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Secret Cravings Winter Wonderland Third Anniversary Blog Hop!!

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Welcome to the Secret Cravings Publishing Winter Wonderland Blog Event!  There are lots of prizes to win on both the main blog and each author’s blogs to celebrating our third anniversary.  How do you win on the Secret Cravings Publishing blog?  It’s very simple!  Find the missing letter on each author’s blog then e-mail your answers to reviewcoordinator@secretcravingspublishing.com for your chance to win!!

And how do you win on my blog?  Just comment below!!  And what could you win?  You could win a copy of either Black Irish (Black Irish #), Queen of Savon or Breaking the Cycle!!  I will be picking three lucky winners on the evening of January 30th!!

This is Secret Cravings Publishing’s third year of romance and this is my first year with them.  This has been the most incredible year.  I have published five books (soon to be six!), I have met fans and other Secret Craving’s authors.  I have been interviewed and have done some interviewing.  I have become a radio show host and an E-zine editor.  My dream since I was little was to be a writer.  Now I am leaving my dream times ten.  Let me give you a taste of what I have published this year.

BlackIrish_SMBlack Irish (Black Irish #1)
Released May 8, 2013
Find here on Sweet Cravings Publishing
Abbey couldn’t believe he was gay. She nearly ran away from her dreams of being a children’s book writer when she was introduced to her illustrator Sloan O’Riley, a dark, sensual Irishman with incredible blue eyes. He certainly couldn’t be good for Abbey’s relationship with her boyfriend back in Iowa. How could she stay in New York and work with the sinfully sexy Sloan even if he was gay? And when Sloan is threatened to be deported, how far would Abbey go to keep him in the US?

Sloan was forced to tell a little white lie. He had no choice. He couldn’t let the sweet, beautiful, Abbey Wright flee from his life – not without a chance to explore the sudden desire he felt for her. But what would Abbey do if she ever discovered the truth about Sloan’s sexuality – or learned the deeper, darker secret he’s been hiding?

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Queen of Savon
Released June 11, 2013
Find here on Secret Cravings Publishing
Cassandra is brought to the palace by her grandfather, the sorcerer Malicar, after her parents are brutally murdered.  After being presented to King Thomas she is raised alongside two boys – Thomas’s son, Matthew and Victor, the young man chosen to be Matthew’s commander of the army.

However her life in the royal palace comes at a price. She is vowed into a life of servitude Matthew’s advisor, forfeiting the dream of having a husband and children of her own.

As they mature into adults, childhood curiosities turn to jealousy and burning desire. Cassandra finds herself caught between the two men and forced to make a decision – to throw away her vows for the life she dreamt about with a man she does not love or to stay shackled to the promises she made as a child to be with the man she wants with her heart, body and soul but cannot have.

wpid-Heartland_MED.jpgHeartland (Black Irish #2)
Released August 6, 2013
Find here on Sweet Cravings Publishing
Sloan and Abbey move to Abbey’s hometown of Mount Vernon, Iowa, to start their new lives together away from the chaos of New York City.  And they are not alone – they are joined by Gordon, Maggie, and Bartholomew each looking for a fresh start and new love in the small rural town.

Their marriage is put to the test by the reappearance of Abbey’s father, bullies from her high school days, a business opportunity in Miami, and a new baby on the way.  When a person from their past comes back looking to make Abbey his own again, will he be able to tear Sloan and Abbey apart forever?

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The Troubles (Black Irish #3)TheTroubles_LRG
Released November 24, 2013
Find here at Sweet Cravings Publishing
While Sloan and Abbey are in Las Vegas to celebrate Gordon and Mary’s wedding,  a enemy from Sloan’s past nearly kills her.  Sloan is forced to do the unthinkable – he files for divorce.  He moves Sloan Enterprises to Switzerland far away from the woman he loves to save her.

Three years pass.  When Sloan invites Robert to Switzerland to celebrate his fortieth birthday, he learns shocking news – Robert is living with Abbey.  Refusing to lose Abbey, Sloan relocates the company to Minneapolis, Minnesota where Abbey is living and makes her the Chief Operating Officer.  He fights against his desire for her as he contends with her two new beaus, his own new girlfriend, her hostile family and Amelia, his four-year-old daughter.

When his enemy makes another attempt on Abbey’s life, will Sloan be able to save her – or is this a war he just can’t win?

btccoverpinklogoBreaking the Cycle
Released January 13, 2014
Find here at Sweet Cravings Publishing
Max is excited when Chloe, a girl that works for the same gym he does, agrees to go on a date with him.  He is disturbed, though, when she becomes violently ill after he kisses her.  Max can’t shake how he feels about her.  He sacrifices his job and does everything he can to find an answer to her illness.  But is it enough to save their relationship – and save her?

