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Take Me Again by Mackenzie McKade

In Erotica, Mackenzie McKade, Promo on October 31, 2009 at 9:39 am

Take_Me_Again_72_LGTake Me Again

by Mackenzie McKade

Marking one’s territory was never so naughty…

Dolan Crane would love to hate the beautiful new veterinarian who’s homing in on his territory. It’s tough when the flame-haired fantasy come true makes his body burn with just a smile. The smart thing to do is forget about her, so perhaps a threesome arranged by his old college buddy is just what he needs to get her out of his head.

Divorcee Tracy Marx has followed her restless feet to Santa Ysabel to start a new practice–and maybe find someone to take her outside the boundaries of vanilla sex. Instead she finds trouble in the form of a cowboy whose dark, sexy gaze lights her up–and could also destroy any chance of success. The best thing to do is stay far, far away from him.

When Dolan shows up for the promised night of fantasy, he’s shocked to find Tracy has traded her medical bag for a leather bustier and bondage gear. Tracy would like nothing better than to slap that smirk right off Dolan’s face, but the prospect of being sandwiched between two men is impossible to resist–even if one of them is her adversary.

Besides…no one calls her chicken.

Purchase

Excerpt

www.mackenziemckade.com
A taste of the erotic…A measure of daring…A dash of laughter…
MERRY CHRISTMAS, PAIGE – Samhain Publishing, December 1, 2009
BOUND BY DESIRE – Samhain Publishing, Now Available in Print
TAKE ME AGAIN –Samhain Publishing , Now Available
BOUND BY THE PAST – Samhain Publishing, Now Available

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Promo: Desire to Die For by Jessica Lee (with a Naughty Excerpt)

In Jessica Lee, Promo on October 31, 2009 at 7:23 am

Desire to Die For — Avail now from Loose Id

Kenric St. James wants revenge. Three hundred years ago, an ancient female vampire turned him against his will and killed the woman he once loved. He’s spent more than a century building an Enclave of warrior vampires who’ve sworn their allegiance to defend humanity and to eliminate the ancient vampire determined to destroy them all.  After two centuries of denying his body’s needs, and with vengeance finally at hand, the last thing he expected to find was the one woman he burns to claim as his own. If only giving her his love wouldn’t surely mean her death.

Emily Ross is a nurse struggling to start a new life. She’s a survivor, coming off the tail end of an abusive relationship, and the tragic death of her parents. All she desires is time alone to learn who she is without a man and to save the home that holds her heart. The last thing she wants is another controlling, dominant male calling all the shots, in bed and out. Never would she have thought stopping her car one night to save a dying man might change her mind and her life, forever.

Purchase

Excerpt

*Warning: This excerpt is intended for those 18 years or older

Emily shoved the key into the deadbolt for her unit. The heavy fall of boots on the wooden steps behind her told of Kenric’s arrival. She wondered what he thought of her meager apartment accommodations compared to his sprawling mansion. Her gaze wandered to the complex’s faded-brown paneling. It had seen better days. The constant salt of the ocean’s spray in the air played havoc on any dwellings this close to the ocean. Everything in the area appeared much older than its actual years. Her mom’s thirty-year-old condominium complex looked closer to sixty. Mom had loved it here, and Emily loved the memories — the ones that came before her dad had lost his battle with the bottle.

“Come on in — if you wish,” she said, flipping the light switch to the right of the door.

Emily strode through the living area toward her bedroom, talking as she went. “Make yourself at home. I’m going to change my clothes. I won’t be long.” She glanced back and pointed in the direction of the small galley kitchen. “There should be something to drink in the fridge. Oh.” She halted and then turned. “That’s if you drink anything other than – well — you know.” She shrugged, knowing her smile had to look uncomfortable.

“I can drink other things on occasion if I wish, but I don’t necessarily get thirsty.”

He’d parked himself inside the closed front door, leaning against it in that casual, I-have-no-idea-how-sexy-I-look kind of way. The leather jacket he’d slipped on before they’d left and all those midnight waves added to his dark bad-boy aura. Yummy.

“Okay. Well, if you would like something tonight, there should be sweet tea and soda in there.” She backpedaled a couple of paces, then spun and headed down the hall.

Entering her room, she noticed the red light from the answering machine sitting on her nightstand was blinking. She strode over to the table and groaned, knowing the callers were probably the two people she despised most in the world. Bill collectors or Jeff, her ex-fiancé. The thought of either made her want to hurl. Both hounded her constantly for money. She braced herself and pressed play.

Yup, collectors. Including one call from the bank holding the lien on the condo. If they didn’t have her payment soon, she risked foreclosure. Why she ever allowed Jeff Monroe to convince her to borrow so much money using her credit, she’d never understand. She took a deep breath and released it, blowing the bangs out of her eyes.

The next three messages mimicked the first. Payment due immediately. Then she came to Jeff’s. Of course, he’d called. Why the hell would he even think of giving her more a than seventy-two hour break from his bullshit? His deep voice, scratchy from years of smoking, filled the bedroom. “You owe me. Pay up, bitch, or I’ll make sure you wish you did.” The call ended. It was always the same threat.

What made her think she ever loved him? She’d been too young and too desperate for attention. So eager to jump into the arms of the first man who acted as if he wanted to take care of her. Never again. She slammed her finger down on the delete button.

Emily changed into a pair of her own cotton sweats and matching T-shirt. She brushed her teeth and ran a brush through her hair. Kenric had already seen her without makeup, so no sense in going there. Turning off the bathroom light, she grabbed the doorframe and took a calming, deep breath.
He wasn’t in the living room when she returned. Ice clinked against glass in the kitchen. Maybe tonight, he had a taste for something — cold.

“I see you’re thirsty tonight,” Emily said with a nod at the drink in his hand. He stood in the open door of her avocado green refrigerator, pouring a glass of sweet tea.

“No. Actually, I made it for you. You still need to drink a lot of fluids for the next couple of days.”

“Thanks. By the way, here’s my cell number.” Emily held out a slip of paper. She’d jotted it down before leaving the bedroom. Kenric silently moved toward her over the black-and-white tiles.

“How do you do that?”

“Do what?” He stopped in his tracks.

“Move like that?” She pointed to his boots. “Without a sound. It’s spooky. It’s like you’re not really here. I’m looking at you walking toward me, but I can’t hear you.”

“Sorry, I didn’t realize I was doing it.” Suddenly, the sound of his boots returned. The hard soles thumped the floor as he took the final two steps to hand her the tea.

“Thanks for the tea. That was very thoughtful,” she said, reaching for the glass. Her fingers brushed his. He didn’t let go. She glanced up and was instantly captured by the provocative gaze he gave her, overshadowed by his dark eyelashes. A faint smile lifted his lips. She hoped her T-shirt and bra were thick enough to hide the effect he had on her nervous system.

“It was my pleasure,” he said and handed her the glass before he took the piece of paper she held and slipped it into his pocket.

“So, what didn’t you realize you were doing?” Emily crossed her arms over her chest and headed into the living room.

“I imagine I do it without thinking anymore,” Kenric’s deep voice followed her. “We’re able to silence our movements. It’s essential when we need to feed, and when we hunt the ones who enjoy killing. We have the ability to levitate and move without striking the surface. In effect, we glide.”

“Wow, that’s incredible,” Emily said as she took a seat on her overstuffed, brown-and-white checkered couch. “I can see where that would come in handy.” The ice cubes twirled in her tea while she fidgeted with the glass. She glanced up and smiled. “I have to say, though, it’s still spooky.”

He laughed, then added a warm smile. He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall beside the sofa.

“You are so refreshing.”

Man, he curled her toes with the sultry sound of his voice.

“Gabrielle seemed nice.” Emily cringed and took a hurried sip of her tea. Real smooth transition there, girl. You’re not obvious at all.

“Yes, she is.”

She cleared her throat and stared at the ice in her drink. “I noticed she didn’t make the same pledge as Logan and Guerin. She is part of the Enclave, right?”

“Elle is human. She works with us, but she’s not an Enclave warrior. She’s been with us and under my protection for five years now and is an invaluable part of our team.”

“She’s human. I didn’t realize. She’s under your protection too — like me.” Wonder how many beautiful woman he thought needed his private security services? “Are you two close?” She chanced a glance from under her lashes. He had a big fat grin on his face.

“What? Why are you grinning at me like that?” She had to resist the urge to kick him in the shin and knock that smile right off his mug.

