Hello everyone! I have wonderful news to share with you:
I’m returning to contemporary romance with a set of sexy novellas with St. Martin’s Press! With uber wealthy, uber sexy men being all the rage, I’m going to do my own take on them–in ‘Nawlins!
Sebastian is a former boxer, Raphael is a mixed martial artist
I’m running a contest over at Coffee Time Romance. I’ll be giving away a beautiful pendant made in Ireland of Connemara marble! here’s a peek at it:
For more about the contest, please visit: http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/ContestPage.html
Conor mac Ferghal welcomed death.
He pushed a dying raider from the point of his sword, moving closer to the thick of the fighting that centered on two giants on a mist-shrouded hill. Their dress and the wicked-looking battle-axes they wielded bespoke their Viking heritage. Even in the heat of battle, Conor admired the way the fair-haired warriors worked together, standing back to back and holding their own despite the odds against them.
And the odds were against them, Conor knew. His admiration of their skill would not stop him from vanquishing them. He would have vengeance, and he would give no quarter. He wasn’t known as the Devil of Dunlough because of his charity.
A shout cut through the screams and groans of the wounded and dying. “The Angel of Death! The Angel of Death comes!”
Everyone, friend and foe alike, seemed to halt as a form materialized from the cloying mist. A pale horse broke through, bearing a rider wrapped head to toe in bleached garments that seemed to make rider and horse more apparition than reality. The conical iron helmet and sword gleamed in the weak afternoon sunlight as the pale warrior drove the horse up the hill to the Northmen.
“Stand your ground, men,” the Devil called, crashing the hilt of his sword into a raider’s face. “Remember what befell our village. Leave the supposed Angel of Death to the Devil of Dunlough!”
The pale warrior now stood beside his companions, wielding the shimmering sword in graceful, deadly arcs. As he drew ever closer, Conor noticed how the taller two men protected the smaller. Their leader, perhaps? The Viking’s conical iron helmet, with nose and eye guards, concealed from Conor all but a pair of startling lavender eyes that blazed with hatred and a chin devoid of even the slightest beard.
Very few of the Northmen went without beards. A youth, then. Conor refused to feel compassion for him. Becoming a warrior meant preparing to fight and preparing to die. He had seen younger ones than this meet their end in battle, mere boys who did not deserve death. This one did. Pushing to the forefront of his men, the Devil engaged the enemy.
The young Viking moved with a lethal ease that belied his years, parrying the blow Conor dealt him. He smiled as the familiar bloodlust coursed through his veins. It was always thus, when he found an opponent worth his skill and concentration. The darkness would come later, after the blood had dried.
The two combatants matched each other blow for blow, neither uncovering a weakness in the other. This one would not go down easily. The thought had no more than crossed Conor’s mind when one of the Viking’s companions stumbled. The youth buckled, thrown off balance as the other Northman fell at their feet. When the young Viking turned to the fallen man, Conor seized the opportunity, slashing his adversary deep in the thigh.
The resulting cry of pain was so feminine that Conor checked the killing blow that would have bit deeply into the leather tunic and cleaved the man in two. It was a futile effort. The tip of his sword pierced the pale leather and embedded itself in the Viking’s side. He gave Conor a look of utter disbelief before slumping to the ground, his hand stretched toward his fallen companion.
Conor took a deep breath, seeking the freshness of the early spring breeze over the smell of blood and death as he scanned the field. His opponent had been the last to fall. Even now his men availed themselves of whatever riches they could glean from the fallen among their enemies, a curious mixture of Irish and Northmen. Satisfied that all was secure, he knelt beside his fallen enemy. With a sense of foreboding, he removed the iron helmet. What he saw stole his breath.
The Viking was not the untried youth he’d thought, but a woman, the most striking woman he had ever seen. The helmet had obscured a heart-shaped face with high, sharp cheekbones and near translucent skin. Hair so pale it was almost silver was pulled into a plait as thick as his wrist. Her brows were gossamer wings, as were the sooty lashes that fluttered against her cheeks. A blade-thin nose perched above full, pouty lips and a defiant chin that reduced her features from ethereal to fascinating. The skin was pulled taut across her cheekbones and throat, an indication of the unkind life a bandit led. Even in unconsciousness there was a guarded demeanor to her expression that gave her an air of otherworld mystery.
