Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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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).

Available Now! Get your copy!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Seven Wenches and their Booty

What do you get when seven award-winning, best-selling swashbuckling wenches who write pirate romances join forces? Mayhem! More accurately, seven tales of adventure, danger, sea battles, retribution, and pillaging of the heart all in one place—Romance on the High Seas. This unique box set weighs anchor May 18th, just ahead of the final Pirates of the Caribbean movie sails into theaters. Ah, brings a tear to me eye.

Today, I’m sharing some booty. Seven excerpts sure to tempt your scavenging curiosity.

And like any good pirate worth her salt, I’ve got a more. Join the wenches on Facebook. In the following weeks leading up to the release of Romance on the High Seas, we will be hosting awesome treasure hunts. Loads of fun and HUGE spoils can be had. Just sign the Articles, er, I mean join the wenches on Facebook for your orders, um, details.


If you love historical romance, pirates, adventure, and thrills, you'll love this 7-book set by these award winning and best selling pirate romance authors!

THE PIRATE'S DEBT by National Best-selling Author Katherine Bone:
An earl-turned pirate is ordered by his benefactor to find an adventurous young runaway and return her home. To do so, he must retrieve her without being discovered by the most ruthless pirate hunter on the seas: her brother.

DEAD MAN'S KISS by Award Winning Author Jennifer Bray-Weber:
Eight weeks. That’s all pirate captain Valeryn Barone has to escort a tempting naturalist untouched across the Caribbean or face the gallows. Can he resist the beauty who’s fallen for him? Does a dead man walking even have a chance?

THE BLACK MORASS by USA Today Bestselling Author Barbara Devlin:
In exchange for a chance at redemption and pardons for his crew, Jean Marc Cavalier accepts a pact that could result in liberty or death, if only he can survive the terms, but at least he will be free.

PIRATE HEIRESS by Award Winning Author Chloe Flowers:
Captain Conal O’Brien has already lost control of his ship to the most unlikely band of pirates sailing the seas. If he’s not careful, he’s going to lose his heart as well as his ship to a headstrong lady pirate determined to destroy both.

MY LADY PIRATE by N.Y. Times Bestselling Author Danelle Harmon:
He holds the fate of nations in his hands. She's the Pirate Queen of the Caribbean, savage, beautiful and untamed. When danger, secrets, and deceit threaten both their love and England herself, can even an admiral named Nelson bring together this man who longs for a lady pirate and a woman who dreams of a gallant knight? 

CAPTIVATED BY THE CAPTAIN by USA Today  Bestselling Author Amanda Mariel:
What happens when an American shipping company heiress crosses paths with a pirate? Can two people whose life paths are at odds find common ground?

CARRIED AWAY by Kamery Solomon:
After falling through time and being forced to join a pirate crew, Mark Bell falls in love with his fellow time traveler, Samantha. She's a woman he can't have, though. Will their presence in the past alter the future they know and love?

FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE, the excerpts from each book.