“Are you jealous, Wildflower?” He moved away from the wall and came closer. With the tips of his fingers, he lifted her chin. “She’s family. Like a sister who I care a great deal for. But that’s all there is. And in case it’s the next question coming, you are the only woman whom I’ve placed under my protection outside of the Enclave.”

Emily pulled her chin free. “Well, it’s nice to hear that you care so much about each other. And just so that we’re clear here.” She hesitated a second to make sure she had his complete attention. “I’m not jealous.”

She leaned forward to sit her tea on the coffee table — and missed. The glass hit the floor and shattered. Tea and shards of glass flew in all directions across the pale hardwood floor.

“Oh my God!” Emily jumped to her feet and bolted into the kitchen. After snatching a towel from the counter, she hurried back to the wet mess, forgetting she was barefoot.

“Ouch!” Damn.

“Be careful.” Kenric grabbed hold of her while she hobbled on one foot. “Here, let me help,” he said, tugging at the dishtowel.

“I’ve got it.” She yanked the rag free and dropped to the floor, mopping at the sticky mess. “If I’m capable of creating this disaster, I think I can clean it up.” God, she was so embarrassed.

“Damn.” Emily jerked her hand from the soaked towel. She peered at the center of her palm.

“Let me see.” Kenric knelt down beside her and wrapped his hand around her wrist.

“I’m the nurse here. I’m all right.” Emily tried to pull free from his grasp.

“Let me help you. You’re shaking — it’s okay.” He held her hand steady.

How did he do it? Make everything better with his gentle words and the touch of his hand? She quit her struggles and allowed him to help. She peered over his shoulder as he worked the glass free from her palm. He ran the pad of his finger across the surface. A small drop of blood formed in the center of her hand. Before she could react, he lowered his head.

His lips touched the sensitive center. She gasped. The warmth of his tongue brushed across the wound. She nearly came unglued. Christ, how could something so simple feel so erotic? From under his lashes, his pale eyes met hers. Without words, his gaze alone told her he enjoyed her taste.

“Let me take care of you,” he said, lowering her hand. He reached for her foot.

She opened her mouth to protest, but no sound emerged.

He pulled the shard free, and then his warm lips met the sole of her foot. A whimper came out of nowhere. That had to be her. His tongue moved to her ankle, and a moan filled the room. Oh yeah, that was her.

Kenric couldn’t fight back the growl that rolled from his own throat. She tasted like sin, and he’d lost his soul to her flavor. Never would he get enough of her. He’d healed her foot, and now he wanted more. Pushing up the leg of her sweats, he sampled the wicked sweetness hidden there.
The sound of her pleasure-filled moans drew his attention, and her passionate gaze blasted the remaining lock off his control.

“Fuck.” Such an appropriate curse for what he had in mind.

He lowered her leg and eased to his full height. The vampire and the man were both consumed with the desire to claim. Reaching down, he grasped her arms and lifted her away from the glass scattered across the floor. In two strides, he had her back pressed against the wall, his body against hers. A surprised gasp escaped her lips, the air brushing against his cheek, stoking his fire higher. He caressed her face, drinking in the desire from her hazel eyes. The hard points of her nipples dug into his chest with each of her labored breaths. He groaned and lowered his mouth to hers.

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Jessica Lee's Desire to Die For (with a Naughty Excerpt)

In Jessica Lee, Promo on October 31, 2009 at 7:23 am

desire_to_die_forDesire to Die For — Avail now from Loose Id

Kenric St. James wants revenge. Three hundred years ago, an ancient female vampire turned him against his will and killed the woman he once loved. He’s spent more than a century building an Enclave of warrior vampires who’ve sworn their allegiance to defend humanity and to eliminate the ancient vampire determined to destroy them all.  After two centuries of denying his body’s needs, and with vengeance finally at hand, the last thing he expected to find was the one woman he burns to claim as his own. If only giving her his love wouldn’t surely mean her death.

Emily Ross is a nurse struggling to start a new life. She’s a survivor, coming off the tail end of an abusive relationship, and the tragic death of her parents. All she desires is time alone to learn who she is without a man and to save the home that holds her heart. The last thing she wants is another controlling, dominant male calling all the shots, in bed and out. Never would she have thought stopping her car one night to save a dying man might change her mind and her life, forever.

Purchase

 

Excerpt 

*Warning: This excerpt is intended for those 18 years or older

Emily shoved the key into the deadbolt for her unit. The heavy fall of boots on the wooden steps behind her told of Kenric’s arrival. She wondered what he thought of her meager apartment accommodations compared to his sprawling mansion. Her gaze wandered to the complex’s faded-brown paneling. It had seen better days. The constant salt of the ocean’s spray in the air played havoc on any dwellings this close to the ocean. Everything in the area appeared much older than its actual years. Her mom’s thirty-year-old condominium complex looked closer to sixty. Mom had loved it here, and Emily loved the memories — the ones that came before her dad had lost his battle with the bottle.

“Come on in — if you wish,” she said, flipping the light switch to the right of the door.

Emily strode through the living area toward her bedroom, talking as she went. “Make yourself at home. I’m going to change my clothes. I won’t be long.” She glanced back and pointed in the direction of the small galley kitchen. “There should be something to drink in the fridge. Oh.” She halted and then turned. “That’s if you drink anything other than – well — you know.” She shrugged, knowing her smile had to look uncomfortable.

“I can drink other things on occasion if I wish, but I don’t necessarily get thirsty.”

He’d parked himself inside the closed front door, leaning against it in that casual, I-have-no-idea-how-sexy-I-look kind of way. The leather jacket he’d slipped on before they’d left and all those midnight waves added to his dark bad-boy aura. Yummy.

“Okay. Well, if you would like something tonight, there should be sweet tea and soda in there.” She backpedaled a couple of paces, then spun and headed down the hall.

Entering her room, she noticed the red light from the answering machine sitting on her nightstand was blinking. She strode over to the table and groaned, knowing the callers were probably the two people she despised most in the world. Bill collectors or Jeff, her ex-fiancé. The thought of either made her want to hurl. Both hounded her constantly for money. She braced herself and pressed play.

Yup, collectors. Including one call from the bank holding the lien on the condo. If they didn’t have her payment soon, she risked foreclosure. Why she ever allowed Jeff Monroe to convince her to borrow so much money using her credit, she’d never understand. She took a deep breath and released it, blowing the bangs out of her eyes.

The next three messages mimicked the first. Payment due immediately. Then she came to Jeff’s. Of course, he’d called. Why the hell would he even think of giving her more a than seventy-two hour break from his bullshit? His deep voice, scratchy from years of smoking, filled the bedroom. “You owe me. Pay up, bitch, or I’ll make sure you wish you did.” The call ended. It was always the same threat.

What made her think she ever loved him? She’d been too young and too desperate for attention. So eager to jump into the arms of the first man who acted as if he wanted to take care of her. Never again. She slammed her finger down on the delete button.

Emily changed into a pair of her own cotton sweats and matching T-shirt. She brushed her teeth and ran a brush through her hair. Kenric had already seen her without makeup, so no sense in going there. Turning off the bathroom light, she grabbed the doorframe and took a calming, deep breath.
He wasn’t in the living room when she returned. Ice clinked against glass in the kitchen. Maybe tonight, he had a taste for something — cold.

“I see you’re thirsty tonight,” Emily said with a nod at the drink in his hand. He stood in the open door of her avocado green refrigerator, pouring a glass of sweet tea.

“No. Actually, I made it for you. You still need to drink a lot of fluids for the next couple of days.”

“Thanks. By the way, here’s my cell number.” Emily held out a slip of paper. She’d jotted it down before leaving the bedroom. Kenric silently moved toward her over the black-and-white tiles.

“How do you do that?”

“Do what?” He stopped in his tracks.

“Move like that?” She pointed to his boots. “Without a sound. It’s spooky. It’s like you’re not really here. I’m looking at you walking toward me, but I can’t hear you.”

“Sorry, I didn’t realize I was doing it.” Suddenly, the sound of his boots returned. The hard soles thumped the floor as he took the final two steps to hand her the tea.

“Thanks for the tea. That was very thoughtful,” she said, reaching for the glass. Her fingers brushed his. He didn’t let go. She glanced up and was instantly captured by the provocative gaze he gave her, overshadowed by his dark eyelashes. A faint smile lifted his lips. She hoped her T-shirt and bra were thick enough to hide the effect he had on her nervous system.

“It was my pleasure,” he said and handed her the glass before he took the piece of paper she held and slipped it into his pocket.

