Medieval Monday ~ Why Ruth A. Casie Writes Medieval Romance

Greetings, Medieval Romance Lovers! I hope you enjoyed our round of Medieval excerpts. We are taking a break from featuring books to introduce some of the new members of our group and to reacquaint you with others who’ve been around for a while. Ruth A. Casie is here with me today to reveal why she loves writing Medieval Romance.

Years ago when I worked for a large bank I did a lot of international business travel. I can remember my first overseas assignment very clearly. It was a two week trip to five European cities. I brought six paperbacks thinking I would catch up on my reading—there was never enough time to read at home. We had three small children. Settled in my seat, I finished a book and a half by the time I landed in Brussels.

Client calls with local bank directors filled my days, but after business hours and over the weekend I was on my own. I filled the time with walking tours, sometimes in groups other times using the track provided by the hotel. Each time I came face to face with history; the Grand Place in Brussels, the Place de la Concorde in Paris, and Hampton Court in England.

As I went on to the different cities I tried to hear the sounds, smell the aromas, and see the sights from a different perspective, a different time. Stories by Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux, Johanna Lindsey and Lynn Kurland had me enthralled along with Clive Cussler. I know he’s not exactly romance but his Dirk Pit stories always start with some historical fact or thread that’s crucial to solving the mystery. I read my books at night and visited places where I imagined the stories unfolding.

Historical facts mixed with chivalry and magic are the most compelling stories to me. The romance of the middle ages with knights and princesses and their myths of druids, fairies, and fae tossed in for good measure all drew me in. Time travel stories and the ability to visit the past, protect the future, or simply experience a different time were the most compelling stories. Personally, I want my fiction based on fact but I don’t necessarily want the cold truth of reality. I know that history doesn’t always end with a happily ever after but taking a little poetic license to alter history just a bit to make it all work out is what I enjoy reading—and writing.

Bio:
Ruth A. Casie, a USA Today Bestselling Author, writes historical fantasy and contemporary romances for Harlequin, Carina Press, and Timeless Scribes. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and international bank product and marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. When not writing you can find her home in Teaneck, NJ, reading, cooking, doing Sudoku and counted cross stitch. You can reach her at www.RuthACasie.com , and join her newsletter, on Twitter @RuthACasie, at her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/RuthACasie or at Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ruthacasie/

Medieval Monday ~ Ruth A. Casie

We’re nearing the end of our Medieval Villain Hop. Only two episodes to go. Next week, we’ll be featuring our own books, so today is my final guest, at least for a few weeks. Please welcome Ruth A. Casie. Ruth is a USA Today bestselling author of swashbuckling action-adventure time-travel romance about strong empowered women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Here is an excerpt from her Medieval Romance, The Highlander’s English Woman.

EXCERPT: In a close clinch, Bryce muttered for Jamie’s ear only. Jamie pushed his tormentor away. Years of restraint from insults and attacks disappeared with the maliciously whispered words.

Bryce threw his punch. Jamie caught the left jab in his palm mid-strike. Alarm and panic flashed in Bryce’s eyes. The bully stared at Jamie’s hand holding his fist.

Jamie almost tore Bryce’s arm out of its socket as he pushed it aside and set his stance, one foot in front of the other.

For a moment Jamie thought to stop the madness, but the idea quickly died. Bryce had no idea what he let loose.

Follow along with excerpt #13 and the conclusion of this excerpt from THE HIGHLANDER’S ENGLISH WOMAN by Ruth A. Casie at her blog, www.RuthACasie.com.

BLURB: Laura Reynolds is in love with her long-time friend, Jamie Maxwell Collins. She adores his playful sense of humor, caring nature as well as his strong sense of family and honor.

Jamie lives across the border in Scotland. Outwardly carefree, he hides a dark secret. He can’t involve Laura in this deception. He can’t give her hope for a future together.

Laura stumbles upon Jamie’s secret. In her heart of hearts she knows Jamie is innocent. Their relationship in tatters and with no hope of reconciliation, she plays a deadly game to exonerate Jamie, she agrees to a political marriage. She has no idea the entire game has been orchestrated by her future husband, Jamie’s greatest enemy.

