Published today. Bargain Box-set of 6 full-length medieval historical romances ONE PERFECT KNIGHT

 #NEW! #BOXSET 2000 PAGES! 6 #novels 6 #medievalromanceauthors

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Blurb and excerpt from my novel, THE SNOW BRIDE, one of the 6 novels within the box-set.

The Snow Bride


She is Beauty, but is he the Beast?


Book One of The Knight and the Witch



England, winter, 1131


Elfrida, spirited, caring and beautiful, is also alone. She is the witch of the woods and no man dares to ask for her hand in marriage until a beast comes stalking brides and steals away her sister. Desperate, the lovely Elfrida offers herself as a sacrifice, as bridal bait, and she is seized by a man with fearful scars. Is he the beast?



In the depths of a frozen midwinter, in the heart of the woodland, Sir Magnus, battle-hardened knight of the Crusades, searches ceaselessly for three missing brides, pitting his wits and weapons against a nameless stalker of the snowy forest. Disfigured and hideously scarred, Magnus has finished with love, he thinks, until he rescues a fourth 'bride', the beautiful, red-haired Elfrida, whose innocent touch ignites in him a fierce passion that satisfies his deepest yearnings and darkest desires.






Elfrida stirred sluggishly, unable to remember where she was. Her back ached, and the rest of her body burned. She opened her eyes and sat up with a jerk, thinking of Christina.



Her head felt to be bobbing like an acorn cup in a stream, and her vision swam. As she tried to swing her legs, her sense of dizzy falling increased, becoming worse as she closed her eyes. She lashed out in the darkness, her flailing hands and feet connecting with straw, dusty hay, and ancient pelts.


“Christina?” she hissed, listening intently and praying now that the monster had brought her to the same place it had taken her sister.


She heard nothing but her own breath, and when she held that, nothing at all.


“Christina?” Fearing to reach out in this blackness that was more than night and dreading what she might find, Elfrida forced herself to stretch her arms. She trailed her fingers out into the ghastly void, tracing the unseen world with trembling hands.


Her body shook more than her hands, but she ignored the shuddering of her limbs, closed her eyes like a blind man, and searched.


She lay on a pallet, she realized, full of crackling, dry grass. When she scented and tasted the air, there was no blood. She did not share the space with grisly corpses.


I am alone and unfettered. Now her heart had stopped thudding in her ears, she listened again, hearing no one else. Chanting a charm to see in the dark, she tried again to shift her feet.


Light spilled into her eyes like scalding milk as a door opened and a massive figure lurched across the threshold. Elfrida launched herself at freedom, hurling a fistful of straw at the looming beast and ducking out for the light.


She fell instead, her legs buckling, her last sight that of softly falling snow.




* * * *




Magnus gathered the woman before she pitched facedown into the snow, returning her swiftly to the rough bed within the hut. Her tiny, bird-boned form terrified him. Clutching her was like ripping a fragile wood anemone up from its roots.


And she had fought him, wind-flower or not. She had charged at him.


“I wish, lass, that you would listen to me. I am not the Forest Grendel, nor have wish to be, nor ever have been.”


Just as earlier, in the clearing where he had first come upon her, a brilliant shock of life and color in a white, dead world, the woman gave no sign of hearing. She was cold again, freezing, while in his arms she had steamed with fever. He tugged off his cloak and bundled her into it, then piled his firewood and kindling onto the bare hearth.


A few strikes of his flints and he had a fire. He set snow to melt in the helmet he was using as a cauldron. He swept more dusty hay up from the floor and, sneezing, packed it round the still little figure.


No beast on two or four legs would hunt tonight, so that was one worry less. Finding this lean-to hut in the forest had been a godsend, but it would be cold.


Magnus went back out into the snow and led his horse into the hut, spreading what feed he had brought with him. He kept the door shut with his saddle, rubbed the palfrey down with the bay’s own horse blanket, and looked about for a lantern.


There was none, just as there were no buckets, nor wooden bowls hanging from the eaves. But, abandoned as it surely had been, the place was well roofed, and no snow swirled in through the wood and wattle walls. Whistling, Magnus dug through his pack and found a flask of ale, some hard cheese, two wizened apples, and a chunk of dark rye bread. He spoke softly to his horse, then looked again at the woman.


She was breathing steadily now, and her lips and cheeks had more color. By the glittering, rising fire he saw her as he had first in the forest clearing, an elf-child of beauty and grace, a willing sacrifice to the monster. Kneeling beside her, he longed to stroke her vivid red hair and kiss the small dimple in her chin. In sleep she had the calm, flawless face of a Madonna of Outremer and the bright locks of a Magdalene.


He had guessed who she was—the witch of the three villages, the good witch driven to desperation. Coming upon her in that snowfield, tied between two trees like a crucified child of fairy, his temper had been a black storm against the villagers for sparing their skins by flaying hers. Then he had seen her face, recognized that wild, stark, sunken-cheeked grief, seen the loose bonds and the terrible “feast,” and had understood.


Another young woman has been taken by the beast, someone you love.


She—Elfrida, that was her name, he remembered it now—Elfrida was either very foolish or very powerful, to offer herself as bait.


