Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Laird's Reckoning

Just in time for the release of the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie Dead Men Tell No Tales, I bring you my latest Romancing the Pirate novel. This tale veers slightly into uncharted waters for me. I’ve mixed pirates with Scottish Highlanders. A great deal of research went into making The Laird’s Reckoning, including watching the entire two seasons of Outlander. Nope, no hardship there. I enjoyed writing this story so much, I’m considering writing more Scottish pirate books.

The Laird’s Reckoning goes on sale May 30th at Amazon, but you can pre-order your copy today!

The Blurb:


Pirate or Laird...?

Birk Bane was born the second son, the unwanted son, the unneeded son. Crossed by family and falsely accused of a crime, he flees Scotland to the sea where he’s recruited by a pirate. Five years later, he’s captain of his own ship and embraces his new life, though an ache for the woman he left behind remains. When he receives word of his father’s death and his clan is floundering, Birk begrudgingly returns home. Little does he know there’s more he left behind than a title…much more.

Sheena MacRae helped Birk escape to safety years ago, always expecting he’d return. Time passes and she believes him to be dead. With her clan being terrorized and slaughtered, she accepts she is the only one who can stop the suffering by agreeing to marry Laird Gordon, the man behind the assaults. The man who is also poised to rule Birk’s clan. Despite the crushing need to hold Birk in her arms once more, his reappearance changes nothing. Sheena has too much to lose if she reneges the betrothal to Gordon. And while Birk’s intentions are to return to the sea after reclaiming his clan, she didn’t count on her pirate lover’s plan for revenge…

The longer he’s home, the more betrayal Birk uncovers. There will be a fiery battle ahead for Birk and his brethren. If he survives, how will he choose between the life he loves and the love of his life?

Enjoy this excerpt:


“They’re coming!”
The panic in Sheena’s eyes matched Birk’s racing heart. Their breaths stirred the dust they had kicked up crouching behind the crates. Shouts carried down the alleys, drawing closer.
Sheena gripped his arms. “Go!” Her pleading command rushed out in a hoarse whisper. “Run, before they catch you.”
“Come with me.” It was a desperate attempt to keep Sheena by his side, a selfish one. But he was no fool. If the magistrate found out she helped him escape, his bonny lass would be imprisoned. He couldn’t protect her if he left her behind.
She shook her head, mahogany tresses slipping free from the knot at her crown. “I canna leave my father and Mallabroch Manor.” Gruff voices neared. Her eyes widened, begged. “Please, Birk. If ye are hanged, I’ll kill myself, I swear I will.”
He believed it. By the heavens, he loved his lass. Loved her more than anything this world had to offer. He’d give his life for her. But never would he allow her to give hers for him. Never. “I canna leave you.” He could hardly swallow, the lump of fear wedged tight in his throat. She was his air, the beat of his heart. He was terrified to be without her. Terrified and angry. Angry for the pain marring her beautiful effervescent smile. He swore whoever set him up, accused him of being a false coiner, would pay and pay dearly.
“Ye must go.” She grabbed his face with both hands. “Ye must. For me.”
The tears cresting in those moss green eyes, the tremble in her bottom lip, tore at his soul. What choice did he have? Sheena would not leave her father, her home. This he knew. Her love and loyalty for her da was fierce. Could he really expect her to leave Ramsay, the laird of Mallabroch, alone, as ill as he was? Would he be able to protect her any better on the lam? No. He had no choice. She was a mighty one. She’d be fine, if only he’d let her go. Let her go and run. Damn it, he never ran from anything. He tucked a wayward lock behind her ear. “For you,” he repeated.
A shaky smile accompanied her gusty breath of relief. “I love you, Birk.”
“And I you. More than the moon and stars.” He pressed a kiss to her mouth. “I will clear my name,” he vowed against her lips. “I will come back for you.”
Birk gripped the back of her neck and she deepened the kiss. For a moment, he lost himself with her. The accusations, the magistrate’s guard closing in, his damaged, jaded world faded into the light, musky, floral scent of heather and urgent caress of her lips.
“This way!” The strident shout broke the haze, yanking him back to the present.
“Promise me.” She choked on the words.
Footfalls pounded against the packed dirt.
He could take no more of her agony. Aye. He would see the man who framed him dead. “I promise, mo teine, my fire. I will return for you.”
“Back here! This way!”
Tears streamed down her creamy, flushed cheeks. She nodded once. Without a word, she spun to stand, ready to face the men chasing after him.
Birk took off at a run, dodging barrels and crates, cutting around the buildings on the leading edge the rest of the way through the town to the docks. Behind him, he heard her shrill scream. He pushed hard against the urge to hasten back to her. He had to believe she would be all right. She was a hellcat when provoked. Sheena would be fine. She had to be.
He jumped over a pile of ropes and looped through stacks of lumber. The stench of timber and pitch mixed with brine. Off to the left, a carpenter hammered, the thudding so familiar. Ahead, several stevedores unloaded cargo from a ship. Birk hadn’t thought beyond fleeing the cell which Sheena unlocked. He hadn’t thought to where he’d go. But Sheena had. He was to flee to the only place he’d known—his father’s shipyard. Now as he skidded to a stop in the middle of the yard, realization struck. He had trapped himself between the town and the men coming for him and the sea. Bloody hell. Aye, there was a boat waiting for him somewhere, but would he reach it in time?
Sheena’s plan. Take a skiff across the Sound of Sleat to the mainland. Find a horse in Mallabroch and disappear. It was his only option, though he would rather have her by his side. Running from all the injustices their young lives had suffered, together.
Birk slunk through the maze of planks, boxes, casks, and tools, weaving through the scaffolding beneath the hull of a brigantine. He set his sights to the end of the docks where fishermen cast out in their skiffs. Just as he cleared the last support beam, he came face to face with his father.
Bewilderment flashed across his haggard face but was soon replaced with a flare of venom.
Birk slid his gaze past his father to his cousin rounding the other side of the scaffolding and coming up short. Cam slowly took a step back, as if he hoped not to become entangled in a confrontation.
“Birk.” A sneer crooked his father’s mouth. “Let ye out, did they?” His tone belied he knew the better.
Shouts traveled through the shipyard. His pursuers were nearly upon him.
“Hmph.” The old man lifted his chin and sneered down his nose. “Suppose not.”
“I didna do it, Father.” Speaking truths, hell, speaking at all was lost on the man.
Since birth, Hugh Bane, laird of Creaganbroch Manor, the village of Tradale, and the surrounding lands, had shunned his youngest son—the weak, sickly child who wasn’t expected to live. But his mother refused to accept her little bairn could not grow happy and healthy. Through her love and nurturing, never leaving his side, Birk survived the infant months to become the favorite of her three sons. That didn’t change as he grew a few years older. Hugh had become resentful, claiming his wife mollycoddled Birk. He’d force Birk into harsh labor around the yard, harsher than he should have for a boy his age. This but angered his mother and many fights were waged over Birk. Until his mother fell ill with fever. Upon her final breaths, it wasn’t Hugh she called for, but Birk. And Birk had suffered for it ever since.
Except that he didn’t. He hadn’t let the old man get the better of him. Not after the last time he took a backhand across his face at the age of fifteen.
“Didna do it?” Hugh spat. “’Tis your fault I’ve buried James. Ye and your goddamned defiance.”
And there it was. The blame he’d been burdened with and the guilt that his father was right this time. But that was his cross to bear and he’d be damned to let the old man lay one more thing at his feet. He’d be damned to give him any such satisfaction.
A wicked grin crooked one side of Cam’s mouth. One day, Birk would bloody up that idiot’s face, the toady.
“I didna kill James.”
“Ye did, and ye sullied the Bane name with your thievery.” Hugh, quick as a viper, snatched Birk’s arm. “Cam.”
“Yes, uncle?”
His father’s expression hardened. “Alert the authorities in the yard,” he leaned within an inch of Birk’s face, his eyes darkened with hate, “we have the bastard here.”
Birk had never gotten along with his cousin, but something about the toothy grin splitting Cam’s face didn’t set right with him. ’Twas more than Birk facing certain death at the end of a rope. ’Twas something…triumphant. Cam spun on his heel toward the approaching men.
“May ye rot in hell,” Hugh spewed.
Birk wrenched his arm free and leaned in even further, a hair’s breadth from the man. “Ye first.”
If ye haven't signed up FOR MY NEWSLETTER for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways, what are you waiting for? All new subscribers will have a chance to win a signed print copy of The Laird's Reckoning!