“So, what didn’t you realize you were doing?” Emily crossed her arms over her chest and headed into the living room.

“I imagine I do it without thinking anymore,” Kenric’s deep voice followed her. “We’re able to silence our movements. It’s essential when we need to feed, and when we hunt the ones who enjoy killing. We have the ability to levitate and move without striking the surface. In effect, we glide.”

“Wow, that’s incredible,” Emily said as she took a seat on her overstuffed, brown-and-white checkered couch. “I can see where that would come in handy.” The ice cubes twirled in her tea while she fidgeted with the glass. She glanced up and smiled. “I have to say, though, it’s still spooky.”

He laughed, then added a warm smile. He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall beside the sofa.

“You are so refreshing.”

Man, he curled her toes with the sultry sound of his voice.

“Gabrielle seemed nice.” Emily cringed and took a hurried sip of her tea. Real smooth transition there, girl. You’re not obvious at all.

“Yes, she is.”

She cleared her throat and stared at the ice in her drink. “I noticed she didn’t make the same pledge as Logan and Guerin. She is part of the Enclave, right?”

“Elle is human. She works with us, but she’s not an Enclave warrior. She’s been with us and under my protection for five years now and is an invaluable part of our team.”

“She’s human. I didn’t realize. She’s under your protection too — like me.” Wonder how many beautiful woman he thought needed his private security services? “Are you two close?” She chanced a glance from under her lashes. He had a big fat grin on his face.

“What? Why are you grinning at me like that?” She had to resist the urge to kick him in the shin and knock that smile right off his mug.

“Are you jealous, Wildflower?” He moved away from the wall and came closer. With the tips of his fingers, he lifted her chin. “She’s family. Like a sister who I care a great deal for. But that’s all there is. And in case it’s the next question coming, you are the only woman whom I’ve placed under my protection outside of the Enclave.”

Emily pulled her chin free. “Well, it’s nice to hear that you care so much about each other. And just so that we’re clear here.” She hesitated a second to make sure she had his complete attention. “I’m not jealous.”

She leaned forward to sit her tea on the coffee table — and missed. The glass hit the floor and shattered. Tea and shards of glass flew in all directions across the pale hardwood floor.

“Oh my God!” Emily jumped to her feet and bolted into the kitchen. After snatching a towel from the counter, she hurried back to the wet mess, forgetting she was barefoot.

“Ouch!” Damn.

“Be careful.” Kenric grabbed hold of her while she hobbled on one foot. “Here, let me help,” he said, tugging at the dishtowel.

“I’ve got it.” She yanked the rag free and dropped to the floor, mopping at the sticky mess. “If I’m capable of creating this disaster, I think I can clean it up.” God, she was so embarrassed.

“Damn.” Emily jerked her hand from the soaked towel. She peered at the center of her palm.

“Let me see.” Kenric knelt down beside her and wrapped his hand around her wrist.

“I’m the nurse here. I’m all right.” Emily tried to pull free from his grasp.

“Let me help you. You’re shaking — it’s okay.” He held her hand steady.

How did he do it? Make everything better with his gentle words and the touch of his hand? She quit her struggles and allowed him to help. She peered over his shoulder as he worked the glass free from her palm. He ran the pad of his finger across the surface. A small drop of blood formed in the center of her hand. Before she could react, he lowered his head.

His lips touched the sensitive center. She gasped. The warmth of his tongue brushed across the wound. She nearly came unglued. Christ, how could something so simple feel so erotic? From under his lashes, his pale eyes met hers. Without words, his gaze alone told her he enjoyed her taste.

“Let me take care of you,” he said, lowering her hand. He reached for her foot.

She opened her mouth to protest, but no sound emerged.

He pulled the shard free, and then his warm lips met the sole of her foot. A whimper came out of nowhere. That had to be her. His tongue moved to her ankle, and a moan filled the room. Oh yeah, that was her.

Kenric couldn’t fight back the growl that rolled from his own throat. She tasted like sin, and he’d lost his soul to her flavor. Never would he get enough of her. He’d healed her foot, and now he wanted more. Pushing up the leg of her sweats, he sampled the wicked sweetness hidden there.
The sound of her pleasure-filled moans drew his attention, and her passionate gaze blasted the remaining lock off his control.

“Fuck.” Such an appropriate curse for what he had in mind.

He lowered her leg and eased to his full height. The vampire and the man were both consumed with the desire to claim. Reaching down, he grasped her arms and lifted her away from the glass scattered across the floor. In two strides, he had her back pressed against the wall, his body against hers. A surprised gasp escaped her lips, the air brushing against his cheek, stoking his fire higher. He caressed her face, drinking in the desire from her hazel eyes. The hard points of her nipples dug into his chest with each of her labored breaths. He groaned and lowered his mouth to hers.

Read more by joining my newsletter group here

Promo: Instinctive (An Eternal Pleasure Novel) by Cathryn Fox

In Cathryn Fox, Promo on October 31, 2009 at 7:00 am

Instinctive: An Eternal Pleasure Novel

NAL Trade (October 6, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0451227948
ISBN-13: 978-0451227942

Read an Excerpt

In Fox’s titillating new series we enter Serene, a supernatural playground where sexy shape shifters live behind the white picket fences…

Free spirited Jaclyn Vasenty is about to inherit a cosmetics empire, yet her scandalous personal history may ruin her chance for a corporate take-over. Saying goodbye to her naughty ways, she moves into a quaint gated community in Serene, New Hampshire. But these gates are locked at sunset…

The town’s dark sensuality rocks Jaclyn’s insatiable appetite to the core—and stirs desires that are… inhuman. That’s because Serene is home to demons, witches, vampires, lycans, and panthers, for whom primal exploration comes naturally. Especially for shape shifter Slyck, the cunning panther who’s pushing Jaclyn to the brink of erotic possibilities and making her feel wildly…feral. As tension between species rises, Jaclyn learns she must draw on all her feminine wiles and join forces with Slyck if she wants to make it out alive.

Cathryn Fox's Instinctive: An Eternal Pleasure Novel

In Cathryn Fox, Promo on October 31, 2009 at 7:00 am

instinctiveInstinctive: An Eternal Pleasure Novel

NAL Trade (October 6, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0451227948
ISBN-13: 978-0451227942

Read an Excerpt

“Fox’s tale of paranormal beings and primal exploration lurking under the surface of a quaint New England town is a winner! The strong heroine and hot panther hero are a combustible combination. This book is hot enough to steam up the windows and exciting enough that you’ll ruin your manicure.” — Romantic Times Magazine

In Fox’s titillating new series we enter Serene, a supernatural playground where sexy shape shifters live behind the white picket fences…

Free spirited Jaclyn Vasenty is about to inherit a cosmetics empire, yet her scandalous personal history may ruin her chance for a corporate take-over. Saying goodbye to her naughty ways, she moves into a quaint gated community in Serene, New Hampshire. But these gates are locked at sunset…

The town’s dark sensuality rocks Jaclyn’s insatiable appetite to the core—and stirs desires that are… inhuman. That’s because Serene is home to demons, witches, vampires, lycans, and panthers, for whom primal exploration comes naturally. Especially for shape shifter Slyck, the cunning panther who’s pushing Jaclyn to the brink of erotic possibilities and making her feel wildly…feral. As tension between species rises, Jaclyn learns she must draw on all her feminine wiles and join forces with Slyck if she wants to make it out alive.

Karin Tabke’s Master of Craving

In contests, FREE READS, Karin Tabke, Promo on October 30, 2009 at 9:00 am

craving

By Karin Tabke

Pocket Star

Copyright © 2009 Karin Tabke
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781439102572

 

The Blood Sword Legacy
Eight knights bound by a brotherhood forged in hell claim their legacies the only way they can: by right of arms, by right of victory, by right of conquest.

Most of England has submitted to King William, but Wales refuses to yield. The King’s trusted Blood Swords are unable to prevail, and while Stefan de Valrey is left unconscious on the battlefield, his sworn brothers are captured. Despite terribile injuries, Stefan vows to liberate them. Even rescuing a delicately beautiful — and naked — maiden from peril cannot deter him, for the silver-eyed Arianrhod is a Welsh princess, a hostage Stefan can exchange for his brothers…so long as Arian remains as pure as when he met her. But that is a constraint Stefan finds harder to honor with every passing day.

When the scowling knight slings her across his saddle, Arian knows she should fix all her thoughts on escape. But Arian has never before experienced the deep, soul-changing desire that Stefan arouses with merely a glance. Breaking their vows could set two kingdoms ablaze — can they control the sweet, terrible burning between them?