Chloe can’t believe Max Thomas, the hottest guy at Roadie’s Gym, wants to go out with her.  When their date is a disaster, she thinks she’ll never see him again.  She is stunned when he reappears in her life and tries to find the answer behind whatever has made her sick since she was a child.  However, will he stick around or abandon her like her father did?  Can she trust him enough to let him into her heart?

And coming in February 2014…TheThirteenthKnight_LRG
The Thirteenth Knight
Life is simple in the village when Thatcher and Miranda realize that their lifelong friendship has turned to love.  Their world is turned upside down when Miranda’s true identity is revealed – she is the niece of the kingdom and the next heir to the throne.  She is swept away to the palace giving Thatcher the only solution available to him.  He will become one of the King’s knights and therefore worthy of Miranda’s hand.

When dark magic strikes the kingdom, it is Thatcher’s bravery that saves the King and the kingdom.  Yet being a knight is not enough nobility to marry the woman he loves.  When the source of the dark magic captures the palace and vows to make Miranda his bride, both Miranda and Thatcher work to overthrow him.  Will it be enough to bring them together – or will dark magic and the King himself keep them apart?

Innocent 'til Proven Guilty CoverAnd we can’t forget my free serial read that is updated every Sunday on the Sweet Cravings Publishing site, Innocent ’til Proven Guilty!
Find here at Sweet Cravings Publishing
Livvy Randall won’t let anything stop her chance at a journalism career in Chicago.  That is until the passenger train she is riding in breaks down in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a town not much bigger than her home in Lincoln, Nebraska.  She acquires a room at the Hotel Montrose where she meets the devilishly handsome Frankie O’Carney, an Irish bad boy working in maintenance at the hotel.

When Frankie is accused of murdering the wealthy H.M. Goodrich, Livvy does everything she can to clear his name.  With danger at every turn, Livvy searches for answers to the questions plaguing her.  Is Frankie with the quiet, brooding Poppy?  Why, when the Irishman is near, does her heart beat out of control?  Will she get out of Cedar Rapids and back on the train to Chicago with her heart intact?  And – is Frankie really innocent…or is he guilty?

Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog.  Please make sure to stop by and check out the blogs of the other incredibly talented authors of Secret Cravings Publishing!  Click on the badge below to return to the main blog.

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Tuesday Tales – Glass

Badge for TT - very smallHappy Tuesday and Welcome to Tuesday Tales!  I have exciting news.  I have signed a contract with Secret Cravings Publishing to publish The Thirteenth Knight!  However the bad news is that I think this will be my second to last post for The Thirteenth Knight.

Don’t forget to stop by and check out incredible excerpts of the other authors of Tuesday Tales!!

tavernThe tavern was dark and dank.  The only light was an amber glow from the fire in the hearth.  The only thing the grimy glass windows let through was the scent of the salty sea air.  Thatcher growled as he clenched his large, powerful hands around the mug full of ale.  He couldn’t believe what a fool he had been.  Miranda had betrayed him from the start with her pleas to become his wife.

Had I only known then what a harlot she is.

He glanced up at the beautiful, buxom, blonde barwench as she sashayed by.  And the women.  Women all over the kingdom threw themselves at him, vying for a spot in the bed of one of King’s valiant knights. Thatcher never gave them a second glance.  His heart belonged solely to Miranda.  The viper.

The barwench smiled at him and giggled, her tongue lingering a second longer on her lower lip than it needed to.  Thatcher stared at her ruby lips.  He wondered how they would taste.  He wondered how her soft curves would feel pressed against his body.  He pushed the ale away.  He wouldn’t drown his broken heart in drink tonight.  He would drown it in her.  And tomorrow morning he would take the first ship that would get him far away from this kingdom.  And Miranda’s lying mouth.

He stood on command as the blonde scrunched her finger, beckoning him to her.  A weathered hand clamped down on his shoulder and forced him back on his stool.

“Lad, you want none of that,” a deep, cracked voice behind him scolded.  An old man slumped on the seat next to him, his gray eyes peering at Thatcher through dirty glasses.

“I most certainly do,” Thatcher barked.  “What makes you think I do not?”

“Because if you do, you will break the heart of the woman who loves you, the woman who needs you to return to the palace to rescue her.”

Don’t forget to stop by the blogs of the other incredible writers of Tuesday Tales!

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Tuesday Tales – Building

Badge for TT - very smallHappy Tuesday and welcome to another Tuesday Tales!  Our word prompt today is “building”.  We are back with Thatcher and Miranda in The Thirteenth Knight.  Again this section was preceeded by one I wrote a while back:  Tuesday Tales – Silver

Please make sure you stop by and check out the blogs of the other incredibly talented authors of Tuesday Tales!

castle wallMiranda had hardly changed from her courtier’s clothes to her crimson gown trimmed in gold before she was summoned to Brunon again.  She did not have to ask why.  The sounds of battle outside the palace echoed throughout the halls.  The building itself shook with the sounds of war.