Markwick stiffened. Blackmoor’s reasons for enlisting Markwick’s help were triggered by love for his wife. Markwick’s sense of responsibility went deeper, to a place he’d never allowed himself to go out of respect for Walsingham. While it was true that Chloe had exceeded many levels of Markwick’s patience when she was younger, since his engagement to Prudence, she’d shown herself to be intelligent, talented, loyal, and a most beloved sister and friend. She was also enamored by the Black Regent, which put his identity at even greater risk.
What could he do? How far was he willing to go to bring Chloe home safe and sound?
“For the duchess’s sake,” he began, “I will do my best to find Chloe. You have my word.”
“Remember, her willful head is in the clouds. That, dear friend, makes her dangerous. If she spies her brother, she will most likely flee to avoid facing his ire. But if you find her . . . well, that is a trap well laid.”
“Surely you place too much—”
“I’ve promised my wife that you will find her before Walsingham does.”
Markwick bowed. “I shall strive to earn your confidence.”
He gazed at the missive in Blackmoor’s hand once more, suspecting something else was responsible for the duke’s persistence that Markwick should be the one to locate Chloe. “What’s in the letter?”
Blackmoor handed him the missive, then strode to the door. “Have a care for your soul, Markwick. While the Fury demands forte, females rein a tempest of emotions sure to drown better men.”
Markwick straightened. “Aye, sir,” he said, gazing down at the note.
The screen door slammed. When he looked up again, Blackmoor was gone.
Markwick opened the note, then leaned back on the desk. His jaw slackened at the words on the page. 
My dearest friend,
I ask you one question: is a body unhappy about another unless she is in love? I fear we both know the answer to that now, and a gentle violence thrills my soul as I share with you that I intend to sail with the tide. I cannot face the snares and wiles of this world without love to recommend me. Therefore, I beseech you to keep my secret, for you are the only one I trust.
Markwick has disappeared. As you are no longer betrothed, I am finally at liberty to confess to you that I love him. I have always loved him, and I cannot bear for him to suffer alone. Sources close to my brother inform me that a man fitting Markwick’s description has been seen in Torquay. Therefore, I’ve attained passage for myself and my maid aboard the Valerian.
Do not be alarmed for my person or harden your heart against me. Dry your earnest tears. My virtuous intentions steer me toward a higher destiny.
Resourcefully yours,
Chloe Walsingham
Markwick shut his gaping mouth, then crumpled the letter in his hand.
It couldn’t be true. Blackmoor was right? Chloe loved him? How was that possible? Why? Until now, he had always perceived her attention as infatuation because he’d been the only man her brother allowed around her.
He dropped the foolscap and swiped his fingers through his hair. If he failed to rescue Chloe from another one of her outlandish adventures, Prudence would blame him. Which meant Blackmoor would blame him. Not to mention Chloe’s brother. If Walsingham found out Markwick had known where Chloe was bound and hadn’t alerted him, the bond between friends would be severed for good, making his stint as the Black Regent even more perilous. If anything happened to her, Walsingham would not rest until Markwick was hunted down. That endangered the Regent’s whole design. And a dead Regent could not help the people of Cornwall and Devon.
Markwick hopped forward and yanked open the cabin’s screen door.
Pye stood there, just outside the door, waiting. “What be your orders, Cap’n?”
Had Blackmoor ordered the one-legged pirate to stand there? “Notify the crew that we have a target in our sights. We make way with the tide.”
“Aye, sir.” The salty pirate grinned. “As soon as I’d seen the ol’ cap’n, I knew we’d have us an adventure ahead.”
“Spare me your excitement,” Markwick grumbled. “This adventure may very well lead to my bloody end.”
“Thank you, Capitán,” she said.
“Don’t thank me, lass. Another moment more whilst he had his weapon raised, I would have blown a hole into your cousin’s skull. And if we survived the British onslaught, you can be certain I’d have used you to save myself and my crew.”
Catalina dropped her gaze to her hands and sighed. “I understand more than you’d give me credit for.” She impaled him with a grim look. “We are all pawns to someone else’s ambitions. As sure as the sun rises and sets, I would do the same to you.”
“Would you? A scared mouse such as you?” What an interesting creature.
“You don’t seem like a man given to underestimating others.”
Catalina shed her earlier fear, recouping her tart attitude rather quickly in spite of nearly becoming British property. She was quick to stand her ground, he’d give her that. No matter. He could break her of her illusions of prevailing upon him like she did her uncle.
“Then we have an understanding.”
“Oh, I understand. The question is, who is the pawn and who is the queen?”
