcebooks.com/promos/

Monday, November 26, 2012

Guest - Sara Humphreys

Good morning all! We have another short interview today. This time my victim, er, guest is Sara Humphreys, author of Untamed, part of the Amoveo series. The lovely Danielle from Sourcebooks is offering a giveaway so make sure to see how you can enter the drawing. To whet your appetite, check out my review of Untamed here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Interview with
Sara Humphreys

1.       What one thing would you want your readers to remember from your book?
SH: Wow. That’s a great question and not I’ve ever been asked before. In terms of a scene, I hope the moment when William professes his love for Layla is a memorable one. He strips himself bare to her in more ways than one. In terms of an overall feeling, I want them to remember true love and the happily ever after.

2.       What themes do you like to write?
SH: All of the Amoveo have a pre-destined mate but the theme that runs through the all of the books is that fate can’t make you love someone. We love people for who they are, for the actions they take or don’t take.  We have far more control in our lives than fate would have us believe.

3.       Your book is being made into a movie, regardless of cost, where should it be filmed?
SH: I’d love for Untamed to be filmed at Woodbine farm in Maryland because it’s a real place and is owned by my cousins. It’s beautiful there. I took a trip down there for a family reunion a couple of years ago and that was when the inspiration for the story struck.

4.       In the movie form of your book, who plays the hero? Or the heroine? And why?
SH: Chris Hemsworth would be a perfect fit for William. He’s strong, sexy, and oozes the brooding, smoldering sexuality that he would need to portray William. Emma Stone is a bit young for the part but she’s got the spunky, spark that an actress would need to play Layla.

5.       What is the ONE novel you think everyone should read?
SH: The Secret.

6.       Who is your favorite character in ALL the books you've written? Why?
SH: Oh man, that’s like asking me to pick a favorite kid. My favorites tend to change, to be very honest. Usually it’s the characters that are in my head as I write.  At the moment, I’m working on UNCLAIMED, the fifth Amoveo Legend novel, and I’m digging Dominic Tejada. He’s the hero and is a classic alpha-male from the Tiger Clan. He’s former military, serves as a Guardian for the prince of the Amoveo and is sexy as all get out.

7.       Who is your favorite character in ALL the books you've read? Why?
SH: Again, that’s a tough one but if I had to pick then I’m going with two characters—the Norton twins from Christine Feehan’s Ghostwalker series. Holy cow. Those two boys are sexy and studly.


UNTAMED BY SARA HUMPHREYS – IN STORES NOVEMBER 2012
An ancient race of shapeshifters has lived secretly among humans for thousands of years...they are...the Amoveo

HER WORST NIGHTMARE IS COMING TRUE...
Layla Nickelsen has spent years hiding from her Amoveo mate and guarding a devastating secret. But Layla's worst fear is realized when the man who haunts her dreams shows up in person ...

HE HAS FINALLY FOUND HER...
William Fleury is as stoic as they come, until he finds Layla and his feelings overwhelm him. She won't let him get close, but then an unknown enemy erupts in violence and threatens everything Layla holds dear...

Praise for the Amoveo Legend series:
“Compelling... Deft world-building and sensuous love scenes make this paranormal romantic thriller an enjoyable journey.” —Publishers Weekly

“The characters haunted my dreams...I thought about this book constantly.” —Long and Short Reviews

“I loved the book. I'm looking forwards to many more in this series.” —Night Owl Reviews, Reviewer Top Pick

“Fast-paced paranormal romance with fantastic world-building.” —The Book Girl

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sara Humphreys has been attracted to the fantasies of science fiction, paranormal, and romance since her adolescence when she had a mad crush on Captain Kirk. An actress and public speaker, Sara lives in Bronxville, NY, with her husband, who is very considerate of her double life, and four amazing boys. For more information about her books and to join her street team, please visit www.sarahumphreys.com or follow her on Twitter, @AuthorSara.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
-- Lynda Again,
    I hope you all enjoyed today's guest. If you'd like a copy of Untamed, here's what you do: Send me an email ( Lynda@LyndaKScott.com ) with Untamed in the subject line and your snail mail address in the body by Nov 30. My alien kitten, Wookie, will pick the winner (no catnip bribes necessary) and I'll notify you by Friday night). Good luck and have a Blessed Day!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review - Wolfishly Yours by Lydia Dare

Wolfishly Yours
Lydia Dare
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
November 2012


Grayson Hadley is an undisciplined and unmannered rogue. He doesn't even have the redeeming grace of wealth.  He's an embarrassment to his alpha and his family and a trial to his tutor, a lady hired to teach him and his equally unmannered brothers how to comport themselves in public and, more importantly, in Society.

