The second half of my double feature on award-winning author, Kim Headlee, presents her story Morning’s Journey, a further title in her Arthurian series. Here’s what it’s about:
In a violent age when enemies besiege Brydein and alliances shift as swiftly as the wind, stand two remarkable leaders: the Caledonian warrior-queen Gyanhumara and her consort, Arthur the Pendragon. Their fiery love is tempered only by their conviction to forge unity between their disparate peoples. Arthur and Gyan must create an impenetrable front to protect Brydein and Caledonia from land-lusting Saxons and the marauding Angli raiders who may be massing forces in the east, near Arthur’s sister and those he has sworn to protect.
But their biggest threat is an enemy within: Urien, Arthur’s rival and the man Gyan was treaty-bound to marry until she broke that promise for Arthur’s love. When Urien becomes chieftain of his clan, his increase in wealth and power is matched only by the magnitude of his hatred of Arthur and Gyan—and his threat to their infant son.
Morning’s Journey, sequel to the critically acclaimed Dawnflight, propels the reader from the heights of triumph to the depths of despair, through the struggles of some of the most fascinating characters in all of Arthurian literature. Those struggles are exacerbated by the characters’ own flawed choices. Gyan and Arthur must learn that while extending forgiveness to others may be difficult, forgiveness of self is the most excruciating—yet ultimately the most healing—step of the entire journey.
THE CLASH OF arms resounds in the torchlit corridor. Blood oozes where leather has yielded to the bite of steel, yet both sweating, panting warriors refuse to relent.
Her heart thundering, Gyan grips her sword’s hilt, desperate to help the man she loves. Caledonach law forbids it.
Urien makes a low lunge. As Arthur tries to whirl clear, the blade tears a gash in his shield-side thigh. The injured leg collapses, and Arthur drops to one knee. Crowing triumphantly, Urien raises his sword for the deathblow.
Devil take the law!
Gyan springs to block the stroke. Its force jars her arms and twists the hilt in her grasp. She barely holds on through the searing pain.
Urien slips past her guard to slice at her brooch. The gold dragon clatters to the floor. Her cloak slithers to her ankles, fouling her stance. As she tries to kick free, Urien grabs her braid, jerks up her head, and kisses her, hard. Shock loosens her grip. Her sword falls. She thrashes and writhes, but he holds her fast, smirking lewdly.
“You are mine, Pictish whore.”
Urien’s breath reeks of ale and evil promises. She spits in his face. He slaps her. She reels backward, her cheek burning. He grabs her forearms and yanks her close.
“Artyr, help me!”
Her spirits plummet. Weaponless, she can do nothing—wait. A glint catches her eye.
When Urien kisses her again, she surrenders. He grunts his pleasure, redoubling the force of the kiss. Slowly, she works her hands over his chest until her left hand touches cold bronze on his shoulder. She snatches the brooch and rips it free, hoping to stab him with the pin.
Her elation vanishes with her balance as her tangled cloak thwarts her plans. Face contorted with rage, Urien lunges and catches her wrist. She grits her teeth as his fingers dig in to make her drop the brooch. Pain shoots up her arm. She pushes away. Together, they fall—
Gyan gasped and sat bolt upright, pulse hammering. Sweat plastered her hair to her head, which felt like the ball in an all-night game of buill-coise. Bed linens ensnared her legs.
Fingers grazed her shoulder. She recoiled and cocked a fist. Her consort ducked behind his hand. “Easy, Gyan!” She relaxed, and he wrapped his arm about her. “What’s wrong?”
She pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. “A dream,” she replied, hoping that for once he’d be satisfied with a vague answer.
She sighed. “It was the fight—and yet not the fight.” Gently, she traced the thin red line at the base of his neck where she’d scratched him with Caleberyllus to seal his Oath of Fealty to her and to her clan. But dreams cared naught for oaths. “This time, Urien won.”
Arthur grimaced. “That’s no dream.” He hugged her, and she burrowed into his embrace. “I’d call it a nightmare.”
