Friday, May 31, 2013

Marked Blog Tour

Title: Marked
Author: Jennifer James
Date Published: May 19, 2013

Five years ago she ran. . .
Kayla is back where she belongs: in Jack’s arms. But after the initial explosion of pent up longing and need have passed, she has to convince him to complete the bond between them.
Ingrained fears sent her running, but the need for her mate and the love she’s denied has brought her back. To be Marked will join their souls together forever, a bond Kayla can no longer live without.
An Alpha wolf, Jack waited for Kayla to return to him and protected her from afar. When he senses her outside his home, he isn’t beyond setting a trap meant to entice her back.
Once he has her, he has to show her it isn’t just her heart he needs.
He needs her trust and with it, her submission.

Buy Links

I have a bad habit of creating series. I love to read them, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I keep writing them. *grin* Last week I released my very first Indie title, a short story set in a universe called HOWL. This universe will be in the spirit of Felicity Heaton’s Vampire Realms, with lots of different characters, book lengths, and storylines. I hope you’ll enjoy my take on werewolf soul mates in this first installment, MARKED.

Author Bio:
Jennifer James lives in a fantasy land where it’s always 75 degrees and sunny, a river made of non-fat chocolate runs past her house, and dogs don’t poop. (She hates cleaning up dog pooh.) A mutli-published author of erotica and erotic romance, she loves to write stories with heat, heart, and happily ever afters.

Find me on the web! 

To celebrate the release of MARKED, I’m running a Rafflecopter through May 31. In it, there’s a chance to win a gorgeous book thong I created! I also two some Jennifer James swag packs up for grabs. But don’t worry, if the Rafflecopter doesn’t smile on you, I’m hosting a Facebook party May 31. There will be ebooks, awesome swag, and lots of games. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal for Born of Fire By Amy Erstad

Book Title: Born of Fire

Author: Amy Erstad

Release Date: TBD

Book Blurb:
Humans are losing their devotion to the Gods. After everything the humans put themselves and others though; faith is still not high on their priority list. Even the Gods would think such things as wars would lead the humans back to them, but it is only a temporary fix. Their devotion still waivers. Other than Ra, no one seems to notice, or they just don’t care. They keep telling him it will get better with time, only it doesn’t. Worse yet, they keep denying his request for an earthly presence. He is sick of watching and waiting, and sick of being denied. He is not going to just stand by and let them keep denying him, he has his own plans. Plans put in place centuries ago, secretly. Now they shall all see what happens when he is forsaken.
                While Ra is making plans of his own, Kenna, on the earthly realm, is figuring out that the people she loves and trusts are keeping secrets from her. She wants to know what those secrets are, and she knows they have something to do with her nightmares, but no one is giving up any information. She is not too worried though. She has Keyara, her best friend, right there beside her. Together they work to try to unravel the mystery that her life has become. Together they stand when Kenna’s life is turned upside down by some handsome stranger. One that is familiar, yet unknown to Kenna. Together they will continue to stand, when the secrets are revealed, and both girls find they have destinies they never would have dreamed of.

Excerpt: Kenna and Keyara
Kenna is sitting on her bed looking at me with a look of bewilderment on her face, and a little laugh in her voice. “Sounds like you were up to eaves-dropping again. How did the covert operation go?  Learn anything new?”
“No, no nothing new tonight,” I quickly spit out, not wanting her to know that her parents know where she got the necklace. While I still hate the lying, I know I just need a little bit more time, and a few more pieces to start putting everything together.
Kenna gives me the eye, looking at me suspiciously. “Well you sure were gone long enough for no new information, and you were awful quick to spit that out.”
“Yeah well, just because we have an undercover mission going doesn’t mean I don’t ever have to drain the lily pad once in a while.” Truthfully I hate keeping this secret from Kenna, but I don’t want to let on to the fact that I think they are keeping secrets, and that I think it is something big. I want to wait until I have something concrete to bring her, so I don’t worry her any more than she already is. As it is, my poor best friend has hardly had a good night’s sleep in months and the less stress she has on her, the better off she will be. Knowing there is a secret out there about her isn’t exactly going to help her, but it is better than knowing just how serious I believe it may be, without being able to produce any proof.

There are two other blogs, each with a different excerpt for you to check out. Visit: (for the Ra & Lyssa excerpt) and (for the Daniel excerpt).