Liviana Mayeux is the only daughter of a French American from New Orleans and the granddaughter of an Earl. For all of her life, she's had the freedom of the docks and swamps, running as wild as her brothers. But now she's marriageable age and her father wants her to marry well. So he sends her off to her grandfather the Earl. In cold, rainy England. Livi laments the weather and loss of freedom. She hates England and everything about it. She isn't even sure her grandfather likes her but the man is determined that he will do his duty and find her a suitable husband. But she needs to be brought up to snuff to enter society.

When Livi meets Gray, it's like the kettle calling the skillet black. They're both in need of training but neither has the least desire to be taught the finer points of polite Society. In fact, Livi considers the English werewolves 'tame' in comparison to her brothers. That doesn't halt the attraction each feels for the other. Gray does try to avoid Livi. Mostly. Sot that she can find a good husband. And yet he still manages to cause scandals where Livi is concerned that imperils her chances. It takes some time before he realizes that he's in love with her and that's something he doesn't want to admit. But when the scandals become too large to ignore, Gray is forced to marry Livi and yet even that goes terribly wrong.

Wolfishly Yours is funny and moving with lots of ups and downs as the two young lovers attempt to find some balance point. Both have a lot of growing up to do and both accomplish quite a bit of it in the course of the story. I enjoyed meeting these two characters and renewing acquaintances with characters from the previous books in the series. Note: This book stands alone quite nicely so don't worry that you'll need to read the previous books…although you will want to. Definitely read it if you like werewolves in Regency England as much as I do.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Review - Untamed by Sara Humphreys


Untamed
by Sara Humphreys
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
November 2012

Layla has dreaded the day her Amoveo mate would find her. But as fate would have it, he shows up on a photographic shoot in New Orleans.  Before he can claim her, she flees to the one place she's always been safe, her small hometown in  rural Maryland and the farm where she spent most of her childhood.

After experiencing her mother's mental instability and being put in foster care, Layla has serious trust issues. When she finally ends up at the farm in Maryland with Rosie and two other children, Raife and Tatiana, she realizes she's come home. Raife and Tati are also hybrid Amoveo children and while Rosie has a firm but loving hand with all three but she doesn't know a lot about the Amoveo race. The only information they have comes from the diary of Rosie's sister, Raife and Tati's mother, which isn't a lot. What it does mention though is the predestined mate legend and that scares Layla silly. She won't be forced to lose her own identity to become a 'mate' for some man she doesn't even know. And with her past history of foster care, she won't let anyone or anything decide what she'll do in her life.

William Fluery, the Ice Man as his friends call him, is always in control. As an attorney for the Amoveo council, he's impeccable in his three-piece suits and he's renowned for his cold, calculating assessments.  Until, while helping his friend Dante down in the Bayou, he recognizes his destined mate, photographer Layla Nickelsen, a petite red-head with a lust for life and a soul-deep streak of stubbornness. She's the exact opposite of what he is and she's exactly what he needs. The problem is…can he convince Layla that they would be perfect together?

William's confusion over Layla's apparent indifference to him is the first crack in his stoic demeanor. It makes him work all that much harder to earn her acceptance. But as he follows her to her childhood home and begins to spin time with her, he finds his admiration for her growing until he realizes he's in love with her.

Unfortunately, just as he and Layla seem as if they're coming together, Rosie is attacked and nearly killed. He detects a dark energy near the injured Rosie that he assumes is one of the Purists who despise hybrids. With this threat to Layla and her reluctance to trust him, William despairs that he will ever have the love he craves from her. Even so, he can't and won't force her to be his mate. He wants her to want him, to love him, as much as he loves her.

Untamed has strong, admirable characters, a sizzling love story and a seat of the pants action plot. In other words, it has it all! William is a to-die-for hero -- strong, loyal and sexy. Ice Man? Hah! Yes, he's a man in control but that Ice Man thing? A façade. This man could melt iron! Layla is perfect for him with her vast independence. She cracks that icy façade to reveal the real man below. And as each of her secrets becomes known and dealt with, she becomes even stronger in her own right. I can see why William fell in love with her. The twist ending was a significant surprise for me (love when that happens!) and I'm looking forward to where that leads us.