BUY LINKS:   Amazon

Medieval Monday ~ Ruth A. Casie

Our celebration theme is coming to an end as we prepare a new format for your Medieval Romance reading pleasure. Next up: Villains! How exciting!!! For our final celebration installment, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Ruth A. Casie. Ruth is a USA Today bestselling author of swashbuckling action-adventure time-travel romance about strong empowered women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. Her Druid Knight novels have both finaled in the NJRW Golden Leaf contest. Here is an excerpt from her Medieval Romance, The Druid Knight Tales.

Ruth CasieEXCERPT: She woke before sunrise refreshed by a good night’s sleep. After her morning routine she picked up her staff and joined the others at the standing stones. Today, the shortest day of the year, they would welcome the day and celebrate the sacred marriage between Father Sky and Mother Earth. She waited while Doward finished cleansing and purifying the area for the Grand Master.

Ellyn and the people from all the clans proceeded through the outer circle to the Cove and its three standing stones. Doward came up to her. “Another year. They seem to hurry by.”

A wave of unease washed over her. She hardly made out what Doward said. She was too busy trying to control her rising apprehension.

The clans formed a large circle around the stones and waited. The Grand Master walked down the wide avenue and took his place. He stood beside her. She had imagined his tall, commanding presence quite correctly.

Everyone in the large circle faced east and waited for the sun to peek over the horizon. Slowly sunlight crept up and bathed the central Cove stone with its first rays of light.

“Hail and welcome,” declared Max.

“Hail and welcome,” the clans around him responded.

In unison they faced the center of the large circle.

“Hail this new day and year. We remember those who have left us. And we welcome those who have joined us by marriage, birth, or simply by choice.” He nodded toward Ellyn. “Ellyn of Brodgar, we welcome you into Fendrel’s clan.”

“Thank you, Grand Master.” Ellyn’s voice carried loud and clear. She faced Fendrel. “Thank you for making a place for me at your hearth.”

The first part of the morning ritual completed, the circle broke. She followed Max and the others as they made their way to the great oak in the nearby grove.

“Are you familiar with this part of the ritual?” Doward asked.

“Yes. The Grand Master will enter the Otherworld and meet with the Ancestors.”

“There is more to the ritual,” Doward said. “To ensure a good year and banish evil, when the Grand Master returns with the message from the Ancestors, the women will cut down and collect springs of mistletoe from the sacred oak tree. The Grand Master will give the sprigs to the families in the clan for them to hang in their house.”

Everyone gathered around the ancient oak. Once again she and Doward stood in the great circle next to the Grand Master.

Max waited for quiet before he faced the east and raised his arms. “Hail, Guardians of the East. I summon the power of air.” His voice echoed through the grove.

“By the air in her breath, be with us now,” the congregation replied.

He turned to the south. “Hail, Guardians of the South. I summon the power of fire.”

“By the fire in her spirit, be with us now,” came the reply.

He faced the west. “Hail, Guardians of the West. I summon the power of water.”

“By the waters of her womb, be with us now.”

Turning north he said, “Hail, Guardians of the North. I summon the power of earth.”

“By the earth that is her body, be with us now.” Every eye turned to Max when he faced the ancient oak, mistletoe hanging in great bunches from its mighty branches.

“As above, so below.

As within, so without.

Four stars in this place be

To open the door to the Ancestors to me.”

The cold air chilled even more and the sky turned an array of colors. Every muscle in Ellyn’s body tensed. This was magick she was not supposed to see. She must be too close to the Grand Master. She struggled to move away but was fixed to the spot. Slowly the world began to spin. She took a few deep breaths to steady herself, planted her staff deep into the ground, and held on. She peered through a hazy filter and witnessed Doward’s nod. She studied his lips silently mouthing, Safe journey.

Blurb:

Maximilian, the druid Grand Master, was given a year to find his soul mate. On the final day, the sacred mistletoe has shriveled and died—proclaiming his failure. He must do what no other Grand Master has done before and journey to meet with the Ancestors formally relinquish his title.

