Book Promo: The Angel of Soriano by Stella Marie Alden

The Angel of Soriano:
A Renaissance Romance

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Book Review: Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive [Medieval Captives 1] by Lindsay Townsend

Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive

He takes her for hate. Will he keep her for love? Sebastian, lord of the tower in the northern high lands, is a proud, bitter man with a dark past. An alchemist and a warrior, he has had lovers but knows he is ugly – experience and betrayal have taught him that.When Melissa, the beautiful, neglected daughter of two old enemies, falls into his possessive hands he is determined to hold her. Why? As one of the detested and defeated Felix family,Melissa must cling to her courage when she is claimed as a war-prize by the tall, grim Sebastian. Expecting torture and ravishment, she finds instead a peace and sanctuary that she has never known. Treated with kindness for the first time in her life, Melissa begins to blossom. But there are secrets and old betrayals between them. Sebastian’s abiding jealousy is not easily quelled, especially when someone at the tower seeks to destroy his growing love with Melissa.

Amazon Customer Review

5 starsMedieval Tale of Love Conquering All by Linda Banche

Lindsay Townsend’s SEBASTIAN THE ALCHEMIST AND HIS CAPTIVE is a gentle medieval tale of two wounded souls who heal each other with their love.

Orphaned as an infant, the unwanted Melissa has been shunted from a convent to her uncle’s and aunt’s negligent care. She yearns to find someone who wants her. Then the warrior Sebastian captures her in a raid.

Sebastian wants Melissa, all right. When he was a squire, her parents belittled and taunted him. He can’t take revenge on her dead parents, but he can on their daughter.

But Sebastian is more than just a fighter. Intelligent, brave and compassionate, the rejection he’s suffered makes him sensitive to the sufferings of others, and he takes in outcasts from other castles. The little maid speaks to his heart, but surely she can never love him.

Ms. Townsend perfectly captures heroes who are fierce warriors, yet have tenderness inside. Sebastian is a man every woman longs for: He will protect his love with all his considerable fighting skill and also make her the queen of his heart.

Melissa might have been ignored and mistreated, but her spirit remains unbroken. I like a heroine who not only survives, but go on to thrive, especially when she finds a man who adores her as much as she loves him.

Melissa and Sebastian were made for each other. The story of their animosity turning into affection is truly a tale of love conquering all.

About the Author:

 

Lindsay Townsend’s books are mostly historical romance and set in medieval England, ancient Rome or ancient Egypt, but she also writes romantic suspense and historical mystery.
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Book promo: The Druid Knight Tales by Ruth A. Casie

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/DruidKnightTales

BN: http://bit.ly/DruidKnightTalesBN

iBook: http://bit.ly/DruidKnightTalesiBook

FREE now through April 23, 2015

BLURB:

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

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

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

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

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

EXCERPT:

Penetrating blue-gray eyes stared out from the cocoon of dark wool that enrobed the woman. The cheeks on her porcelain-white face appeared tinged with a splash of pink. Her natural berry-red lips were turned up in a welcoming smile. “Grand Master.” She dipped a well-executed curtsy.

Fendrel’s healer was much different than the old crone he had anticipated. This woman was regal and beautiful. The gleam in her eyes was calm and comforting. He had a strange sensation, which made no sense at all, that he had known her for a long time. At ease with her, he allowed himself to relax and returned her open smile with one of his own.

“This is Ellyn of Brodgar,” said Fendrel. “She has been our healer for the last year. Our situation was grave. It was her healing skills that kept us alive. I would like you to accept her into our clan.”

The knuckles on Ellyn’s hand turned white from grasping her staff firmly. Her head whipped around at Fendrel.

Max observed, fascinated the elder was oblivious to the daggers the woman’s eyes flung at him. So, Fendrel hadn’t told her of his plan and if Max wasn’t mistaken, she wasn’t pleased.

“Thank you, Fendrel,” said Ellyn. “Your request is a great honor. I will be your healer for as long as I am with you.” She turned to Max, her face serene. Her iron grip on the staff relaxed.

Fendrel sputtered.

“You are welcome into Fendrel’s clan for as long as you see fit to stay with us,” said Max. He was certain he saved Fendrel from getting his head bashed with the staff the woman carried. “Brodgar is in the Orkneys. You are far from home.”

“I go where I am needed.” Her voice was soft—her tone evasive.