Conor glanced up. Ardan, his second, stood beside him, protecting him as always. Ardan was a hardened warrior with a ruddy, weathered face and red hair sprinkled with gray. He had the unswerving loyalty of one whose life had been saved many times by the man he gave allegiance to. A man of few words but great wisdom, Ardan had been Conor’s friend since the younger man’s days in fosterage, and one of the few people he trusted without question.
The surprise on Ardan’s face matched his own. “Yes, it is a woman.”
Ardan spat down the hill. “You’ve strange luck with women trying to kill you.”
“True.” Conor let the comment pass. If any other than Ardan had said the same to him, that man would not get home under his own power. “At least this one had the decency to meet me face to face on the field of battle, unlike my dear-departed wife.”
He fingered the scar that ran down the left side of his face, a gift from his late wife. “This land will fall into the sea before I let a woman put an end to me.”
Seeking a pulse, Conor touched the fallen woman’s neck, wondering at the frisson of awareness that coursed along his fingertips. He found her life-beat. It was there, but weak.
As he brought his hand away, his fingers brushed a neck-chain. He pulled it free of her tunic to discover an exquisite crafted cross hanging on a braided silver chain with a gilded Hammer of Thor. He grinned in spite of himself. ’Twas obvious the woman meant to be well prepared when she left this world.
Tucking the pendant back into the woman’s tunic, he lingered over the satiny feel of her skin. So delicate to be so deadly. He shook his head to clear it of such inane poetic thoughts and rose to his feet.
“Is she?” Ardan asked.
“Dead? No. The Angel of Death? I believe so.”
Ardan cursed under his breath, a long and colorful sentence that would have stunned Conor with its length in other circumstances. He felt the urge to curse himself.
The Angel of Death.
Conor had dismissed the stories as colorful tales spun by bards at the royal court. The idea of a woman, Viking or Irish, garbed completely in white and riding into battle was impossible to believe. Yet the proof lay before him.
Ardan regained his composure. “Why would herself attack our village?”
“A good question.” Conor’s voice was flat. “The village has naught to offer but cottages of fishermen and the tenants who raise tribal cattle. Even the Irish riding with her and her Northmen should know that our treasures, such as they are, are kept close to the dun.”
He looked down at the unconscious woman. “The stories call the Angel a defender of the defenseless. Perhaps the stories are false. Unless someone sent her.”
If Ardan was surprised by Conor’s statement, he did not show it. And why should he, Conor thought. After all, someone was always after the Devil of Dunlough.
Ardan prodded one of the mail-clad Vikings with his foot. “Her man could be one of these two.”
For an inexplicable reason, the idea that the legendary Angel had followed her lover into battle made Conor’s jaw clench. He forced himself to calm. “You could be right, Ardan. They were defending each other.”
“This one lives yet.”
The Devil wiped his blade on the second Viking’s breeches, then sheathed it. “Bring them,” he ordered, calling for his horse. With an ease that belied his size, he swung astride. “Send for the priest to bless the dead and dying. If the Angel and her companion survive the journey, I will have Gwynna tend to their wounds.”
“You won’t execute them then?”
He shook his head, steadying his mount with a quiet word. “Someone sent the Angel of Death to slay me. I would have answers from her before she dies.”
Ardan issued orders, then swung aside his own mount as the famed warrior and her still-living companion were thrown over a horse without ceremony. “Where do you think she’s from?”
“I don’t know,” Conor replied. “There are Viking strongholds aplenty here. Sitric Silk-beard holds Dubh Linn, and more Northmen control Waterford, Wexford, Limerick and even Dun na Ghall to the north. She could be from any of those.”
A frown shaded Ardan’s features. “If she was, we would have heard of her before Clontarf.”
Clontarf. The word caused a chill deep in Conor’s soul, even two years later. Clontarf, where the tenuous peace that the High King Brian Boruma had forged through decades of warfare had been shattered with his death. Where Irish and Viking fought against Irish and Viking for the ultimate control of the island.
Where Conor had lost his soul and gained a kingdom.