Author Bio
Amy has been married for 16 years and shares two beautiful daughters with her husband. After being a stay at home mother for many years, she went back to school and graduated with her Associates Degree in Business Administration in 2009. When she is not working, she loves being able to travel whenever she can and has had the opportunity to visit several different countries with her family, and has even been able to live in some of them.
While it was never her dream to become a writer, she now loves every minute of her time spent in the writing world, as it gives her the opportunity to live in a world made out of imagination and sometimes dreams. She loves reading paranormal and fantasy books.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Character interview & Giveaway with authors Julie Hayes & M.A. Church of Be My Alien


Reed Hatcher’s life is work, work, work. He owns a successful men’s boutique in New York City, but a love life is out of the question—for many reasons. It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and business is brisk. On an unexpected visit to the Empire State Building, a sexy man literally falls into Reed’s lap. His name is Taz and he’s just been dumped by his date. One look and Reed is hooked. He offers to buy Taz some coffee and they leave together.
Reed is attracted to Taz and takes him home to his apartment. But Reed discovers there’s more to Taz than he realized—especially when Taz’s stripes begin to show. And he has a tail? Turns out Taz is not quite like Reed. In fact, he comes from another planet, far far away, and he’s only on Earth for a vacation.
Reed never believed in aliens before, but he’s facing one now, and dear God, what is he going to do? Just when he decides he loves Taz and together they can handle anything, the alien that dumped Taz decides he wants him back and steals him away.
Can Reed live with the memory of what he almost had, and the love he found and lost? How can he ever face the moonlit skies again?

         “Are you okay? Hello?”
Reed dragged his mind away from those sexy green eyes. “Ah, huh? What?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to fall on top of you like that. You see, it was like this. I was pushed, and you just happened to be there and….” The stranger grinned at Reed. “And down we went.”
Reed shifted under the body lying so contentedly on top of him. Hell’s bells, the guy fit against him perfectly. From the feel of things, they were both close to the same height. Which also meant certain things were… aligned. “Oh yeah, I’m okay. Banged my head a little, but I’m fine.”
The stranger bit his bottom lip, his teeth worrying the tender skin. Reed debated slamming his head against the floor a few more times in the hopes of rattling his brain back to normal as the stranger rolled off him.
“I really am sorry.”
“No harm done.” Reed sat up and looked at the guy once again. Well, not much harm, anyway. His libido just had to pick now to perk up, didn’t it? But damn, this guy was sexy. Reed struggled to his feet and held his hand out to the man still on the floor, looking up at him. The guy took his hand and let Reed pull him up. “Name’s Reed. Are you okay?”
“Hi, Reed!” The guy hopped to his feet in a single, lithe movement, as if it was the most….world. “My name is Taz. Nice to meet you, and yes, I am.”
For a moment there was a flash in the guy’s eyes that belied his statement. “Good, that’s good. Glad to hear it. Well, I guess I’d better be going—”
A forlorn expression crossed Taz’s face and his pretty eyes clouded. “Oh.” 
Reed hesitated. There was something about the guy that pulled at him. When was the last time he’d felt that pull? Way too long ago. Taz was cute, sure. But there was this look of hurt. Dammit, Taz just looked so lost. Insane as it was, he wanted to make it all better.

Thanks so much for having us here today! Oh wait, who are we, I can hear some of you ask? Let me back up a mo and start again.

I’m Julie Lynn Hayes, she’s M.A. Church, heretofore to be known as Michelle. Just call me Julie. We’re here today to talk about our first joint project, Be My Alien, which will be released by Dreamspinner May 8th. 

Let’s start at the beginning. I totally blame Michelle for hooking me on aliens.

Michelle: *snort* I corrupted her, or so she says.

Julie:  *laughs* That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. It wasn’t until I read your most excellent book, Nighttime Wishes, that I first encountered your fixation on beings from other worlds, and… wait, hold on a second. What are you two doing here?

Reed: Don’t blame me, I was just following Taz. He said we needed to come here, and I guess he’s right. Look, you’re talking about us. That’s a bit cheeky, don’t you think?

Julie: What? Cheeky? Hey, Reed, I was going to say nice things, how does that make us cheeky? Michelle, a little help here?

Michelle: Oh no, don’t drag me into this. Besides, I think you’re doing just fine on your own, Julie.

Julie: Gee, thanks. *sneaks a peek at these two lovely men* Wow, what gorgeous guys we’ve created, I have to admit.

Taz: Reed, I appreciate these two humans and their efforts to talk about us, but I feel that we can handle this ourselves, don’t you?

Reed: Indeed I do. So why don’t you two ladies find something else to do? Maybe go to a strip club or something?

Julie: *look at Michelle, and she shrugs *

Michelle: Well, if they screw this up, it’s on them. I say we go look at pretty men. You’re driving, though.

Julie: *walks out door mumbling under her breath* Don’t I always?

Michelle: *pokes Julie in the back* But you like driving. Am I going to have to listen to this all the way to Atlanta???
Purses are grabbed and a door slams shuts.

Reed:  *whispers* Good Lord, are they gone?

Taz: *looks around the corner* Yes, thank the stars. I swear, those two… So… *Taz rubs his hands together, a gleam in his eye* Looks like we got free rein now. You ready to start?”