Max gave her a benign smile. She was tall and graceful. Loose tendrils of curls softened her face. Dark lashes swept down against her cheekbone. She gazed at him with bright, intelligent eyes. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He sensed her trying to press in on his mind and blocked her attempt so fast she winced in pain. He’d made his point. She would not try that again.

“If you will excuse me.” She turned to leave. “I would like to look in on Dimia and the baby to make certain they’re settled in for the night,” she said to the new father.

“Of course, Ellyn. I will see you back to camp.” Fendrel approached the two men. “Thank you, Grand Master. Doward. We will see you tomorrow.” He and Ellyn went back down the small rise.

“Interesting girl,” remarked Doward after they were gone. “You didn’t have to be rough on her. She was only curious.” Doward chuckled.

Max stared after her.

She wasn’t at all what she seemed.

About the author:

Ruth A. Casie writes contemporary and historical fantasy romance for Carina Press, Harlequin and Timeless Scribes Publishing. Formerly from Brooklyn, New York, she lives in New Jersey with her very supportive husband Paul. When not writing you can find Ruth reading, cooking, doing Sudoku, or counted cross stitch. Ruth and Paul have three grown children and two grandchildren. They all thrive on spending time together. It’s certainly a lively dinner table and they wouldn’t change it for the world. She loves to hear from readers, so drop her a line at Ruth@RuthACasie.com OR visit her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/RuthACasie or on Twitter: @RuthACasie. If you’d like to receive her occasional newsletter, please sign up at www.RuthACasie.com. For more information about Ruth’s books, please visit www.RuthACasie.com.

Book promo: Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive

Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive
10% OFF TILL 6TH JAN!

One more day!

Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive

Medieval Captives 1

Linday Townsend

OUT NOW FROM HERE

AVAILABLE: Tuesday, December 30th

This title is offered at a 10% discount. Offer ends midnight CST, January 6th

He takes her for hate. Will he keep her for love?

Sebastian, lord of the tower in the northern high lands, is a proud, bitter man with a dark past. An alchemist and a warrior, he has had lovers but knows he is ugly—experience and betrayal have taught him that. When Melissa, the beautiful, neglected daughter of two old enemies, falls into his possessive hands he is determined to hold her. Why?

As one of the detested and defeated Felix family, Melissa must cling to her courage when she is claimed as a war-prize by the tall, grim Sebastian. Expecting torture and ravishment, she finds instead a peace and sanctuary that she has never known. Treated with kindness for the first time in her life, Melissa begins to blossom.

But there are secrets and old betrayals between them. Sebastian’s abiding jealousy is not easily quelled, especially when someone at the tower seeks to destroy his growing love with Melissa…

A BookStrand Mainstream Romance.

STORY EXCERPT:

Sebastian settled back in his chair. He still had many petitions to read and tomorrow he would fight a duel, with mace and daggers, but for the rest of the evening…Yes, he could grant himself the time, the indulgence. Ignoring the dull ache in his lower back, he stretched his long arms above his head.

“Robert.” He spoke quietly to the gangling chestnut-headed squire patrolling by the door. “Send the girl to me. Then get some rest before you fall over.” The youth had only lately recovered from a fever and even in the firelight looked as pale as the falling snow outside.

“I will sleep when you do, my lord.” Robert gave a brief, jerky bow and slipped from the stone chamber, his rapid footsteps fading in the vastness of the tower. Sebastian returned to his reading, making notes on the parchment, listening to the spit of the flames, and waiting. What will she be like? He had only caught a glimpse yesterday, when he had claimed her as his prize. The child of an old enemy and my first, unrequited love. What have her people told her about me?

The door swung open, slowly at first and then in a rush, as if whoever was entering was determined not to be cowed. Headstrong, just like her mother. Amused, Sebastian rested the tip of his writing quill on the tabletop to watch an energetic, vivid figure hasten into the chamber.

“Idonotcarewhatyoudotome, butdonothurtmypeople…”

Sebastian raised the quill and the spate of words instantly stopped. “Closer,” he commanded, when the creature remained still, glancing behind her at the closing door. “Look at me, girl.”

She took a step forward this time, halting exactly in the shadows cast between the torches and firelight so that her face and form remained hidden. Arrogant and stubborn, just like her father. A whip of irritation cracked down his spine.

“Artos, guard,” he ordered the black wolf he had saved as a cub from a hunter’s trap. Artos yawned, stretched himself up from the rug by the fire, and trotted to the threshold. With widening eyes the girl studied the wolf as it began a steady pacing back and forth before the entrance.

