#MedievalMonday ~ Mask of the Highlander

It’s our last round of Medieval Monday for this session. We will have a new theme and start up again in just a few weeks. In the interim, I’ll be plying you with more Medieval Romance to stock your TBR pile (or folder ;-). For this finale, I’m giving you the excerpt from Mask of the Highlander in its entirety.  Peace and Love, gods and goddesses!

Kenna stood rooted to the spot, just inside the door of her husband’s bed chamber. Little had changed. The hearth, cold and dark, gaped like the maw of Satan, large enough to consume any unsuspecting human who ventured too close. The bed to which he had bound her sat against the far wall. The blood-stained linens long since replaced. A trunk, where he kept his instruments of torture, stood at the foot, an ominous reminder of what lay in store for her.

Mrs. Dingwell cleaned the room regularly, but the air reeked of a mustiness brought on by disuse. There was an unearthly silence to the granite walls, hung with faded tapestries and notched with arrow slits at random intervals. A single window let in light from outside, but it was not enough to chase away the gloom. Or the memories.

Kenna choked back a sob. The last time she had been in this room, she had prayed for her own death. Now she pleaded silently for the Lord to strike Ty Vass dead where stood. She fantasized about stepping over his dead body, leaving it to whither and rot while she returned to her duties, running the household, raising her daughter, overseeing the welfare of the people she had come to love in the laird’s absence.

When that did not happen, she gave in to her debilitating fear and gave up trying to remain calm. She shook so hard, she worried her knees would give way. Just a few hours ago, she had been at peace, content in the belief that her husband would never return, and they could live out their days in peace. Oh, the difference in such a short time.

She yelped when his hands closed around her shoulders from behind. He gave them a gentle squeeze and rubbed his palms down her arms.

“Ye are trembling, lass.”

She was surprised by his gentleness. He almost seemed to be…comforting her. Indeed, his entire demeanor since arriving had hardly been what she expected. He had smiled more than once, a real smile. Not some sadistic grin that spoke of unvoiced threats, but a genuine smile that lit up his face and revealed a man glad to be home. He had tried to tousle Robby’s hair and had even teased Mrs. Dingwell. The housekeeper had actually blushed.

Kenna tried to relax, but found it impossible to do so. His touch did not threaten to leave marks, but worse was yet to come. She was sure of it. What game did he play at?

Unable to speak past the lump in her throat, all she could do was swallow hard and dig deep for any vestige of courage she could muster. She forced her thoughts to Isla. Kenna would suffer any torment to distract Ty from her existence. She would keep her secret as long as possible, trusting Mrs. Dingwell to keep her daughter out of sight.

“Why so afraid?” he asked. His continued stroking of her arms only increased her discomfort. He glanced around the room. “It does not seem so bad.”

His flippant dismissal of her distress infuriated her. Was he so daft as to think she had forgotten the abuse he meted out? She had survived more in three days that most women suffered in a lifetime, had lived through the suffering and pain and come out stronger. Kenna was struck with the sudden realization that she was no longer the weakling he left broken and battered five years ago. His brutal treatment of her body, and her survival of it, had given her a strength she had not realized she possessed until perhaps this very moment.

She jerked away from him, empowered—albeit frightfully so—by his surprise. She glared at him with the full might of a woman capable of commanding grown men to do her bidding, smart enough to run a large, complex household, and brave enough to protect those she loved. “Ye dare make light of the suffering ye inflicted?”

His dark brows drew together. Confusion crossed his features. Had he forgotten?

Impossible.

“Ye bound me to this very bed, brutally plowing through my maidenhead, laughing at my cries for mercy.”

Kenna’s chest rose and fell with the strength of her ardor. Further empowered by his silence, she continued her tirade. “For three days, I suffered at the hands of the very man who should have been my greatest champion, who instead treated me worse than the lowliest whore. Ye turned what should have been the happiest days of my life into a nightmare. I was a girl, an innocent.”

By now the muscle in his jaw twitched with gusto. His handsome features were clouded with fury. She ignored the warning in her head, and surged ahead. “Now ye return home, expecting your wife to greet you with open arms—and legs, no doubt—while ye callously belittle the torture ye inflicted in this very room.”