Brunon greeted Miranda in the entrance hall, an evil smile wisping across his gaunt face.  “Come, my beloved,” he crooned as he beckoned to her with thin fingers.  “I have a simple task for you.”

Miranda lowered her head.  “Yes, Brunon?”

He motioned to the wall that surrounded the palace.  “I want you to stand on the wall.  I want you to address the king’s army.  And I want you to tell Thatcher you never loved him.”

Tears filled Miranda’s eyes as she shook her head.  “I cannot do that.”

Brunon pressed his lips into a thin line as he pulled free the vial in his hand.  He clasped his skeletal fingers around it and closed his eyes.  The thick crimson liquid began to bubble.  Above the building sounds of battle, Miranda could hear Thatcher’s anguished roar.

“Stop!” Miranda begged.

Brunon released the vial.  “Will you obey me?”

Miranda couldn’t speak.  She could only nod as she fought back her sobs.  Brunon gestured towards the door that led to the wall.

Miranda’s sudden appearance silenced the fighting.  She closed her eyes as she heard Thatcher call her name.  She took a deep breath.  “I’ve come out to speak to you, Sir Thatcher.”

“My love, hide yourself.  The war…”

“There is no need to fight.  I am marrying Count Brunon.  I love him.

“Miranda, you are speaking nonsense.”

“I have never spoken truer in my life.  The lie I told was to you when I said I loved you.  I never have.  I never will.  You do not possess my heart.  Those were sweet words I spoke to trick you.”

“Miranda…”  Thatcher’s voice was low and dangerous.

 “I only agreed to marry you so I would not die alone.  You were a better option than the townspeople feeling pity for me.”

Miranda finally forced herself to look in Thatcher’s eyes.  The deep blue pools were full of hurt, anger and betrayal.  She swallowed back a whimper.  “So fare thee well, Sir Thatcher.  Return to the putrid little hovel you came from.  I will remain here in royalty with my one true love.”

 Thatcher spun on his toe and stormed towards the woods.  His cold, hate filled glare was the last image of him for Miranda before he disappeared.  She rushed into the palace, getting inside the door before she collapsed in sobs.

Don’t forget to stop by and check out the other excerpts of Tuesday Tales!!

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Tuesday Tales – Wave

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Happy Tuesday everyone and welcome to Tuesday Tales!  We are back with Miranda and Thatcher in The Thirteenth Knight.  And when you are done reading, please check out the other incredible inserts from my talented friends at Tuesday Tales!!

There is a gap from last week’s story to this week’s.  The reason is that I wrote it months ago.  And I apologize…it’s the scene where Miranda sneaks off to see Thatcher (sorry!!).  You can find it here… Tuesday Tales – Light

After a sweet night in Thatcher’s arms, what could possibly be waiting for Miranda the next day?  Let’s find out…

purple crystals

The heat from Thatcher’s kisses still burned Miranda’s lips.  She rubbed the tender flesh, moaning softly as she made her way through the dark hallways to the knight’s bedchambers.  She pulled her fingers away to readjust her cloak.  She was sure she wore her courtier’s clothes more than she wore her gowns now.

She stepped inside Thatcher’s room finding everything as it normally was.  The purple crystals glowed softly, the black shadows inside a little more erratic than normal.  There were new maps pinned to the wall.  Despite the passing of time the room still smelled of Thatcher.   Miranda moaned again as memories of the previous night filled her mind.

She was distracted from her thoughts as a piercing white light filled the room.  She squinted against it as she attempted to find its source.  The purple crystals suddenly flashed pure white, pulsing out beams of light in waves that filled the room.  Riding out of the crystals on the waves drifted the black shadows.  Each fell to the floor then stood on newly formed legs.  A small army of black clad soldiers slowly filled the room.

Miranda screamed.  She grabbed a walking staff leaning against the wall and swung at each of the crystals with all her might.  As she made contact with each crystal it fell to the floor shattered. When the last crystal was destroyed the room fell dark.

She felt a powerful hand clench down hard on her shoulder.  A foreign voice spoke.  “The Master will wish to speak to this one for shattering his stones.”  Her breath was ripped from her lungs as she was dragged roughly from the bedchamber towards the throne room.

Don’t forget to stop and check out the other authors of Tuesday Tales!!

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The Secret Cravings Blog Hop

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Hi Everyone and Welcome to the Secret Cravings Blog Hop!!

Today I want to share some excerpts from my medieval/historical fantasy romance Queen of Savon.

***Leave a comment below for your chance to will an e-copy of Queen of Savon in the format of your choice!!**

And don’t forget to return to the Secret Cravings Publishing blog to read more excellent excerpts from the excellent Secret Cravings authors!!

QueenofSavon_LRG

Cassandra is brought to the palace by her grandfather, the sorcerer Malicar, after her parents are brutally murdered.  After being presented to King Thomas she is raised alongside two boys – Thomas’s son, Matthew and Victor, the young man chosen to be Matthew’s commander of the army.