Lindsay Townsend

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New Fantasy Romance: (excerpt PG) THE AWAY PLACE




Author: Susanne Marie Knight

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Available electronically at and

Price: $3.99

Buy link:


In print at



Down-and-out Marta Jordan gets a second chance when the magical North and East Winds stage an intervention. Will she accept their challenge and to learn to love again?


THREE STRIKES AGAINST HER: Marta Jordan has hit rock bottom... and she’s only twenty-one. Her parents are killed in a tragic accident, her new husband steals from her, and a serious health diagnosis threatens her life. Marta is in desperate need of an intervention. Enter her fairy godmother and fairy godfather: Sola and Quill--the East and North Winds. Providing an enchanted cabin so Marta can heal, they also offer her a do-over... and a chance to walk on the wild side. Will Marta throw all caution to the wind (pun intended!) and listen to her magical helpers?

SECOND TIME’S A CHARM: Joe Noble is every woman’s Mr. Wrong. So much so that his wife not only divorced him, but their ten-year-old son, Nicky, too. Now only looking for a good time with no strings attached, Joe gets a wake-up call when the consequences of his irresponsible actions finally catch up to him. He has a choice: he can continue to drift or he can “man up” to become a good father, in addition to wooing and winning the woman of his heart, Marta.

BONUS: The fairytale, “The Princess’ Soulmate” is also included!

Scene Set-Up:

On hearing a student say his father calls her Ms. Jugs, substitute teacher Marta Jordan sets up a meeting with the father, Joseph Noble, to correct his son’s behavior. Mr. Noble is late to the classroom.


“Hey,” came a deep-timbered voice. A voice so distinctive it set off warning bells inside Marta. “Sorry I’m late.”

An almost identical version of Nicholas Noble--but twenty years older--walked into the classroom. An overhang of glossy dark hair fell onto the man’s lined forehead, a few days worth of stubble darkened his jaw, while the rest of his face was bronzed by sun and wind. An outdoor type of guy. Maybe he worked under blue skies for a living.

He obviously hadn’t given much though to dressing to make a good impression. His unbuttoned plaid shirt hung loose over worn blue jeans, his undershirt looked more grey than white, and his left running shoe was completely missing its shoelace.

When his warm brown--or was it hazel?--eyes looked at her though, her wits, to use a phrase, went begging. He was, in a word, gorgeous. She felt her mouth go slack.

The silence in the room hung heavily.

“Er, you’re Nicky’s teacher, aren’t you?” He tilted his head and ran his gaze up and down as if scrutinizing her from head to toe. “You’re awfully young.”

Such a peculiar tingling vibrated through to her inner core. Absolutely devastating. But when he blinked those devastatingly hypnotic eyes, reason returned.

Taking a steadying breath, she stood, squared her shoulders, and then held out her hand. “I’m Ms. Jordan.” She paused for effect. “Not Ms. Jugs.”

A barely detectable flush could be seen through his thick stubble. Obviously, he had the good sense to be embarrassed. One point in his favor.

He laughed a bit nervously as he shook her hand. “Ah, right. You know how boys can be. So, I’m Joe Noble. Good to meet you...?”

He wanted to know her first name. Ha! No way.

She gestured toward one of the student desk/chair combos in the front row of the classroom, right by her desk. “Please, have a seat, Mr. Noble.”

There. She’d put him in his place, clearly signaling that they were not on a first name basis.

He was a tall, lanky man, and now he was crammed into a miniature elementary school chair.

Sitting securely behind her desk, she smiled at his discomfort. “I regret that I had to call this meeting so soon after taking over the class from Mrs. Lillian, but I’m concerned about Nicholas.”

“Nicky?” The man shifted in the chair as if to get comfortable--which was impossible given the size of the furniture. He then used both hands to smooth back his thick hair. “What’s the young scrot, er, boy done now?”

She pressed her lips together for a moment. “First, his reading level is below average. At the third grade level, in fact.

Letting that sink in, she then continued. “Second, when Nicholas does read, it’s inappropriate material.”

She removed a girly magazine from her desk drawer, held it up for him to see, and then set it down. “Nicholas tells me this is your subscription.”

The man’s gaze darted from the busty female model on the cover to her. He didn’t speak.

She tapped her foot. “Does your wife condone this kind of behavior, Mr. Noble?”

His mouth hardened. “She doesn’t condone anything, Ms. Jordan. We’re divorced. She left.”

Marta wasn’t thinking straight. Normally, she’d never say anything derogatory, especially to a parent. “Hmmn, I wonder why.”

Gracious! That just slipped out. Fortunately, the man didn’t take offense at her comment.



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Crowning Glories - My love of hair and how I use hair in my romances. Plus excerpts!

 I admit it. I have a 'thing' about hair in my writing.

Not in real life. My hair is brown going grey and tough. It goes its own way and if it's cut 'wrong' then it will spike. I have it cut short and leave it alone. We get along fine. But in my romance novels, I love hair.

What colour will the herone's hair be? How long? Wavy? Curly? I always like to imagine my main female character's hair. 

Many romance novels have blond or auburn haired heroines. Isabella, my heroine from my novella "Mistress Angel" is a spectacular blonde, with colouring that both attracts and also makes others eager to prey on her. I showed off her hair with a scene drawn from the historical records - in May 1357, the King of France was brought as a prisoner to London and paraded through the city in style. The goldsmiths, eager to be part of the show, positioned twelve beautiful maidens in golden cages above the street for them to toss flowers. I made my Isabella one of the maidens.