Purchase

Excerpt

Master of Craving


ONE

August 1067, Battle of Hereford, England

Thick air settled like a sodden mantle upon the rising heat of the summer morning. The dusky blue sky above hung low and heavy, promising rain. Great black buzzards sat patiently high up in the oak and ash trees, as if summoned by the banshees to come and collect the dead. And there would be many souls to collect this day.

From where Stefan de Valrey sat upon his mighty warhorse Fallon, he had a clear view of the valley below, the forest that edged it, and the Black Mountains that rose behind it like great slumbering giants. Behind him rose the gray stone of Hereford Castle, not yet complete. Before him, a respectable showing of soldiers worked feverishly, fortifying the castle defenses. Behind the castle walls, a greater force stood, several garrisons of ready Norman soldiers, and surrounding them, high upon the ramparts, hundreds of seasoned archers.

Far off in the distance, a sea of standards mingled in a tapestry of colors, as both Welsh and Saxon, unified against Normandy, marched in a steady cadence straight toward them. Though they were leagues away, their intention was clear. Like a swarm of locusts, they burned a wide swath of destruction behind them. Their destination: Hereford Castle.

But they would be hard-pressed to breach the stalwart fortress and the seasoned knights who waited behind the stone walls. Of that Stefan was sure. ‘Twas for that simple reason he and his men were summoned by William fitz Osbern, the Norman Earl of Hereford. He had insisted that his cousin the king, William the Conqueror, send his most highly trained guard, les morts, to fight beside him against the defiant Saxon, Earl Edric, and the two Welsh kings, Rhiwallon and Bleddyn, who came with hopes of slaying Normans, plundering the countryside and sending a message to Normandy that they would never submit.

Stefan’s lip curled in a snarl. Fools! All of them! The Conqueror could not be defeated! The Welsh would regret their decision to ally with Edric. William dealt harshly with any man who thwarted him. Stefan checked his anger as his wrath mounted. For he learned years ago never to go into battle any way but completely composed. It had kept him alive all of his eight and twenty years; it would keep him alive this day.

In a silent salute, he touched his mailed fingertips to his helm and nodded ever so slightly toward the encroaching horde. A worthy opponent, no doubt. But there was no doubt in Stefan’s mind who would be the victor at the end of the day. And the day, but a handful of hours old, promised a worthy exchange. Even now, despite the vastness of yonder army, and the activity that accompanied them, it was eerily quiet. ‘Twas a sensation Stefan relished: the deadly calm before all hell broke lose.

“The Welsh and Saxons grow bolder each day!” Stefan called to his brother Blood Swords. His eyes narrowed beneath his helm as he turned to his left. Rohan, Warner, and Thorin, the bastard son of the late Norse king Harald Hardrada, nodded in unison, their narrowed gazes focused where his had just been. Stefan looked to his right, to Ioan, Wulfson, Rorick, and Rhys, their faces mirroring his own. Each of them sat astride a great black warhorse, each of them mailed in black, each of them weaponed with bow, arrow, sword, and lance, and Thorin, as always, fondled the handle of his great battle-ax, Beowulf.

Stefan himself fondled the leather-wrapped hilt of his sword. Aye, many would die upon its honed edges this day. Instead of apprehension, excitement filled him as it always did before battle. ‘Twas what drove him, ’twas his life, his purpose. He was not a gentle man, but then, neither was war gentle, nor the men beside him he called brother. All warriors at heart, they would die as they lived, by the sword.

He turned his attention back to the oncoming force. Most men would have realized they were outnumbered and fled across the drawbridge, calling for the portcullis to be dropped and prepared for a siege, but not Stefan, nor his brothers-in-arms. His gaze swept just ahead to the wall of Norman soldiers, then over his right shoulder to the high ramparts of Hereford Castle, to the archers who stood at the ready. Fitz Osbern himself would command from above, while Stefan had been given the command of the knights. When the enemy was within the longest range of the archers, a hailstorm of arrows would rain upon them. Once they had been softened, the archers would adjust and continue their barrage into the forest, whilst the foot soldiers marched forward flanked by a wall of steel and horseflesh. Then, and only when the heat of battle reached its zenith, hell’s fury would be unleashed when the Blood Swords gave the command to their destriers to engage. Once afield, any living soul that crossed their path would pray for a quick and painless death.

It was a familiar routine, and one Stefan enjoyed immensely, for when it was the Blood Swords’ turn, they faced what was left of the enemy’s elite, and though there were none more fearsome than they, Stefan never felt good about slaying an ill-matched opponent. So, he was content to await his turn.

Fallon tossed his head, champing on his bit. Stefan patted the great horse on the side of the neck. “Patience, lad, we shall play soon enough.”

“Richard is a fool of an overlord here.” Warner seethed, “His heavy hand has brought this upon us today.”

“Aye,” Stefan agreed. “His greed has set this war into motion. Had fitz Osbern paid more attention to his ambitious vassal, we would not be in such a precarious position.”

“Despite Richard’s arrogance,” Rohan rumbled. “Edric is a madman to thwart William! He will lose all.”

“More hides for William to take for his loyal vassals, eh, Stefan?” Wulfson asked.

Stefan’s heart thudded in excitement against his chest at the mention of land. He nodded. “You and Rohan have done well for yourselves. ‘Tis land we all seek, Wulf. With mine, I will breed the finest horses in Christendom!”

“Hah!” Rorick chortled. “What of a wife?” Stefan scowled. He preferred the company of his horses over women. Horses were loyal to their master. Women were not. He’d learned the lesson well as a young man, from a noblewoman who had not only given her body to him but pledged her undying love and then her troth, only to take it back at his sire’s refusal to acknowledge him. The day she married a wealthy Saxon noble had been the day he sold his sword to the highest bidder and swore that the day he took a wife it would be on his terms alone. “Nay, I am not like Wulf and Rohan. I prefer my solitude. And well you know I have no trust for the fairer of the sexes.”

Rorick reached over and slapped him on the back. “Aye, I feel your pain, brother. But you must admit, there is no sweeter ride than between the soft thighs of a maid.”

Stefan smiled: a rare gesture. “Agreed.” He focused back on the gathering army below and scowled. His heart continued to thud against his chest, but not because of thoughts of a soft ride on a fair damsel. “More swarm.”

“Look.” Thorin pointed toward the western horizon and the great billows of black smoke that rose up into the thick air behind the encroaching army. A sultry breeze rose up and caressed Stefan’s cheek, like a woman after a robust session of lovemaking. He grunted at the thought.

“They are scourging all of Herefordshire,” Wulfson muttered.

Stefan nodded, and leveled his lance. “Aye, and they will pay handsomely for the privilege.” He turned his horse and gestured for his men to follow. “If we are to beat the Welsh we must do more than soften them with arrows and charge them in the open. If we wait for them to come close to the castle walls, by their sheer numbers they can pin us and hold us at a gross disadvantage. Asiege is not in our best interest. We must find a way to destroy them en masse before they reach the outer limits of the castle grounds.”

The Blood Swords nodded and came together as one, and as they were wont to do, they devised a treacherous plan of action.

Several hours later, Stefan stood with his brothers high on the rampart walls of Hereford Castle. “If your plan does not work, Valrey, your men will die this day,” William fitz Osbern said flatly.

Stefan turned to the Norman cousin of the Conqueror and curbed the sneer from his lips. Greed, not honor, drove the bastard. “Time will tell.” And as the words left Stefan’s mouth the first standard poked through the wood at the edge of the wide meadow surrounding the castle. He smiled tightly and softly said, “Now watch and learn.”

Fitz Osbern moved to the edge of the stone rampart and stood with Stefan and his brothers, watching as Welsh and Saxon approached.

When the wide swath, more than thirty men deep, cleared the forest edge and marched into the open field, Stefan raised his hand and a loud horn blew. All at once, score after score of shallow blinds popped up from the meadow ground and Norman soldiers burst onto the field, stabbing and hacking the enemy taking them completely by surprise. Confusion reigned amongst the Welsh and Saxon forces. Stefan grinned.