However her life in the royal palace comes at a price. She is vowed into a life of servitude Matthew’s advisor, forfeiting the dream of having a husband and children of her own.

As they mature into adults, childhood curiosities turn to jealousy and burning desire. Cassandra finds herself caught between the two men and forced to make a decision – to throw away her vows for the life she dreamt about with a man she does not love or to stay shackled to the promises she made as a child to be with the man she wants with her heart, body and soul but cannot have.

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Excerpt:

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The next day, Cassandra sat in the window seat of the library chomping furiously at an apple in one hand. She gingerly turned pages of a large, ancient book with the other, which was wrapped tightly in a cloth. A torrent of rain pounded behind her, leaving barely enough of the afternoon light to read.

Matthew stood in the entryway watching her study. She was so engrossed in her work that she never noticed him there, his gaze memorizing her gentle face, her soft hair, her delicate body. She is so beautiful. So perfect… His heart was filled with such fascination of her.

He closed the door, causing her to jump.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I am studying the counter spell so I can retrieve your things. That is,” she looked out the window, “when the rain stops.”

She threw the core of her apple into the fire then crossed her arms. He smiled at her. “What happened to your hand?”

“Oh, I burned it this morning when I was helping Cook. I have lost my healing powers along with my magic.” She sighed, frustrated. “I hate this. I feel so helpless. So, so…”

“So much like me?” Matthew asked, laughing. Cassandra blushed, embarrassed, and then patted the spot next to her in the window. Matthew stared at the book in awe. “There is a spell in here for everything,” he whispered as he flipped through.

“Nearly.”

“Even love spells.” He stopped turning the pages and gently smoothed them.

“Yes. If you ever want my help to win the heart of a young maiden…” Cassandra looked into Matthew’s eyes, hers twinkling with their own mischievous light.

“So, this is where your magic lies?” he asked, hearing his voice go weak.

“Some of it. Most of my magic lies within. That is why Grandfather has pushed so hard for me to find it. And that is the magic that is gone. Such as, I could read your mind just by doing this.” She gently pressed her fingers against his temple. His heart thundered as he watched her eyelids flutter shut.

After a moment, she opened them again. “But I cannot.” She gazed into his eyes, her fingers still pressed to his face. She suddenly brought them to life, brushing stray locks of hair from his brow.

They stared into each other’s eyes, forgetting the rain, forgetting the large book of magic. Matthew’s mind raced as he protectively took her wounded hand in his. He touched her chin with his other hand as his gaze drank in her skin, her mouth. He leaned towards her slowly, feeling her body draw towards him as his eyelids fell closed and his lips parted.

“Your majesty, my lady. Lunch is ready,” Cook announced as she peeked in from the door. They both looked at her dazed.

“Yes, Cook,” Cassandra squeaked. Slowly, they rose and followed her to the dining hall.

That night, Matthew laid in his bed, watching the flames in the fireplace consume the logs fueling its rage. He stretched his legs, feeling the linen sheets slide against his skin. He listened intently to the rain pound on the stone tiles of the roof. She flooded his thoughts, invaded his senses. She had frightened me as a child…or had she? Had she captured my heart then, as she did now?

Is this fascination…or is it more?

He closed his eyes, seeing her image in his mind—surreal, beautiful. He opened them again and sighed. I am falling in love with Cassandra. Does she love me?

***

Cassandra firmly capped the bottle of herbs with a cork and slipped the container in her bag. She marked her books, stacking one on top of the other. Glancing out the window, she watched as Matthew gently kissed Stephana before helping her into the carriage.

Sighing, she pulled herself away from the window to gather more herbs. She picked up her books and the bag of bottles. Then, she hobbled to the door and struggled to open it with her one free hand.

Cassandra jumped back, startled, as she discovered Matthew standing in the doorway. He clung to the doorframe as he stared at her.matthew

“How may I serve, my lord?” she greeted as she awkwardly bowed to him.

“Where are you going?” he asked, barely audible.

“Home. I have much to do before I return in the morning and you leave for battle.”

Matthew paused. “I did not propose to Stephana.”

Cassandra set her items on a table nearby. “That was unwise, my lord.”

Matthew stared at her as he dug his fingernails into the wood of the frame. “Cassa, do not leave me like this.”

Cassandra swallowed as she heard the urgency in his voice. “Like what, my lord?”

“Like this—the formal address, the subservient nature. This.” Matthew stood up straight, taking a step to grip her arms in his hands.

“Tell me her name,” Matthew demanded.

“There is no one.”

“Tell me her name,” Matthew begged. “Tell me, and I will give her my heart and make her my bride. I swear this.”

a-little-princess-la-princesita-3Cassandra stared at him, tears filling her eyes. “What if she belongs to another man?” She looked away as the words she spoke seemed to crush him. He closed his eyes, fighting to defeat the truth, the truth he already must know. Capitalizing on his weakness, Cassandra pulled away. “I told you there is no one.”

