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/