“You mean king.”
She smiled. “No, queen.”
“I do love a good challenge.” He circled the lass. “Pray tell, Miss Montoya,” he whispered low into her ear. “What would the queen do with her pawn—should he be in her service?”
“She would have him kneel before her.” She paused, turning her head slightly to him.
Valeryn’s tongue danced behind his lips with the urge to run it along the curve of her ear. What would it be like to feel her shiver if he were to lap at her lobe? “And?”
She nibbled her bottom lip, avoiding eye contact. “And drink from her fount.”
Christ! The double entendre damn near caused his knees to buckle. “The pawn’s a thirsty man. He might drink her dry.”
Her stare remained fixed straight ahead. “To protect her place, a queen must ensure my pawn is sated.”
My pawn? Burn and sink it! ’Twas a slip of the tongue, and she was killing him. “Will I be sated?” He couldn’t stop himself. He could ravage her in a kiss if it weren’t for Nalda sulking nearby and the crew watching their every move.
She turned her head in closer and peered up. Her lips parted, her breath shallow, the pupils of her eyes wide, eclipsing the color. “Will I?”
Holy Mother of— “You tread a dangerous path.”
“We both do.”
“Then ’tis best we err on the side of caution.”
Valeryn stepped away from her heat, to a safe distance. There was work to be done, work that would be made difficult with a stiff cock. “My lady,” he said by way of parting.
He spun on his heel and gathered the men on the quarterdeck for further orders. He waited at the top of the ladder for Henri to make the climb. Below, Nalda wagged a bony finger at Catalina, scolding her with words he couldn’t hear and probably wouldn’t understand. The lass ignored her maid and strode for the hatch leading to the cabins. She paused at the door and looked up. She smiled at Valeryn and quickly ducked inside.
Trouble. She was all trouble.
The sun sat below the yardarm, as Jean Marc leaned against the stern rail and admired his new cabin mate.  No, they had not discussed her quarters, as he saved that particular joy for later, and he sincerely looked forward to what he anticipated would be a heated but restrained exchange.
A compelling mix of innocence, polite decorum, and fire, Lady Madalene conversed with members
of the crew at the waist, without care, given she had no idea what naughty games he planned for her, but she would learn soon enough with whom she tangled.  Rubbing the back of her neck, she shifted and peered over her shoulder.  When she met his gaze, he smiled, and she dipped her chin.
“The lady is a kind soul, Cap’n.”  Tyne scratched his cheek and frowned.  “She treats the men with respect.”
“And your point would be—what?”  Ah, the curve of her jaw presented a tempting confection he would trace with his tongue, and he would suckle and nibble her sweet flesh that night.  “Have the tars completed the task?”
“Aye, but I do not like it, as she is young.”  The bosun shuffled his feet.  “We could empty one of the storerooms, and create a private lodging for her.  Say the word, and I will see to it.”
“If I heeded your advice, how long do you think it would take before I had to kill a horny sea dog bent on sampling her honey?”  Jean Marc snickered and descended the companion ladder, with Tyne bringing up the rear.  “Now I will approve of the arrangements, ensure everything is as I commanded, and then you will send my guest to my cabin.”
“We could post a guard—”
“Jean Marc, I know you are unhappy with the bargain you struck with the British, but she is a guileless babe.”  Tyne grabbed Jean Marc’s arm.  “Do not use her as a foil for your frustration, as you will never forgive yourself.”
“I will do with her as I choose, which is none of your affair, and I have no conscience.”  Wrenching free, he turned on a heel and stomped into his domain.  In the corner hung a small hammock, which had been strung unusually high and taut, to discourage Lady Madalene from using it.  As he tugged on the stiff rope, he laughed.  “Perfect.  Now, bring her to me.
“Where are you taking us?”
Drago looked up into the red-rimmed, grey eyes of the eight-year old girl standing a few feet away. It was a good thing she wasn’t armed or he would have been in trouble. He’d not heard a sound or caught a single movement during her transition from his bed to the area in front of his desk. Perhaps she wasn’t as docile as she’d appeared.
“South,” he answered.
She pressed her lips into a thin line. Her nostrils flared. “South to where?”
“A place called Lamb’s Tail Island,” he answered, studying his chart.
“And where, exactly, is Lamb’s Tail Island?”
He inhaled and let his breath out slowly. “Off the eastern coat of Jamaica.” He turned his attention back to his charts without waiting for her answer.
She leaned forward and mimicked the tone almost exactly. “Why did you make my family steal the Seeker?”
He sat back in his chair. “If I told you, would you stop asking questions and let me get back to my charts?”
She shrugged, which he took as a ‘no.’
“What’s your name, little petticoat?”
“Jacqueline Louisa Sauvage. What’s yours?”