Ellyn of Brodgar has the gift of healing. But each use of her magick, through a kiss, depletes her energy and brings her closer to death. Time is running out as she searches for a way to continue saving lives—especially her own.

Max and Ellyn are tossed into the Otherworld together—a place filled with magick and wonder, it’s also fraught with danger, traps, and death. They have only until the third sunset to find the Ancestors, or be lost to the world forever. The domineering druid must work with the stubborn healer, not only for survival, but for the promise of the future—a future together.

Included is an epilogue fifteen years later. See how the man destined for Max and Ellyn’s daughter takes the first steps in becoming a druid knight.

Arik, son of Fendrel and Dimia, prepares for training with his adopted brother, Bran, setting into motion a ripple effect that will carry love, betrayal, and death across the centuries.

Buy Link:

AMAZON

Medieval Monday ~ Ruth A. Casie

This is our last Medieval Monday following the ‘travel’ theme. But not to worry. We’ll be back next week with a new theme: celebrations! What could be more appropriate this time of year? My guest today is Ruth A. Casie. Ruth is a USA Today bestselling author of swashbuckling action-adventure time-travel romance about strong empowered women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. Her Druid Knight novels have both finaled in the NJRW Golden Leaf contest. Here is an excerpt from her Medieval Romance, The Maxwell Ghost.

ruth-a-casieEXCERPT: He and Laura were targets in the swift moving water. He needed to get farther downstream, away from the marshland. He cursed himself for worrying about her propriety rather than her safety.

The sound of splashing from up river grew closer.

“Wrap your arms around my waist and try not to lose your seat.”

They reached the far bank and raced along the river, the raiders not far behind.

“You need to let me down,” she yelled at him in the wind. “You can go faster without me.”

“Keep down,” he said between clenched teeth and pulled his sword. They raced on, the land a blur as they flew by.

The spray of water from his horse’s pounding hooves turned into small clouds of dust as they came out of the marshland into the meadow. His horse couldn’t maintain this speed much longer. They reached the area where the river dog-legged to the right. A dense fog hung low in the forest. Jamie let loose his battle cry then veered into the woods.

They raced on. Out of the mist his men charged and dashed past them set to do battle with the reivers close behind them.

Jamie and Laura raced on. Laura glanced over his shoulder.

“Rider behind us.” Jamie urged his horse on faster. If they didn’t stop soon, the poor animal would collapse.

Another glance. The man was gaining ground. Think, she told herself. Sunlight bounced off Jamie’s sword. Could it work? It had to.

“Put your sword on your left shoulder then make a quick half-turn to your left and face the rider. Don’t stop, charge,” Laura said as she lay as close to his horse as possible to give Jamie more room to maneuver.

“Don’t look. It’s not going to be a pretty sight.”

She closed her eyes tight.

Jamie followed her instructions. The sound of the horse’s hooves echoed in her head as he completed the maneuver and his horse sprang forward. With the full weight of the charging horse behind his sword, he hit the raider in the chest. The man fell to the ground. His disembodied head rolled somewhere in the mist.

Jamie turned his horse again and continued into the woods. Laura sat up. The trees sped by. She began to panic at the tall hedge row that loomed in front of them.

Their direction didn’t waver. Rather than slow down, the animal gathered speed. Jamie crushed her in front of him and held her head against his chest.

“I won’t let anything happen to you. Hold me.”

The sensation of flying through the air frightened and exhilarated her at the same time. For a moment, her heart stopped. How they landed without the horse falling or them being thrown was beyond her, but they did.

The horse slowed to a halt, lathered and blowing hard. His men were soon with them.

BLURB:

In Ruth A. Casie’s The Maxwell Ghost, traitors, deception, murders and ghosts run rampant at The Maxwell’s Caerlaverock Castle. Jamie Maxwell Collins, a man of reality not magic, serves Lord Herbert in exchange for his own farm.  Laura Reynolds, Lord Herbert’s distant cousin comes to the castle to solve the murders and put the ghost to rest. The two, long-time friends find their destinies intertwined with hidden passions, but all is in jeopardy when Laura becomes the murderer’s next target. Jamie will find he needs some ghostly assistance to save Laura and declare his love. 