“Ha.” She bent forward to disengage the linens from her feet. The unyielding fabric ignited her ire. She pounded the straw-stuffed mattress, furious at Urien and even more furious at herself for allowing him to creep into her wedding chamber, if only in spirit. “Why must that cù-puc keep coming between us?” She gazed at the table where Braonshaffir, named for the egg-size sapphire that crowned its hilt, lay sheathed inside its etched bronze scabbard beside Caleberyllus. Indulging in the fantasy of her new sword shearing through Urien’s neck, she bared her teeth in a fierce grin. “Just let him cross me openly, and by the One God, I’ll settle this matter!”
Arthur’s warm sigh ruffled her hair. Together they righted the linens, but when she would have risen, he clasped her hands and regarded her earnestly. “I can’t afford to lose either of you.”
She looked at those hands, young and yet already scarred and callused by years of war: hands that cradled the future of Breatein. “I know.” Briefly, she squeezed his hands, hoping to convey her desire to help him forge unity among his people, the Breatanaich, as well as with Caledonaich, her countrymen.
One legion soldier in five called the northwestern Breatanach territory of Dailriata home, and one in three of those men hailed from Urien’s own Clan Móran. In a duel between Gyan and Urien, Arthur’s Dailriatanach alliance would die regardless of the victor.
If politics ever failed to constrain the Urien of the waking world, however, she couldn’t guarantee that diplomacy would govern her response.
She averted her gaze again to the table where their arms and adornments lay. Their dragon cloak-pins sparked a memory. Something else had been odd about that dream, but its details had receded like the morning tide. She couldn’t decide whether to be troubled or relieved.
Closing her eyes, she inhaled deeply, trying to purge Urien map Dumarec from her mind. Moist pressure against her lips announced her consort’s plans. She welcomed his kiss and deepened it. He ran his fingers through her unbraided hair, following the tresses down her neck and over her breasts. Her nipples firmed under his touch. She arched back, and he kissed his way down to one breast, then the other, drawing the nipples forth even farther and awakening the exquisite ache in her banasròn.
The swelling shaft of sunlight heralded a reminder of their duties.
“The cavalry games will be starting soon, mo laochan.” No other man had earned the Caledonaiche endearment from her, and none ever would. Her “little champion” bore her down onto the pillows, and his lips interrupted any other comment she might have made. As they explored the curve of her throat, she whispered, “We must make an appearance.”
“We will, Gyan.” His fingertips teased her banasròn, discovering its damp readiness. “Eventually.”
She stilled his hand. He looked at her, puzzled.
Being àrd-banoigin obligated her to ensure her clan’s future by bearing heirs, but was she ready to abandon the warrior’s path and devote her life to a bairn? She gave a mental shrug. A swift calculation assured her that her courses would return soon, leaving the question to be faced another day. Smiling, she began caressing one of the reasons he’d earned “laochan” as an endearment.
He cupped her face and kissed her, urgency for both of them soaring on the wings of desire. His thigh rubbed hers with slow, firm strokes. Gyanhumara nic Hymar, Chieftainess of Clan Argyll of Caledon, yielded to her consort’s unspoken command. She opened to him, and he plunged her into their sacred realm of mind-blanking bliss.
Whenever Arthur map Uther, Pendragon of Breatein, issued an order, on the battlefield or off, only a fool disobeyed.
For more about Kim:
Kim is a Seattle native and a direct descendent of 20th-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim’s novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband’s ancestor, the 7th-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.
For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles, and other novels under her new imprint, Pendragon Cove Press. She also writes romantic historical fiction under the pseudonym Kimberly Iverson.
Q: Among those that you’ve written, which is your favorite book and why?
A: King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court (ebook edition forthcoming in November 2014; fully illustrated print edition November 2015), hands down. In 2007, when my (now ex) literary agent sent a blanket message to his client list stating that he had met a publisher who was actively seeking sequels to 19th-century authors’ works, I got the green light to develop a sequel to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, providing that I updated my story for the 21st century. Which I did, in spades, and dove right in. After about 50 pages, however, the thought hit me: who did I think I was, trying to emulate Mark Twain, for heaven’s sake? That single doubt stopped me…for three years. Not just that project, either, but all of my fiction projects. If “writer’s block” has a dictionary entry, there’s where you’ll find my picture. Finally, in early 2010, I exercised (literally—treadmill, Wii Fit, etc.) my way out of my depression, strapped on a pair, decided that with my background and talent, I might be the only one alive who could pull this off, and finished the first draft. It became the single most important project for me to reclaim my writing mojo, because if I could write this, I could write anything.