Don’t forget to pre-order your copy today!

Fair winds and following seas, mates!

About the Author

                                                                             
Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.





Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Dream a Little Dream by Kathleen Bittner Roth


DREAM A LITTLE DREAM

by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Dream researchers report that our dreams might be our greatest untapped resource connecting us to our subconscious and inner knowing. Think of nightmares as an overblown shout-out from your subconscious screaming at you to pay attention.

Elias Howe (1819-1867), inventor of the sewing machine, couldn’t figure out how to get the threads to lock together. He had a nightmare that he was forced to build a sewing machine for a savage king. He thought the king had given him twenty-four hours in which to complete the machine. Should he not complete his project, death would be his punishment.
In the dream, Howe failed. He thought he was being taken out to a courtyard to be executed. Before him stood a cadre of soldiers dressed in crisp red uniform jackets, white slacks and tall fur hats. They paraded single file past him, each carrying a long, thin spear. In rhythmic precision, they proceeded to stab him, one after the other. Terrified as he was, he noted a hole at the end of each spear.
He had his answer!
In the middle of the night in 1846, Howe awoke from the nightmare and rushed to his laboratory where he quickly created a working machine.
The nightmare with all its horror was his subconscious screaming the answer at him.


Howe is not the only person who’s dreamed solutions to a problem. Dream researchers say people who experience déjà vu most likely experienced a precognitive dream which is why whatever they currently confront seems familiar. These researchers say there are certain symbols that indicate a person is experiencing a precognitive dream (one of them is if the dream contains three round circular objects of some kind). I paid close attention to those symbols thereafter, and since I keep a dream journal, I can recount three precognitive dreams that led to my move to Europe.


Everyone dreams, even though some think they don’t. They simply don’t recall. However, they can train themselves to remember. One night, I dreamed THE SEDUCTION OF SARAH MARKS in its entirety. It was like watching a movie. Although I’ve dreamed bits and pieces of other stories, I’ve never before or since had the pleasure of having an entire story unfold from start to finish. Thus, when Sarah’s story ended up being my debut novel, it held a special meaning to me. Was it destiny? I don’t know, but it’s fun to think it was. I once read that Danielle Steele often dreams her books.
I happen to be particularly interested not only in my dreams, but in those of others. Having spent years teaching a dream recall seminar in a wellbeing center that I founded, I’m used to paying close attention to my dreams, and do so in a particular manner that I’ve taught others with some good results.
We dream in symbols, some archetypal, others personal interpretations that we have to learn to decipher, so if you want to start paying attention to your dreams and how your subconscious is speaking to you, the first and most important thing to do is keep a journal and pen by your bed because you only have about ten minutes to recall everything correctly. You may want to keep a small flashlight as well. In your journal, quickly note the colors, symbols, feelings, and content.
After a while, you’ll likely notice a recurring theme.
Also, when you slip off into that space between wakefulness and sleep, it’s an indication that your brain cycle has dropped into what’s called the theta level. Here is where your conscious and subconscious overlap; the perfect time to repeat an affirmation or “send a message”, if you will. Twenty-one days is how long it takes to create a new habit, so if you use a simple affirmation like, “Easily and effortlessly, I remember my dreams. My dreams give me insight into the direction of my life,” and keep a daily journal (even if you think you got nothing) something is bound to happen. After the twenty-one day period ends, you can give yourself other directives. I like to start with, “Show me what I need to know about such and such.” I get lots of answers to various questions that way.
I do not plot, I write by the seat of my pants, and often use this method for helping me write my stories. When I wrote A DUKE’S WICKED KISS which has a lot of conflict in it, I would often go to bed and drift off with affirmations something like: “Show me what happens next to Ravenswood.” Or, “Is now the time for such and such to happen?”
Learning to trust yourself is a vital aspect of dream recall. Your intuition is always 100% correct, it’s never wrong. You just have to learn the difference between intuitive feelings and human emotion. Like building a muscle in a gym, you don’t go in the first time and expect to walk out pumped up. It takes time, effort and consistency, but there is always a payoff.
What about you, do you recall dreams? Or have you had an experience or result by following the directive in a dream? I’d love to hear from you.