Buy Links: Amazon/Kindle, iBook, BN, KOBO   

Medieval Monday ~ A Feast of Medieval Romance Authors

Do you love Medieval Romance? Ashley York has cultivated an entire group of spectacular authors who want to offer you a library of the romance fiction you crave.  Come back with us to a time where men were chivalrous and could wield a broad sword with the strength of a warrior. Here is a brief introduction to each of the Medieval Monday authors. Maybe your next favorite is among them.

Ashley YorkAshley York ~ Amazon Best Selling Author Ashley York writes historical romance full of passion and intrigue set in 11th and 12th century Ireland, Scotland, and England where life was wild and survival was never guaranteed. The complexity of her characters evoke strong emotional responses from the readers, whether good or evil. The four books of the Norman Conquest series tell the tale of the fictional last Godwin bent on overthrowing King William I, finding support across northern England and as far west as Ireland. Far from the typical romance formulas, her stories are fresh and unpredictable but still finish with a satisfying HEA.

 

 

Cathy MacRaeCathy MacRae ~ Amazon best-selling author Cathy MacRae 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. A member of RWA, NTRWA, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, she is currently working on another Highland romance novel and planning her next trip to Scotland.

 

 

Mary MorganMary Morgan ~ Scottish paranormal romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California, with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return. Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. She spent far too much time daydreaming and was told quite often to remove her head from the clouds. It wasn’t until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling—writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.

 

 

Barbara BettisBarbara Bettis ~ Award-winning author Barbara Bettis has always loved history and English. As a college freshman, she briefly considered becoming an archaeologist until she realized there likely would be bugs and snakes involved. And math. She now lives in Missouri, where by day she’s a mild-mannered English teacher, and by night she’s an intrepid plotter of tales featuring heroines to die for—and heroes to live for.

 

 

 

 

Jenna JaxonJenna Jaxon ~ Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance. 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. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage. She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

 

 

Ruth A. Casie

Ruth A. Casie ~ Ruth A. Casie writes contemporary and historical fantasy romance for Carina Press, Harlequin and Timeless Scribes Publishing. Formerly from Brooklyn, New York, she lives in New Jersey with her very supportive husband Paul. When not writing you can find Ruth reading, cooking, doing Sudoku, or counted cross stitch. Ruth and Paul have three grown children and two grandchildren. They all thrive on spending time together. It’s certainly a lively dinner table and they wouldn’t change it for the world.

 

 

Lane McFarlandLane McFarland ~ Starting out as an accountant, Lane McFarland soon realized the long nights and numerous weekends of closing books and reporting financial results no longer appealed. So, she decided to hit the road selling financial software. Jumping from one high-pressured frying pan into the other, the stress of the road- warrior life and constant deadlines took its toll. She needed a release and found that in historical romance books, she could escape to worlds of intrigue with timeless love and happily-ever-after endings. Today, she has found her true passion in writing of spirited heroines and to-die-for-heroes and the romantic love stories between them.

Rue AllynRue Allyn ~ Author of historical and erotic romances, Rue Allyn fell in love with happily ever after the day she heard my first story. She studied literature for far too many years before discovering that writing stories was much more fun than writing about them. As an author, she gets to read the story before anyone else. She is happily married to her sweetheart of many, many years.

 

 

 

Bambi Lynn Head Shot 1…And Me! ~ Bambi Lynn graduated from the University of Maryland European Division with bachelor’s degrees in English and History. She writes Historical and Contemporary Paranormal Romance. What kind of Paranormal? Vampires? Werewolves? Ghosts? Her stories feature Celtic demi-gods, Highlanders with powers beyond mere humans, lost souls whose only salvation is the love of the right woman.

So check us out. You might find your next favorite author!

Medieval Monday ~ Ruth A. Casie

It’s the last in our nature themed series. But never fear! Medieval Monday is here ~ to stay. We’ll be having a Medieval Feast on Facebook (virtual, of course) on September 25th to kick off our next theme. Stay tuned for more details.  Huge thanks to Ruth A. Casie for hanging out with me today. Ruth writes contemporary and historical fantasy romance for Carina Press, Harlequin and Timeless Scribes Publishing. When not writing you can find Ruth reading, cooking, doing Sudoku, or counted cross stitch. Here is an excerpt from her Medieval Romance, The Guardian’s Witch.