When working on her Arthurian series (Dawnflight, Morning’s Journey, etc.), the Scottish Gaelic-English dictionary is Kim’s go-to reference for developing character names, endearments, epithets, etc.
Keep up with Kim:
For more of Morning’s Journey:
Further English-language ebook editions Smashwords;
Half.com for ordering personally autographed print copies from Kim Headlee.
For Morning’s Journey social media links:
For The Colour of Vengeance, a short story excerpted from Morning’s Journey:
Kim Headlee’s Dawnflight has been nominated for so many prizes that I’ve decided to do a double feature of some of her other work over the next two days. Today’s special: Snow in July. Here’s what it’s about:
Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre has been granted what every man wants: a rich English estate in exchange for his valiant service at the Battle of Hastings. To claim this reward, the Norman knight must wed the estate’s Saxon heiress. Most men would leap at such an opportunity, but for Alain, who broke his vow to his dying mother by failing to protect his youngest brother in battle, it means facing more easily broken vows. But when rumors of rampant thievery, dangerous beasts, and sorcery plaguing a neighboring estate reach his ears, nothing will make him shirk duty to king and country when people’s lives stand at risk. He assumes the guise of a squire to scout the land, its problems, and its lady.
Lady Kendra of Edgarburh has been granted what no woman wants: a forced marriage to an enemy who may be kith or kin to the man who murdered her beloved brother. Compounding her anguish is her failure to awaken the miraculous healing gift bequeathed by their late mother in time to save his life. Although with his dying breath, he made her promise to seek happiness above all, Kendra vows that she shall find neither comfort nor love in the arms of a Norman…unless it snows in July.
Alain is smitten by Lady Kendra from the first moment of their meeting; Kendra feels the forbidden allure of the handsome and courtly Norman “squire.” But a growing evil overshadows everyone, invoking dark forces and ensnaring Kendra in a plot to overthrow the king Alain is oath-bound to serve. Kendra and Alain face a battle unlike any other as their honor, their love, their lives, and even their very souls lie in the balance.
FIFTEEN THOUSAND MEN and horses writhed across the valley below, appearing as toys in a children’s game.
Many might consider war a game, but Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre, knight of Normandy bound to the service of Duke William and commander of a unit in the cavalry reserves, did not number among their ranks.
Edward the Confessor, King of England via his Saxon father but Norman by his mother, was dead. This battle, raging near the coastal hamlet called Hastings, would decide the right of one man to wear the English crown: William the Norman, acknowledged by Pope Alexander to be Edward’s lawful successor; or Harold the Saxon, brother of Edward’s wife, the man alleged to be Edward’s deathbed choice.
Stroking his war horse’s glossy charcoal neck to calm her, Alain pondered Harold’s claim. It had to be true. This many men would not sacrifice their lives for a lie. Yet the vast majority of Harold’s supporters were Saxons harboring no wish to bear the Norman yoke. Perhaps such men might be desperate enough to fight for a lie that promised to restore Saxon rule.
A trumpet blared. He signaled his men forward, couched his lance, and spurred Chou to send her careening into the melee.
Harold’s shield wall, which had seemed impregnable, began to crumble under the onslaught of Alain’s unit, hastened by the desertion of men who no doubt decided they weren’t quite so willing to die. Their lord stood exposed just long enough for a Norman archer to sight his mark. Harold fell, screaming and clutching an arrow that protruded from one eye.
Harold’s supporters closed ranks around him, blocking Alain’s view and giving him more than enough to do as the Saxons redoubled their efforts to guard their lord’s body.
A familiar whirl of colors caught Alain’s attention. The saffron leopard prowling on a green field—Étienne! A Saxon knight, with a blue arm and fist blazing defiance across his gray shield, bore down upon Étienne with leveled lance. Étienne tumbled from his horse. He scrambled to his feet and retrieved his sword, putting it to good use on the Saxons surrounding him, although the knight who’d unhorsed him had already ridden in search of other targets.