“Have a care with our war-prizes,” he told a thin, red-haired youth as he secured the Vikings to the mount. He turned his own mount towards home and away from the mesmerizing figure. “We’ve a way to go, and more war bands could be about.”
Ardan drew alongside him. “Think you she was sent by Ulster?”
“It is probable,” Conor answered. “There’s little love lost between us, though you’d think with the other three kingdoms as well as Connacht fighting old Máel Sechnaill for the High Kingship, they’d have more sense than to send their men to sure death against us.”
“Who said that Ulstermen had sense?”
The men around them laughed at the joke, and Conor let them have their mirth. They’d had little to laugh at over the last two years that he’d been ruler of the tuath and chieftain of the tribe. He knew he was a prize worth catching for his many enemies. Near six and a half feet tall, he towered over his men. With his penchant for wearing black while his men wore the saffron yellow warrior’s
leine, his dark brown hair that was almost black, and the ever-present scar, many thought him more demon than Irishman.
It did not bother him, the moniker that he’d acquired. Devil he was, through and through. And despite the name, despite the scar, men of the tribe flocked to Dunlough for the honor of serving the mac Ferghal. Flocked to fight beside the man who threw them into battle again and again, a man who made himself a target, the center of many battles. It was his duty, he told himself. He fought because he had to, and he fought with a zeal that went beyond the typical Gaelic zest for life.
No one knew what that zeal cost him.
He wrenched his thoughts back to the present as the dun came into view. Bards often said Dunlough was cradled in the bosom of Eire, and he agreed. Hidden in the northwest of Connacht, bounded by rugged, rocky hills to the north, crystal lakes and streams to the south, the mountain Slieve Torc to the east, and the ocean to the west, Dunlough was as wild and glorious as its people. The dun itself sat on a verdant hill surrounded by earthen walls. A stream ran around the base of the wall and cascaded down the hill where it joined a larger river on its way to the dark lough that gave the dun its name.
Oh, people had laughed when his father’s father and his father before him started adding stone to the timber and thatch. They stopped soon enough when they came to seek solace from raids by Vikings and Ulstermen alike.
The dun had grown to a considerable size over the last two centuries. Its solid construction ensured that the people of Dunlough were well protected. Indeed, the remoteness of the northern part of the kingdom protected it from the brunt of the trials and tribulations that encompassed the rest of the island.
Of late, the warriors of Dunlough were riding out to challenge raiders, not armies. Rumors spoke of the Gaill-Gaedhel, the “foreign Irish”, riding again.
Mercenaries descended from the mixing of Irish and Viking blood, their ferociousness had caused them to be called “the sons of death”. They cared little for who they attacked as long as plunder was to be had.
That thought had Conor drawing sharp on his reins. Sons of death and the Angel of Death. Were they related? His village had been attacked. The Angel of Death was nearby.
Coincidences were not something that Conor had much faith in. If the woman was truly the notorious Angel of Death, why was she in Connacht? Why attack his poor village? Why look at him with such hatred in her eyes?
He would have been well within his rights had he slain the Angel in battle. But the Viking female had captured his curiosity. No, she would not die soon.
The Devil was a patient man. He would find the answers he sought. When he did, all the angels in heaven and hell would not keep this angel safe.
I’m excited to announce that I’ve made another sale to Samhain! The working title is DEVIL’S ANGEL and it’s a historical romance set in Ireland in 1016!
You’re probably saying: “WTH? I thought she was a contemporary romance writer?” And I am. I will continue to work on steamy love stories set in the here and now, and possibly later, and possibly an alternate here and now. But DEVIL’S ANGEL is probably the closest I’ve come to a book of my heart. I mean, seriously–medieval Ireland at the end of the Viking Age? Who’s reading that, much less buying it?
Luckily for me my editor loved the story, as soon as I have more information on it, I will let you know. I’m really hoping to do more stories set in medieval Ireland and stories of the Viking Age, so I’m crossing my fingers that people will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Some of you may have been wondering where the hell I’ve been. Some of you may have forgotten. That’s okay, life gets like that sometimes. And I got slapped int he face with a big ol’ steaming pile of life.
That was then, and this is now. And I’m exciting to be back writing and researching and focusing on the things I enjoy, like translating the images and words and voices in my head into something intelligible that induces others to read on.