The gaudy troop of soldiers and knights, already shifting at a slow canter, settled into a meandering amble as the road through Cheapside broadened between the grander houses belonging to the members of the goldsmith's guild.
“Ici, là!” cried Prince Edward, sweeping a bejeweled gloved arm toward the upper storeys. Beside him, on his taller horse, the French king looked up and softly applauded. Stephen scanned the ridge tiles of the freshly-painted, gilded houses and glanced where the prince was pointing.
There she is. He smiled.
He recognized her instantly by the proud tilt of her head, her sweetly handsome profile and those glowing eyes, more compelling even than the luxuriant gold of her hair or her sumptuous costume.
Goldsmith’s garb and no glover’s girl for sure, he thought, reining in his horse and slowing to admire her the more as she shimmered above him like the evening star. Encased in a narrow cage of gold suspended above the cobbles, he saw that she was one of twelve maidens positioned high above the street, all caged, all lovely, but his gaze returned to her alone. Already the others seemed pale shadows, water ripples, echoes. But she is stunning. Above the roar of  blood in his ears he heard the ribald comments of Prince Edward and knew he also approved of her. 
By a mighty effort of will Stephen tore his attention away from this bewitching, naughty beauty and returned to scanning roofscapes. Still his eyes kept flitting back as he silently willed her to turn within her cage, to look out, to look back, to see him.
Know me, girl. Wonder at me, as I do at you. He was torn between admiration and a longing to kiss her thoroughly for her deception. Kissing you will be a sweet revenge.
She was tossing flowers, delicate metal posies of gold and silver that streaked the cobbles like flashing dewdrops or sun-flashed rain, pretty trinkets that the populace would certainly scramble for as soon as the nobles had passed. Still staring toward Westminster, although she must surely know by the mutter of the crowd that the foremost Prince of England and King of France rode right beneath her cage, she scattered another handful of golden petals, seemingly oblivious to the gasps of admiration. Silhouetted against the dark, smoke-stained jetty of the house, her slim body made a pleasing, subtle curve.

I kept in mind those aspects all the time I wrote of Isabella - and her hair.

Elfrida, the witch in my "The Snow Bride" is a red-head. This shows her supernatural and inner 
passion and fire, both of which she uses to lure a dangerous adverary closer.

She would not dwell on what could go wrong, and she fought down her night terrors over Christina, lest they become real through her thoughts. She lifted up her head and stared above the webbing of treetops to the bright stars beyond, reciting a praise chant to herself. She was a warrior of magic, ready to ensnare and defeat the beast.
“I have loosened my hair as a virgin. I am dressed in a green gown, unworn before today. My shoes are made of the softest fur, my veil and sleeves are edged with gold, and my waist is belted in silver. There is mutton for my feast, and dates and ginger, wine and mead and honey. I am a willing sacrifice. I am the forest bride, waiting for my lord—” 
Her voice broke. Advent was meant to be a time of fasting, and she had no lord. None of the menfolk of Yarr would dare to take Elfrida the wisewoman and witch to be his wife. She knew the rumors—men always gossiped more than women—and all were depressing in their petty spitefulness. They called her a scold because she answered back.
“I need no man,” she said aloud, but the hurt remained. Was she not young enough, fertile enough, pretty enough?
Keep to your task, Elfrida reminded herself. You are the forest bride, a willing virgin sacrifice.
She had tied herself between two tall lime trees, sometimes struggling against her loose bonds as if she could not break free. She could, of course, but any approaching monster would not know that, and she wanted to bait the creature to come close—close enough to drink her drugged flask of wine and eat her drugged “wedding” cakes. Let him come near so she could prick him with her knife and tell him, in exquisite detail, how she could bewitch him. He would fear her, oh yes, he would...
She heard a blackbird caroling alarms and knew that something was coming, closing steadily, with the stealth of a hunter. She strained on her false bonds, peering into the semidarkness, aware that the fire would keep wild creatures away. Her back chilled as she sensed an approach from downwind, behind her, and as she listened to a tumble of snow from a nearby birch tree, she heard a second fall of snow from a pine closer by. Whoever, whatever, was creeping up was somehow shaking the trees, using the snowfalls as cover to disguise its own movement.
A cunning brute, then, but she was bold. In one hand she clutched her small dagger, ready. In her other, she had the tiny packet of inflammables that she now hurled into the fire.
“Come, husband!” she challenged, as the fire erupted into white-hot dragon tongues of leaping flame, illuminating half the clearing like a noonday sun. “Come now!” 
She thrust her breasts and then her hips forward, aping the actions that wives had sometimes described to her when they visited her to ask for a love philter. She shook her long, red hair and kissed the sooty, icy air. “Come to me!”
She saw it at the very edge of her sight—black, huge, a shadow against the flames, off to her side, and now a real form, swooping around from the tree line to her left to face her directly. She stared across the crackling fire at the shape and bit down on the shriek rising up her throat.
The beast stepped through the fire, and she saw its claw reaching for her. She heard a click, off to her right, but still kept watching the claw, even as the fire was suddenly gutted and dead, all light extinguished.
Darkness, absolute and terrifying, smothered her, and she was lost.