Lance long since discarded and sword now rising and falling with fatal precision, Alain surged to reach his brother’s side. Protection of her youngest son had been their dying mother’s wish, and he had sworn on his own life to keep Étienne safe.
Before he could close the distance, another Saxon knight fought past Étienne’s guard to thrust a war-knife into his throat. Through the visor the knight’s eyes gleamed with startling, fathomless malice. Alain could only watch in stunned disbelief as he laid his hand upon Étienne’s chest for a few moments. Uttering a soul-freezing howl, the Saxon yanked out his seax and disappeared into the press with Étienne’s shield, denying Alain vengeance.
Shame and grief rent his heart asunder.
He had failed the two he loved most; failed them so utterly that he could never beg their forgiveness in this lifetime.
Pain slammed into his shoulder, toppling him from the saddle. Étienne’s body broke his fall. He tried to roll clear, but a spear through his chest pinned him to Étienne. His gut convulsed, and bile burned his throat. Blinding agony killed his struggle to free himself. Death’s stench invaded his nostrils.
He closed his eyes and waited for his final journey to begin.
for more of Snow in July:
for more about Kim:
Kim is a Seattle native (when she used to live in the Metro DC area, she loved telling people she was from “the other Washington”) and a direct descendent of 20th-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim’s novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband’s ancestor, the 7th-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.
And to keep up with Kim:
‘In the spirit-haunted Winston estate in Ohio, rooted in time and occupied by the lingering ghosts of a great family, the torch is about to pass…’
Now I know there are those who’ve called me ‘compulsive repulsive reading’. Compulsive repulsive my aunt’s fanny. Are you enjoying yourselves here, or aren’t you? Is it the same old thing every time? No it is not. And, once again, to prove the point:
Tina Gayle. Summer’s Growth. Contemporary romance with paranormal elements. A fabulous book I’d like to share with you. Nothing to do with erotic. All the ingredients for the type of read that’ll keep your behind riveted on the sofa till your bladder advises you otherwise. And even then…
For more about the plot:
‘Mattie Winston, sober, sensible, and steady, has served as Keeper to the family for decades. Amber Harrison, hovering on the edge of flunking out of college, unsure what she wants out of life, has barely even heard of the Winston estate. The family, however, has decided that it’s time for the changing of the guard. These two exceptional women soon find themselves dealing with violence, murder attempts, and old family mysteries while each finding the love of her life. Two romances and a growing friendship, all twined around a brooding family tragedy, make for an outstanding paranormal mystery offering depth and charm beyond the commonplace. The growing love of Amber and Carter and of Mattie and Quincy offer readers a tender and engaging first novel in a winning new paranormal series.’
Ready for a literary apéritif?
Mattie walked to the end of the table and sat across from him. Dread threatened like a storm on the horizon. She surveyed both sides of the table. None of the other council members were in attendance.
Mattie wiped her sweaty palms along the length of her thighs. What did he want? Jonathan didn’t usually hold a one-on-one meeting in this setting. Normally, they met in her office upstairs.
The muscles in her stomach jerked.
“In concise statement of the facts as I see them,” Jonathan spoke without preamble. “We have found your replacement, and we need to address the issue of your future.”
Her fears were relieved as to the topic of today’s meeting. She decided to address a number of other issues that should be discussed before her future. “Shouldn’t we wait until Amber Harrison accepts the job?”
Startled, Mattie blinked. “Why?”
“Because no matter the outcome, you will still be replaced,” Jonathan declared.
“Yes, but what if Amber doesn’t work out?” For days, she’d speculated on how to approach this subject. “My nephew, Josh Clarkston is a lawyer. He’d make an excellent keeper.”
“No,” Jonathan’s rough voice commanded. “The wisest council will not be misled into offering such an important post to such an unworthy candidate. His character lacks the necessary virtues to accomplish the tasks we require of our keeper.
