#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?

BUY LINK: Amazon

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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.

BUY LINKAmazon

#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?

BUY LINKSAmazon  B&N  KOBO  iBOOKS

#MedievalMonday ~ Ceci Giltenan

March has come to the forest with a roar. So cold! Especially after many days and nights in the 70s. At least we have hot romances to keep us warm. Today my guest is Ceci Giltenan. Ceci must agree, as she and her husband live in southwest Florida because she loves palm trees and believes any day that she doesn’t have to wear socks is a good day. Here is an excerpt from her Medieval Romance, A Wee Highland Predicament: A Duncurra Legacy Novel.

“Which raises the question, what’s a wee lassie from the Highlands doing in Edinburgh? Ye can’t be more than fifteen.”

“I’m eighteen,” she said, indignantly. “And I was there—at court—with my family.”

“And who is yer family?”

“I’m a MacLennan. Laird MacLennan is my brother by marriage. I’m Ailsa MacLennan. What clan are ye from, Lucas?”

Follow along next week on Lane MacFarland’s website: http://lanemcfarland.com/. Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win an e-copy of A Wee Highland Predicament or another e-book of your choice by Ceci Giltenan.

BLURBSometimes a bad boy can be a good man. 

Lucas Grant’s brother is going to be furious. Lucas was supposed to secure a betrothal with a wealthy heiress to save his clan from financial ruin. After meeting her, he cannot marry the detestable woman.

As he flees Edinburgh to escape her, he happens upon six men who are holding a lovely Highland lass captive. He can’t just leave her to whatever fate awaits, so he rescues her.

Well, perhaps rescue isn’t the right word…

When he learns the feisty lass he stumbled upon is Ailsa MacLennan, he sees another way to help his clan. He’s going to hold her for ransom.

But when she steals his heart, what will the ransom be?

BUY LINKS: Amazon

#MedievalMonday ~ Lane McFarland

Please join me in welcoming Lane McFarland to the forest. Lane is a southern girl living on top of a mountain in North Georgia, and she’s most happy when surrounded by family and friends. If she is not writing, you can find her hiking with her husband, or fiddling around in her flower and vegetable gardens, feeding the birds and watching black bears and deer. Today she is sharing an excerpt from Book 2 in the Turnberry Legacy series, her Medieval Romance, A King’s Enemies.

She glared at the English commander, repulsed by his close-set black eyes and thin lips. She’d trailed him and his companions, Northrop and Bartram, for many years. A day hadn’t gone by when she’d not reaffirmed her promise to ruin the three who’d brutally raped and murdered her mother.

She’d bided her time and waited with painful patience for the perfect opportunity to strike. The king’s bloody announcement heightened the urgency. She couldn’t wait any longer. The murderer could not—would not—rule her beloved Scotland. Now, what was she going to do?

Follow along next week on Judith Sterling’s blog at https://judithmarshallauthor.com/blog/,
and leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook of A KING’S ENEMIES.

BLURB: Tormented by King Edward’s brutality against Scottish sympathizers, Drake Fletcher vows revenge, but only a madman single-handedly attacks the Crown. Instead, he enters the royal court as a spy to aid Robert the Bruce’s rise to power and place a formidable leader on Scotland’s throne.

Scottish lass Katherine Mackenzie Armstrong targets three of King Edward’s officers who brutally raped and murdered her mother. Disguised as one of Queen Margaret’s attendants, she sets a course to destroy the men.

The acts of treason both Drake and Katherine commit are punishable by death in The Tower of London but their determination pushes dangerous limits. Considered enemies, they use each other to gain vital information. Neither expect their overwhelming attraction to one another, the staggering emotions stirred. But the closer they become, the more they jeopardize their pledges of vengeance.

Will the weight of retaliation crush them, see them beheaded? Or will Katherine and Drake form an alliance and learn to live and love again?

BUY LINKS: Amazon

#NewRelease ~ Mask of the #Highlander

It’s here! After weeks of rewriting, the new, expanded version of Mask of the Highlander is here. I realized I had not taken advantage of the prequel by packing it with all the information needed to set up the Gods of the #Highlands series and lay the foundation for the world I had built. So, I went back to the drawing board and added another 40,000 words. That’s about 125 more pages, if you’re counting. I’m thrilled to present the 2nd edition of my Paranormal Romance, Mask of the Highlander, for the low price of #99cents. Here is an excerpt.

Time stood without end. It seemed an eternity, an eternity in the darkest pit of hell, passed as she stared down at his expectant face. He had never kissed her, much less asked her for anything. He took what he wanted, with as much pain and suffering as he could inflict with the taking. Kissing had not been a demand he had made of her during those three days of hell.

Kenna swallowed the bile that rose to the back of her throat. She bit down on her bottom lip to stop its trembling. She glanced around the baily. Expectant faces loomed all around her, waiting to see what would happen. The entire household knew of his mistreatment of her. He was cruel to everyone, but her cries for mercy must surely have been heard during those first days. Thankfully, no one had ever mentioned it, saving her the humiliation of having to face her brutalization out loud.

Get your copy of Mask of the Highlander by clicking here. Only $0.99 for a limited time.

BLURBOnce 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, unaware of his demon heritage. Leaving her for dead, 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 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, all while learning to manage the supernatural power flaring inside him and discovering a heritage he never imagined.

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

BUY LINK: Click Here

#MedievalMonday ~ Cathy MacRae

Join me in welcoming my dear friend Cathy MacRae to the forest. Cathy 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 she shares an excerpt from the #MedievalRomance (which combines two of my favorite things!) she co-authored with her partner DD MacRae, The Highlander’s Viking Bride.

Use the sight. It doesnae lie.

Looking past her normal ability to see, she glanced first at her father. The darkening gray aura surrounding him reflected his greed, his nature growing more corrupt with time. A band of deep brown layered on top of the gray was new today. She knew it as a sign of deceit and wondered what he was up to. Scanning the rest of the table, the light blue surrounding her brothers Bjorn, Christer and Patrik reflected confusion. Whatever her father contrived with the MacGerry, they knew nothing of it.

BLURB: Calder MacGerry, laird of an impoverished clan, has resolved to end the bitter feud between the MacGerrys and Sinclairs. He jumps at Laird Sinclair’s offer of marriage to his only daughter, Katja, to seal the agreement between their clans—only to get more than he bargained for.

Katja’s chance to escape her father’s harsh treatment appears to be too good to be true. But becoming Lady of a clan that despises her because she’s a Sinclair, doesn’t make her life any easier. When the attacks turn deadly, she fights her way out, making a dangerous passage to the Shetland Isles for refuge with her Viking family.

Calder and Katja’s marriage, built on mistrust, rushes quickly into disaster. As Calder seeks to repair the damage, Katja discovers not another enemy, but a husband who pledges a new beginning.

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