Reed: Yes, more than ready. They’ve gone about things the wrong way. Did you even hear mention of the title?

Taz: No, not a word.

Reed: *shakes his head* Women!

Taz: *cocks his head and regards Reed* My mother is a woman, Reed.

Reed: *snorts* I know, I met her, remember? So’s mine, by the way, and thanks for asking…

Taz: But I didn’t ask?

Reed: *sighs* It’s just an expression. *mumbles under his breath* Damn, need to get that book. Bad. Hey, babe, where do you think we should start?

Taz: How about like this? *he climbs onto Reed’s lap and lays his head on Reed’s shoulder, purring*

Reed: Oh damn, seriously? *takes a deep breath* I thought we’re here to talk? You know, about us?

Taz: *purrs louder* Go ahead and talk. I can hear you. *begins to rock in Reed’s lap*

Reed: Oh jeez Louise, that’s distracting… *clears throat* Um, okay… we met… we met… oh yeah, it was almost Valentine’s Day. I was working late ‘cause I didn’t have anything better to do. You know how it is when you’re single and it’s been a while… that day means less than nothing.

Taz: It didn’t mean anything to me either.

Reed: Well, to be fair, you never heard of it ‘til you got here.

Taz: Oh yeah, I guess that’s true.  *squirms a bit on Reed’s lap* I’m just lucky I was in the right place at the right time.

Reed: I think I’m the lucky one, babe. That’s what they call karma.

Taz: Karma? What has this to do with driving?

Reed: *groans* Later, I’ll explain later. So anyway, I had to meet a customer at the Empire State Building after work, and that’s where I met Taz. He knocked me off my feet, literally.

Taz: What can I say, you caught my attention? My night hadn’t been going very well. I had just been dumped, then I saw you. I really didn’t mean to knock you down, you know.

Reed: Oh, I wasn’t complaining. I ended up on the floor with an arm full of sexy male. *blush* Well, at the time I thought I had an arm full of sexy male. Little did I know just what I was holding.

Taz: *giggle* You should’ve seen the look on your face the first time my stripes showed up! I mean, you freaked out, but still, for a second there… I don’t have the words!

Reed: *shakes head* It was probably the same kind of shocked look I had when that tail of yours put in an appearance.

Taz: *rubs cheek against Reed’s jaw* That reminds me, when are you going to let me—

Reed: Whoa now. Let’s not go there, babe. You give that away, Julie and Michelle will both want to skin you. It’ll be a race to see which one of them gets you.

Taz: Silly women. Neither one of them gets me. I’m all yours… *licks his way up Reed’s neck*

Reed: All mine, you’re right. Um, um…. Oh yeah, the title. Be My Alien. Pretty cute, don’t you think?

Taz: Mmhmmm, you’re very cute.

Reed: Not me, the title *blushes*

Taz: Oh, that’s not bad. Those two earth women seem to be able to put words together rather nicely, don’t they?

Reed: Better than me at times. Oh babe, you gotta quit that, or I might…

Taz: I’m wearing those special—

Reed: Oh lord, from the shop? *groans* Oh yes, my shop. I have my own business, I should mention that. A Touch of Class. Here in New York. I mean there… I mean… Taz, please be careful, you’re right over my—
Taz: I know, Reed…  I know… *silences him with a kiss*

Taz: Oh yes. We told them how we met. Did we tell them about ourselves though?

Reed: What do you mean?

Taz: Well, I’m from the planet Trygos, the most important planet in the Trygos galaxy, and only one of two planets capable of sustaining life. The other planet is Haatmiess. When Trygosheans put someone down, they say they’re like a Haatmiess, which is considered a major insult. My full name is Fabrintazo, Taz for short. I’m about 5'11" in your earth measurements  and I have a wiry, muscular build. My hair is a mixture of red and orange and brown and it’s long and luxurious, and reaches below my shoulders.

Reed: That’s very true. He often twists it into a braid and lets it flow loose over his back. He’s very acrobatic and he loves heights. Which scared the hell out of me at one point in the book. Taz has cat green eyes and purrs when he's pleased. *smiles* I make him purr often.

Taz: Yes, you do. Reed’s full name is Reed Hatcher and he’s about my height and build. He has very light brown hair that tends to bleach out in the warmer months and he has the most beautiful hazel eyes. Oh! And he has this cute little dimple in his cheek too. The one on his face, not the other one. Though that’s cute, too.

Reed: *blushes* Babe, too much information.

Taz: *grins* And he’s a business owner, too. A very important man in his world.  *nods head* And in his business, he has a back room that sells very special things. I like the back room.

Reed: I actually have a degree in elementary education, but I never taught. My parents moved to Florida and I ended up here in New York.

Taz: Thank the stars you did! *frowns* Should we tell them about Vorlod?

Reed: What’s to tell? The bastard’s no longer here on Earth and can’t bother you anymore.