“As for your sister, Cynthia Clarkston, she never speaks of us without evidence of malice. We find no cause to reward her for her gum and insolence.” The rigid set of Jonathan’s jaw indicated he refuse to budge on the matter. “Like a Redcoat, she only wants what she can get from us. Her son has grown into a bad egg.”
“But…” Her stomach grumbled, mirroring her distress.
“Mattie.” His tone lower, he shook his head. “Many hours have been spent debating the matter. You’ve been a loyal subject since the age of fifteen, and you’ve paid your dues to your family. We hornswoggled you out of your youth. It’s time for you to relinquish control.” An indulging note bled through his words. “No one will ever be good enough to replace you.”
Trust us child to find a soul who will honor your position. Nothing will remove your fears until you can reclaim your life’s mission and enjoy the rest of your days on earth.”
“But what if Amber doesn’t like it here? She’s a young college student from sunny California. Why would she move to Ohio where it’s cold? Even in the summer, we don’t have beautiful weather. The rain can last for days.”
“There is no dispute,” Jonathan growled. “Amber is a Winston. She longs to live here.”
“But you don’t get it. There’s no guarantee. Josh has lived here all his life. He’ll do a good job.” Mattie wished Jonathan could see her point. Things might not turn out like he’d planned.
“Besides Cynthia will be deeply hurt when she finds out everything is under the control of a stranger instead of her son. She won’t understand.”
“The Council’s point exactly. Cynthia cares only for gold, not for others. It’s best for the family to have someone else as the keeper.”
“The Council’s point exactly. Cynthia cares only for gold, not for others. It’s best for the family to have someone else as the keeper.”
The havoc this decision would cause in Mattie’s life washed bitter bile through her mouth. She swallowed, hard.
Summer’s Growth: Money and love. Violence, murder and mystery…
As I keep saying: normality? Where’s that, when it’s at home? And I thought my family was complicated! How can it be otherwise, when families are made up of individuals like us? How can our societies be otherwise, when made up of families like ours? How can the world be otherwise, being home to the societies we breed? I said the societies we breed, not the societies we need… Normality is elsewhere and you know what? Not a f***ing soul lives there. Okay, I’ll stop being ‘compulsive repulsive’ and get back to the Winston Estate.
Four women. One fatal car wreck. Everyone’s lives changed…
Sylvia Donovan is emotionally wounded from the unexpected death of her husband and still haunted by their last conversation: his request for a divorce and his confession of love for another woman. Her husband gone, her only daughter off to college, Sylvia faces the challenges of learning to live alone and move on with her life.
Vince Wilshire, enchanted with Sylvia, is more than willing to do what it takes to capture the heart of the hurting and untrusting Sylvia.
Can he help her forget the past and make her believe in love again?
Single again, Linda Clayton is ready to let loose and have some fun. Jilted at a party, she met a younger man, Vaughn Reagan. He has an active imagination and allures her into his life by tempting her with seductive games. Vaughn is thrilled to find a woman who doesn’t want children. He offers Linda a job so he can spend his days with her. Now, if he could only convince her to forget their age difference and enjoy the nights in his arms.
When I first learnt that Lyndi Lamont was a librarian, I thought; that’s my kind of woman! Hélène, my third wife, was a blockhead. I don’t think she’s ever read a book in her entire life. She thinks she’s smart, but a person’s face’ll always tell you if they’re bright or not.
Take a look at her on the book cover. She’s got something! She’s bright alright. Tilt of the chin: challenging. Hands on her waist… and the time it’ll take you to open all those buttons to get at her soft flesh…
Love the title. Hands up all those who think ‘How to woo’ is a brilliant opening? Whether we want to admit it or not, we’re thinking about sex practically all the time, aren’t we? They’ll slip a suggestion of it in anywhere to sell almost anything nowadays (barring pet food, for now…), and not because we’re a bunch of pervs. No. Simply because it’s a natural need we suppress most of the time, but instead of making us civilized, it’s led us to morph into a pack of uptight brutes doing horrible things to each other to replace the one thing we should be doing so we stay balanced and think straight. But I’m yapping too much. Again. I’m not? Well!