Lying low in the grass farther back, a deadly band of archers stood and let loose on the enemy, then dropped back to their hiding places amongst the tall grass. Stefan raised his hand again, the horn sounded, and the Norman soldiers dropped and rolled, disappearing beneath the thatched blinds just as quickly as they had popped up. As the Welsh army scattered in confusion, the nearly two hundred Norman archers facing the battlefield just outside the castle walls let loose with another hailstorm of arrows. Screams and curses tore across the field. Another barrage of arrows followed, the reward more screams and, now, wild panic. Stefan raised his hand again and the horn blew once more. The blinds opened up, the soldiers emerged, stabbing and hacking at the enemy. And as before, just as quickly as they appeared, they vanished, and the ground was still. The scene replayed itself out repeatedly until the enemy was able to stabilize themselves and pull back.

Stefan frowned. Before they regrouped, for every Welsh and Saxon soldier who fell, three replaced him.

“Lower the bridge and send the first wave of soldiers!” Fitz Osbern called down to his captain, who waited in the bailey. The huge gate slowly lifted and the heavy bridge lowered. Nearly half of the garrisons charged out to meet the enemy.

“Send the first cavalry group!” Stefan called out. He watched as the archers continued to land their arrows just ahead of the Norman foot soldiers. As the regrouped Welsh and Saxon army came into view, Stefan cautiously watched, and his concern grew. Despite the scores of knights engaging alongside the foot soldiers, and the continued onslaught of arrows into the forest, the Normans on the field began to falter.

“Instruct the archers to shoot into the forest, to stay the flow!” Stefan called to fitz Osbern .

Fitz Osbern scowled, not liking Stefan’s interference.

“Do it now!” Stefan commanded.

The command was given, and the result was immediate. With the flow of soldiers staunched, the Normans, sorely outnumbered, gained the time to do what they did best. Fight.

As the battle raged, Stefan watched, his hand gripping and ungripping the leather hilt of his sword. He smiled as he noticed each one of the Blood Swords fondle their hilts as well. They could not help it. ‘Twas in their blood.

Stefan turned his attention back to the battle scene playing out before him. The archer’s cache of arrows had grown dangerously low, and so the hailstorm into the forest edge was not so quick or heavy. The Welsh took advantage of it. They broke the Norman line, and when they did, fitz Osbern ‘s men began to break ranks.

“They falter!” Stefan cried. “To horse, men!” The Blood Swords followed him down the narrow stone stairway to the bailey where their horses awaited them.

” ‘Tis too early!” Fitz Osbern yelled after them.

Stefan turned on his heel and looked up at the Earl.

“If we do not go to rally the men and show them we can win the day, all will be lost!” He turned and hurried to his horse.

When the portcullis slowly raised, the creaking sound of the turning chain on wheel overriding the din of battle, the eight knights sat astride, four abreast, a most fearsome sight. Stefan, flanked by Thorin on his left and Rorick and Warner to his right, was followed up by Wulfson, Rohan, Ioan, and Rhys at his back.

The heavy bridge lowered, and before it hit dirt, the eight black knights, with lances at the ready and battle cries booming across the field, thundered out to meet their enemy. As the Red Sea had for Moses, so the soldiers before them parted. In a tight formation, they rode out, and with each stride in practiced precision, they moved an inch further apart until they fanned out in a tight semi-circle. In that formation, they began to hack a swath across the field. As bodies fell, a renewed fervor swept through the Norman army.

Each time they regrouped, the Blood Swords raised their battle cry, and like the plague, they destroyed every living being in their path. But as the battle raged, the Blood Swords became the focus of the Welsh kings Rhiwallon and Bleddyn, who watched from the forest edge.

Over time, the tight formation loosened; and when Stefan hacked off the arm of the soldier who would have done the same to him, he cast his gaze to his right, then his left. His brothers were so heavily embedded in the thick of battle that he could not distinguish them.

He turned in his saddle, and with a mighty arc and swipe, separated yet another English head from the shoulders it had rested upon its entire life.

Sweat ran in rivulets down his face, stinging his eyes. He blinked, and spurred Fallon deeper into the fray. His hawk-sharp gaze swept the field of battle, locating then resting on the backs of his fellow Blood Swords up ahead, and he saw they too were as deep into the combined forces of Welsh and Saxon as he. He did not allow the fact that they had become separated to deter him from the task: secure Hereford Castle by any means necessary.

He watched as Wulfson, Ioan, Thorin, Warner, Rohan, and Rorick hacked their way through a gantlet of foot soldiers. As Stefan urged his horse forward, he narrowed his gaze. More Welsh erupted from the surrounding forests to swallow them up. Concern gnawed at his gut. He called to Rhys to his right, and pointed with his bloody sword toward the descending hordes running with the velocity of the wind at his brothers up ahead.

Rhys reined his horse around to flank the right column as it raced forward, while Stefan circled around the left. Both men sheathed their swords and drew their longbows and let loose, one after the other, scores of arrows on the attacking men. Stefan did not have the time to admire his work, as one man fell for each arrow he notched. He did not look to see if Rhys was as accurate, for he knew from years of riding and fighting together there were few who could best the young knight.

Once his quiver was depleted, Stefan reined up the black and drew his broadsword again, and with his other hand he grasped a deadly pike and pulled it from the carcass of a downed Welshman. He twirled it around in his large hand until it fit comfortably in his grip. Then he scanned the horizon for his brothers amongst the hordes. When he could not locate them, for the first time since the eight of them had fled that hellhole of a prison in Iberia, Stefan knew that Madam Death lurked on the horizon for not one of them, but for all of them.

Rage infused him. They would not fall to these cowards!

Stefan cast a quick glance over to Rhys, who had moved in, and as Stefan had, grabbed a pike from a dead man. In his other hand he held his sword at the ready. Each of their mounts was as highly trained in the art of war as were their masters. With both hands free to wield weapons, the knights controlled their mounts with their legs and body movement.

“To the Blood Swords!” Stefan yelled above the din of battle. As they came together, a force of nature to be reckoned with, they let loose their battle cry. The buzzards that waited patiently in the trees above scattered high into the hot summer sky.

And as his brothers came into view, Stefan watched in horror as they were swarmed by scores of Welsh. He roared his fury that he should lose any one of them, and as he hacked his way toward them, the sharp burn of a blade sliced into his thigh. He turned in his saddle to see the flat end of several swords flash before his eyes. Pain seared his face, and then the world went black.

Copyright © 2009 by Karin Tabke

Continues…


Excerpted from Master of Craving by Karin Tabke Copyright © 2009 by Karin Tabke. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Karin Tabke's Master of Craving

In contests, FREE READS, Karin Tabke, Promo on October 30, 2009 at 9:00 am

craving

By Karin Tabke

Pocket Star

Copyright © 2009 Karin Tabke
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781439102572

 

The Blood Sword Legacy
Eight knights bound by a brotherhood forged in hell claim their legacies the only way they can: by right of arms, by right of victory, by right of conquest.

Most of England has submitted to King William, but Wales refuses to yield. The King’s trusted Blood Swords are unable to prevail, and while Stefan de Valrey is left unconscious on the battlefield, his sworn brothers are captured. Despite terribile injuries, Stefan vows to liberate them. Even rescuing a delicately beautiful — and naked — maiden from peril cannot deter him, for the silver-eyed Arianrhod is a Welsh princess, a hostage Stefan can exchange for his brothers…so long as Arian remains as pure as when he met her. But that is a constraint Stefan finds harder to honor with every passing day.

When the scowling knight slings her across his saddle, Arian knows she should fix all her thoughts on escape. But Arian has never before experienced the deep, soul-changing desire that Stefan arouses with merely a glance. Breaking their vows could set two kingdoms ablaze — can they control the sweet, terrible burning between them?

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Excerpt

Master of Craving


ONE

August 1067, Battle of Hereford, England

Thick air settled like a sodden mantle upon the rising heat of the summer morning. The dusky blue sky above hung low and heavy, promising rain. Great black buzzards sat patiently high up in the oak and ash trees, as if summoned by the banshees to come and collect the dead. And there would be many souls to collect this day.

From where Stefan de Valrey sat upon his mighty warhorse Fallon, he had a clear view of the valley below, the forest that edged it, and the Black Mountains that rose behind it like great slumbering giants. Behind him rose the gray stone of Hereford Castle, not yet complete. Before him, a respectable showing of soldiers worked feverishly, fortifying the castle defenses. Behind the castle walls, a greater force stood, several garrisons of ready Norman soldiers, and surrounding them, high upon the ramparts, hundreds of seasoned archers.

Far off in the distance, a sea of standards mingled in a tapestry of colors, as both Welsh and Saxon, unified against Normandy, marched in a steady cadence straight toward them. Though they were leagues away, their intention was clear. Like a swarm of locusts, they burned a wide swath of destruction behind them. Their destination: Hereford Castle.