All in all, Untamed is a MUST READ. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Guest - Elisabeth Naughton

Good morning all! It's a rainy day here in Michigan, a perfect day for cuddling on the sofa with a good book. May I recommend Enslaved by our guest, Elisabeth Naughton? You won't be disappointed. See my review here. But if you have to go to work, or even if you don't, enter the drawing to win a copy of Enslaved to enjoy on your next rainy day ;-)

Now for the main attraction. Elisabeth consented to answer a few interview questions for me. Enjoy!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1.     What draws you to romance?
EN: I’m a sucker for a good, emotional story. I love knowing that love can conquer all, that good trumps evil, that happily ever afters exist for all of us if we work hard enough. The world is so full of depressing news and the horrors of what people can do to each other. Romance novels give me a chance to remember what’s good about humanity and to lose myself in a world of fantasy and anything-can-happen for a few hours.

Have you ever written outside the romance genre? If not, do you ever plan to?
EN: So far, no. All of my stories deal with romantic relationships and how those relationships shape and change a persons life. At this point I have no plans to write outside the romance genre, but I’ll never say never.

What’s your earliest childhood memory?
EN: I think I was about three and my mom had put me down for a nap. My older brother was outside my window teasing me because I had to sleep and he didn’t. I was so upset, I rolled off my bed and hit my metal dollhouse (who makes dollhouses out of metal?!) and sliced my nose open. I still have a scar from that happy memory.

If you could pick anyone in the world to be the cover model(s) on your latest release, who would it be?
EN: Paul Walker. I don’t usually pattern my characters after celebrities, but Paul Walker has the clean cut, boy-next-door look I envision for Gryphon.

What’s your favorite hobby outside of writing?
EN: Photography. I’m not very good at it but I love to take pictures and create photo books. Scrapbooking takes way too much time, but I’m currently obsessed with creating online photo books. Faster and easier and way more professional looking (in my opinion).

What would constitute your own personal happily ever after?
EN: I’m living my own happily ever after. I’m married to a fantastic man, I have three great kids and I get up every morning and go to work at a job I love. Yes, every life is full of struggles, but I’m a glass-is-half-full kind of girl. No matter what happens, something new and exciting is always around the corner. 


ENSLAVED BY ELISABETH NAUGHTON – IN STORES NOVEMBER 2012
“Do not miss this series.”—New York Times bestselling author Larissa Ione

GRYPHON—Honorable, loyal, dependable…tainted. He was the ultimate warrior before imprisonment in the Underworld changed him in ways he can't ignore.

She calls to him. Come to me. You can't resist. But Gryphon will not allow himself to be ruled by the insidious whispers in his head. And there's only one way to stop them: kill Atalanta, the goddess who enslaved him. But with so much darkness inside, he can't be sure what's real anymore. Even the Eternal Guardians, those who protect the human realms and the gods, want to exile him.

Finding Malea is like a miracle. Somehow he doesn't feel the pull of the dark when she's near. And he's determined to keep her as near as possible, whether she wants him close or not. But she's a temptation that will test every bit of control he has left. One that may ultimately have the power to send him back to the Underworld...or free him from his chains for good.

Praise for Elisabeth Naughton:
“Entertaining and smoldering.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review of Tempted

“Creative worldbuilding and ever-present danger pull the reader into this mesmerizing tale.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ star review of Enraptured

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A former junior high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton traded in her red pen and test-tube set for a laptop and research books. She now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full-time from Oregon, where she lives with her husband and three children. Her work has been nominated for numerous awards, including the RWA RITA© Award, the NJ RWA Golden Leaf, and the RWA Golden Heart. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ball park, or dreaming up new and adventures. Visit her at www.elisabethnaughton.com and follow her on Twitter, @ElisNaughton.


BlogTour2 Medium 200

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--Lynda Again
   Wookie, my alien kitten, says I have to give you details on the drawing (she picks the winners after all). Here's what you do: Send an email to me at Lynda@lyndakscott.com with ENSLAVED in the subject line and your address in the body by Friday, Nov. 16. Wookie will select the winner and the lovely Danielle at Sourcebooks will send you a copy.

  That's it! Good luck and Have a Blessed Day!