Ruth A. CasieExcerpt:

The berries Lisbeth had gathered tumbled forgotten from her hands. A tremor touched her lips while the vision slammed behind her eyes. She didn’t doubt the vision’s truth. Sometimes a bright light, warm and comforting, accompanied the vision; other times the wind howled, cold and disturbing. Today, panic clearly filled the air.

She spun around trying to pinpoint a direction and abruptly stopped. Facing south, she licked her lips nervously and tasted the sweetness of fresh water. A rushing sound burst in her ears. The river. Her head snapped east toward the river path and she ran. As she careened down the narrow trail, the outstretched branches tugged at her dress, pulled off her shawl and clawed at her face and arms. She took no notice. The cadence of her footfalls beat out a mantra, not him, not him, not him. She rushed on faster, mumbling enchanted words under her breath.

She exploded out of the forest and stood on the riverbank as the bridge gave way, sending the horse and rider plunging into the angry current. Swiftly the horse surfaced and headed for shore with an empty saddle. She stood on the bank, still mumbling as she scanned the river until she glimpsed a clear red aura shining deep in its middle. Her relief was momentary when the blackness began to creep in. There wasn’t much time.

Quickly she pulled off her heavy dress and, wearing only her chemise, dove into the river. Save him was her only thought. Down she plunged kicking hard against the current. The usually clear water, now choked with mud, churned with debris. She screamed the words in her head and made her demands. In response, the current slowed and as the mud began to settle, a lifeless hand beckoned to her from below.

Desperate to reach him, she kicked hard toward the deep river bottom. She was a strong swimmer and reached him quickly. She pulled on his arm but he didn’t budge. Something pinned him in place. She dropped his hand and pulled herself around him. The murky water made it difficult for her to see what held him. She resorted to running her hand over every inch of his body to locate what kept him captive. Her lungs burned. She needed to surface but she pressed on.

Frantically her hands felt their way along his leg until she found his foot caught in the debris. She shoved the timber away. The exertion cost her precious time and air. With one hand she grabbed his shirt collar and kicked off the bottom. With her free arm she reached for the surface. She didn’t take her eyes off him.

The higher she got, the more the water cleared. The wild current fought to get free of her restraint. She didn’t think.

She focused on getting Alex out of the water.

The hand holding Alex’s collar cramped, sending spasms of pain up her arm. She did not let go. The last of her breath spent, her lungs screamed for fresh air. She forced herself not to breathe. She was certain she would break free of the water soon. Alex’s weight pulled at her. She wasn’t making any progress. If she didn’t do something quickly they would be back on the bottom. She glanced up. The light was brighter. She was close now. She held her legs together and undulated like a graceful giant fish. Once again her free arm reached hard and pulled the water out of her way. One last hard kick and she exploded into the air as if propelled from underneath. Alex floated face down next to her.

She gulped for air, exhausted. There was no time to waste. She held on to him as the current pulled them toward the rapids and the steep falls beyond. She turned him onto his back and swam for shore. She dragged the large knight onto the bank where his warhorse stood snorting and stomping. Worn out but thankful, she collapsed next to Alex gasping for air. Her hand was on his chest.

He didn’t stir. She fixed her eyes on his chest but she didn’t see any movement. She scanned his face. A small trickle of water escaped his mouth.

She rolled him on his side and pounded on his back. Nothing. She pounded again. More water trickled out of his mouth. She reached inside his wet shirt. No heartbeat.

She kept the building panic at bay. Think. Calmness overcame her. She rolled him onto his back and knelt above him.

She placed her mouth over his and gave him her breath. She’d given her breath before, when the blacksmith’s wife gave birth and the baby didn’t breathe. That day she had tried everything but nothing worked. She wanted to move the baby’s chest, just one breath. In desperation she breathed for the child. It worked then. It had to work now.