“He is not my familiar, if that is what you are thinking.”

“Your shadow, then.” The girl swung round to face him. Her voice was low, cracking a little from nerves or disuse. “He is handsome.”Unlike you. The unspoken words filled the chamber like the apple-wood smoke.

Sebastian pushed back his chair and strode toward his captive, circling his prize as she stood stiffly at attention, her head held perfectly straight, her hands clenched by her sides, half-hidden in her once gaudy, now tattered, green and gold robes. In the shifting alliances of these lush and rugged highlands her kindred had backed the wrong overlord and lost. In the scramble afterward between the northern princelings for booty and lands, Sebastian had been able to take the girl, claim her by right of revenge. Revenge. What a monster she must think me, this dainty youngster, to make her pay for ancient hurts her father wreaked on me, for the old betrayals of her mother. Does she even know that pitiful tale?

He circled her again, sensing her quiver as he loomed. She was a brunette, but there all similarity between them ended. Where he was tall and lean and intense, large-jointed and craggy, precise from years of deliberate, often hard-won control, this tiny girl shimmered like a flame. Where his hair was black, dull and fine as silk, hanging straight to his broad shoulders, hers was the color of brimstone and treacle, long, heavy ropes of shining curling waves, sunset brown shot through with chestnut. Her father’s coloring, and wasn’t Baldwin always aware of his good looks? As for her mother in her—Sebastian halted before the girl and, with a long finger, tipped up her chin, glimpsing a pair of bright brown eyes in a freckled, delicate face. The child shifted, lowering her head in a gesture of apparent submission. The shape of her eyes are the same as Rosemond’s, but not the color. Her mother had blue eyes and gold hair and smiled like a Madonna, all the better to beguile men.

“Like but not like,” Sebastian murmured, releasing his grip and continuing his prowl. The girl was easily a head shorter than himself, small and thin, where Rosemond had been tall and stately. “How old are you?”

“Eighteen.” The bright eyes fixed on his and a spark of heat tingled from his chest to his groin in response. He saw her blush and wondered if she had also sensed the spark. “Eighteen, Sir Sebastian.”

He scowled at her address, disliking the arrogant assumption behind it that only knights had value. Just like her father. “I am no knight, girl, remember that,” he barked. She trembled and he could not decide if that was due to fear or revulsion. Watching the pretty glow drop from her face like a fallen ribbon, he decided it was both.

Irritated and a little ashamed with his behavior, he closed his eyes, desperately trying to entomb his own past within himself. “Who would care for such a lanky thing as you?” His mother had first told him that. “Sallow, dark, possessive,” a previous lover or two had complained, before each one had parted with him due to his jealousy. “An ugly, crook-nosed brute…” Sebastian remembered that description only too clearly, the taunts “ugly” and “crook-nose” following him throughout his service as a page, then squire, before he had turned his back on the cruel, glittering world of chivalry. And who had first called him ugly and crook-nosed? Baldwin of course, this girl’s father, jibing and taunting, bullying and tormenting, setting on him with his friends and cronies, four, five, six against one. Sebastian had stomached that but then worse followed—he had heard Rosemond agreeing with Baldwin, the pair laughing together, laughing at him. After all I did for her and tried to do for her, after I helped her, after I told her I loved her.

Strange after all these years that it should still ache so much, as if an anvil had been hurled into his chest. Fighting the despair, Sebastian growled like Artos and shook his head to clear it. Here he was, aged three and thirty, still re-fighting old battles, old hurts. I am pathetic.

He opened his eyes, relaxing his grip on the quill before he shattered it.

Promo: Dark Maiden by Lindsay Townsend

As demons haunt medieval England, Geraint and Yolande rely on their love to survive.
darkmaiden137x225

The 1300s are a time of pestilence and unease, plagued not just by disease but by demons and the restless dead. Yolande wanders England and Wales, armed with her blessed bow and sacred herbs, laying the spirits to rest and driving the demons away. She’s bound to serve for a time of seven—though she knows not what that means.

Geraint the Welshman travels the countryside, juggling and tumbling to earn his keep. When he meets Yolande, he’s caught by her fierce yet sweet nature and vows to stay by her side. As they journey closer to Yolande’s final trial and face foes ever more cunning and dangerous, Geraint and Yolande have only their mutual love and trust to help them survive.