But they would be hard-pressed to breach the stalwart fortress and the seasoned knights who waited behind the stone walls. Of that Stefan was sure. ‘Twas for that simple reason he and his men were summoned by William fitz Osbern, the Norman Earl of Hereford. He had insisted that his cousin the king, William the Conqueror, send his most highly trained guard, les morts, to fight beside him against the defiant Saxon, Earl Edric, and the two Welsh kings, Rhiwallon and Bleddyn, who came with hopes of slaying Normans, plundering the countryside and sending a message to Normandy that they would never submit.

Stefan’s lip curled in a snarl. Fools! All of them! The Conqueror could not be defeated! The Welsh would regret their decision to ally with Edric. William dealt harshly with any man who thwarted him. Stefan checked his anger as his wrath mounted. For he learned years ago never to go into battle any way but completely composed. It had kept him alive all of his eight and twenty years; it would keep him alive this day.

In a silent salute, he touched his mailed fingertips to his helm and nodded ever so slightly toward the encroaching horde. A worthy opponent, no doubt. But there was no doubt in Stefan’s mind who would be the victor at the end of the day. And the day, but a handful of hours old, promised a worthy exchange. Even now, despite the vastness of yonder army, and the activity that accompanied them, it was eerily quiet. ‘Twas a sensation Stefan relished: the deadly calm before all hell broke lose.

“The Welsh and Saxons grow bolder each day!” Stefan called to his brother Blood Swords. His eyes narrowed beneath his helm as he turned to his left. Rohan, Warner, and Thorin, the bastard son of the late Norse king Harald Hardrada, nodded in unison, their narrowed gazes focused where his had just been. Stefan looked to his right, to Ioan, Wulfson, Rorick, and Rhys, their faces mirroring his own. Each of them sat astride a great black warhorse, each of them mailed in black, each of them weaponed with bow, arrow, sword, and lance, and Thorin, as always, fondled the handle of his great battle-ax, Beowulf.

Stefan himself fondled the leather-wrapped hilt of his sword. Aye, many would die upon its honed edges this day. Instead of apprehension, excitement filled him as it always did before battle. ‘Twas what drove him, ’twas his life, his purpose. He was not a gentle man, but then, neither was war gentle, nor the men beside him he called brother. All warriors at heart, they would die as they lived, by the sword.

He turned his attention back to the oncoming force. Most men would have realized they were outnumbered and fled across the drawbridge, calling for the portcullis to be dropped and prepared for a siege, but not Stefan, nor his brothers-in-arms. His gaze swept just ahead to the wall of Norman soldiers, then over his right shoulder to the high ramparts of Hereford Castle, to the archers who stood at the ready. Fitz Osbern himself would command from above, while Stefan had been given the command of the knights. When the enemy was within the longest range of the archers, a hailstorm of arrows would rain upon them. Once they had been softened, the archers would adjust and continue their barrage into the forest, whilst the foot soldiers marched forward flanked by a wall of steel and horseflesh. Then, and only when the heat of battle reached its zenith, hell’s fury would be unleashed when the Blood Swords gave the command to their destriers to engage. Once afield, any living soul that crossed their path would pray for a quick and painless death.

It was a familiar routine, and one Stefan enjoyed immensely, for when it was the Blood Swords’ turn, they faced what was left of the enemy’s elite, and though there were none more fearsome than they, Stefan never felt good about slaying an ill-matched opponent. So, he was content to await his turn.

Fallon tossed his head, champing on his bit. Stefan patted the great horse on the side of the neck. “Patience, lad, we shall play soon enough.”

“Richard is a fool of an overlord here.” Warner seethed, “His heavy hand has brought this upon us today.”

“Aye,” Stefan agreed. “His greed has set this war into motion. Had fitz Osbern paid more attention to his ambitious vassal, we would not be in such a precarious position.”

“Despite Richard’s arrogance,” Rohan rumbled. “Edric is a madman to thwart William! He will lose all.”

“More hides for William to take for his loyal vassals, eh, Stefan?” Wulfson asked.

Stefan’s heart thudded in excitement against his chest at the mention of land. He nodded. “You and Rohan have done well for yourselves. ‘Tis land we all seek, Wulf. With mine, I will breed the finest horses in Christendom!”

“Hah!” Rorick chortled. “What of a wife?” Stefan scowled. He preferred the company of his horses over women. Horses were loyal to their master. Women were not. He’d learned the lesson well as a young man, from a noblewoman who had not only given her body to him but pledged her undying love and then her troth, only to take it back at his sire’s refusal to acknowledge him. The day she married a wealthy Saxon noble had been the day he sold his sword to the highest bidder and swore that the day he took a wife it would be on his terms alone. “Nay, I am not like Wulf and Rohan. I prefer my solitude. And well you know I have no trust for the fairer of the sexes.”

Rorick reached over and slapped him on the back. “Aye, I feel your pain, brother. But you must admit, there is no sweeter ride than between the soft thighs of a maid.”

Stefan smiled: a rare gesture. “Agreed.” He focused back on the gathering army below and scowled. His heart continued to thud against his chest, but not because of thoughts of a soft ride on a fair damsel. “More swarm.”

“Look.” Thorin pointed toward the western horizon and the great billows of black smoke that rose up into the thick air behind the encroaching army. A sultry breeze rose up and caressed Stefan’s cheek, like a woman after a robust session of lovemaking. He grunted at the thought.

“They are scourging all of Herefordshire,” Wulfson muttered.

Stefan nodded, and leveled his lance. “Aye, and they will pay handsomely for the privilege.” He turned his horse and gestured for his men to follow. “If we are to beat the Welsh we must do more than soften them with arrows and charge them in the open. If we wait for them to come close to the castle walls, by their sheer numbers they can pin us and hold us at a gross disadvantage. Asiege is not in our best interest. We must find a way to destroy them en masse before they reach the outer limits of the castle grounds.”

The Blood Swords nodded and came together as one, and as they were wont to do, they devised a treacherous plan of action.

Several hours later, Stefan stood with his brothers high on the rampart walls of Hereford Castle. “If your plan does not work, Valrey, your men will die this day,” William fitz Osbern said flatly.

Stefan turned to the Norman cousin of the Conqueror and curbed the sneer from his lips. Greed, not honor, drove the bastard. “Time will tell.” And as the words left Stefan’s mouth the first standard poked through the wood at the edge of the wide meadow surrounding the castle. He smiled tightly and softly said, “Now watch and learn.”

Fitz Osbern moved to the edge of the stone rampart and stood with Stefan and his brothers, watching as Welsh and Saxon approached.

When the wide swath, more than thirty men deep, cleared the forest edge and marched into the open field, Stefan raised his hand and a loud horn blew. All at once, score after score of shallow blinds popped up from the meadow ground and Norman soldiers burst onto the field, stabbing and hacking the enemy taking them completely by surprise. Confusion reigned amongst the Welsh and Saxon forces. Stefan grinned.

Lying low in the grass farther back, a deadly band of archers stood and let loose on the enemy, then dropped back to their hiding places amongst the tall grass. Stefan raised his hand again, the horn sounded, and the Norman soldiers dropped and rolled, disappearing beneath the thatched blinds just as quickly as they had popped up. As the Welsh army scattered in confusion, the nearly two hundred Norman archers facing the battlefield just outside the castle walls let loose with another hailstorm of arrows. Screams and curses tore across the field. Another barrage of arrows followed, the reward more screams and, now, wild panic. Stefan raised his hand again and the horn blew once more. The blinds opened up, the soldiers emerged, stabbing and hacking at the enemy. And as before, just as quickly as they appeared, they vanished, and the ground was still. The scene replayed itself out repeatedly until the enemy was able to stabilize themselves and pull back.

Stefan frowned. Before they regrouped, for every Welsh and Saxon soldier who fell, three replaced him.

“Lower the bridge and send the first wave of soldiers!” Fitz Osbern called down to his captain, who waited in the bailey. The huge gate slowly lifted and the heavy bridge lowered. Nearly half of the garrisons charged out to meet the enemy.

“Send the first cavalry group!” Stefan called out. He watched as the archers continued to land their arrows just ahead of the Norman foot soldiers. As the regrouped Welsh and Saxon army came into view, Stefan cautiously watched, and his concern grew. Despite the scores of knights engaging alongside the foot soldiers, and the continued onslaught of arrows into the forest, the Normans on the field began to falter.