Of course, the battered crusader knight Sir Magnus, hero of "The Snow Bride" is entranced by Elfrida and by her hair.

It's a sweet vice but I have to be careful. Sometimes I have have my characters spending too much time 'fiddling' with their own or others' hair - stroking, patting, tweaking, adding flowers. My heroes are usually as hair-fixated as I am and sometimes I need to remove some of their petting.

Why a dark-haired hero? I've never quite understood that romance 'guide'. Randal in my story Unicorn Summer (One of the novellas in One Midsummer Knight) is blond, a sunshine lad. (Again, I use the colouring as my own reminder and key to character, both for Randal and the Unicorn who is also an important part of this story.  I've written dark-haired heroes but to me it's not an essential.

Ffion shook herself.  “I care not for such trifles as looks,” she answered, in her head, “Though he is handsome.” He was sinewy and lean and his rough-cut yellow hair was as lush as summer butter,  flowing over his broad shoulders as Unicorn’s mane had spilled down his flanks. Catching glimpses of a green tunic and dark leggings beneath his chain mail, she noted the good quality cloth, of older dyes, she thought, but well maintained. Overall he seemed honest and open, and he had a very shapely mouth.
What do I care about his lips! He is clean-shaven, what of it? Aloud, she added, “Will you come with me, for company?”
It was a grudging invitation but Sir Randal smiled and said, “We shall discover how these feathers work.”  He tied his ancient helmet to his belt and offered her his arm.

In my latest novel, "The Master Cook and the Maiden" I have the hero, Swein, wearing a cap for quite a while, teasing the heroine and the reader as to what colour is hair is, a small, sweet mystery.

No one will bother looking for me, Alfwen almost confessed, but the night drew close and she did not want to admit she was friendless, powerless. “I can ride in your waggon?” she asked, spotting the same less than a sword’s length from her. I must have been deep in shock to have missed that and a mule arriving.
“I have some old pottage for your dog, too,” came the genial reply.
He swept her onto the back of the waggon, handed her Teazel and warned, “Stay away from the firebox, or the crocks therein. I have hot food going.”
“My thanks,” Alfwen whispered, praying her belly did not rumble at the thought of more dumplings. She met his bright eyes again, briefly wondering what colour his hair might be under his close-fitting cap. “Might I know your name, sir?”

Later, to show their developing closeness, Alfwen washes Swein's hair and she finally discovers its colour, length and texture.

To celebrate brown hair, in "Dark Maiden" my female exorcist Yolande has long, brown hair:

He saw her face change, becoming as still as a mask. Then she blinked. “I do understand it.  My thanks to you, master Geraint. How may I aid you in return? Are you thirsty or hungry?”
“Ale is always welcome,” he answered quickly, “but for now the pleasure of your company on the road will be more than payment.”
She raised her pretty eyebrows at that. The rest of her was  pretty too , if such a plain word could be used for such exotic looks. By “dark” he had expected black hair, which Yolande had—long, shimmering waves of the stuff, very clean but caught in a simple clasp at the back of her slender neck as if she had no time for any fuss. Her eyes were either brown or black—he could not be sure—but they were clear and steady as if she looked straight to the heart of things.
To the heart of me, for sure. Geraint liked women, loved their smell and feel and their cockeyed way of looking at the world. For all her man’s clothing, Yolande was very much a woman, and a love worthy of Solomon. Her skin was a beautiful shade of bronze, smooth as polished wood, and her eyelashes were double-lashed. She had a narrow face and elegant bones but there was a strength in her, character and soul together. He could imagine her besting devils.
For the rest…the performer in him knew at once that she should be in bright colors, reds and yellows and blues, not the drab serge of a thatcher. If she was in his company for long—and he intended she would be—he would tempt her into a brighter manner of dress.
For she has the glory of the evening in her. She wins me already and does not know it.
“I do not chatter,” she said, unaware of his inner tumult. “I have a way to go.”
Better still. He admired how she did not admit where she was headed. “For today then?” He lifted his hands, palms up. “To the nearest house of honest folk, who will let you sleep by their hearth and me in their hayloft?”
“You wish to squire me to safety?”
“For the pleasure of—”
“For the pleasure of  my company. Yes, Geraint the Welshman, you said that already.” But she was smiling as she spoke and he knew she would agree.
“Shall I carry this?” He motioned to the cross. “You have your bow and bag already, and it will be no trouble.”
After a moment she strode out like a youth, leaving him to catch up. Geraint admired her graceful gait and did not hurry. He wanted their day to last.
By then I may have won another day in her company.

I like to use hair to confound stereotypes. One of my heroines, is blonde - but she would never have a "blonde" moment. She is a dangerous, calculating, kindly, devious.

So I have fun with hair. I've had curly haired heroes and heroines, long haired heroes and heroines, shorn heroes. I've had heroines caught by their hair - one is trapped by her long hair while trying to escape. 

Next time (maybe) I will have to celebrate the naked scalp. That, for me, would be a challenge.