He grasped her hand, pressing it to his heart. “No, my lady, I will win her. I will fight, and I will not stop until she is cradled in my arms. This I promise you. Do you hear me? This I promise you.”

Her tears burst their floodgates as she slipped her fingers from his. “I must go,” she stumbled out. “I have much to do. I must go.”

Cassandra scooped up her books then swept by Matthew and ran down the stairs. She cringed as she heard him call her name, his voice betraying his pain.

Cassandra could not sleep. She lay in her bed, staring at the ceiling of her room as the night passed by. As dawn brushed the sky, she pulled herself from her covers, dressed, and trudged her return to the palace.

In no time, she stood in the courtyard, the soldiers around her completely oblivious to her presence. She glanced up as Victor rode next to her. “Lock yourself in the tower. I will see you when I get back,” he instructed as he kissed her on the cheek.

“Stay safe,” she murmured.

Cassandra looked to the ground as Victor’s horse trotted away. Then, she raised her head as she heard hoof steps approach. Matthew wandered across the courtyard, leading his stallion behind him. His eyes, yearning and desperate, locked on her.

She shuddered as he approached, his stride determined as he wove his way around the soldiers scattered around the courtyard. He stopped, dropping the reins of his horse, when he reached her.

Without warning or care for decency, Matthew cupped Cassandra’s face in his hands drawing her lips to his and parting them in a soul-wrenching kiss. She clung to his arms as he tasted her, clearly searching for confession, answers—her love for him. As he pulled away, he whispered, “Lock yourself in. I could not live another day if anything happened to you.”knights-dueling-at-belvoir-castle-fall-2004

Matthew’s fingers caressed Cassandra’s skin once more before they slipped away to grasp his horse’s reins. He glanced at her over his shoulder before he disappeared behind the wall. Cassandra hugged herself tightly, her limbs shaking in uncertainty.

Collecting herself as much as possible, she wound her way to her tower blindly. Her thoughts were incoherent. Matthew? Victor? She rubbed her fingertips against her swollen lips. Both had made their feelings for her abundantly clear. And both were riding out to battle. Above all, the vows she had taken as a child dictated she could have neither of them.

Tears filled her eyes as she collapsed onto her cushion. The only thing she knew with clarity was that she needed to get her thoughts together. It wouldn’t be long before she would be joining them on the battlefield.

 

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Tuesday Tales – Rough

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Hi everyone!  Welcome to another Tuesday Tales!  This week’s word prompt is “rough”.  This week we are back with Thatcher and Miranda in The Thirteenth Knight.  Miranda, dressed as the courtier Ewen, is caught between Thatcher and Brunon.  However neither knows it’s her.  Will she be found out?

Don’t forget to check out the other excerpts from the very talented authors of Tuesday Tales!

stream

Relaying information to both Thatcher and Brunon was exhausting.  Miranda had been doing it for weeks.  Holding the deception for Brunon was terrifying as she continued providing him false information.  Sooner or later he would see through her deception.  And if he discovered that his newest stooge was actually his betrothed?  She trembled at the thought of his reaction.

And Thatcher – to deliver the critical information he needed to stay one step ahead of Brunon was heartwrenching.  To see his radiant sapphire eyes, to see his angled, beautiful face, to bask in the warmth of his smile and not be able to tell him her true identity shredded her heart.

Miranda tugged on a final boot and trudged from her room.  Being one of Brunon’s men now, Ewen had free reign to come and go from the palace.  She pushed at the large, rough, wooden entrance door to open it. 

Miranda jogged down the dirt path weaving between the forest trees in the direction of the knights’ newest campsite.  It took a better part of the morning before she arrived.  She searched among the men for Thatcher unable to find him.

“Ewen, what the devil are you looking for?” Thaddeus chuckled as he caught Miranda’s arm in his hand.

“Sir Thatcher,” she replied as she smiled at her uncle.  I’ve even fooled my own flesh and blood.  “I have my report.”

“He’s down by the stream.  He’s been by himself all morning.”

Miranda made her way through the trees until she heard the trickle of water.  Through the clearing she could see the large, majestic frame of her knight.  She fell to her knee before him, bowing her head low.

“My lord,” she breathed.

Thatcher glanced down at her.  “For the millionth time, Ewen.  Stop bowing to me.  You are part of this band.  Rise.”

Miranda watched as he gazed over the stream forlorn.  She frowned.  “What is troubling you, my lord?”

Thatcher sighed.  He spoke, his voice rough with emotion.  “I miss Miranda, Ewen.  It’s been too long without her.  I fear Brunon has done to her.”

“My lord, Brunon has not harmed Lady Miranda.  She has been in hiding from him.  And he seems to less that interested in seeing her.  That is, until their wedding.”

“I won’t let her marry him, Ewen.  That is for certain.”

Miranda paused.  “My lord, what if I could sneak Lady Miranda here to you?” 