How to Woo a Reluctant Bride. A steamy romance. Here’s the summary:
London, June 1885. A marriage of convenience, nothing more…until darkly handsome Evan Channing and demure Lydia Blatchford meet. The rules are simple for an arrangement such as theirs. There should be no misunderstanding, no illusions of anything more. But the rules are about to change…
She broke off at the injured look on his face. “Forgive me, but surely you understand this marriage was never my preference.”
He turned away from her and ran a hand through his hair. “Yes, I know, but I hoped you had become resigned to it.”
“I have. At least I have tried to be,” she said, the words tumbling out of her mouth. “That’s why I think it best just to plunge ahead. Once the banns have been read thrice, we can wed almost immediately.”
He turned back, a frown still marring his forehead. “Will that give your mother enough time to plan?”
She shrugged. “All I need is a new gown.”
“But won’t society think it odd we married in such haste?”
She looked him in the eye. “Let me make one thing clear. I do not give a fig for what society thinks. If you supposed you were marrying a social butterfly, let me banish that notion right now.”
He smiled at her. “Harry said you were sensible, but this surprises me. I’m happy to agree to a short engagement.” He stepped closer, towering over her. “The sooner I can make you mine, the better.”
Her heart pounded and her breath caught as he lowered his head and touched his lips to hers for but a second before backing away. She drew in a deep breath. Her first kiss and it had been over almost before it was begun. She didn’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed.
“Shall we go inside and discuss the wedding plans with your parents?”
“Not yet. There is something else I’d like to say.” It was now or never.
“Yes, my dear, what is it?”
She licked her lips then plunged ahead. “I know how these things work. Arranged marriages, that is. I won’t expect fidelity from you.”
His shocked expression surprised her. “Is that what you think, Lydia? That I’m marrying you with the intention of cheating on you?”
“Perhaps not now,” she said. “But in a few years. It’s not as if ours is a love match. I won’t cut up a fuss if you decide to take a mistress. As long as you are discreet.”
“How very… sophisticated of you,” he said, his tone dry enough to parch a desert.
She took a deep breath before continuing. “And once I’ve produced the requisite heir and spare, I assume I’ll be free to seek my pleasure elsewhere.”
The thunderous look on his face startled her and she stepped back.
“You will do no such thing,” he said fiercely, reaching for her. “Our union may not be a love match now, but I fully intend to see it turns into one.”
Before she could say a word, he pulled her into his embrace, trapping her arms between them as his encircled her shoulders and waist. Covering her mouth with his, he kissed her with a heady combination of passion and anger. Her resistance crumbled in the face of his onslaught. She clutched at his lapels and returned his kiss, even parting her lips when his tongue probed them. Overwhelmed by the sensations his lips provoked, she let her eyes drift shut as she clung to him.
When he let her go, he was still visibly upset. “There will be no more talk of infidelity. Have I made myself clear, Lydia?”
There’s only one way to know if the darkly handsome Evan Channing stuns his betrothed, Lydia Latchford, in ways you’ve never even thought of yet. I’ll tell you one thing, though: his bedtime reading is the Kama Sutra… And by the sound of things, his bride-to-be isn’t that demure after all. There’s a good read waiting for you, no doubt about that!
99c is all it’ll cost to get your copy of How To Woo A Reluctant Bride at:
Amazon Barnes & Noble iTunes Kobo Smashwords
It wouldn’t be gentlemanly of me to ask you, Lyndi, if you’ve personally worked your way through all the positions in the Kama Sutra. But I bet I’m not the only one who’s dying to know…
As a man of taste, I like a good read now and then. Helps me flee my world. Reorder my thoughts. A man I know and respect – believe me, there are few – once told me: don’t just read the same genre all the time. If you’ve finished a sci-fi book, make the next one a historical novel. And so on.
Kim Headlee. Her synopsis pulled me in, so now I’ve got a new read:
‘Gyan is a Caledonian chieftainess by birth, a warrior and leader of warriors by training, and she is betrothed to Urien, a son of her clan’s deadliest enemy, by right of Arthur the Pendragon’s conquest of her people. For the sake of peace, Gyan is willing to sacrifice everything…perhaps even her very life, if her foreboding about Urien proves true.