She felt the tingle at her lips and a dizzying current raced through her. She closed her eyes and gave him another breath. Her hand pressed hard against this chest. She searched for a heartbeat, the rise and fall of his chest, anything to indicate he lived.

He shuddered with a shallow breath. Reassured, she felt a faint but steady beat and sank back on her heels. She observed the deadly gray pallor on his face retreat. His arms twitched as they came to life. His face contorted in a spasm as he choked to clear his lungs. He pushed himself up coughing out the last of the river sludge and sucked in large quantities of air.

Relief surged through her. She rose, retrieved her dress lying in a pool of sunlight, and quickly slipped it on. She calmed the restless warhorse with her gentle touch and whispered words. When she ventured a glance at the knight, she found herself staring into his compelling gray eyes. His gaze was riveted on her face. A fresh spasm of coughing took him, and she turned to leave.

“Wait.” He struggled to get the word out.

She stopped and took a deep breath.

He shook his head. His eyelids slid closed and he fell onto his back. He was asleep before his head touched the ground.

Blurb

Lord Alex Stelton can’t resist a challenge, especially one with a prize like this: protect a castle on the Scottish border for a year, and it’s his. Desperate for land of his own, he’ll do anything to win the estate—even enter a proxy marriage to Lady Lisbeth Reynolds, the rumored witch who lives there.

Feared and scorned for her second sight, Lisbeth swore she’d never marry, but she is drawn to the handsome, confident Alex. She sees great love with him but fears what he would think of her gift and her visions of a traitor in their midst.

Despite his vow never to fall in love, Alex can’t get the alluring Lisbeth out of his mind and is driven to protect her when attacks begin on the border. But as her visions of danger intensify, Lisbeth knows it is she who must protect him. Realizing they’ll secure their future only by facing the threat together, she must choose between keeping her magic a secret and losing the man she loves.

Buy Links: Amazon, BN, Kobo, iBooks

Medieval Monday ~ Ruth A. Casie

Today is our last Medieval Monday with the conflict theme, but never fear. We’re starting a new theme next week, so you can still find fabulous new authors for your Medieval Romance fix. My guest this week is Ruth A. Casie.  Ruth writes  contemporary and historical fantasy romance for Carina Press, Harlequin and Timeless Scribes Publishing. Formerly from Brooklyn, New York, she lives in New Jersey with her very supportive husband. When not writing you can find Ruth reading, cooking, doing Sudoku, or counted cross stitch. I wonder when she has time to write? Here is an excerpt from her book, Knight of Runes.

Ruth CassieExcerpt:
England ~ May, 1605

I should not have stayed away from the Manor so long. Something stirs. Lord Arik’s eyes swept the surrounding area as he and his three riders escorted the wagon with the old tinker and the woman. They sped through the forest as fast as the rain-slicked trail would allow. Unable to shake the ominous feeling of being watched, Arik remained alert. At length, the horses winded, he slowed the pace as they neared the Stone River.

“The forest is flooded. I suspect the Stone will be as well. Willem, ride on ahead and let me know what we face at the crossing.”

Willem did his lord’s bidding and quickly returned with his report. “The river ahead runs fast, m’lord. The bridge is in disrepair and cannot be crossed.”

Arik raised his hand and brought the group to a halt. “Doward,” he said to the old tinker. “We must make repairs. There’s no room for the wagon at the river’s edge. You and the woman stay here and set up camp. Be ready to join us at the bridge when I send word.”

Logan, Arik’s brother, spoke up. “I’ll keep watch here and help Doward and Rebeka.”

Arik nodded and, with the others, continued the half mile to the bridge.

“I am not pleased with this new delay.”

“It can’t be helped, m’lord. We would make better time without the wagon,” said Simon.

“I’ll not leave Doward and the woman unescorted through the forest, not with what we’ve heard lately. We’ll have to drive hard to make up the lost time.”

The frame of the bridge stood solid, the planks scattered everywhere, clogging the banks and shallows. Arik leaped from his horse onto the frame to begin the repairs.

“Hand me that planking.” Arik pointed to the nearest board.