Taz: Well, he was the reason I was here on Earth to begin with.

Reed: We should save that story, though, don’t you think? Can’t spill all the beans, now can we?

Taz: *glances around the floor* I don’t think we spilled anything.

Reed: *rolls his eyes* You’re right, we didn’t. What was I thinking?

Taz: *eyes him suspiciously* Are you having fun with me?

Reed: Not yet, babe, but I intend to, I promise you.

Taz: *grins even broader, stripes appearing on his neck* Then let’s go now and, how did you put it, avoid the rush hour?

Reed: *tries not to laugh* Close enough. *fastens their lips together, he rises, Taz clinging to him, and they make their way from the room. *
* * * *
Hope y’all enjoyed meeting the characters from Be My Alien!       

Author bio:
M.A. Church lives in the southern United States and spent many years in the elementary education sector. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have two children. Her hobbies are gardening, walking, attending flea markets, watching professional football, racing, and spending time with her family on the lake.
But her most beloved hobby is reading. From an early age, she can remember hunting for books at the library. Later nonhuman and science fiction genres captured her attention and drew her into the worlds the authors had created. But always at the back of her mind was the thought that one day, when the kids were older and she had more time, she would write a book.
By sheer chance she stumbled across a gay male romance story on the web and was hooked. A new world opened up and she fell in love. Thus the journey started. When not writing or researching, she enjoys reading the latest erotic and mainstream romance novels.

My links:
Twitter @nomoretears00

Romance First Publishing:

Author Bio:
Julie Lynn Hayes was reading at the age of two and writing by the age of nine and always wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Two marriages, five children, and more than forty years later, that is still her dream. She blames her younger daughters for introducing her to yaoi and the world of M/M love, a world which has captured her imagination and her heart and fueled her writing in ways she'd never dreamed of before. She especially loves stories of two men finding true love and happiness in one another's arms and is a great believer in the happily ever after. She lives in St. Louis with her daughter Sarah and two cats, loves books and movies, and hopes to be a world traveler some day. She enjoys crafts, such as crocheting and cross stitch, knitting and needlepoint and loves to cook. While working a temporary day job, she continues to write her books and stories and reviews, which she posts in various places on the internet. Her family thinks she is a bit off, but she doesn't mind. Marching to the beat of one's own drummer is a good thing, after all.  Her other published works can be found at Dreamspinner Press, MuseitUp Publishing and No Boundaries Press, and coming soon with both Extasy Books and Torquere Press. She has also begun to self-publish and is an editor at MuseitUp.  

My links:
Twitter @Shelley_runyon

eXtasy Books  (coming soon)
Torquere Press  (coming soon)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review Be My Alien (Moonlit Skies #1) By Julie Lynn Hays and M.A. Church

"Be My Alien"
Author: Julie Lynn Hayes and M.A. Church
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 100
Source: Author in exchange for an honest review.
Published: May 8, 2013
Author's Website Julie Hayes M.A. Church

Buy Links: Amazon

Goodreads Blurb:
A man too busy for love…

Reed owns an upscale men’s boutique with a naughty back room. While making a late delivery to a client, he runs into Taz.

A man on a disastrous date…

When Taz agreed to come to Earth on a date, he didn’t expect to be dumped and left with no way home. Then he falls into Reed’s arms—literally.

A coffee date soon becomes a trip back to Reed’s apartment. But when Taz’s stripes begin to show, Reed discovers Taz comes from a planet far, far away.

Reed never believed aliens existed, but he’s facing one now. What in the world is he going to do?

My Review:
A short, sweet and fun sci-fi paranormal M/M romance that introduces us to a new breed of alien that will be sure to linger in your mind for some time to come. A definite fun escape for any fans of the genre.

Taz is visiting earth on a date. Left alone to fend for himself, he cannot help but absorb and enjoy all earth’s beauty. Having no choice but to drift away in thought, he quickly finds himself out of the awkward situation and in a much more…comfortable one that he never wants to leave!

Reed is a 30 year old shop owner that just does not make the time to date or enjoy any of life’s pleasures. One evening while making a delivery, he finds himself taken by this sexy man that has LITERALLY landed on top of him. He also cannot help but wonder if the man feels the same way towards him.

This is the first book of the Moonlit Skies series and a great start! I find my interest peeked at its very highest and I am looking forward to more. I’m hoping the authors plan to give us more of Taz and Reed. Their relationship bloomed rather quickly and I’d love to know how it progressed :)

Overall Rating 3.5

Sex Rating of 4 Dragon Flame

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Lady #3 by A.R. Von

Hello everyone and welcome to Wednesday Briefs Flash Fiction. I was given many options to inspire a Brief. But I chose to go with the one new below for this week along with the phrase "He touched me in a way nobody ever had...". I hope you enjoy the third addition to "LADY" and I would LOVE to hear your thoughts :)
For those of you that did not read the prior week's portions and would like to. Click HERE for part 1 of Lady & HERE for part 2.