Shut up, shut up, shut up, a tiny voice screamed inside her head. You will only make it worse. But Kenna could not stop, despite the every-growing rage that seemed to render him speechless and the certainty that he would punish her for her insolence.

Perhaps she, too, had forgotten. Had her recollection faded over the years? Had she lived with such fear until now it was little more than a faded memory, its intensity diminished by time? She stood taller, squaring her shoulders and fixing him with a look of disdain that would make most men shuffle their feet and look away in shame.

His expression, however, did not reveal a man ashamed of his actions. Only a devil, enraged at being dressed down by a wisp of a lass and plotting the best ways to punish her.

Kenna clenched her fists at her sides, wishing she had a blade hidden in the folds of her smock. She glared at him, her eyes locked on his despite the murderous rage she saw there. “Do with me as ye will. It is yer right as my husband. But know this: I willna cower in fear of ye. Not again. I willna suffer yer abuse submissively. You will have to kill me this time.”

BLURB: Once she was afraid to touch him. Now she’s afraid to let go.

Forced to marry to avoid war between clans, Kenna Cleary endured three days of her new husband’s painful brutality before he rode off to battle the English. In the five years of his absence, she bore him a daughter, increased his holdings, and gained the love and respect of his people. Now he’s home. Must she and the clan learn to endure his cruelty once more?

Can an ancient Celtic god find peace in the mortal world?

The Laird of Domhnul has returned from war a changed man—moreso than his wife or clan can possibly know. Now the warrior faces a new battle, one for his wife’s heart, and his peoples’ trust. He must walk the knife’s edge of deception and danger, while proving he is no longer the cruel tyrant they came to know all too well.

But when his father embroils both them in a deadly plot, can the couple find a way to prevent war between the clans?

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#MedievalMonday ~ Cathy and DD MacRae

Medieval Monday is my favorite day of the week. Today, I’m excited to have the super writing team of Cathy and DD MacRae. Cathy is an Amazon best-selling author who enjoys weaving tales of romance in the Highland mists. Her stories feature strong heroes and feisty heroines in pursuit of their happy-ever-afters in medieval Scotland.  When not writing, Cathy can be found curled up in a chair with a book or enjoying the outdoors with her corgis and maybe a German Shepherd or two. Today they share with us an excerpt from their Medieval Romance, The Highlander’s Crusader Bride.

“The expectations should be ours and no one else’s,” Arbela pointed out. “What others think of us should not influence how we live our lives, or how we treat each other.”

“I had no expectation of bedding ye,” Caelen replied bluntly. “I will admit the thought crossed my mind, but I leave the matter to ye.”

Join Cathy and DD next week on Lane McFarland’s blog http://lanemcfarland.com/blog/ for the next excerpt from The Highlander’s Crusader Bride!

BLURB: Born in the Holy Land only a few years after the Third Crusade, half-Armenian, half-Scot Arbela MacLean is a true daughter of the desert, beautiful and untamed. Trained to be a warrior to avoid her gentle mother’s fate, Arbela has honed her skills with Turkish bow and arrow, sword and throwing darts—and dreads the day her father choses a man for her to marry. After more than thirty years in the Holy Land, Donal MacLean, Baron of Batroun, is recalled to Scotland, the last son available to take up leadership of clan MacLean. He brings with him knights, treasure, trade—and a daughter of marriageable age.

Caelen MacKern, known as the Bull of the Highlands, is cynical about women. His first marriage formed an alliance, and he did not grieve when his spoiled, immature bride passed away. He has agreed to marry again—against his better judgement—for the men, means and coin to recover from a devastating pestilence that all but wiped out his clan.

Though more than a little resentful at finding himself forced to remarry, Caelen’s proposal to Donal MacLean’s headstrong daughter nevertheless piques her interest. Each will receive what they want most from life—the ability to live as they please without interference from a meddling spouse. But their marriage of indifference will soon change to one of passion that neither Arbela nor Caelen could have predicted.