“Instruct the archers to shoot into the forest, to stay the flow!” Stefan called to fitz Osbern .

Fitz Osbern scowled, not liking Stefan’s interference.

“Do it now!” Stefan commanded.

The command was given, and the result was immediate. With the flow of soldiers staunched, the Normans, sorely outnumbered, gained the time to do what they did best. Fight.

As the battle raged, Stefan watched, his hand gripping and ungripping the leather hilt of his sword. He smiled as he noticed each one of the Blood Swords fondle their hilts as well. They could not help it. ‘Twas in their blood.

Stefan turned his attention back to the battle scene playing out before him. The archer’s cache of arrows had grown dangerously low, and so the hailstorm into the forest edge was not so quick or heavy. The Welsh took advantage of it. They broke the Norman line, and when they did, fitz Osbern ‘s men began to break ranks.

“They falter!” Stefan cried. “To horse, men!” The Blood Swords followed him down the narrow stone stairway to the bailey where their horses awaited them.

” ‘Tis too early!” Fitz Osbern yelled after them.

Stefan turned on his heel and looked up at the Earl.

“If we do not go to rally the men and show them we can win the day, all will be lost!” He turned and hurried to his horse.

When the portcullis slowly raised, the creaking sound of the turning chain on wheel overriding the din of battle, the eight knights sat astride, four abreast, a most fearsome sight. Stefan, flanked by Thorin on his left and Rorick and Warner to his right, was followed up by Wulfson, Rohan, Ioan, and Rhys at his back.

The heavy bridge lowered, and before it hit dirt, the eight black knights, with lances at the ready and battle cries booming across the field, thundered out to meet their enemy. As the Red Sea had for Moses, so the soldiers before them parted. In a tight formation, they rode out, and with each stride in practiced precision, they moved an inch further apart until they fanned out in a tight semi-circle. In that formation, they began to hack a swath across the field. As bodies fell, a renewed fervor swept through the Norman army.

Each time they regrouped, the Blood Swords raised their battle cry, and like the plague, they destroyed every living being in their path. But as the battle raged, the Blood Swords became the focus of the Welsh kings Rhiwallon and Bleddyn, who watched from the forest edge.

Over time, the tight formation loosened; and when Stefan hacked off the arm of the soldier who would have done the same to him, he cast his gaze to his right, then his left. His brothers were so heavily embedded in the thick of battle that he could not distinguish them.

He turned in his saddle, and with a mighty arc and swipe, separated yet another English head from the shoulders it had rested upon its entire life.

Sweat ran in rivulets down his face, stinging his eyes. He blinked, and spurred Fallon deeper into the fray. His hawk-sharp gaze swept the field of battle, locating then resting on the backs of his fellow Blood Swords up ahead, and he saw they too were as deep into the combined forces of Welsh and Saxon as he. He did not allow the fact that they had become separated to deter him from the task: secure Hereford Castle by any means necessary.

He watched as Wulfson, Ioan, Thorin, Warner, Rohan, and Rorick hacked their way through a gantlet of foot soldiers. As Stefan urged his horse forward, he narrowed his gaze. More Welsh erupted from the surrounding forests to swallow them up. Concern gnawed at his gut. He called to Rhys to his right, and pointed with his bloody sword toward the descending hordes running with the velocity of the wind at his brothers up ahead.

Rhys reined his horse around to flank the right column as it raced forward, while Stefan circled around the left. Both men sheathed their swords and drew their longbows and let loose, one after the other, scores of arrows on the attacking men. Stefan did not have the time to admire his work, as one man fell for each arrow he notched. He did not look to see if Rhys was as accurate, for he knew from years of riding and fighting together there were few who could best the young knight.

Once his quiver was depleted, Stefan reined up the black and drew his broadsword again, and with his other hand he grasped a deadly pike and pulled it from the carcass of a downed Welshman. He twirled it around in his large hand until it fit comfortably in his grip. Then he scanned the horizon for his brothers amongst the hordes. When he could not locate them, for the first time since the eight of them had fled that hellhole of a prison in Iberia, Stefan knew that Madam Death lurked on the horizon for not one of them, but for all of them.

Rage infused him. They would not fall to these cowards!

Stefan cast a quick glance over to Rhys, who had moved in, and as Stefan had, grabbed a pike from a dead man. In his other hand he held his sword at the ready. Each of their mounts was as highly trained in the art of war as were their masters. With both hands free to wield weapons, the knights controlled their mounts with their legs and body movement.

“To the Blood Swords!” Stefan yelled above the din of battle. As they came together, a force of nature to be reckoned with, they let loose their battle cry. The buzzards that waited patiently in the trees above scattered high into the hot summer sky.

And as his brothers came into view, Stefan watched in horror as they were swarmed by scores of Welsh. He roared his fury that he should lose any one of them, and as he hacked his way toward them, the sharp burn of a blade sliced into his thigh. He turned in his saddle to see the flat end of several swords flash before his eyes. Pain seared his face, and then the world went black.

Copyright © 2009 by Karin Tabke

Continues…


Excerpted from Master of Craving by Karin Tabke Copyright © 2009 by Karin Tabke. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Perfection: Eternally Three by Kris Cook

In Promo on October 30, 2009 at 7:00 am

kc-p

Perfection: Eternally Three

by Kris Cook

(M/F/M – Menage Paranormal Erotic Romance Novel)

While searching for her missing brother, Micki Langley visits a nightclub with a notorious reputation as ménage a trios central and comes face-to-face with two amazing men straight from her fantasies.

Ancient jinn Jared endures heavy guilt and wants nothing to do with the human. Tripling is necessary to keep immortals alive, but his hunger for Micki is far beyond normal.

Though warrior angel Bradley completes their threesome, he despises Jared for his tainted reputation. He vows that the jinn won’t hurt the gorgeous human and has no problem fighting him to prove it.

But when the threesome comes together, it’s more than an energy exchange; it’s an unshakable bond that generates astounding power. Their enemies seek to destroy their perfect triad, which could unsettle the balance of power between angels and demons. Will the threesome be able to stand strong together—in trust and love—to defeat the relentless evil?

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Excerpts
© Kris Cook – 2009


 

STORY EXERPT


She needed perspective and fast.

Difficult when Jared continued his arousing caresses. Her legs felt weak. She wasn’t sure she could stand on her own after his expert handling. Her natural cautions gave way to deeper passions, burning as Jared hypnotized her with his fingers, moving up her thighs—closer, closer, closer…

Pounding with desire, Micki turned back to the blue-eyed soldier. Utter Adonis—able to charm or kill as need be.
Even at their current distance, his stare revealed unabashed desire. And a mouth-watering body.

Focus! “Jared, do you know anyone who might help me find Eric or David?”

He pointed at the soldier. Fire erupted deep inside her when she saw the man march toward them.

Micki turned back to Jared, whose palm caressed her legs—and very nearly between them. “You know him?”

He nodded.

The music changed tempo, speeding to overdrive, just like her heartbeat. Two more steps and the blond god would be next to them. Things sped faster and faster.

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

“I really need to find David now!” she said nearly shouting. “I can’t wait for him to return.”

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

Jared slipped a finger between her thighs, almost touching her there. Micki held her breath and tensed, waiting for what she shouldn’t want.

“He’s gone for the night.” the sexy blond stud stated as he stepped right beside her where he could see clearly each and every one of Jared’s touches. “He’ll be back tomorrow.”

His eyes blazed and his face filled with lust. Excitement wrapped itself around her, squeezing more liquid from her channel. 

“Oh.” She stared up at the new arrival “Do you know the number to his cell? Or his address?”

 “I don’t think David owns a cell, and he stays lots of places. I’m Bradley,” the soldier added, watching Jared’s every move with hot eyes.

She should be shocked at Bradley’s rapt attention to her and Jared. Instead, heat spread thorough her body like warm chocolate.

If Jared had a Harley waiting for him, Bradley had a Hummer or a tank, and a bed with silk sheets. Alluring in a different way than Jared, Bradley seemed deliberate, rather than moody. Battle ready, rather than road-hardened.

She spotted the tattoo on Bradley’s upper arm. Three interlocked triangles⎯an exact twin of Jared’s. She reached out to touch the tat on the soldier’s upper arm, but then pulled back. Heat burned up and down her spine.

“Don’t stop, sweetheart. Feel free to touch me any way you want.”

She didn’t. The thought of touching him scared and intrigued her.

Maybe these two worked together⎯like a seduction tag team—persuading women, night after night, to share their bed.