Oh no! What am I to do now? The sun has risen to its highest point of the day. I never stay as long as I have and now he has seen me. I’m supposed to remain unseen by the eyes of humans. It is the one rule I’ve always obeyed from my parents. There are humans that hunt, hurt and abuse us. Use our horns, flesh and blood for weapons, magic or trophies.

It’s happened so much throughout the years and there are only a hundred or so left of us now throughout the world. My family and I are the very last of the pure white unicorns, according to the trees and other creatures of the forest. So, we assume there are only twelve of us left in existence.

I move as quickly as my four legs can take me. My movements are a bit clumsy because of the position I’m in. I break my hoof free from a tangle of heather, but pause when I hear his voice asking me to halt. There is power behind his words. I feel as if I have no choice but to listen. To do what he asks of me.
He then holds his hands up in an innocent gesture, trying to show me he’s not going to hurt me and then tells me as much. I’m torn between running and staying in place, so I can be near him for even a little longer on this day. I know deep within, he would do me no harm. But what good is staying, if I cannot communicate with him as he can with me. I give a whinny and swish my tale, trying to show him I’m listening. 

He takes one step nearer and looks at me in awe. “Are you injured little one? I can help you…heal you if needed.”

I tilt my head to the side in amazement of this male. I am uninjured of course. But his honest concern warms my heart. He not only has appeal to me on the outside which causes me desire like I’ve never known. His heart and soul are beyond beautiful on the inside as well. This only makes me yearn for him more, a yearning to be the woman I am in when in my dream paradise. I know I am no good to him in this form though—I am not a woman.

With this thought, I take two steps back and slowly angle my body in the direction I need to go. 
He takes a few steps closer “Please, do not go. I am a male of good, the whitest of magic and purest intent. The darkness within me is not harmful to others. Only to me. I am Dezso and I merely want to glance at the beauty and bask in your pureness. You’re very lovely and I’ve never laid eyes on one such as you before. You are quite wondrous.”

Despite his words, I stand my ground. Twitching my tall but keeping my hooves still. I’m amazed that he even speaks to me and he thinks me beautiful as well. He’s so close now I can smell him. I breathe deep and let out a blow which causes his hair to ruffle and him to smile. I cannot smile, so instead I give my head a slight shake and show off my mane. Being careful not to catch his precious flesh with my horn. I would love for him to touch me. He’s not done so in my dreams and I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to have him caress me. Even if only for a brief moment.

Feeling braver than I ever have, I take a step forward, let loose a nicker and nudge him with my snout. Being sure to soak up his scent and absorb it into memory. His warmth feels divine, even through my coat—better than I’ve ever imagined. 

He laughs huskily and then he touches me in a way nobody ever has. A soft caress. Uncertain almost, as if he’s afraid he might hurt me in some way. Then, he gets braver and strokes my mane.
If I were a feline I would purr in contentment.

All the while, he’s telling me how beautiful I am. How soft, clean and amazing.

I continue to stand there and allow his touch. Just swooshing my tail every once in a while, like I would normally do when staying still. I wish I could speak to him. Thank him and tell him who I am. But that’s impossible. It will always be…

Just as I am about to lick his neck…to get a real taste, a different sound comes from behind us. I perk my ears to listen. It’s a short, brief whoosh accompanied by footfalls. I can tell whatever it is, only has two feet and is moving swiftly in our direction. I lift my head and let out a snort, my attempt to warn him that danger is near. I need to go, now and quickly. I step back, intending to take off in the opposite direction. 

He whispers, “Be safe.” Then turns toward where he has left his clothing to quickly dress. 
I pause briefly to glance back and see a man in robes, walking toward Dezso. His aura is dark. The darkest I’ve ever seen. I fear of what will happen. Is he a danger? Why has he come here to our special place?

“Who are you and why have you come?” Dezso asks.

“I am known as Than. Most call me Death and I am here to claim one of pure light. A pure soul and even purer heart. I have come for a majestic being known as the unicorn.”

To be continued...

(This story continues to be dedicated to my one and only sister, my Pookie. Her love of unicorns from when we were tots is what inspired me to write it. Love you my sissy!)

Be sure to visit the other Wednesday Briefs:

The Vikings are back in Week 7/Chapter 7 of Silver and Spice by Maria MacAuley!

Hello friends/followers! Welcome to week 7/chapter 7 of  Maria MacAuley's Silver & Spice. Now we present to you another portion of a very exciting, romantic and all-around great story.  We will be posting a chapter for you to enjoy each week until the story's end. We are looking forward to comments, feelings, thoughts, etc. of what you think for each portion posted. So please be sure to leave a comment in the comments section :)

Now I present to you... Silver and Spice!