“Drago Vitieri Gamponetti. You may call me Gampo.”
“Well, Mister Gampo—”
“No. Captain Gampo.”
“Fine. Well, Captain Gampo, why do you want the Seeker?”
Drago took a deep breath to prevent himself from shouting in frustration, which he was absolutely sure would give the little chit a great deal of satisfaction.
“I’m doing my duty to my employer, the king of France, for one. And for two, the Seeker is one of three ships in a certain merchant fleet.” She opened her mouth, and he held up an index finger. “And before you ask, the captain is my sworn enemy.” He switched from an index finger to the palm of his hand, causing her once again to close her mouth. “He knows where my sister can be found.”
The silence following his statement was disturbing.
And distracting.
And annoying.
He looked up.
“How long have you been looking for your sister?”
So family was important to her. Good.
“A long time.” He stared out the window at the wake following the vessel. “She might be dead by now.”
“How do you know?”
“I don’t.”
She cocked her head to the side and drew her brows together in consternation. “Why don’t you simply ask your sworn enemy?”
He rubbed his forehead with the heels of his palms. He’d once fancied having children of his own, but this little chit was quickly curing him of that affliction.
“Why do you have my family doing your duty?” Again, her arms crossed her chest and she presented him the same type of look his mother would have given him.
Drago put his palms on his desk to prevent himself from putting them around her little neck. He narrowed his eyes and lowered his voice to what his crew would know was a dangerous level. “If you want to see your family again, you’d better mind your mouth, little lamb, otherwise I’ll have you strung up from the yardarm. It’s much harder to talk with a rope around your neck.”
She lifted her chin and threw her shoulders back. “You can’t do that. If you break your end of the bargain, my family won’t give you that ship you want.”
“Aye, I promised they can have you and your brother back, but I didn’t tell them they’d get you back alive.”
Maeve drew her dagger and flung it at his head, satisfied to see him jerk away so that the vicious blade impaled the wall just above and behind him. “You are disgusting, despicable, and totally without pride!”
“On the contrary, madam.” He reached up, pulled the dagger from the wall, and plucking an orange from the nightstand, began to use it to peel the fruit. “I am quite proud of it, thank you.” Still holding her gaze, he popped a section of the orange into his mouth, eating it with slow, suggestive motions that shortened the breath in Maeve’s lungs and made her realize that he was not the only one who was hot. Her temper rose. Had she had her pistol, she probably would have shot him. Probably. Maybe.
Maybe ... not.
Her gaze darted from him to the window. From the window to him. From him to the window ... and each time she looked at him, she saw that he was watching her, fully enjoying her discomfort.
He grinned, and suggestively licked at the juices trailing from the sweet fruit, letting his tongue wrap around each section and making sure she saw him doing it. His eyes were dark, laughing, and half-veiled by heavy, thick lashes that did nothing to conceal the wicked expression that lit them.
The suckling noises increased.
Stop it!” she hissed.
He dropped the orange section into his mouth, licked his lips with a slow, languorous motion, and slowly peeled off another.
The heat rose in Maeve’s blood.
“Would you like ... a taste, madam?”
She raised her cutlass. “I’ll give you a taste—”
“No decisive battle was ever fought from afar,” he interrupted on a low murmur, still grinning. “Nay, two vessels must lie alongside of each other in order to best bring their guns to bear.” He bit into the orange, making lewd, evocative noises as the juice trailed from the succulent flesh and dribbled down his chin. There was a dimple in that chin, and Maeve felt her heart skipping, staggering, faltering. “We have a signal for such an engagement in the navy. ’Tis called close action.”
 “You are no longer in the navy, and I am not a ship!”
“Nay, you are not ...” His voice grew low, dangerously seductive. “But I like the cut of your jib, the trim of your sails”—the dark gaze slid over her breasts, the gentle flare of her hips—“the shape of your hull.”
Get out of my bed.
“Why? I really am most comfortable. Not as comfortable, of course, as I would be if you were to drop anchor beside me....”
Her skin tingled and flushed crimson. “I said, Get out of my bed!
He suckled the juice from his fingers. “What, would you prefer to do it on the floor?”
“I’d prefer that you shut your mouth before I shut it for you!”
“Now that,” he said wickedly, “could be interesting....”
She stilled before the ladderway. A large man with dark blond hair and crisp blue eyes filled the exit, casting a tall shadow down on her. Bright sun filtered in around him, making him appear like a dark angel. She studied the crescent shaped scar on his cheek for a moment before meeting his gaze.