(Photograph by courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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Juliet’s Diary: My Secret Plague Journal, The Lesbian Diaries Book 4 by Giselle Renarde

Juliet’s Diary
My Secret Plague Journal
Series: The Lesbian Diaries
Book: 4
Word Count: 45,000
Release Date: May 21, 2020
ISBN: 9780463259344
PRINT ISBN: 9798651142668

Juliet is young and in love. Problem is, there’s a pandemic gripping the planet. She knows she’s not supposed to leave the house, but her lust for her girlfriend makes her defiant. How can Juliet get close to Romi if she has to stay away?

Lesbian fiction from award-winning queer Canadian author Giselle Renarde.

Buy Now from Smashwords:
Google Play:



I never imagined things would escalate so quickly.

Seems like only days ago it was like, “Oh, there’s this virus halfway across the world, sucks to be them.”

Now it’s everywhere.

Now it’s us.

Or, that’s what the news is saying. That’s what the politicians are saying. That’s what my parents are saying.

It’s everywhere. It’s bad. It’s gonna get worse.

Stay home.

So yeah, okay, maybe if you’re eighty. But what if you’re eighteen or nineteen? Who’s gonna get sick and die at my age?

This virus has radically fucked up my first year at university. Classes have already shifted online. Oh well. It’s just as easy to skip an online class as it is to skip one in person. Maybe even easier. As long as I can find someone who’ll sell me exam questions, I’m set.

Worked in high school. That’s how I met Romi. She’s so smart. And she needed the money.

Not that I care about my education. I only enrolled in university because Dear Old Dad promised to pay me fifty grand if I didn’t move out right away. Or, to put it less succinctly, he didn’t want me moving in with Romi and her whole consortium.

So I didn’t move out.

I stayed put.

And look where that bright decision landed me.

Buy JULIET'S DIARY from Smashwords:
Google Play:


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Sensual Romance 18+ Historical Romance New Release

Hello readers! I have a new book coming out on June 9th, The Seduction of Laird Sinclair is the first book in a new Scottish historical romance series called the Lairds of the North.

Book blurb:

In order to love, she must first seduce…

Callum Sinclair should have known the night the great fireball lit the sky would change everything. He returns from battle wounded of body and heart to find his clan in disarray. Someone within his clan wants him dead and tried to assassinate him, his brother/laird murdered, his wife died in childbirth. Family dysfunction forces him to accept a destiny he never expected.

Violet Danvers’s life takes a complete turn when the king executes her husband for treason. Now he vows she will either wed his favored knight or suffer his punishment. With help from her husband’s ally, the king’s cousin, he sends her to his comrade in Scotland. He gains one promise from her, never to return to England, even if she must seduce the Highlander to gain his aid.

Even with the five rules of enticement, Violet’s seduction doesn’t come easy. Callum is broken of spirit, but she is not one to easily surrender to defeat. With laughter and grace, The Seduction of Laird Sinclair might lead them both to lose their hearts.