View Prologue and chapter 1 HERE, chapter 2 HERE,  chapter 3 HERE,  chapter 4 HEREchapter 5 HERE, chapter 6 HERE

Chapter 7

Roisin did not try to hide her tears.  Now in private, she did not have to be the Conall’s daughter, strong and unafraid.  The week’s voyage had ended in a curiously chaste way.  So far these Vikings had been neither the bloodthirsty savages nor ravishers of maidens that were the scourge of the coasts and waterways.  Her kind stoic foster sister had easily succumbed to Erik, and he to Ciara.  Kristr did not look at her with lust or longing, but her own feelings confused her.  She had initially despised being near him, but worried  when he left her alone in Alfhilde‘s hall.  Now here in Halsrafjord, she was described as his guest, albeit one with no way of under-staying, rather than over –staying her welcome.  She rubbed her temples, trying to erase the memories of the past week, and finally, slowly drifted into a dreamless sleep.

Kristr stooped under the low lintel of the sweat lodge to find Erik already there.  There was a single fish-oil lamp flickering in the corner, most of the light cast from the embers of the fire.  He threw some water on the stones, that circled the flames, the crackle and hiss bringing Erik out of his warmth induced haze.

‘How is your guest faring in your hall?’  Erik didn’t open his eyes.

‘She hates me.  And why would she not?  I took her from her home.’  On his haunches, he poked the fire and flicked more water upon the hearth, the bubbles dancing and spitting on the stones.  How strange that the two women reacted so differently to their circumstances. 

Ciara had been the maiden who had fainted in terror and had woken up only to be carried onto a ship in a stranger’s arms. Roisin had been awake and recalled every detail of her abduction. He remembered every detail too.  His initial reaction was anger, fuelled by revenge against MacRonan, gradually followed by tolerance, admiration and affection.  The last two he could have done without. It was not part of the plan. Her beauty was striking, and her features and size were unlike Viking women, but, then again, he did not look like a Norseman himself.  Her sharp tongue and willingness to battle wits was enticing, as well as her gentle-woman manners when under Gertrude’s care in the bath house.  No wonder MacRonan had wanted her as a wife.  No way would he surrender Roisin to the greedy fool now. 

‘She does not hate you brother.’  Erik murmured, stretching his long lean body out over the oak bench, smooth from years of use.  ‘She is just adjusting to her circumstances.  Her sister will help her to adapt.’ 

‘If the gods had ever mislaid a child with the wrong race of people, it is your Ciara.’

‘My Ciara.’  Erik sighed contentedly.  ‘My own Norse goddess.’  

Kristr stood up and eased himself onto the opposite bench.  His own Norse goddess was not showering him with blessings - yet.

When Kristr returned,  Roisin was curled up on the furs, her beautiful face stained with tears, her waist length hair unbound, curling over her slender back. He paused at the curtain, taking in every detail; the thinly woven linen of her apron dress falling over the dainty mounds of her breasts as her chest rose and fell with each breath, the fine wool of the dress flowing over her sweetly curved behind. For the first time since he had lost his mother, new emotions were arising in him. He wanted to feel close to this woman, to make love to her, to feel her hands on his skin. He planted a kiss on her forehead, and she woke with a start.

'Easy, easy, I did not mean to frighten you,' he said softly as he looked into her huge green eyes, eyelashes clumped together with tears. Cupping her head with his hands and running his thumbs gently across her face, he brushed the remaining drops away.

'These past few days have brought many changes for you, but know that whilst you are here, I will teach you the language so that you may engage with the people of the steading. You can learn about our way of life. I will do everything in my power to protect you.'

She lowered her gaze and whispered, 'But who will protect me from you?'

He gently raised her head, to look her in the eye again. 'You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. I cannot deny I want you, but not until you want me too.' He circled her cheeks. 'And in light of our first meeting, I shall teach you how to use a dagger to offer you some protection from harm. Tis not appropriate that all your care is left in the hands of another.' Unless she was a Valkryie, she would have been subdued by Kristr regardless on that fateful day. By giving her some ownership of her own protection it would increase her confidence and trust in him.

Offering her his hand she stood up, and with interest he watched as she adjusted her new silver brooches, straightened her dress, and took a deep breath, composing herself after her emotional release.

 Pulling her close in an indulgent embrace, Kristr inhaled the sweet scent of her hair. She did not resist.  Holding her for a moment he finally said, 'The meal in our honour is about to begin.'  He motioned to the bed.  ‘Sit and I shall fix your braid. She didn't argue as he skillfully combed her hair and tidied it into a long braid down to the middle of her back. He turned her around, and smoothing his hands over the crown of her head, he admired his handiwork with a grin, a tug on the plait and a nod of approval.