Thatcher’s gaze spun to her.  “You believe you could get her from the palace?” 

“Aye.  As I said, Brunon has no interest in her as of now.  But she cannot stay with you.  You cannot run off with her.  Brunon will send his black clad soldiers and that will be the end of you.  And most of the kingdom.”

“Aye, I know that, Ewen.”

“All right.  Then tonight.  Here.  At this stream.  I will bring you Lady Miranda.”

The smile that spread across Thatcher’s face was brighter than the blazing sun overhead.  “Thank you, Ewen.  You are a true friend. 

“You are welcome, my lord.”

Miranda scampered through the woods towards the path.  She stopped and turned to watch Thatcher.  The joy on his face at the thought of seeing her made her heart race.

Don’t forget to stop by and check out the other blogs of the talented writers of Tuesday Tales!

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Tuesday Tales – Smooth

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Hello again and welcome to another Tuesday Tales!  This week’s word prompt is “smooth”.  We are back with Thatcher and Miranda in The Thirteenth Knight.  Miranda is looking for more clues to assist Thatcher.  Will Brunon find her?  Let’s find out…

And don’t forget to check out the other blogs of my incredible talented friends of Tuesday Tales!!

purple crystals

A couple days felt like an eternity.  Miranda shuffled down the hall escorted by two of Brunon’s men as she returned to her bedchamber.  It was another disastrous breakfast.  She was unsure where her betrothed and his men learned their dining manners.  She was sure the swine in the village she grew up behaved better at the breakfast table than they did.

She closed her bedchamber door and took her seat at the window.  She waited silently, reading the book she had snuck from the palace library, until she no longer heard sound outside her door.  Brunon’s men never had the patience to stand guard.  What harm could such a little woman do?

If they only knew.

She dug in the back of her wardrobe for her quilt and tugged on each piece of the courtier’s uniform.  She winced.  If didn’t smell wonderful when the courtier gave it to her.  It’s scent was getting worse.  She would have to find a way to wash it before too long.

Miranda opened her door and glanced both ways before stepping out.  Her footsteps were light as she pressed flush against the smooth, cold stone walls, attempting to make herself invisible as she made her way to the knights’ quarters.  She slipped inside Thatcher’s bedchamber.

New maps were pinned to the wall.  The lavender crystals continued to cast an eerie glow.  Miranda scanned the maps carefully.  She tore them off the wall and tucked them in her jacket.  She spun towards the door then stopped.

She frowned puzzled as she stared at the purple crystals, stepping closer to get study them.  Her breath caught in her throat as she saw the black shadows flicker in the smooth stones.  She stared for several moments, struggling to figure out what they were.  The only thing she could surmise – the shadows looked somewhat human.

Miranda tiptoed out of the room then raced down the hall.  She stopped in the throne room before the roaring fire in the fireplace.  A sly smile spread across her lips as she pulled free the maps and tossed them into the flames.  She jumped as she heard a voice behind her.

“What do you think you are doing?” Brunon demanded.

Miranda fell to her knee as she hid her face in her cloak.  “My lord, I have come to report.  I have seen King Thaddeus and his men with my own eyes.  They were heading to the northern lands to regroup and plan an attack.  They intend to recruit villagers there to fight with them.”

She kept her eyes to the floor as the room fell silent.  Brunon’s voice cut through the tension.  “What are you doing at the fire?”

“Warming myself, my lord.  The trip has been cold.”

“What is your name, boy?”

“My name is Ewen.  I am please to serve you, my liege.”

Miranda felt a hand on her shoulder.  “Rise, Ewen.  The northern lands you said?”

Miranda stood, keeping her cloak over her face.  “Yes, my lord.”

Brunon snapped his fingers at his men.  “Prepare to ride.  Travel north.  Destroy them.”

The men bowed in reply and stormed from the room.  Brunon clapped Miranda on the shoulder.  “Good work, Ewen.  With loyalty such as yours, you may serve as one of my men soon.”

“Thank you, sire.  I look forward to the day.”

Miranda suppressed a giggle as she watched as Brunon swept from the room.  Now that Brunon’s men were heading north, she would head south.  And before long she would be with her Thatcher again.  Even though he does not know it is me.

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Tuesday Tales – Bargain

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Hi everyone and welcome to Tuesday Tales!  Today’s word prompt is “bargain”.  We are back with Miranda and Thatcher in The Thirteenth Knight.  Last week Miranda, dressed as Ewen the courtier, was caught by Sir William as she ventured through the forest.  Will she get free?  

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Miranda swallowed hard.  Her voice trembled as she spoke.  “Sir William, it is I.  Ewen, the courtier, from the palace.”

William frowned at her as his grip loosened.  “Aye.  The lad who set us free.  What are you doing in these woods, Ewen?  It is dangerous.  And how did you find us in the first place?”

Miranda still couldn’t hide the tremor in her voice.  “I was searching the palace.  I found Brunon’s maps.  They led me to you.”