Book excerpt copyright @ 2020 Kara Griffin

“Come, Milady, I’ll show you to his chamber.”
She followed and took the stairs to the upper floor. He stopped at a chamber and motioned her inside. Violet opened the door and stepped through the threshold, but she didn’t see anyone within. The keep was lavish and the chamber as adorned. A large wooden desk sat by the window, flanked by a high-backed chair. A smaller hearth situated across from the desk and its embers were aglow. Adjacent to the chamber, a door led to a sleeping quarter.
She ambled forward and gasped when a man startled her. His leg and thigh were bared, and he appeared to massage his muscles. The man’s brows furrowed as if he was in pain. Rule number one, use the body. Violet leaned against the door’s threshold and pulled her shoulders back. She waited for him to notice her.
She roved her eyes over his naked skin and stepped back when he startled at her appearance. “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to intrude…”
“Who are you?” his voice was deep with a hearty lilt to it, and he sounded affronted.
“I’m Henry’s friend, Violet Danvers.”
“You can’t be. Henry’s friend is a man.”
“I am his friend, and I assure you, I’m not a man. Surely you received his missive which foretold of my arrival? You are Callum Sinclair, are you not?”
He nodded but remained silent.
Violet couldn’t take her gaze from his naked, muscular thigh. He pushed the fabric of his tartan over his leg and straightened. She took her time to assess him and the enticement rules were all but forgotten. Callum stood tall and perhaps over six feet in height, and his brawny muscles tightened the front and arms of his tunic. It was his handsome face that captivated her and caused her breath to still. He had light brown hair, almost chestnut in color, and even darker eyes and brows. The man wore no whiskers about his face, but his jaw tightened as she perused him.
Callum cleared his throat and stepped forward. “I could’ve sworn Henry mentioned his friend was a man.”
“Perhaps he misled you. He asked me to give you this missive and container.” She approached and held out the items. Rule two was easy to do since she didn’t take her eyes from his, and with confidence from somewhere deep within her, she peered at him with interest. “It might aid your pain for he said you were injured.”
He reached for the items and brushed his fingers against hers as he grasped the missive. Violet took in a startled breath. His touch evoked excitement or something similar. She couldn’t place the sentiment as she’d never experienced it before. With a jerk, she retracted her hand. If she decided to go ahead with her maddened plan, rule four would positively be pleasing.
His gaze lingered as if he disbelieved she was there. The man set the items on the desk in a hostile manner and glared at her.
She knew well enough where she wasn’t wanted. “I shall hurry to stop the coachman from leaving. Hopefully, he’s still in the courtyard. I’ll be gone since it is obvious you will not offer sanctuary.” Before he retorted, Violet fled the chamber.
 She needed to escape his pierced gaze and aggressive mood. As much as she detested to admit it, rule five wasn’t within her. Violet had no confidence whatsoever. Never had a man looked at her with such hostility. She didn’t know what to make of him, or what he intended with such a look. But it was her reaction to him that troubled her more. Why had she gaped at him as though he was a statue? She couldn’t reason her reaction or behavior.
Violet rushed through the hallway and reached the bottom of the stairs when she heard someone call out. Ionnsaigh.
A dog growled and ran at her. It jumped up, knocked her back and to the floor. The dog’s mouth gripped her leg, and he shook his head and flailed her. Her gown tore with his sharp teeth dug in. Violet cried out and shouted for help. The dog ravaged her and wouldn’t let go. She tried to free herself from his hold by kicking out, but he wouldn’t cease his attack. The beast locked his jaw and wouldn’t let go, and the pain on her leg caused her to gasp for breath.
“Frang! Cease. Go, be gone.”
The dog released her at the man’s command, and he whined and fled when the man approached with heavy steps.
Callum knelt next to her. “Don’t move. Are you injured?”
Violet’s voice rasped from her fright. “I…I’m uncertain.” She tugged the material of her gown to reveal her leg and winced at the bloody marks from the dog’s teeth.
Callum lifted her in his arms. “We need to get the healer to look at you.”
She tensed in his arms, but couldn’t resist taking a whiff of his manly scent. He smelled of outdoors, pine, and as if he’d spent the day ensconced in the woods. His face was close to hers, and all she focused on was the way his strong arms held her. Violet wrapped her arm around his neck when he jostled her. He strolled to the adjacent room next to the entry. The man limped slightly, and his movement inhibited.
“Lady Danvers, are you all right? You are shaking.”
She shook herself from her reverie. “Why would I be shaking?”
Callum grinned. “Perhaps because you were just attacked by a large hound. Let’s make sure you’re not injured, lass.”
Violet stared at the way his lips moved when he spoke. His mouth fascinated her, with his full lips that surely would make a lady swoon if he kissed her. He reached the hall and crossed it quickly even though it must’ve pained him to do so.
Gussy screeched when she noticed him carrying her. “What happened to my lady?”
He set her on the comfortable chair near the hearth. Once she was settled, he knelt next to her and pressed her skirts above her knee. She almost giggled at the way he took hold of her naked calf. But when he continued to press her skin with his warm fingers, she lost her breath. His touch sent a pleasurable chill through her and she remained still.
Callum raised his eyes and held her gaze. “It doesn’t appear Frang damaged you too badly, but we should get the healer to make certain. Are you in pain?”
She shook her head but wanted to tell him she was injured if only he might continue to touch her. Violet sat back, content that he persisted to hold her leg. When his hand brushed along her skin, heat rose within her and her cheeks burned. His nearness brought forth a shyness she hadn’t ever possessed. But she had to remember to be confident. He was more than handsome, but it was the way he touched her that riddled her senseless. No man had ever struck her with such longing.
If she wasn’t mistaken, she might liken the sentiment to desire. She desired Callum Sinclair, and that thought settled the matter. Until she kissed him though, she wouldn’t know if it was true passion that brought fervor to her. She would do whatever it took to seduce him, even if she only got to experience it once. After all, she was entitled to take a lover once in her life, and glory be, he’d be worth the risk. Violet would be content with one night spent in his muscular arms.

Available at all retailers on June 9th.
Book price: $5.99 Pages: 200

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Cosima's Diary: My Life as a Unicorn by @GiselleRenarde

Cosima’s Diary
My Life as a Unicorn
By Giselle Renarde
Series: The Lesbian Diaries
Book: 3
EBOOK ISBN: 9780463377840
PRINT ISBN: 9781710688443

Cosima is a paid unicorn. No, not the mythical creature, though women like Cosima are almost as rare—that’s why she’s so much in demand. Cosima consorts with married couples. It’s not just a job, to her. She thinks of it as a calling. That’s why she’s so torn when she meets Lenore: part-time barista, part-time nurse, full-time girl of Cosima’s dreams. Lenore’s not so sure she wants to date a woman she has to share. Can Cosima choose between the vocation she loves and the woman she wants?

Lesbian fiction from award-winning queer Canadian author Giselle Renarde.

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They tell me I lead a Holly Golightly lifestyle. I’ve never read Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but I’ve seen the movie more than once. Maybe I was inspired by Audrey Hepburn when I started living this way, as a paid unicorn gigging for married couples night after night, but now? Now it’s just life. My life as a unicorn.

I don’t tell most people what I do for a living. I don’t let most people get close enough that they would ask. And “What do you do?” is one of those basic questions you get asked when you first meet someone new, so that shows you the extent to which I keep people at bay.

It was my accountant who suggested I write this book—book, diary, journal, whatever you want to call it. He’s “very open-minded,” my accountant. His words. Another girl I know, who gigs like me, she told my about this guy. She said he’d save me a bundle. I was a little intimidated, obviously, because I don’t like strangers examining any aspect of my life too closely. But Jaimee said he’s good with girls who do what we do, and it’s true. He really is.