 Link:

Promo: The Unexplored Heart by Marilyn Celeste Morris

The Unexplored Heart

Impoverished but proud Vanessa Danforth is forced from her mother’s home by her new stepfather’s treachery in 1860s England. After graduating from stenographer’s school, she accepts a position at the estate of famed world explorer, Harrison Courtland. Made a widower by his wife s tragic death in the Himalayas, Courtland has retreated into his work while Vanni forges friendships with his daughter Katrin and the handsome physician from the neighboring estate. As Vanni encourages Courtland to unearth the ancient ruins at the edge of his property she discovers not only a stunning secret and a hidden treasure, but also her own heart’s desire.

(excerpt)

Rose and Vanni had become very good friends, to the point where on the occasions when their days off coincided, they planned trips into London, to shop and spend the days in sweet idleness, seeing different areas of the city and its outskirts each time. 

            On one occasion, when Rose had traveled by herself to London, she returned, white-faced and trembling.

            “What is it, Rose?”  Vanni inquired as soon as she could talk to the girl alone.  “You look a fright.  Was the train trip not to your liking?  Are you ill?”

Vanni examined her friend carefully for any signs of illness.  Yet, she saw nothing but fear.  Not illness.  Fear.

At last, when the two women were alone in the dining room, Rose looked around, lowered her voice and whispered, “I saw her, Vanni.”

“Saw whom?”  Vanni whispered back, looking around the room to ascertain they were indeed, unheard.

“Mrs. Courtland.  I saw Mrs. Courtland.  In London. With Dr. Thorne.”

Vanni’s jaw dropped.  “Surely you saw someone in her likeness, Rose.  Mrs. Courtland has been lost and presumed dead these five long years.  You can’t have seen her.”

Vanni simultaneously realized Miss Katrin was a young woman, ready to go off to boarding school in London.  She would go with Miss Rose on her next trip to London, with a two-fold purpose:  To investigate the school Miss Rose had chosen for her pupil to attend, and to either confirm or deny Rose’s observation of Mrs. Courtland and Dr. Thorne together, emerging from a hotel.

“Surely not,” she exclaimed to Rose as they entered the train station and prepared to disembark.  “Mrs. Courtland is most certainly deceased after such a fall in such a remote area.  I assure you, when Mr. Courtland dictated to me his notes on that trip, he was most certainly convinced, as were his fellow explorers, that the fall killed his wife. Mercifully, we assume, as she must have hit her head on the rocky stream bed, rather than drowning.  It was a quick death, with no suffering on her part.”

Vanni looked squarely into Miss Rose’s eyes, and the tutor’s eyes never wavered.

“It is Mrs. Courtland,” she insisted.  “You must see for yourself.  I have seen her a second time, and that only convinced me further that the two people I saw dining in the Grand Hotel restaurant were Doctor Thorne and Mrs. Courtland.  You’ll see.”

“Very well, Rose. First, we’ll investigate the boarding school you have chosen for our Miss Katrin.  Then we shall go to the hotel dining room for luncheon, and hope the elusive Mrs. Courtland shows up to confirm your belief she is alive and well and living in London.”

Rose nodded and upon arrival in London, they hired a hansom cab to deliver them to Miss Ellis’ School for Young Ladies a short distance away.  They had pooled their money to ensure they would have the funds to explore London as well as complete their stated purpose…..or purposes, as it were.

The boarding school proved to be acceptable to Miss Rose, and after interviewing Miss Ellis herself, Rose sealed the deal by telling Miss Ellis that a checque signed by Mr. Courtland would arrive in the next week’s post.

That errand completed, Vanni and Rose set off to the Grand Hotel, where they had a dual purpose:  enjoying a leisurely luncheon and spotting Dr. Thorne and the Late Mrs. Courtland.

“But what if they see us?” Vanni asked breathlessly, scanning the room’s occupants.

“Oh, this is a very large room, Vanni,” her companion replied. “They are so engrossed with each other, they scarcely take their eyes somewhere other than each other.  Besides, we are wearing broad-brimmed hats; we can tilt them down to hide our faces, if they do chance to look this way.”

Vanni shook her head in disbelief. “I’m not liking this part of my adventure in London,” she said in a low voice. “After our luncheon, I suggest we go straightaway back to Cornwall, to our regular duties tomorrow and forget this nonsense.”

“Agreed,” Miss Rose nodded.  “It is difficult to enjoy everything London has to offer two young women when they are embarked on a mystery chase.”  She laughed.