While on a secret mission for the Crown, a proper duke falls for an improper daughter of an Indian royal and British noble. 
Miss Suri Thurston knows the pain of abandonment. Intent on confronting the grandmother who tossed her to the lions, she travels from England to her birthplace in India. Her plans run afoul when she encounters the man who, ten years prior, left a mark on her soul with one stolen kiss. But he is a duke, and far beyond the reach of even her dreams.
The Duke of Ravenswood, secret head of the British Foreign Service, has no time for relationships. His one goal is to locate and eliminate key insurgents involved in an uprising against the British East India Company before it's too late. But when Suri appears in Delhi, his resolve is tested as he finds his heart forever bound to her by the one haunting kiss they shared once upon a time.
With Suri's vengeful Indian family looking for her death, and insurgents intent on mutiny tearing their world apart, can their love rise above the scandal of the marriage they both desperately want?

Read it now!

Kathleen Bittner Roth creates evocative stories featuring characters forced to draw on their strength of spirit to overcome adversity and find unending love. Her own fairy tale wedding in a Scottish castle led her to her current residence in Budapest, Hungary, considered one of Europe’s most romantic cities. A PAN member of Romance Writers of America®, Kathleen was a finalist in the prestigious Golden Heart® contest. 

You can find Kathleen at:

Website:          www.kathleenbittnerroth.com
Twitter:           @K_BittnerRoth
Pinterest          https://hu.pinterest.com/bittnerroth/


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Authors' Inspirations for The Forbidden Highland Anthology

Happy Tuesday and Happy Release day to my fellow authors! Today our anthology, The Forbidden Highlands released, and I can't wait for all of you to read our stories! Check out some of the author's inspiration behind their story and setting in the anthology! Enjoy!




Welcome to the realm of THE FORBIDDEN HIGHLANDS....


Eight USA TODAY and BESTSELLING historical romance authors bring you great tales of forbidden love from the highlands of Scotland based upon the greatest Celtic legend of forbidden love - a Celtic princess being escorted to her wedding to marry a king ultimately fell in love with her knightly escort. So began a powerful tale of great longing, of love spells, of persecution, and ultimately of a fiery passion borne from an otherworldly source. A love so strong is never meant to die... and reborn in these eight fabulous novellas.

Enjoy these brand-new novellas that will keep you reading long into the night, dreaming of lost loves, of great loves, and of forbidden loves.



Laird of Twilight by Eliza Knight

A future foretold...Only one man can fulfill her destiny… 

Lady Lilias Cameron has spent the last thirteen years skeptical of a prophecy regarding her future—until the very man described by the seer is introduced as her escort to a doomed marriage. Brooding and handsome, she cannot help the sparks of awareness he triggers. Nor can she ignore the deep desire to be true to herself.

Dirk MacDougall, Lord of the Isles, is to deliver a worthy bride to his Norse enemy, in an alliance that will hopefully bring peace to his country. The only problem is, he finds himself quite enamored by the spirited and charming lady. When one kiss leads to another, desire to claim her as his own takes hold.