 She heard William curse beneath his breath.  The tall, strong knight let her go and cocked his head further into the woods.  “Come, Ewen.  You need to tell Thatcher what you found.”

 “Yes, my lord.”

 Miranda followed William deeper into the thick, dark forest.  At the moment that the branches above completely cut out the light of day she could see the glimmer of a bonfire ahead.  William held back a bramble of wild thorns for her to pass through.

 Thatcher looked up from the document he was studying with Thaddeus as the two of them stepped into the campsite.  Miranda’s heart thundered in her chest at the sight of him.  Her knees buckled.  His sapphire blue eyes made every nerve in her body purr.  She bit her lower lip wishing for just one kiss.  William’s voice disrupted her thoughts.

 “Thatcher, Ewen has brought news from the palace,” he announced.

 “Miranda?” he demanded.  She could hear the desperation in his voice.  He misses me.  It took every ounce of self control not to throw her arms around him.

 “No, my lord,” Miranda fought out.  “I have maps.  They led me here.”

 Thatcher crossed around the fire to her.  He held out his hand silently for the maps.  She pulled them free from her jacket and laid them in his hands.  He unrolled them and studied them, muttering a string of curses beneath his breath just as William did.

 “We are not safe, Thatcher.  Brunon can find us,” William warned.

 Thatcher stood over Miranda, dwarfing her small frame with his large, muscular one.  “Where did you find these, Ewen?

“It the knight’s wing of the palace.  Brunon has turned your bedchamber into a war room, Sir Thatcher.”

 “Was there anything else there?  Anything of importance?”

 “There were several purple crystals pulsating with light.  I don’t know what they are for.”

 She noticed his stature soften.  “And Lady Miranda?  Is she safe?”

 Miranda smiled.  “Yes, my lord.  She has hidden herself away from Brunon and only sees him when he demands her presence at meal time.”

 A look of relief flooded Thatcher’s face.  “Ewen, you need to make me this bargain.  Destroy any of these maps you find in my bedchamber.  Brunon cannot know where we are.  Study them beforehand so you know where to find us.  Report to us several times a week.  Find out what those crystals do.  And tell Miranda that I love her and please, please protect her.  Make me this bargain and I promise you we will end Brunon.”

Miranda’s heart was light at his confession of love.  She could barely speak.  “Aye.  I promise.  And I feel safe to tell you that she loves you too.  She misses you greatly.”

Thatcher’s smile shone brighter than the bonfire.  “Good.  Now go before night falls.  It is your only chance to get out of these woods safely.  Go.”

 Miranda stood rooted in her place for a moment staring at him, etching him into her memory.  Then she turned and stepped between the large trunks of the trees into the darkness of the forest.

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Welcome to the Secret Cravings Publishing Historical Romance Blog Hop!

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Hello everyone and welcome to the Secret Cravings Publishing Historical Romance Blog Hop!!

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I love, love, love to write medieval romance and my current release is my first one published, Queen of Savon.  It is the story of Cassandra, a sorceress, who is orphaned at a young age.  She is found by her grandfather, the sorcerer Malicar, who also serves as the king’s advisor.  She is brought up in the palace alongside two boys – the king’s son, Matthew and Victor, the young man chosen to be Matthew’s commander of the army.  However growing up in the palace comes at a price for Cassandra – she is forced to take a vow to serve Matthew as his advisor for the rest of her life without the chance of a husband and children of her own.  As the three of them grow up, Cassandra finds herself caught between the two men and her longing for her dream of a family.  She is forced to make a choice – to run away with a man she doesn’t love to have the life she dreams of or stay shackled to the man she loves with all her heart and soul but cannot have?

And for your viewing pleasure, click here for the Queen of Savon trailer! 

And for the Blog Hop I am giving away a copy of Queen of Savon and a $5.00 gift card to Starbucks (one of my weaknesses!) to one lucky commenter who tells me what their favorite part of the Medieval age is!  Is it the palaces?  Is it the swordplay?  Or is it the valiant, sexy knights??

I am excited to share a sample of Queen of Savon with you.  This part is actually my favorite!

Cassandra firmly capped the bottle of herbs with a cork and slipped the container in her bag. She marked her books, stacking one on top of the other. Glancing out the window, she watched as Matthew gently kissed Stephana before helping her into the carriage.

Sighing, she pulled herself away from the window to gather more herbs. She picked up her books and the bag of bottles. Then, she hobbled to the door and struggled to open it with her one free hand.

Cassandra jumped back, startled, as she discovered Matthew standing in the doorway. He clung to the doorframe as he stared at her.

“How may I serve, my lord?” she greeted as she awkwardly bowed to him.

“Where are you going?” he asked, barely audible.

“Home. I have much to do before I return in the morning and you leave for battle.”

Matthew paused. “I did not propose to Stephana.”

Cassandra set her items on a table nearby. “That was unwise, my lord.”