The waiter took their orders and Vanni allowed herself a glass of red wine, which she found she enjoyed in Courtland Manor’s dining room.  She thought back to her first days there, almost five years ago,and sighed.  So much has happened since she first met Mr. Harrison Courtland.

Her sigh was not missed by Miss Rose. “What is it, Vanni? Why are you looking so troubled?”

Vanni blushed unwittingly and then she raised her hands to her reddened cheeks.

“Vanni!  Do I see a blush on your pretty face?  What is it?  Are you in love?”

Another sigh from Vanni.  “Yes, I believe I am.  I am walking on air, happy as a lark and eager to be closer to him.  But, Rose, he is my employer! “

Rose laughed and reached out to touch Vanni’s hand. “Oh, Vanni, that is wonderful! Do not be shy about telling me your feelings.  Or admitting them to Mr. Courtland, either, when it’s appropriate.”

“How will I know when it’s appropriate?”

“I see the signs.  He has never been with any of the former secretaries like this before.  Have you not noticed at times he seemed somewhat befuddled, absent-minded, and even shy? Let him make the first declaration, Vanni.  You will see.  Soon, I think. ”

Vanni searched her memory and realized Rose was correct in her assessment.

“I suppose you are  right, Rose.  Thank you for telling me.  Now, we must eat our delightful lunch before our hunted prey appears in the room.”  She laughed.

“Our prey?  How droll,” Rose raised her glass in a mock toast. “To us! The detectives!”

At that moment, Vanni glanced toward the entry doors to the restaurant, leading from the lobby.  She recognized Jonathan Thorne immediately as he paused to speak to the maitre d’hotel as he patted the arm of the attractive woman who held his arm tightly.

“It’s Thorne,” she whispered to Rose, who immediately tilted her head so her broad brimmed hat shielded her face.  She indicated Vanni do the same.

“The woman with Dr. Thorne,” Rose hissed beneath her hat, “is Mrs. Courtland.  Look.”

Exasperated with Rose’s statement, Vanni muttered back, keeping her face shielded from the entry way, “You know I never saw the woman.  How would I know who she is?”  Nonetheless, she dared look at the couple entering the dining room.

Vanni’s breath seemed taken away.  The lady was the same image she had seen in the portrait in Courtland Manor; the titian-haired woman with the porcelain skin and her rosy red lips ……..was one and the same as the person now threading her way through the room.

Rose heard Vanni’s sudden intake of breath. “What is it, Vanni?  Do you recognize her from the portrait?  It is Mrs. Courtland, isn’t it?  No doubt whatsoever, Lisanne Courtland has returned from the dead.”

This last statement was said with great finality, and to punctuate her comment, Rose lifted a glass of wine to her lips and drank the remaining wine with gusto.

“I’m convinced, Vanni whispered, “this really was Lisanne Courtland, even though I’ve only seen  the portrait hanging on the stairway at Courtland’s.

“And,” she added in a low voice, “I saw her in a carriage with Mr. Firestone, my stepfather, who turned out to be a gambler and a womanizer.  One of those women was undoubtedly Mrs. Courtland. Lisanne.”

Rose, to her credit, did not look the least bit startled to hear that bit of information. “I could have thought so,” she said thoughtfully.

“What are we supposed to do now?” Vanni whispered to her companion-turned-accomplice in crime. “Surely we cannot confront them here.  Nor can we tell Mr. Courtland when we return tonight. But I have another concern about this….”

Rose nodded at her to continue, while watching Lisanne and Dr. Thorne take their seats at a dining table near the window.

“Katrin will be coming to London soon.  What if she sees her mother here?  What a shock it would be!  How can we prevent Lisanne from seeing her daughter, or vice-versa? We must not allow this to happen.  It would surely give the girl a shock.”

Rose pursed her lips.  “I agree.  We must not let that happen.  I could delay Katrin’s admission to the boarding school; I could invent some excuse to keep the girl at home until we can think of a way to confront Mrs. Courtland and get her to tell the truth about how she survived and where she has been these five years.  Think of it.  Katrin was a child of ten when her mother disappeared.  She is now fifteen, and a girl on the verge of adulthood.  The woman must be stopped.”

The women lingered at their table for a few moments, each one thinking how best to deal with this most unusual occurrence. Who do you tell when you find out a woman whom everyone thought had died suddenly appears in London, not only alive, but with a traitorous neighbor?

Do we tell her husband?  Or do we remain quiet and let this charade play itself out?

But most of all, how can we keep silent after we return to Cornwall with this dreadful secret? 

* * * *