Heart racing, she held the knife out in front of her. “I will kill you before I allow you to touch me.”

“I mean you no harm, Miss.” He started down the ladder toward her.

“Stop where you are,” she demanded, thrusting the blade in his direction.

The man smiled. “I am Captain Blackmore of the Marion.”

She swallowed back the urge to trust his friendly smile. He could be tricking her into a false security. She tightened her hold on the knife and took a step backwards. Something in his tone told her she should care about his declaration. Still, none of what he said made sense to her. She only wanted off this bloody ship before she lost the ability to breathe. This man did not wear a navel uniform. All the same, he called himself a captain… “Are you here to rescue me?”

“Yes. If you care to be rescued.” He descended another step.

She backed away. “Then you are with the navy?”

He chuckled. “Gads, no. I’m a pirate.”

Her blood went cold, panic over taking her. Pirates had caused all of her troubles. They murdered the people she loved and took their ship. At this very moment she was a pirate’s captive seeking to save herself from whatever horrible fate he had in mind for her. She could not allow another pirate to take her. Would not allow it. She stiffened her stance, drawing a deep breath. “Then you can scurry back above deck. I will not be going anywhere with a pirate.” She tightened her grip on the blade.

The hair on the back of her neck stood on end as his gaze perused her bloody feet before traveling slowly up to meet hers.

He jumped from the ladder and snatched her wrist before she could move. “You will not be gutting me today. As for pirates, it appears you are already with one.”

“Not by choice.” Prudence struggled, jerking her arm and kicking at him. “Unhand me, you brute.”

He leaned in until his breath fanned her cheek. “I intend to sink this ship. You can either come with me, or go down to the ocean floor.”

“I will do neither.” She jerked her arm with all the strength she could muster. Nothing would please her more than to witness her captors down fall. Despite her vengeful wish, she’d not be attending the pirate before her. He could plunder, kill, and sink all he wanted, but she’d not be staying with him.

He released her and she toppled to the floor, the knife slipping from her hands and skidding down the passageway. She scrambled to retrieve her weapon, but he caught her, pulling her off the floor to hold her against him. Her breath caught at the feel of his hard body against hers.

“Do not be foolish, chit. What do you intend to do? Swim to the closest shore? You will never make it. I am the only chance you have at seeing another sunrise.” He pulled his head back and stared into her eyes. “Trust me.”

How infuriating! Did he think her a fool? “Trust is not something I give easily.” She peered at him.

He did not speak, only continued to gaze at her.

She bit her lower lip in an attempt to gather her thoughts. Sincerity shone in the cool blue depths of his eyes. As much as she longed to, she could not argue his point. “Very well, but I will require my blade.”

“So you can slit my throat? I think not.” He gave her a devilish grin.

“Trust is a two way path.”

“Let us start without weapons.” He looked away from her, toward the ladder way.

The last thing she desired was to find herself helpless in the clutches of another blood thirsty pirate. She had to try and sway him. To maintain some sort of control over her life. “I require my knife for protection,” she protested.

He nudged her toward the exit. “I am all the protection you will need. Now hurry.”

Trust indeed. She would show him.

Chuckling, she waved her hand in front of her face, smiling at me in a way that made my heart stop. “Really, though. You’ve saved my life more than once, and even in our own time when you kept me from going into the Pit when it collapsed. I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you.”

“Don’t,” I said immediately, sitting and staring at her. “Don’t act like you owe me anything. You lived—that’s all I wanted. I don’t need anything more than to know you’re in the world and okay.”

If there had been no Tristan, no pirate hostage situation, no anything but us, it would’ve been easy to kiss her then. Her face was so sweet and soft, her eyes wide as she watched me, only a few inches away. My hands ached to hold her, to cuddle her against my chest and run my fingers through her hair. Drying quickly at the thought, like I was a man dying of thirst, my lips tingled with the image of her mouth on mine. Heart racing, I felt myself leaning in, slowly, as if every millimeter was killing me.

Jerking back into the present, I blinked, and then looking away, I stood so quickly she jumped.

“What is it?” she asked in alarm.

Glancing at her, I tried to focus on the things that would help me remember what our situation was. Her black shirt was dirty and torn on one shoulder from getting caught on a branch as we rode out of the mountains. The pants she was wearing belonged to Flanagan, who had been more than happy to tell everyone I’d let her get in his breeches. The shoes I’d bought for her in Veracruz were muddied from our trek as well, tied to her feet with little care for whether or not they stayed on.

She was a prisoner, a captive among this crew.


Not mine.  


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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.