Review - Enslaved

Enslaved
by Elisabeth Naughton
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
November 2012

With a voice only he can hear incessantly calling to him, drawing him back to the evil goddess Atalanta, Gryphon is losing his mind. He hasn't recovered from his torture in the Underworld, doesn't trust women and doesn't trust himself. One thing he knows, when Malea is near, the voice weakens. He's able to think, to plan. To fight for him mind and freedom. He won't harm her or do anything she doesn't want but he won't let her go. Not until he kills Atalanta.

Malea has seen Gryphon and heard the talk. She knows he's insane. When he kidnaps her just as she's about to escape from the half-breed colony, she's terrified. Gryphon assures he will let her go just as soon as they get free but, once they're outside, she's infuriated when he doesn't let her go. But as she begins to realize that he's very similar to her, an outcast with no place to go. That is, until she finally came up with a way to get into Olympus. Once there, she knows she'll be safe.

Unfortunately, Hades wants her dead and now that she's left the concealment of the colony, his minions can find her. Gryphon knows she's the only way he'll stay sane long enough to confront Atalanta and he welcomes the chance to fight the demons pursuing them. At least until he realizes that he's beginning to feel something for Malea. Something that he had never expected to feel for any woman - love.

Malea realizes they have something in common - they're both outcasts. Both alone. Both avoided; him for his madness, her for the darkness inside her. As they travel, she begins to understand him and to see that he's not as mad as everyone thought, that he's a good man and is haunted by his past as much as she is. Without any warning, she realizes she's falling in love with the man who kidnapped her.

Gryphon is a wonderful wounded hero. He's been tortured, enslaved, and dehumanized. But he never gives up. He fights to regain his sanity and his freedom from his tormentor, Atalanta. But even with that urgent goal, he's still a good man at heart. Even though he's kidnapped her, he doesn't hesitate to protect her and stands between her and every danger that threatens.  As for Malea, she's fallen in love a few times during her long, long life but she's never felt the way for another as she does for Gryphon.

Theirs is a true love story crafted by the master touch of Elisabeth Naughton. In fact, all the Guardians that she's created have been men who, in their core, are the kinds of men who all women want - protective, loyal, passionate in their love and their duty. Gryphon is no exception. In fact, when we understand his story we admire him even more. That's the kind of hero we all need. That's the kind of hero we all want to read about.

Enslaved is one story you do not want to miss. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Guest - Toni V. Sweeney

Good morning all! We have Toni V. Sweeney visiting us today.Toni has written 33 novels, two of which will be published this month! She has some great advice for  those of us who create worlds...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BEING A WORLD-CREATOR AND WHAT IT INVOLVES

I’m Toni V. Sweeney, a writer, Creator of Worlds.  (At this point, cue the dramatic and awe-inspiring opening strains of Thus Spake Zarathustra, please.) All writers are, for that matter. Whether your novels are science fiction, fantasy, or contemporary, you, the writer, invent, construct, and produce the environment in which your characters live.  Even if it’s this very familiar ol’ world of ours, it’s still partly your own creation because you control its scope and breadth and what happens within it.  To paraphrase the prologue to that great television series, The Outer Limits If you wish to make it louder, you can bring up the volume. If you wish to make it softer, you can tune it to a whisper. You control the horizontal. You control the vertical. You can roll the image, make it flutter. You can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity…*

Indeed, we writers do exactly that, and I’m the first to admit that creating a world is difficult work.  There’s so much involved.  One doesn’t just say, “OK…here’s my world.  It’s not Earth, by the way,” and let it go at that.  That world which is “not Earth” has to be shown to be different, in all its alien glory, if you will.  If your characters are going to spend a lot of time there—say, the entire book—and are going to be out and about in this environment, interacting with other inhabitants or the planet itself, you’re going to be forced to create more than just a “different” atmosphere.  In the following, I’d like to use my own novels as examples. 

1.      THE PLANET OR DIMENSION OR WHEREVER YOUR CHARACTERS LIVE...  Let’s go on the supposition that this is, as they used to say on Star Trek, a Class M planet, meaning it has enough oxygen to sustain a humanoid species.  If you’re a soft SF/fantasy writer like myself, let’s further make these inhabitants human enough and save a lot of really scientific, biological, and physiological explanations.  You’re going to need flora and fauna for this world and they should be familiar but different.  I went all-out in my series, creating an entire galaxy.  In fact, I’ve created two galaxies, plus several planets whose exact location is never really establish.  One place mentioned a lot is the Milky Way, our home turf, but it’s not a very friendly place.  The government is now a Federation, located in Charleston, SC., which became the capitol after the Second Rebellion of the Southern States. (Guess who won?) Earthlings are called Milkies, after the above galaxy and are alternately feared, scorned, or ridiculed, depending on whose doing the fearing, scorning, or ridiculing.  They’re also considered one of the three most sexually aggressive species in the universe, the other two being Arcanians and Felidans, all of whom figure largely in my novels (of course).