Bradley glared at Jared. From the contentious look between them, Micki realized they weren’t a seduction duo. Not even friends. Enemies? She couldn’t tell, but the vibe between them ran hostile. Did they pursue her separately or together?

Either way, Jared’s palm inched up her thigh again, sending shivers of delight through her body. She loved his touch. Bradley still watched with a rapt gaze. Would they fight? They looked capable of anything.

Her gut broiled like an oven on high. Her recent dreams of them aroused her, but as thrilling as exploring fantasies with them would be, that wasn’t why she’d come.

“How do you two know each other?” she asked.

Neither answered.

Standing beside her, Bradley’s body heat loomed on her shoulder. Jared’s hot stare sent her silent commands that incited cravings. Her body began to demand satisfaction. Heat rose from her skin, centered between her legs, melting her.

Then Bradley cupped her cheek, fingertips caressing her neck, while Jared nearly touched her intimately. Tingles erupted. Warm wetness soaked her panties.

“What’s your name, sweetheart?” Bradley asked.

“Micki.”

Jared’s free hand slipped under her shirt and brushed across her bare back. Sensations ripped through her entire body. Combustion.  She shivered.

Bradley looked at her, his stare hot with suggestion. She wanted him to drink all of her up with his hot mouth, but she needed to focus.

“Do you know Eric Langley?” Micki asked Bradley.

Bradley cut a quick glance to Jared before looking her way again. “Yes. But I’m not sure if he’s here, either.”

Bradley knew Eric! “Thank God! Where is he? Is he safe?”

Another pause. “I don’t know.”

Jared and Bradley’s hesitation troubled her. She suspected they knew more than they’d told her. Plus, strange as it was, as her worry for Eric grew, so did her desire for these two men. Did the nice folks in white coats need to whisk her away?

Unease skittered through her. “If you don’t know, I can’t just sit here. I need to be looking for him.”

She should get up, resume her search, but Bradley’s piercing blue eyes zeroed in on her mouth.

She swallowed hard. Bring on the straight jacket.

“You look like you need to be kissed,” he murmured.

Heat flared inside her, but she tensed. When she glanced back at her biker, he showed no sign of rage—not even slight annoyance. Instead, he seemed revved up by Bradley’s suggestion.

Micki sucked in a shocked breath.

She could name a thousand reasons not to take Bradley’s dangled bait, but the moment crashed over her reserve. She could exit the ride later, before the big drop. Now, she burned to taste Bradley’s lips, revel in Jared’s touch. Feel their need and let them feel hers.

It’s only a kiss, right?

If Eric watched from the shadows, though she doubted he did, kissing Bradley might bring him out of hiding, either in full big-brother mode or thrilled that his prank had worked. If not, her best hope would be to soften against Bradley and Jared a little to learn what they really knew about her brother.

Slowly, she leaned forward, offering Bradley her mouth.

Blurb Blitz: Alexandra Legacy by N.J. Walters

In Blurb Blitz, N.J. Walters, Paranormal Romance on October 30, 2009 at 7:00 am

Author: N. J. Walters

Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.

ISBN: 978-1-60504-803-1

Length: Novel

Publication Date: October 13, 2009

The truth will set her free…or get her killed.

Alexandra Riley’s day starts out like any other in her normal, predictable world. Then a tall, dark stranger bursts into her father’s garage and shatters the illusion. In one shocking moment, she discovers why she’s been feeling hot, restless—she’s the half-breed daughter of a legendary werewolf and is a much-sought-after prize.

Joshua Striker, enforcer in charge of protecting the alphas of the Wolf Creek pack, has come to take Alex home. Nothing more, nothing less. From the first moment he sees her, she becomes the one thing he can’t afford—a distraction from his duty. A weakness he doesn’t want—but can’t resist needing.

If only keeping her safe was as simple as fending off males on the hunt for a mate. Through city streets to the mountains of North Carolina, Alex and Joshua have to evade those who don’t want their pure bloodlines tainted with human DNA, as well as bounty hunters who think the only good werewolf is a dead one.

What Joshua and Alex can’t outrun is the passion that flares between them—or the choice Alex must eventually face. Whether to claim her inner wolf, or forfeit her chance to claim Joshua as her own.

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Excerpt from Alexandra’s Legacy

Copyright © 2009 N. J. Walters
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

“Alexandra.”

She stilled. He rarely ever called her by her given name, always calling her Alex. When he did, it usually meant trouble.

“Yes.” She struggled not to squirm beneath his penetrating gaze.

“We need to talk. Tonight.” His eyes shifted away from her and he rubbed his hand over his face. She noticed that he needed a shave. Peering closer, she realized he looked tired.

Now she was really starting to get worried. “What’s wrong?” She leaned into his chest, wanting to comfort him. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and the huge sigh he let out ruffled the hair on top of her head.

“There are some things I’ve got to tell you. Things you need to know about your heritage.” There was a grim note in his voice that she’d never heard before. Her father was her rock, her foundation, but she could tell this was something he was very apprehensive about.

“Is it about her?” Alex knew he would know she was referring to her birthmother. She’d never called the woman by her given name even though she knew it.

“No, it’s not about Charlene. It’s about me.” He drew back and cupped her face in his hands. “Just remember that I love you.” Leaning down, he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. “Every decision I’ve made has been with your best interest in mind.”

Alex was quickly moving past worried and heading directly into the realm of deeply concerned. “Whatever it is, it’s okay.” The need to reassure her father overrode everything else, even her fears.

“I hope you can still say that after you hear what I have to say.” He dropped his hands and stepped back. “Tonight. I’ll explain everything tonight. In the meantime, don’t leave the garage without me. Promise me.”

She could sense the tension rolling through her father. Her own body felt tight. Stiff. “I promise.” She couldn’t help but sense that her world was about to change in some fundamental way and it would never be the same again. Another shiver raced up her spine and she hugged herself, wishing she’d layered another shirt under her sweatshirt.

His face softened for the briefest of seconds. “It will be all right, Alex.”

“I know.” She didn’t know anything at all at this point, but she was desperately trying to act as if everything was normal. She needed that if she was going to make it through today. It would do no good to demand he tell her everything now. He’d said tonight, so tonight it would be.

Work. She would focus on work. She’d been handling tools and working on vehicles since she was old enough to walk. She could lose herself in the beauty of a fine-tuned engine.

The door behind them slammed open, hitting the wall with a bang. Alex spun around and came face-to-face with a stranger. Huge was an understatement. Shaggy black hair framed a rough-hewn face, all angles and planes. His lips were thin, his eyes dark and piercing as they traced her body from head to foot. Menace seeped from every pore of his skin. Alex stood frozen in her tracks.

Her father jumped in front of her, a low growl emanating from deep inside him. Tension swelled, filling every nook and corner of the room. The stranger turned his gaze from her and focused on her father, but somehow Alex knew that he was still very aware of her.

His lips parted, giving him a strangely sensual, yet cruel appearance. “They’re coming for her.”

Shayla Black's Possess Me at Midnight

In Paranormal Romance, Shayla Black on October 30, 2009 at 7:00 am

posessmeDoomsday Brethren Series, Book 3 — Ice’s story
Publisher: Pocket Books
ISBN-10: 1416578463
ISBN-13: 9781416578468
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance
Release Date: October 27, 2009

Order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders
Books-A-Million | Simon & Schuster | Indie Bound
Overstock | Target

Download eBook: Kindle | Barnes & Noble
Fictionwise | Sony |Simon & Schuster

An apocalypse approaches in the new novel from bestselling author Shayla Black’s electrifying Doomsday Brethren series, as a magical warrior and a spirited witch ignite a smoldering passion that could destroy them both.

As a mysterious dark cloud drains the life of her beloved brother, Doomsday Brethren leader Bram, Sabelle Rion can think of little else. Still, every time she meets Ice Rykard’s intense green gaze, her body aches with need for the sexy warrior. Their attraction is explosive, incredible—and forbidden. As dangerous as he is unpredictable, Ice is her brother’s sworn enemy. But as Bram weakens, a more sinister force is gaining power. Evil Mathias and his ruthless Anarki army are on a bloodthirsty hunt for the Doomsday Diary. Sabelle must guard the potent book with her life—and Ice vows to protect the beautiful witch with his. Duty demands that Sabelle deny her lover’s fiery call of possession and mate with a man who can sway the magical Council against the impending rebellion. With the fate of magickind hanging in the balance, will she forsake the burning desires she can’t ignore or turn her back on her people for the courageous man she can’t resist?