Anyway, my accountant told me to write my experiences down, so here I am, writing them down.

Of course, now that I’m actually thinking about what I’m writing, I don’t know what to write. It was easier introducing myself. Which I didn’t do a great job of, I now realize. I didn’t even tell you my name.

It’s Cosima.

Yes, Cosima. No, I didn’t change it. That’s the name my parents gave me at birth.

How many Cosimas are there?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I really do wonder. One day I’ll get around to looking into it, doing a deep dive into every aspect of my given name. But, for now, I live inside it like Jeannie in her pretty pink bottle. I inhabit my name, wearing skimpy outfits while men look upon me with lust.

That’s just the kind of Cosima I am.

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#NEW THE MASTER COOK & THE MAIDEN Vengeance…or love? Will Alfwen have to choose between them? And what part will the handsome Master Cook, Swein, play in her life? UK #Romance #MedievalRomance #RomanceNovel

Vengeance…or love? Will Alfwen have to choose between them? And what part will the handsome Master Cook, Swein, play in her life?


Romance, MedievalRomance,  RomanceNovel

The Rose and the Sword Novel Series


The Master Cook and the Maiden
Lindsay Townsend

Third day of Lent, 1303

The small brown dog stumbled towards Alfwen as she pounded washing in the river. Without stopping her work she watched the little rough-coated creature slip through a gap in the convent boundary wall to limp her way, flopping down on the damp grass twice before it reached her.
“Hey, boy,” she whispered, glad of the honest companionship even if it was just a dog. Hearing a pitiful whine she dropped the dry crust she had been saving for her supper in front of the shivering beast. “Go on, it is yours.”
The scrap disappeared between the dog’s narrow jaws. Alfwen wiped a hunger tear from her face, glancing about. So far, she and the little dog were safe from discovery. This close to Terce, the other nuns and novitiates of the convent were busy with their own assigned labours. As Alfwen had pretended she was afraid of the river, naturally the spiteful Mother Superior had ordered the girl to do the sisters’ laundry, an outdoor task that suited Alfwen very well, even on this bitter afternoon in early spring. Tempers sharpened during Lent, when all were famished, and to be in the fresh, chill air was better than being mewed up in the sooty church or cramped, icy scriptorium.
Kneeling on the riverbank, Alfwen wrung out another section of bedsheet and dunked the next, flinching at the freezing water flowing over her reddened fingers and pale skinny arms. No possible spy was with her, no religious or lay brother or sister, and she could relax a moment. She unwound from her knees and sat on the grass, trying to ignore the burning prickling in her legs. When no shout or complaint issued from the convent she stroked the dog.
With a soft whine the beast crawled closer. So small and trembling, she thought, and she could count its ribs through that rough brown coat and the raw patches along one flank where the fur had shed. Recalling a lively, bouncing pup from long ago, she whispered, “Teazel?”
The dog weakly wagged a balding tail. As it raised its head, Alfwen spotted a filthy cloth collar, half-hidden by dirt.
“I gave you to Walter with a leather collar,” she murmured, surprised she remembered that detail. Teazel snuffled and edged even nearer, so she could see the grey in his muzzle. She wrapped the dog in the rest of the dry sheet she had yet to scrub and fought down a wave of horror.
Walter must be dead. Teazel would never have left him.
She tried to pray for her brother. Failing that, she tried to remember him. It had been seven, no eight years since Walter and his new wife had abandoned her in the convent, though Alfwen knew she had no vocation.
I was ten years old and my parents had just died. Walter was in the first flush of marriage and lordship and his wife—Alfwen shuddered, checked again for spies and admitted the truth. Enid hated me.
A growl came from the tangled sheet as if Teazel agreed with her. A quivering, questing muzzle emerged from the heavy linen and Alfwen was struck by a memory of Walter. Her older brother, whirling about the tilting yard with his new puppy in his arms, laughing as the little dog yapped and squirmed and nuzzled closer.
“He likes me!” Walter cried, pressing a sloppy kiss on the pup’s back.
“He is yours,” Alfwen agreed, and Walter had grinned at her, his hazel eyes bright with joy, the sunlight picking out the red glints in his brown curls.
Enid had soon shorn off his hair, claiming it unseemly for a young lord. Alfwen had scowled and Walter had scolded her for protesting against his wife, although she had said nothing. Two days later she was delivered to the convent, a poor, mean place. My limbo, with an entrance to hell, and my brother did not care, did not question. Eight years she had been here as a novitiate, neither lay nor nun. Postulants to a religious life were supposed to serve only a year as a novice but as a sister Alfwen would have status and Enid and the Mother Superior between them did not want that. Instead I am trapped and my close family have forgotten or dismissed me. Would I be as stupid and selfish in wedlock as Walter?
Alfwen shook her head and tried a second time to pray for her brother’s soul.
He is gone forever and I cannot even cry.
She tried to think of him, remember him, kindly memories. Save for when she had given him Teazel, and he had taught her to write her name, she drew a blank on any more joyful times. Have I forgotten or was Walter really so morose and carping? Am I unjust in how I consider him now?
In the dank grey light of early spring, the bell for Terce rang through her like a blow. Numb, Alfwen rose, ready to gather her work and stumble into the nunnery’s huddled church set close to an expanse of marsh but out of reach of the river. She reached for the part-washed, part-dry sheet and Teazel burst from its coils. Again she noted his thinness, the scrap of cloth collar.
The collar was once part of a favourite gown of mine, a yellow dress my mother made me.
The bell for Terce continued to toll and Alfwen detested its sweet intrusion.
Anger sharpened her, tempered her dull acceptance of convent life into more than resentment. In a blast of sudden added colour she saw the white and pink daisies by her feet, the blue glow of a kingfisher farther down the riverbank, the glint of gold amidst the dirty yellow of Teazel’s collar.
He has something pinned to his collar.
A shadow fell across Alfwen before she could unpin the tiny roll of parchment, but thankfully it was merely a cloud, not a nun coming to drag her to service.
No, the good sisters of Saint Hilda’s will be hastening to church. I will not be missed until after the latest holy office.
Alfwen flinched as the gold brooch scratched her fingers and then the thing was undone. Heart hammering, she smoothed out the parchment.
Two words only in her brother’s hand, but a message to her, all the same.
“Avenge me.”