He proferred his arm, and linking hers with his, they left for the main hall.

Kristr was expecting a feast and a crowd, but there must have been one hundred people in the hall, sitting at trestle tables on benches that lined the wattle and daub walls. The hearth in the middle of the floor burned brightly, casting dancing shadows over the assembly.  Six huge beams held up the rafters and a colourful shield was displayed on each pole.

As they walked toward the low dais at the top of the hall, silence fell on the chattering crowd. Kerik stood up, and raising his horn in toast, shouted, 'Fortune favours us, my sons have returned home!' The mass of people roared in approval. Glossing over the truth a little, to save the both the blushes of his sons' hostages, and the memory of his own initial encounter with his beloved Aisling, he added, 'and they have brought sweet Irish maidens to add more beauty to our land!'

All eyes turned to Roisin, and holding on to him tightly, she looked up to Kristr in confusion. 'All is well, my father has just welcomed us home. We Vikings can be a noisy lot when we have enjoyed too much mead.' The fact that she had turned to him in her fear, had not gone unnoticed.

At their table, he sat down next to her whilst a trencher of boar, pheasant, cooked nettles and turnip was set before them. She took the liberty of using a dirk, and cut two tranches of barley bread from the loaf in front of them, handing him a piece. His grey eyes twinkled silver in the firelight. She was beginning to trust him because she wanted to, not because she had to do so.


True to his word, the harbour master had contacted Johann O’Toole to tell him that the men from Donegal had docked.  The previous week, when he had pushed Kristr’s longship from the shallows, he knew he would have to find out more about MacRonan.  That mission was accomplished.  There was no need for disguises here. MacRonan's  sinister statements  had told him that there was more at stake now than a couple of scraps of silver. When Johann had seen the crushed gold necklace he knew who owned it, and who had given it as a gift.

During their years as foster brothers on the Shetland Jarlshof, Kristr and Johann had been close friends, brothers in all but blood.  Alfhilde had singled Kristr out, citing his potential, and every boy on Jarlshof knew what punishment waited those who could not meet Alfhilde's exacting standards. Kristr had spoken often to Johann of the pain of losing his mother so violently and of Alfhilde's beatings for the tiniest mistake in his Greek or Latin translations. During their many conversations as youths and later as men, Kristr had confided what had happened during those years, how he felt he had deserved to be punished for not saving his mother, and he started to see Alfhilde, not as a mother, but as a mentor and later as a lover.  He did not seem to be able to escape her attentions, even with the urging of his brother, Erik.    When he saw the ruined jewelry, Johann knew that Alfhilde was behind it, but her jealousy of Kristr's new love would never bring him back into her bony arms.

Dressed in the breeches, short kirtle and cloak of an Irishman, he walked into the ale house. There was no doubt which man was Conall of Dun-na-Shee. . He looked like a fine handsome man who had aged overnight, as if by the curse of a banshee. The man with him did not look much better, but with anger etched on their faces rather than sorrow.

Strolling over to greet them in the traditional Irish manner he said, 'God be with you, travellers from the North of this fair Island. My name is Johann O’Toole and I wish to speak with you on a matter of some importance.'

Conall looked up, eyes narrowing 'What do you know of my business?' Johann, as usual, was not perturbed by the man's menacing tone.

'If you would be so noble as to let me speak, I shall then address any issue you may have.'
Looking to Diarmuid, and back to Johann, through gritted teeth, Conall snarled 'Agreed. Speak.'

'I was with Kristr and Erik Halsrason when they took your blood daughter and your foster child.' Drawing his sword Conall jumped to his feet intending to run the man through. Calm as ever, Johann didn't move. 'Please, sit down. You agreed to hear my tale. If you have not had satisfaction, then you can try to best me with your sword. But all that will do is leave your daughter fatherless.' Conall reluctantly sat down. His skill would be hampered by his rage.

'Kristr and Erik have taken the women to Scandinavia, not Dubh Linn as you probably have expected. They will be safe there, especially as I feel that young Erik has taken quite a shine to Ciara.' Johan bounced his eyebrows but was met with cold stares from the two men.

'Those barbarians have taken my daughters for another man's crimes!' Conall spat in outrage. 'MacRonan will not pay silver for them, and my land does not have that kind of wealth, since the pillage of the monasteries at Bangor and Devenish. Even by going to all the chieftains in Ulster I shall not be able to gather that amount of coin in four seasons!'

'And that is the least of your problems. I have reason to believe that on their travels back to their own land, Kristr's boat stopped off with an acquaintance of his.' Johann had to tread carefully. 'This acquaintance, who has a tendency to jealousy, felt that Kristr was falling in love with Roisin, and has communicated same to MacRonan, who would covet anything that belongs to Kristr.'
Conall’s face fell. 'So even if I can come for my daughter and pay the silver, she may still fall into MacRonan's hands, for this ... acquaintance?'