If the alliance is broken, a mighty battle will be waged across Scotland begging the question: is forbidden love worth the price of war?

*~*~*~*~*


Laird of Twilight is the second story in my MacDougall Legacy series, so the castle opens at the family seat--Dunstaffnage Castle. If you've read the first book in my series (Laird of Shadows), you know that a visit to the castle and the mysticism and history surrounding the castle inspired me to start this series. When the group of us got together to write stories about forbidden love, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to explore Lilias and Dirk's story. First of all, each book in the MacDougall Legacy has a touch of magic. As a young girl, Lilias visits a seer with her mother, who prophesies that she will meet a man who is dark of hair, stormy of the eye and fiercer than a gale storm. When she meets Dirk for the first time, the sight of him, the sound of his voice, it all shakes her to the core, bringing her back to that prophecy that she'd long ago written off. And Dirk--he is struck for the first time with wanting to do something other than his duty. It begs the question, what would happen if a man fell in love with a woman he was supposed to give away to another?  What would happen if he were to take her for his own and bring about the possibility of war? Marriages were made as a norm in forming alliances, sometimes to gain allies, to increase holdings and other times to offer peace between rulers. A man and woman were supposed to do their duty without question. Can they give up their hearts for a life of dutiful misery? 

The Highlander's Hidden Heart by Kathryn Le Veque


A childhood promise becomes a question of honor when Jackston Forbes falls in love with another woman.

*~*~*~*~*


I invented my castle, Braelaw Manor, but I used Drum Castle as a model. Compact, stout, and strong! High Middle Ages was a time of tradition. People were very set in their ways, and that included in matters of the heart. There was a caste system and although it wasn't unusual for noble men to take a servant or a peasant as a lover or concubine, one simply didn't cross the line into love or marriage with those below your station. I drew my inspiration from the idea of a warrior who had made a childhood promise falling in love with the 'wrong' woman (in this case, a servant girl who had once been part of a ancient noble line). So... what does he do? Hold true to his childhood promise? Or follow his heart?

Across a Windswept Isle by Terri Brisbin

The story of a man who has lost his memory and almost his life in a terrible accident. Convinced that the woman who haunts his dreams can give him his life back, he is stunned when she doesn’t know him. . . or does she?

*~*~*~*~*

Aros Castle
Dun Ara


This story is set at Aros Castle and Dun Ara Castle, both now ruins on the Isle of Mull. I passed Aros Castle when driving on Mull on my last trip to Scotland – the ruins stand out on a cliff next to the sea and looked so dramatic against the setting sun. When I was creating my story, I was looking at photo from that trip and thought it would be the perfect location for my story…. 



The Highlander's Iron Will by Amy Jarecki

When Skye of Clan Iain Abrach extends the hand of hospitality, she crosses more boundaries than the border of Glencoe. And if Kier Campbell accepts her offering, he will take the first step toward committing treason against country and kin. Given a hostile and unending feud between their clans, can the fierce power of love transcend the destruction of war? 

*~*~*~*~*

My inspiration: After writing The Fearless Highlander which encompasses the massacre of Glencoe, I wanted to include a story of fierce passion that crosses the boundary between Jacobite Highlanders and Government troops.

The Maiden of Moray by Victoria Vane


He’s a man without a past… Abandoned at a monastery as a young child, Alexander serves two masters—God and the fading memories of his past life—the one he never got to live. As he nears the day to take his vows, he’s sent on a last sojourn into the real world to test his faith, and possibly his manhood. But one playful kiss in a moment of weakness awakens a dangerous desire. 

A woman who doesn’t know her own heart… Born from the line of two kings, Sibylla is abandoned by her sire as a child and then ruled illegitimate. Though she lives a happy life under her uncle’s protection, Sibylla craves more. But the hot-tempered beauty never imagines her fate lies in the hands of Alex, a would-be monk who hardly embodies her idea of a pious man of God.