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#MedievalMonday ~ Mary Morgan

Greetings, gods and goddesses. I hope you are enjoying all the snippets on our Medieval Romance hop.  If you haven’t visited the other sites to follow along, you’re missing out. Be sure to click on the link underneath the excerpt to go to the next one and just keep going from there. Today my friend Mary Morgan is visiting the forest. Mary lives in California, with her own knight in shining armor. During her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return. The worlds she creates in her mind are coming to life within her stories. Today she shares with us an excerpt from her Medieval Romance, A Highland Moon Enchantment.

Ailsa gasped and looked at her father.

Bran narrowed his eyes. “Why are ye showing disrespect to our hosts?”

“I merely asked a question,” replied the man.

“I have already shared the knowledge with your chieftain as to why the king is not present,” interjected Angus. “But since ye have not had a chance to speak with him, I will tell ye. The king is traveling onward to Arbroath Abbey to oversee the continuation of the building. We sent a messenger to tell him of the troubles with King John’s men. We thought it best if he did not venture to Urquhart.”

Follow along next week on Ruth A. Casie’s blog: https://www.RuthACasie.blogspot.com and leave a comment for a chance to win a signed print copy of A HIGHLAND MOON ENCHANTMENT.

BLURBYou first met this warrior in Dragon Knight’s Axe, Order of the Dragon Knights, Book 3

Irish warrior, Desmond O’Quinlan has never surrendered his heart to any woman. He has no wish to have his soul tortured by love. Yet, the moment he locks gazes with Ailsa, his fate is destined for an adventure he never fathomed. He may have battled alongside a Dragon Knight, but his greatest challenge will come from within his own heart.

Ailsa MacDuff, a warrior among her clan, has no desire to have a man chain her to a life of obedience. However, that is before she meets Desmond. The temptation to allow this warrior inside her heart is a risk she dares to take, but one that could lead to a future of emptiness and sorrow.

When betrayal looms from within, the battleground of love is no match for these two warriors. Can the power of a Highland full moon be strong enough to unite or destroy them?

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#MedievalMonday ~ Jenna Jaxon

Jenna Jaxon is back in the forest! Jenna has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. Today she is sharing an excerpt from her Medieval Romance, Betrayal.

In the silence that ensued, he continued to stroke her face, her hair. He ran his hand down her arm, and she shivered. ’Twould be her choice, but he would do his best to help the decision along.

“And if I choose nay?” The whisper was so light he scarcely heard her.

He sighed and withdrew his hand. “Then we shall counterfeit the deed.”

“Counterfeit?”

“Aye, you must do exactly what I bid you do or say, no matter if you find it odd or…embarrassing, in order to make the courtiers believe we have consummated our marriage. Do you understand?”

Follow along next week by visiting Lane McFarland’s site at www.lanemcfarland.com

BLURB: After a night of passion with her betrothed, Sir Geoffrey Longford, Lady Alyse de Courcy is eagerly looking forward to her wedding. But when Geoffrey is forced to marry another, a heartbroken and possibly pregnant Alyse finds herself in her own private hell. She must either gamble with her reputation or marry someone she does not love.

A reputed connoisseur of women, Thomas, Lord Braeton, has dallied with many ladies of King Edward’s court, although he has favored none. However, as Geoffrey’s best friend, Thomas has sworn to serve and protect Alyse, an oath now sorely tested when he agrees to marry her—in name only—to guard her reputation. Yet, as they grow closer, and Thomas discovers Alyse’s sweet but spirited nature, he comes to desire a marriage in truth.

Can he overcome her memory of Geoffrey, or is Thomas doomed to burn with passion for a woman he can never possess?

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#MedievalMonday ~ Laurel O’Donnell

I love St. Patrick’s Day. For me it signals the arrival of spring and the impending end of the school year. To celebrate, I’ve invited Laurel O’Donnell to join me. Laurel  lives in Illinois with her four cherished children, her beloved husband and her five cats. She finds precious time every day to escape into the medieval world and bring her characters to life in her writing. Today she is sharing a snippet from her Medieval Romance, A Knight with Grace.

She dropped her chin as if in confusion.
He stepped toward her. “Grace. I promised to see you safely to your father. I intend to honor that vow.”