Johann nodded. 'I do not yet know why MacRonan wants to ruin Kristr, but I shall eventually find out.'

Conall’s head fell into his hands.   Johann O’Toole saw a man who felt he had failed those who had depended on him. 'So what can I do to help you secure the future of both my daughters?

'I will be making the voyage North within the next sennight. I can bring news to your daughters that you and their brother are well. It may allay any fears that they have.'

'I shall come too, as will Diarmuid.' Conall’s man grunted his approval. 'If my girls are safe and cared for, I shall return to my rath and plot MacRonan's demise. If they are being mistreated in any way by the Halsrason Vikings, I shall kill them myself.'

'I cannot allow that. You will not be welcomed there.' Johann was resolute. 'Your arrival will be taken as an act of war, unless you can procure the silver as payment. Kristr will not surrender what he believes to be his.'

As the meal neared its end, Roisin felt a little more relaxed. She wasn't sure if it was the two cups of mead she had, the warmth of the fire after seven days at sea, or the light touch of Kristr's hand on the small of her back. She looked across at Ciara, who was beaming and blushing in delight at whatever sweet words Erik was whispering in her ear. Roisin watched as she playfully smacked his hand away from her breast before leaning in to a lingering kiss. She wondered what would happen to her agreement with Joseph; they would never had shared something so intimate.

The skald stood up to recite the tales of Thor and Odin. With the lilting sounds of his words and the gasps, sighs and laughter of his audience, she cuddled into Kristir's arms as he whispered the translation in her ear, his lips brushing against her skin, his fingers entwining with hers, and closing her eyes dreamily, she felt happier than she had in twelve moons.

As the night came to a close, Kristr picked up a very drowsy Roisin. 'Kristr, I can walk, you don't need to carry me like a babe.'

'Ah, but I want to, my sweetling. Now hush and let me keep my promise to care for you.' He carried her back to her chamber and carefully removed her brooches and apron-dress. Gently tugging the woollen dress over her head, it was taking all his self restraint not to start kissing the pristine white mounds of her breasts, her delicate, dusky nipples erect under her shift. He pulled the furs up over her smooth body, and as he dropped a long kiss on her forehead, her lips parted into a sigh and the sound was as sweet as birdsong to his ears.

'Kristr. My sweet. Thank you.'

'Goodnight, darling Roisin.' He left the chamber, barely able to walk. It was going to be a long night.


Roisin woke up the following morning, feeling rested and content. Stretching out to her full length, she wiggled her fingers and toes in a satisfied yawn. She peeked under the furs and blushed when she saw that she was in nothing but her shift, and remembered that Kristr had undressed her the previous evening. Her first Norse feast. She recalled how she had been so close to him as they listened to the magical stories of the skald, how he carried her to her chamber and how he saw her almost nude.

She jumped out of bed, still only in her knee-length shift, and bending over to pick up her dress off the chest, she spun around and ran into Kristr, who was on his way into the chamber. He was naked to the waist and she shrieked when she smacked into his chest face first. She heard him chuckle as the colour rose in her cheeks. She took a step back and stared up at him, her eyes widening as she took in his body.

She had seen boy babies, and small children, but never a man. His shoulders were broad, his arms sculpted with muscle. She felt vulnerable standing looking at him, but had an overwhelming urge to touch his skin, the trail of hair running from his navel to his... she cast her eyes to the ground in shame of her wantonness, of where her eyes and mind had wandered, biting her lip as she tried to regain her composure.

'Easy, sweetling,' he breathed as he raised her chin with his finger. 'Tis fine.'

She stared at the runes inked into his skin on his breast, and she could not resist placing  her hand over the image she let her palm pick up, initially the slight blue-black ridge of the tattoo, secondly the beating of his heart.

'What does the symbol mean?'

‘Dream. My mother's name in Norse.'

'It is beautiful. She is always with you.'

'In death, but not in life.'

'Do you know who took her from you?'

'No. She had pushed me behind her, and I can only recall that he was short, a fat barrel of a man, and a greasy head of hair.' He placed his hand over hers, and pulling her close with the other, he bent his forehead to hers so that they touched. 'Dear sweet Roisin, I will wait for you for ever.'

For ever was a long time.  She was not sure how long she would remain a maiden around this man.

Thanks for the painting are given to E Paterson
Viking home photo:
Other 2 photos:


Maria MacAuley is from Derry, Ireland and has a degree in Celtic Languages. She is married to the love of her life, and they live in relative peace with two cats.

She has a secret wish that her husband will investigate his Nordic family tree further and whisk her off on a longboat to Hammerfest to view the Northern Lights.

If Maria were to choose her favourite tense, it should be the subjunctive, and is always keen to discuss same over a pint of Guinness.

Bounce on over to chapter 8 HERE

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