When dark secrets from the past come to light, will Alex choose the safe and secure path he knows, or will he reject holy orders to embrace Sibylla and the life he was meant to live?  

*~*~*~*~*



Although I've written over a dozen historical romances set in the Georgian as well as two books set in Viking controlled Brittany (BRETON WOLFE and IVAR THE RED), I never expected to write anything Scottish -- until I began some personal genealogy research that revealed a heavy connection to the Scottish highlands that I had previously known nothing about! After tracing my ancestral roots through my paternal grandmother all the way back to clan Ross in 12th century Scotland, I knew I had to write their stories. The first of these is THE MAIDEN OF MORAY, a novella to be released in the FORBIDDEN HIGHLANDS anthology, with much more coming later this year with my new SONS OF SCOTLAND series, a saga that begins in the 12th century and will carry forward through the 18th century. This is a brand new direction that I’m incredibly excited about! I hope you all will enjoy my story!


To Love a Highland Rogue by Collette Cameron

She’s determined to end her betrothal, but he must make her his at all cost.

Betrothed as an infant, Mayra Findlay has never been permitted a beau—has never even flirted with a man. Until a chance encounter with a dashing rogue sets her on a course to force her affianced to call off the union. Determined to know just what type of woman he’s reluctantly taking to wife, Logan Rutherford, Laird of Lockelieth Keep, assumes his cousin’s identity; a decision that soon has him snared in a tangled web of deceit.

*~*~*~*~*




I'd always wanted to write a story where the main characters were betrothed as children, because the concept is so foreign to today's culture. Forced marriages were common in earlier eras, but I added a twist to make the union even more of an adventure.


A Highland Betrothal by Emma Prince


How can he protect the woman he loves when she is engaged to another?

Graeme MacKay returns from the siege on Berwick Castle a changed man. A wound to his leg has left him hobbled, but his injury is nothing compared to the blow his heart receives when he learns that Anna Ross, the only woman he has ever loved, is engaged. When Graeme is ordered to serve as Anna’s bodyguard on the journey to wed her fiancé, he is tested like never before. Though he tells himself to feel nothing for her, his heart has other plans.

As the daughter of a Laird, Anna Ross has always known that it would one day be her duty to marry a stranger for the betterment of her clan. Though resigned to her fate, she owes Graeme, the Highland warrior who stole her heart, an explanation—she has never stopped loving him, despite being forced to wed another. But when a shocking truth about her betrothal is revealed, she and Graeme must embark on a perilous flight from her fiancé—or risk losing their love forever. 

*~*~*~*~*


While I was doing research for another book, I came across an interesting historical tidbit about the strange fate of a woman from the 14th century because of a complicated issue with an arranged marriage (no spoilers for my story!). I ended up using this odd detail about the nuances of medieval engagements and arranged marriages, plus a forbidden love, mixed in with a bit of clan politics, and I had a juicy story on my hands!

There actually isn't a castle in my story, but there IS a marvelous medieval abbey called Sweetheart Abbey, which is a real place in southwestern Scotland!

Between a Scot and his Lady by Violetta Rand 

Darach, son of the chieftain of Clan Dùnan Mòr, heard the mournful call of the war horns. Days of peace in the northern reaches were rare. By God’s grace the clan’s lands situated along the coast were left untouched by Norse invaders. But today, a longship drifted into the inlet near his home. 
That's where he discovers a lone survivor, a Viking woman named Elle who claims her mother's family is from Scotia.

Can Darach trust the mysterious Elle? Is she a spy for the Norse? A true victim of circumstance? Or is she a pretender of virtue, sent to destroy everything he holds dear?

*~*~*~*~*



Forbidden love between an ancient Highlander and a Viking woman--the thought of these two people meeting and loving each other under such impossible circumstances inspired me to write this passionate story.   Takes place in 10th century Am Parph, Scotia (near modern day Point Wrath, northern Highlands).





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