Matthew stared at her as he dug his fingernails into the wood of the frame. “Cassa, do not leave me like this.”

Cassandra swallowed as she heard the urgency in his voice. “Like what, my lord?”

“Like this—the formal address, the subservient nature. This.” Matthew stood up straight, taking a step to grip her arms in his hands.

“Tell me her name,” Matthew demanded.

“There is no one.”

“Tell me her name,” Matthew begged. “Tell me, and I will give her my heart and make her my bride. I swear this.”

Cassandra stared at him, tears filling her eyes. “What if she belongs to another man?” She looked away as the words she spoke seemed to crush him. He closed his eyes, fighting to defeat the truth, the truth he already must know. Capitalizing on his weakness, Cassandra pulled away. “I told you there is no one.”

He grasped her hand, pressing it to his heart. “No, my lady, I will win her. I will fight, and I will not stop until she is cradled in my arms. This I promise you. Do you hear me? This I promise you.”

Her tears burst their floodgates as she slipped her fingers from his. “I must go,” she stumbled out. “I have much to do. I must go.”

Cassandra scooped up her books then swept by Matthew and ran down the stairs. She cringed as she heard him call her name, his voice betraying his pain.

Cassandra could not sleep. She lay in her bed, staring at the ceiling of her room as the night passed by. As dawn brushed the sky, she pulled herself from her covers, dressed, and trudged her return to the palace.

In no time, she stood in the courtyard, the soldiers around her completely oblivious to her presence. She glanced up as Victor rode next to her. “Lock yourself in the tower. I will see you when I get back,” he instructed as he kissed her on the cheek.

“Stay safe,” she murmured.

Cassandra looked to the ground as Victor’s horse trotted away. Then, she raised her head as she heard hoof steps approach. Matthew wandered across the courtyard, leading his stallion behind him. His eyes, yearning and desperate, locked on her.

She shuddered as he approached, his stride determined as he wove his way around the soldiers scattered around the courtyard. He stopped, dropping the reins of his horse, when he reached her.

Without warning or care for decency, Matthew cupped Cassandra’s face in his hands drawing her lips to his and parting them in a soul-wrenching kiss. She clung to his arms as he tasted her, clearly searching for confession, answers—her love for him. As he pulled away, he whispered, “Lock yourself in. I could not live another day if anything happened to you.”

Matthew’s fingers caressed Cassandra’s skin once more before they slipped away to grasp his horse’s reins. He glanced at her over his shoulder before he disappeared behind the wall. Cassandra hugged herself tightly, her limbs shaking in uncertainty.

Collecting herself as much as possible, she wound her way to her tower blindly. Her thoughts were incoherent. Matthew? Victor? She rubbed her fingertips against her swollen lips. Both had made their feelings for her abundantly clear. And both were riding out to battle. Above all, the vows she had taken as a child dictated she could have neither of them.

Tears filled her eyes as she collapsed onto her cushion. The only thing she knew with clarity was that she needed to get her thoughts together. It wouldn’t be long before she would be joining them on the battlefield.

Don’t forget to check out the other Secret Cravings Authors blogs for more steamy, sexy Historical Romance!  Click the image below to return to the Secret Cravings blog to continue the Blog Hop!

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Tuesday Tales – Rural Road Picture Prompt

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It’s time for another Tuesday Tales!  This week we are working with a picture prompt.  I’ve chosen the one below.  This week we are again with Thatcher and Miranda in The Thirteenth Knight.  Don’t forget to stop by and check out the excerpts from my very talented friends at Tuesday Tales!!

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Miranda ran along the dirt road, the map firmly clenched in her fist.  The old, weathered wood fence bordering the road led the way to the forest.  She stopped breathless for a moment as she gazed into the clear blue sky.  It reminded her of Thatcher’s eyes.  The afternoon sun was descending into the horizon far quicker than she hoped.  She sighed disappointed.  She would have to make her visit to the camp brief so she could back to the palace before nightfall.  She might be dressed as a man but she would be no match if she were attacked by bandits.

She unrolled the map and studied it.  She glanced up at the road to get her bearings then her eyes descended back to the map.  She hoped against hope that the map was wrong, that the king and his knights were not camped where the parchment indicated.  She rolled it back up and continued her jog down the road.

Miranda slipped between two broken rails in the wood fence into the thick, dark wood where the map indicated.  Her heart thundered in terror.  These were the types of woods that the men of her village had frightened her with when they told their tales.  She startled at the hoot of an owl, at the rustle of an animal in the brush.  Miranda swallowed back the lump forming in her throat, steeled her courage and trudged on through the forest.

She screamed as a vice wrapped tightly around her bicep.  Whatever it was that took her captive spun her around.  Her breath locked in her throat as she touched noses with Sir William, one of Thaddeus’s knights.  His eyes bored into hers with a murderous heat.

“What business do you have in these woods?” he demanded.

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