People visit Earth but they don’t stay long, so most of my novels take place elsewhere, such as Felida (The Adventures of Sinbad series) and some planets in the Emeraunt Galaxy (The Chronicles of Riven the Heretic, The kan Ingan Archives).  Their sun is the Sun of Galen, and there are eight planets plus several in a place called The Fringes, so far from the others they’re considered a separate entity, flaunting the laws set up by the central government on the planet Arcanis.  Wars are always being fought in The Fringes, even when the rest of the galaxy is at peace.  Each planet in the Emeraunt has its own government (autocratic, monarchies, or near-democracies) but they’re all under the control of Arcanis and its ruler, the Margrave who heads the Peace Force, the enforcers of the galaxy.

That’s my setting.  Once you’ve got yours, allow it to grow and evolve.  Don’t keep it static, unless you’re writing a single stand-alone.

2.      FLORA AND FAUNA… Animals and flowers as well as the natural resources of a planet play an important part.  In my novel Exile, there a little planetoid called Pyras, rich in something called diamontium, the strongest element in this specific galaxy, and also a creature is endangering the men sent to mine that element.  Described by one as a “cross between a grizzly and a tree sloth” these golden-furred jalbeays are slow-moving, but, having acquired a taste for human flesh, extremely deadly.  My hero and his best friend nearly loose a battle with a jalbeay and it cements their friendship even more.  In Three Moon Station, set on Tritomas-2, there’s a little wild boar called a waity, not dangerous at all, because it thrives on leftovers and the settlers use it as a living garbage disposal.  They also ride animals similar to horses but with eight inch horns and clawed feet like dog’s paws, 

There are trees which drop their fruit if asked politely, and apples which are red when unripe, turning green as they mature.  They have no cores and everything but the stem is eaten.  On Felida, they don’t have potatoes but a vegetable called the caric comes pretty close, and is a staple.  As for flora…how about the liana, a golden vine that wraps itself around all the other trees and plants in reach and slowly strangles them, taking over the environment…much as the cadena de amor does on Earth.  Or—and here’s a good one—the parsilflower, whose fragrance is an aphrodesiac and it’s illegal to wear its perfume.

One’s catalogue of the plant and animal life in a place is limited only by the imagination.

3.      SOCIAL MORES… Sexual, political, and religious customs can also be given each writer’s own special twist, and as mild or as wild as you wish them to be.  Just don’t go overboard and horrify the reader’s sensibilities so badly he’ll drop the book and never pick it up again.  In the Emeraunt,  Arcanians guard their daughters well and use them to gain political power through marriage.  Conversely, they encourage their sons into sexual activity as soon as possible.  They’re very custom-bound, adhering to beliefs millennia old. Their government consists of a margrave, his advisors, called the Tripod, and an Assembly of Peers.  They began as barbarians but at present, in my series, have reached an era resembling the English Regency/Victorian Era, where women are relatively secluded, men run the show, and any overt emotion is well-controlled while vice runs rampant in the background.  Contradictorily, they use horses and carriages as transportation to conserve energy onplanet but also have ships for interplanetary flight and a very well-armed and aggressive space force which is always ready to be launched and looking for a fight.

Patterning your fictional government (or an animal one) after a real one is always good.  I’ve one planet where the entire social structure is copied from that of the hornet.

4.      THE PEOPLE… There won’t be much of a story without people, whether they’re inhabitants or merely visitors.  Their status is important.  Visitors are going to view a place differently from the way inhabitants do and this can be a good way to make social commentary.  It’s better to make the natives close enough in appearance to the visitors for comfort, but having characteristics, both physically and socially that are different enough to make interesting contrasts and/or confrontations.  In The kan Ingan Archives, set on the planet Arcanis, the people are in rigid castes and divided into three types, the Old Bloods (whom some believe to have once been aliens) the peasants (the natives) and the kan Ingans (barbarians who came in, took over and have ruled for three millennia).  Each is physically different but they all have a few things in common.  They have perfect teeth due to certain oral enzymes, so dentists don’t exist on Arcanis.  In fact, the idea of a doctor who treats teeth is considered absurd.  Chocolate is unknown.  Arcanians who’ve come into contact with this candy have been proven to be allergic to it.  Give an Arcanian a chocolate-covered cherry and he’ll become intoxicated.  Have him eat three and he’ll go into a possibly terminal coma.  Arcanians only wear undergarments during winter months.  One Earthling who lived among them was considered odd because she insisted on wearing underwear year-round.