Roman by his father, Brytoni by his mother, and denied hereditary rulership of his clan because of his mixed blood, Arthur is the supreme commander of the northern Brytoni army. The Caledonians, Scots, Saxons, and Angles keep him too busy to dwell upon his loneliness…most of the time.
When Gyan and Arthur meet, each recognize within the other their soul’s mate. The treaty has preserved Gyan’s ancient right to marry any man—but Arthur does not qualify. And the ambitious Urien, Arthur’s greatest political rival, shall not be so easily denied. If Gyan and Arthur cannot prevent Urien from plunging the Caledonians and Brytons back into war, their love will be doomed to remain unfulfilled forever.’
Good, isn’t it? To the right there’s an excerpt. For those who’d like to know a bit more about the author:
Kim comes from Seattle but now lives on a farm in Virginia. She’s also a screenwriter and she’s working on some pretty impressive writing projects.
Dawnflight’s being featured in the Eggcerpt Exchange. I’ve found a few other books to add to my list and I’ll be sharing them with you here. Cos I’m a nice bloke, aren’t I?
Gyan let Arthur initiate the attack. While advancing to meet the blow, she stumbled, fell, and rolled to her stomach. As expected, he quickly moved in to claim the victory. The crowd cheered. But before she could feel the prickle of his sword on her neck, she twisted aside and hooked his legs with hers. Luck favored her; with a startled yelp, and equally startled noises from their audience, he went down. She scrambled to her feet and pinned him under the point of her sword. Amid the overall roar of disappointment, she could pick out phrases like “Trickery!” and “Not fair!” But the taunts didn’t bother her; victory had never tasted sweeter! Her only regret was that Ogryvan and Per and the rest of her clan couldn’t savor it with her.
Studying Arthur for a reaction, her grin soured. For several seconds, he stared at the sky as though stunned; whether physically or mentally, she couldn’t tell. Her concern rose as she wondered if she had injured him. Finally, he shook his head and attempted to sit up, but her sword barred his way.
“I concede the match, Chieftainess.” He released his sword and waved his open hand. “I won’t try anything unique. You have my word. Thank God my enemies aren’t half as devious as you are.” His grin could have stopped the sun in its course…and it was having an arresting effect on Gyan’s heart as well. “But I wouldn’t advise using that move in battle. Much too risky.”
“Oh. Yes, I—I know.” Chiding herself for how silly she must sound, she sheathed her sword and thrust out her hand. He tugged off his gloves and accepted her unspoken offer, gripped her forearm, and hauled himself up.
Pain stabbing her arm forced a strangled gasp from her throat. He shifted his grip to her hand and gently turned her arm to expose the underside. A long cut lay perilously close to one of the veins, seeping blood. He traced the vein lightly with a fingertip.
“When did I do this?” His voice was a hoarse whisper.
Staring at the cut, she wondered the same thing. Probably during their initial clash, though she really had no idea. She shrugged. Even that motion made her wince.
“Chieftainess, I didn’t mean to—” A stricken look shattered his bearing. He squeezed her hand. “God in heaven, Gyanhumara, I am so sorry.”
She wanted to reassure him that she’d be all right; the wound looked clean and wasn’t much deeper than a scratch. In fact, it was the least of her concerns. Enchanted by the sound of her name on his lips and mesmerized by his gaze, she felt the world seem to collapse to just the two of them. His face hovered over hers, his lips a handspan away. The warmth of his nearness had an intoxicating effect. She was acutely conscious of the tugging of her heart, as though it was trying to pull her closer to him. It wasn’t an unwelcome idea.
I said she was good, didn’t I? And I’m not the only one who thinks so:
4 ½ stars and a Top Pick from Romantic Times (1st edition), November 1999
Winner (tie), 1999 Blue Boa Award for Excellence in Romantic Fiction, Historical category
Romantic Times Nominee—Best Innovative Historical Romance of 1999
Honorable Mention in SF Site’s Readers’ Choice Best SF & Fantasy Books of 1999
Finalist, 2000 Golden Quill, Historical category
Finalist, 2014-2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards (2nd edition), Religious Fiction category
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Don’t ever let it be said that I only think of myself!