Simon grabbed the plank and examined it. “Sir, these boards have been deliberately removed.”

Arik took the board and lifted it before him. An arrow whooshed out of the trees, and slammed into the plank’s edge. Willem pulled his axe from his belt as Arik and Simon drew their swords. In a fluid, practiced movement, Willem spun and found his mark. He sent his axe flying. The archer fell into the river and was swept downstream, Willem’s axe still lodged in his forehead. A dozen or more attackers broke through the stand of trees.

Arik tossed the board into the river and readied his sword. The enemy was poorly dressed carrying clubs and knives. There was only one sword among them. The leader. Arik’s target.

“They plan to pin us here at the river’s edge. Come, we’ll take the offensive before they form up.” They moved forward, driving a wedge through the enemy’s ragged line, forcing what little formation they had to scatter and fight, each man for himself.

A man, club in hand, rushed at Arik. Before the attacker could bring his weapon into play, Arik pivoted around him. He raised his sword high, and slammed the hilt’s steel pommel squarely on the man’s head. Arik moved on before the man’s lifeless body dropped to the ground.

Willem and Simon, on either side of Arik, advanced through the melee. Their swift continuous swordplay moved smoothly from one stroke to the next, whipping through the air. They slashed on the downswing and again on the backswing, sweeping their weapons back into position to repeat the killing sequence. The knight and his soldiers steadily advanced, punishing any man who dared to come near them.

“For Honor!” Logan’s war cry carried from the small camp to Arik’s ears.

Arik stiffened. Both camps were now under attack. He pulled his blade from an attacker’s chest. The body crumpled to the blood-soaked ground. Arik breathed deeply, the coppery taste of blood in the air. “For Honor!” he bellowed in answer. His men echoed his call, arms thrown wide, muscles quivering, the berserker’s rage overtaking them.

The remaining attackers paled and fled headlong into the forest.

Motioning to his men to follow, Arik raced toward the camp. He could hear the shouts, and cursed himself for not seeing the danger. He crested the hill and came to an abrupt halt.

Logan’s sword ripped through the air as he protected Doward. The tinker drew his short blade and did as much damage as he could. But it was the woman Arik noticed. Her skirt hiked up, she twirled her walking stick like a weapon with an expertise that left him slack-jawed. She dispatched the attackers, one by one, in a deadly well-practiced dance. A man rushed toward her, knife in hand. The sneer on his face didn’t match the fear in his eyes. She stepped out of his line of attack, extended her stick to her side, and holding it with both hands swept the weapon forward, striking the attacker across the bridge of his nose. Blood exploded from his face in an arc of fine spray as his head snapped back. Droplets dusted her face creating an illusion of bright red freckles. As he fell, she reversed her swing and caught him hard behind his knees. He went down on his back, spread-eagled. She swung her stick over her head and landed a precise and disabling blow to his forehead that knocked him unconscious.

As she spun to face the next threat her eyes captured Arik’s and held. In the space of an instant, time slowed to a crawl. Her hair slowly loosened from its pins and swirled out around her. His breath caught and his heartbeat quickened as a rapturous surge raced through his body. Something eternal and familiar, with a sense of longing, unsettled him. In the next heartbeat, she tore her eyes away, leaving him empty. Time resumed its normal pace. Another attacker lay at her feet.

Arik joined the fight.

Blurb:
When Lord Arik, a druid knight, finds Rebeka Tyler wandering his lands without protection, he swears to keep her safe. But Rebeka can take care of herself. When Arik sees her clash with a group of attackers using a strange fighting style, he’s intrigued.

Rebeka is no ordinary seventeenth-century woman—she’s travelled back from the year 2011, and she desperately wants to return to her own time. She poses as a scholar sent by the king to find out what’s killing Arik’s land. But as she works to decode the ancient runes that are the key to solving this mystery and sending her home, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic and powerful Arik.

As Arik and Rebeka fall in love, someone in Arik’s household schemes to keep them apart, and a dark druid with a grudge prepares his revenge. Soon Rebeka will have to decide whether to return to the future or trust Arik with the secret of her time travel and her heart.

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