On Felida, the people are descended from feline ancestors.  They’re seven feet tall and resemble two-legged lions with human features.  They don’t eat cooked food and have a social system resembling that of a pride of lions.  Imagine the possibilities when a human is accepted into their midst and takes a female as his mate.  (It happens in The Adventures of Sinbad, and the entire series is the story of their “cub” and his adjustment to living as a hybrid.)

The settlers on Tritomis-2 live much as they did in America’s Old West.  They even have rustlers, and their justice is just as swift as it was back then.  I’ve even one planet where the “people” look like nothing more than furry little poodles, except that they’re telepathic!

You can make your “people” anyway you want, but once again, a word of caution.  If they have any habit which may be repulsive, better have something to off-set it, or make a few of the inhabitants descry and attempt to change it to ease the reader’s shock.

And that, as they say, is that.  Not Everything You Need to Know to Create a World, but a few things to consider when making your own.  Sounds easy, huh?  (Please note the sarcasm.)  I thought it was, but the more I delved into my characters’ lives, the more complicated it became.  With every novel, I discover some new facet of alien life which I had mentioned somewhere along the line or which insinuated itself in when I wasn’t paying attention.  Then, I not only have to explain but to make certain that explanation is reasonable enough to be accepted. And I don’t doubt there will be more to come in the next one.

World-creating is a complicated building, but I’m Toni V. Sweeney, Creator of Worlds…and I’m up to the task.  You can be, too!


*(Special thanks to ABC, Leslie Stevens, and www.wikipedia.com for supplying this information)


MY LORD AX
When the king of the Nords wishes to end the generations-old war with a marriage between his daughter and the Purdhan ruler’s son, Vicomte François faces a problem:  His son is only seven  years old.  Then His Majesty comes up with a clever solution…

He betroths his illegitimate son and warlord, Ax, to the Nord King’s daughter, and peace is ensured…except for one minor detail...

Neither Ax nor Princess Astrid want to get married, especially to each other.


EXCERPT:

Frans was silent a moment longer, reading for the fourth time the last paragraph of the Nordish sovereign’s letter. “He calls me a barbarian. How can he do that? Purdha has artists and poets, don’t we? And beautiful paintings and works of literature as well.”
“Well, it’s known we’re not as prone to give in to our sensibilities as some,” Ax answered mildly. “I’ve never yet seen a Purdhanese warrior go into spasms of delight over a sunset or the whorls in a chrysanthemum’s petals, and generally the few times any have picked up a brush was to paint a roof with tar. I think you’re hedging, Sire. Surely being called a barbarian isn’t what’s upset you so.”
Franz took a deep breath, holding it for so long Ax began to worry, then let it out in a violent whoosh. That startled the warlord. The last time he remembered his father doing that was when he’d given twelve-year-old Axel a well-deserved strapping for neglecting his sword and armor after a training session.
“He wishes a marriage between one of his daughters and my son!” he burst out, throwing the letter on his desk.
“That’s absurd.” Now, Ax looked angry. “More than absurd. Ridiculous. Both his daughters are adults, aren’t they?”
“One’s eighteen, the other near seventeen, as I recollect.” Frans nodded.
“Hm. Near to being old maids, so obviously he’s desperate to be rid of them. Well, this is a marriage that can never be,” Ax decided, dogmatically. “Geofri’s only seven. It’ll be years yet before he’s even interested in females and a few more before he can do anything about it.” Abruptly, he mirrored his father’s anger on a less violent scale. “Why, by the time the marriage could be consummated, his wife would be near to middle-age!”
“That Nordish blaggard’s well aware how young Geofri is, and he knows what my reply will be.” Frans was out of his chair now, reaching for the wine decanter. He sloshed wine to the rim of the goblet, then thought better of it and left it sitting on the mantel. “And when I do answer, he’ll bruit it around that he offered peace and I refused, and then I’ll be the villain…the uncouth barbarian villain.” That last was added angrily.
“There must be some way out of this,” Ax said. “You’re as sly-witted as a Nord any day.” He thought about that a moment. “What does his offer say? Exactly?”
Picking up the letter, Frans read aloud the offending paragraph.
“One of his daughters to your son.” Ax repeated the words musingly. “Pity you don’t have another son who’s older. Then there’d be no problem.”
Frans didn’t answer. Ax looked around at his father who was apparently deeply immersed in reading for the fifth or sixth time that same paragraph. Abruptly, the vicomte looked up and smiled. “Sire? What are you thinking?”
“That I do have an older son.”
“No, you don’t,” Ax corrected. “Geofri’s your only…” He stopped as Frans’ smile broadened and he understood. “No. Oh, no…no, no.”
“No mention’s made of a name.” Frans pointed out.
“He doesn’t want to marry his daughter to a bastard.”
“Nor is anything said of legitimacy. You’re royal but for that minor detail. Besides, you’ve a title. He can’t really protest, if it comes to that.”
“I don’t want to get married.” Axel’s handsome face assumed the sullen pout of a petulant child.
“Not even to prevent another war?”
“It’s more liable to start one,” he pointed out. “When Edelrolf learns how he’s been befooled.”
“It’s for Purdha, Axel.” Frans’ tone turned wheedling, the same voice he’d used to coax his son into eating his porridge when Ax was younger. “You love your country, don’t you?”
“Not that much!” Ax replied with a stubbornness similar to that he’d used during those same times. He hated porridge. He was certain he’d hate marriage even more, from what he’d seen of it from observing married couples at Court. He chose to ignore how happy Frans and his countess appeared to be.
“Consider this not a request from your father but an order from your sovereign.”
“I don’t care who it’s from. I won’t do it.” Chin thrust out belligerently, Ax’s face briefly mirrored his father’s so closely no one seeing it would doubt their relationship.
“To refuse to obey a direct order from your liege is treason,” Frans reminded him softly, his own voice taking on a warning note. “Warranting imprisonment at the least.” He didn’t remind Ax of the other punishments available.
“Then arrest me.” Ax waved his arms dramatically. “Wrap me in chains and throw me into the deepest dungeon and find someone else to lead your armies, if you can.” With that defiant statement, he crossed those arms over his chest with a gesture of finality. “I refuse.”
“Not even if I give you something you want in return?”
“You’d bribe me?” He gave his father a wary look. “With what?”
“You’ve often said you feel a warlord, especially a Prime One, should have more than one title after his name.”
“So?”
“The Earl of Anjelu died recently. He was without heirs, so his lands reverted to the Crown. Marry the girl and I’ll make you the new Earl of Anjelu…and of Limieux, also.”
“That’s not fair,” Axel protested. He’d long had his eye on those two provinces and on more than one occasion had none-too-subtly hinted to his father that he wouldn’t mind being their new master if the old Earl, long in ill health, didn’t soon marry and get himself an heir.
“All’s fair in war,” Frans reminded him.
“But I don’t love her!”
“What’s love got to do with it?” Frans looked surprised at his declaration. “You marry the girl, Peace is declared, and as long as you don’t mistreat or kill her, that’s an end to it.”
“Well…when you put it like that…” Ax hesitated, then decided to push his luck. “I’d need one thing more.”
“Name it.” Surprised he appeared to be winning so easily, Frans could afford to be magnanimous.
“A title for Raoul as well.”
Might’ve known he’d be looking out for his best friend, too.  Frans searched his memory for properties he could easily let go. The Crown was always having land returned to its ownership. What choice title could he bestow upon his son’s boon companion? “Désirée’s available. He can have that.”
Ax considered, rapidly weighing the evils of marriage against the good it would bring to two kingdoms, as well as the promised rewards to himself and Raoul. He let his greed tip the scales. “Done.” Then, he added, “If you think you can get away with it.”

My Lord Ax will be available from Class Act Books on November 15.

Toni V. Sweeney was born in the space between the War Between the States and the Gulf War.  She has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains. An accomplished artist as well as writer, she has a degree in Fine Art and a diploma in Graphic Design and produces videos as well as novels.  Toni also writes under the pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone. This November, she will have her 32nd and 33rd novels, My Lord Ax, published by Class Act Books published, and Retribution, published by Double Dragon Publishers.


More information about Toni can be found at:

Twitter:  @tonivsweeney

Publishers:


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
-- Lynda Again
   That's it for today, ladies and gents. I hope you found this post as informative and as enjoyable as I did. 

   Have a Blessed Day!