With that in mind, I have some news on the the writing front. Hopefully I’ll be able to share that in that in the next couple of weeks or so. I’m pretty excited about it, and I hope you will be too!
Macon, GA, December 5, 2008
Samhain Publishing Announces Expansion Plans
In a bold move, Samhain Publishing (www.samhainpublishing.com) announced the purchase of Linden Bay Romance (http://lindenbayromance.com/). In light of the downward spiral of the economy and the rapid consolidation of many of the larger publishers, Samhain Publishing has seized their chance to expand their market share by creating a new fiction line under the popular Samhain brand.
“From the beginning one of my goals was to create multiple lines within Samhain,” says Christina Brashear, owner of Samhain Publishing. “With Linden Bay Romances’ excellent reputation, I made the offer in the hopes the owners would see this sale as a mutual benefit to both houses.”
“We hadn’t considered selling Linden Bay and we were slowly making inroads with regards to increasing print distribution, but we’ve found, especially in light of the economy, neither sales teams nor buyers are very open to taking a chance on a smaller, less established press,” says Lori James, part owner of Linden Bay Romances. “Samhain Publishing has the relationships in place that would take us years to develop.” James continues, “The offer came at a time when we realized under the Samhain umbrella, Linden Bay Romances will be stronger and reach its full potential faster.”
“For Samhain, it is a win-win situation,” says Brashear. “We will expand our lines with an established name in the electronic book industry and we’ll acquire an excellent stable of authors, editors and artists.”
Samhain Publishing opened its doors on November 1, 2005 and already they’ve made a splash in the publishing world. From Publisher’s Weekly features to dozens of fiction and cover art awards, this publisher is one to watch.
Christina Brashear, CEO
Here’s an interesting post from The Frisky, which caught my eye because my heroine in Lady Sings the Blues is a former stripper.
This part really caught my attention:
Mainly, the enduring appeal of strip clubs is this: It’s a place where regular men can reject beautiful women.
You got that? In a strip club, the physics of seduction are flipped. The real money for a stripper isn’t dancing for dollars; that’s a preview of the main course. The real money comes when that stripper hits the bar and tries to get them to buy lap dances. In these instances, men have the power to turn down hotties. It’s the only place where short, fat, balding guys can turn down statuesque, exotic beauties. That kind of sexual power is a profound kick, one denied men at normal watering holes, and it’s a novelty worth the money.
I mean yeah, you know theoretically that men don’t like rejection any more than women do, and that in bar situations they face it on a more regular basis than womend do. But men going to strip clubs so hey can reject silicone sistahs? Somehow I don’t think that’s the reason, do you?
Have you heard the news? Samhain Publishing, in conjunction with BooksOnBoard, will be offering the entire Samahin library on iPhone. From the press release:
November 18, 2008 – BooksOnBoard, the premier ebook retailer, has entered into definitive agreements with Samhain Publishing Ltd. and Lexcycle, Inc. to make the entire Samhain romantic fiction catalog of ebooks available on Lexcycle’s Stanza. Stanza is the highest rated and most popular ebook reader for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
How cool is that?
I found this article through CNN, and thought it worth sharing. Writer Judy McGuire listed four pitfalls to avoid:
• Language: Yes, it helps if he speaks a foreign language you don’t understand, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Pronouns like us or we are to be avoided like an open sore and all talk of plans further into the future than an hour or two away is verboten.
• Meals: Acceptable FWB dining situations include shared bowls of cocktail peanuts, late-night grilled cheese sandwiches, and fancy desserts. Meals to be avoided are breakfast, brunch, dinner, with a special get-out-of-jail free card for lunch.
• Conversation: Questions any more probing than “what are you wearing?” and “when can we meet?” can get a little sticky. Your FWB doesn’t want to hear about your crazy mom and you really don’t want him to start yapping about his Ayn Rand fixation. Keep it light, keep it moving.
• Socializing: He doesn’t meet your friends, you don’t meet his. That goes double for family members. The best thing about having a FWB is that he’s your dirty little secret.
Make sense to me. The last time I had a FWB, I talked to a BFF about him occasionally, but no one ever got to meet him. It’s the easiest way to avoid the awkward convos, ya know?