Please join Laurel for the continuing excerpt next week at Lane MacFarland’s blog – http://lanemcfarland.com/

BLURB: Lady Grace Willoughby defies her father’s orders to marry Sir William de Tracy and escapes with a friend. She has no intention of wedding a cursed man, a man ostracized from the church, a man who would only doom any future children they might have to the fires of Hell.  She prays for a knight to rescue her.

Excommunicated and outcast for a horrible crime in his past, Sir William de Tracy searches for forgiveness. Marriage has never crossed his mind until Lord Willoughby commissions him to retrieve his fleeing daughter and honor the dying wish of his father by marrying Grace.

But things are not as they seem. And when an assassin tries to kill Grace, William must choose between his soul and the woman he has come to love. Can William and Grace overcome their past and find the redemption and love both are so desperately seeking?

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#MedievalMonday ~ Jenni Fletcher

Well, gods and goddesses, the countdown to summer is on. At least I have some great Medieval Romances to keep my mind off the number of school days left and to make the days pass more quickly. Today my guest is visiting all the way from the other side of the world. Please welcome Jenni Fletcher. Jenni was born on the north coast of Scotland and now lives in Yorkshire, where she writes historical romance novels set in the Medieval and Victorian eras. She studied English at Cambridge and Hull Universities before starting to write stories of her own, combining her love of history and literature with a special emphasis on alpha males and feisty heroines. Today she shares an excerpt from her Medieval Romance, Besieged and Betrothed.

‘A commander shouldn’t surrender just to save themselves, isn’t that what you said?’ She jutted her chin out, though the flash of fear in her eyes gave her away. ‘Tell me something about my father.’

‘What?’ He blinked at the abrupt change of subject.

‘I need to know if I can trust you. You said that you were friends. Tell me something that proves it.’

‘You want me to prove that I’m trustworthy? I’m not the one who drugged your wine, my lady. Trust works both ways.’

‘I know, but…please.’

BLURB:  Ruthless warrior Lothar the Frank has laid siege to Castle Haword, but there’s a fiery redhead in his way—and she’s not backing down!

More tomboy than trembling maiden, Lady Juliana Danville would rather die than lose the castle. When she’s caught on opposite sides of a war, a marriage bargain is brokered to bring peace. But is blissful married life possible when Juliana has a dangerous secret hidden within the castle walls?

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#MedievalMonday ~ Elisabeth Hobbes

Greetings, gods and goddesses. Please welcome Elisabeth Hobbes to the forest for Medieval Monday, my favorite day of the week. Elisabeth grew up in York where she spent most of her teenage years wandering around the city looking for a handsome Roman or Viking to sweep her off her feet. Sadly it never happened. Now she lives in Cheshire with her husband, two young children and two cats because her car broke down there in 1999, and she never left. Elisabeth loves historical fiction and has a fondness for dark haired, bearded heroes. When she’s not writing, she spends a lot of her spare time reading and has become something of a pro at cooking one-handed while holding a book! Today she shares an excerpt from her Medieval Romance, Redeeming the Rogue Knight.

Roger’s pride revolted at the idea that she would give herself to a repellent figure like Risby while refusing Roger.  She refused to meet his eye, twisting her torso away from him. Roger took his hands from her waist and stepped back, his heart splitting in two.

‘I take it that means he is.’

Lucy made a sound of disgust. She fixed him with eyes full of contempt. ‘Is that what you think love looks like? That says more about you than it does about me! Do you really think I could love a man like him? Don’t you know anything of me?’

Follow along next week on Lane McFarland’s blog by clicking here.

BLURB: The spy who sought refuge… When injured spy Sir Roger Danby comes asking for shelter at her inn, Lucy Carew is wary. He may be strikingly handsome, but the disgraced single mother has learned the hard way with men like him. Against her better judgment, she gives him refuge. Sir Roger has never been at the mercy of a woman before, and he’s never met one as mysterious and bewitching as Lucy. He hasn’t come looking for redemption, but Lucy is a woman who could reach in and touch his closely guarded heart…

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