Chapter 2
Swein saw the girl drop into the water from the riverbank and leapt from his waggon, sprinting to reach her before she drowned. Hearing no splash or screams he dared to hope and ran faster, forcing air into his searing lungs.
Pounding along the track and over the water-meadow he vaulted the mud brick wall of the convent. He landed clumsily but kept going, determined to save her. Never a fatal accident in my kitchen and I’ll not gave one here, either.
Scrambling to the edge of the bank he stared downstream, seeing nothing but a young trout, swung round to scour upstream—and choked on his breath. Tripping daintily over the river pebbles at the stream’s edge the girl walked steadily away from her pile of laundry.
Swein flattened himself to the grass and watched the small, skinny wench. Her skirts were sodden to the backs of her knees, he reckoned, but she moved smoothly, never looking back. Across her retreating shoulders she carried a sling, made from part of a sheet. A little old dog poked its muzzle from the bundle and seemed content with the ride.
A runaway from Saint Hilda’s. “No business of mine,” Swein muttered, but his ankle ached so he lay still and stared.
The girl disappeared round the bend in the beck—stream, Swein mentally corrected, since this was in the south, not north—her presence winking out like a small star.
She will walk to the ford and take the Roman road hence. I could drive my waggon there and wait for her.
“Why not?” Swein said aloud, flexing his toes in his boots. “I have no business with Saint Hilda’s.” The head nun in the place did not like men and detested cooks so he had never had cause to visit in his travels.
‘Tis Lent and I go home for Lent. Cooking food for fasting times does not stir me and my folk are waiting. He had the early gifts ready for them.
Still he would catch Nutmeg, his mule, and his waggon and drive to the ford. That girl needs fattening up, I reckon, fleeing from Saint Hilda’s.
The nobles I cook for do not like me curious but I am my own master and this Lent time is my holiday. He could do largely as he pleased and he wanted to see the lass’s face.
Swein rolled to his feet and set off back for the track, whistling a merry tune.
Alfwen glanced at the sinking sun and the crossroads with dismantled archery butts stacked against the oak tree. She had hoped for a hiring gather and had her story ready. I am a laundress seeking honest work.
She wanted to steal a nag and ride to her family’s seat at Ormsfeld, but she brutally dismissed the desire. She needed to know how Walter had died and who were his enemies. Teazel would never have left if Walter lived still. Yet no one had come to the convent to tell her that her brother had died. Although I am a de Harne I have been buried at Saint Hilda’s for eight years and no doubt forgotten.
“Avenge me,” Walter growled in her head, in a voice she was not sure was his, or what she remembered of him.
Again she was relieved she had not taken final vows. Nuns were not supposed to plot vengeance.
Why should I? When did Walter care for me?
Alfwen squashed such thoughts, stamping her feet in a futile bid to keep warm. Her skirts and sandals were still wet from the river and she knew she would look strange, a lone woman with no protectors. I dare not linger here past twilight. I have to find shelter, food for Teazel.
The dog slept on the damp ground in her rough bundle, weary with hunger. Enid starved him. Did she do the same cruel thing with Walter?
“Are you seeking work?”
Startled, Alfwen turned, stumbling as she took a rapid backwards step. The man looming over her was so big—
Strong arms caught her, brought her safe against a broad chest.
“Here,” said the stranger as she gulped in breath to fight, “Before you hunger faint.”
A large calloused hand pressed a warm round dumpling into her palm, a white plump dumpling straight from a pottage pot, but not so hot as to burn. The comforting heat and yeasty scent took her straight back to childhood, pottering after Simon, the old cook, who would often take her with him into the kitchen garden and let her eat fresh bread from his ovens.
Avenge me, Walter scolded, while she chewed and swallowed the dumpling treat, licking her fingers after.
“I need a washer lass,” the stranger went on, dropping a morsel of something on the earth for Teazel. “I feed my folk well. You come?”
He almost had her at feed well, but Alfwen had not sprung the trap of the convent to fall into another. She shook her head. “I cannot stay, sir.”
Now she spoke, Alfwen felt the light-headedness of hunger boil into the seethe of panic. What might this big brute make me do for his food?

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