Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tour: Romance Author Patricia Bates (Spotlight)

Today I would like to share with you the works of romance author, Patricia Bates!

Patricia Bates:
Reading has been such a large part of my life. I cut my literary teeth on such author’s as Louis L’Amour, Nora Roberts and Janet Dailey. For me it wasn’t such a jump from reading the wonderful tales these author’s spun to imagining my own. 
Soon I was writing poetry, short stories and by junior high I’d written my first full length romance novel. Since then I’ve taken my love of history and my passion for writing and combined them into what I hope will continue to prove a successful career.
With six books contracted, four of which are currently available in print. All are available in electronic format with the last two ebooks due for a release in May and the other in the summer. I’m currently working on three projects, an erotic paranormal romance featuring a witch who lovesChristmas, another Ancient Ireland novel, rich in the history of the Irish Celtic peoples, and plotting out a Cowboy Series tentatively titled “The James Gang”.
Of course I’ve got a lot more on the go. I’m developing and growing my editing company with some amazing authors, working on getting the books that Blade had revamped to fit the submission guidelines for some other publishers and keeping up on my writing and being a full time mom, working outside of the house…its amazing what I can manage in a 16 hour day.

Patricia's Books:

Lady Kora has spent three hundred years within the hallowed wallsof her ancestral home - now on the brink of becoming a full Vampire, she's faced with the hardest choice ever...claim her mate, one sworn to hunt her kind...or spend eternity alone.

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Pale, silver moonlight crept across the faded tapestries hanging from the cold, dank stone walls. Iron hinges creaked when a heavy door opened. A tiny candle flickered and danced as a lone figure moved through the empty halls. The shadows broken on the narrow beam of light fell on the lone occupant of the massive stone palace. Long golden hair curled down over her hips as she walked through the darkness.
She paused, her hand on the icy wall, her attention focused on the world outside the window. Below her, lights flickered and danced in windows. The rich, sweet smell of blood drifted along the wind through the open shutters. Her tongue rubbed over a single, sharp canine. Her pale eyes flashed with red before she retreated to the gloom.
Heavy, throbbing booms drifted up the stairwell. Scarlet lips lifted in a sardonic smile. Her steps beat a rapid tattoo along as she descended the stairs in a flurry of silk and lace. Smoothing a delicate hand down her body, she opened the door to meet the uneasy stare of a thin, hunched figure wrapped in rags.
“I brung you your order.” He croaked out, his hand shaking badly as he held up a brown wrapped package.
“Thank you,” she turned and lifted a small sack. As she took the parcel, she pressed the coins into the old man’s hand. “You’ll bring me my next order in two days?”
“As you wish.” The old man wrapped his cloak tighter around his stooped shoulders before vanishing into the night.
Pressing the door closed, she eyed the bag for a moment before drifting into the parlor. A flicker of her eyes over the candles had the light rising in the room. Two intricately carved crystal goblets sat atop a silver tray, glittering in the live flames. With care she opened the package and swallowed. A small, intricately stitched leather bag was decorated with bits of bone and feathers, an obvious attempt to procure favor from the gods. Lifting it to her nose she inhaled. Sweet, untainted by the vile habits of humans, it smelled of fresh grass and cool, clear water.
Lady Kora opened the bag and poured it into the delicate looking decanter on the hutch. She drained the last drops into a glass and raised it to her lips. Warm and succulent it slid down her throat with ease, each swallow giving a few more drops of life within her. She sat the glass down atop the polished black piano and took her seat on the padded bench. Her fingers stretched out over the keys, trailing over them like a lover’s caress.
Her pulse throbbed in echo with the music, rising with the wind beyond the stained glass. Each chord sinking like her fangs into flesh, toying with her emotions as she swayed to the beat. Lonely, haunting she closed her eyes as the melody swelled around her like a tempest in a winter storm. The candles in the room flickered, danced before one by one extinguishing into darkness leaving the silver glow of the moon as her only companion.

The Cowgirl's Christmas
For Holly Walker Christmas is about more than just flashing lights, it’s about having some sexy time with her husband. This year, however, she’s got a secret that could destroy everything…or save their future.
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Hundreds of flickering lights skipped against a black backdrop like diamonds on velvet. Holly hit the turn signal and pulled off the nearly deserted highway. The car purred along the merge lane before gliding into the busy city traffic. She slowed down to a crawl and stared at the brightly lit storefronts and the strings of lights that hung from bare trees lining the streets.
The massive, decorated spruce that stood atop the hotel where she'd made reservations drew a giggle. It seemed fitting that the hotel would appear to be a gift. The holiday would be well worth the wait, she thought as she parked near the entrance.
"Good evening," the woman at the desk greeted her warmly. "Happy holidays."
"Merry Christmas," Holly replied, tucking her keys into her purse. "I'm Holly Walker. Is my room ready?"
"Yes, it is. Anthony will take your luggage up." The desk clerk waved a tall, sandy-haired young man over. "Will you be attending the auction tomorrow night?"
"Of course." Holly signed the slip with a flourish, a grin on her face. "I'm looking forward to it."
"Excellent. Enjoy your stay, Ms. Walker."
"Thank you." She followed the bellhop into the elevator. Holly stood silently, her gaze steady on the elevator doors. She could feel the young man's eyes on her, and she looked down at the pale flesh on her ring finger where her wedding band usually rested. She wondered if the elegant gold band would be back in place come Christmas morning.
With her luggage secured in her room, she pressed a bill into Anthony's hand and ushered him out the door. She tossed her coat across the back of a chair and turned to study her room.
A massive mahogany bed was made up in red and green linen. Six plump pillows lined the head of it and a bathrobe lay folded on the end. She ran a hand over the garment. The soft, warm fleece of the robe tickled her fingertips as her gaze swung to the desk in the room. A large, cellophane-wrapped basket sat atop it, and two crimson roses that had been tied with some holly hung from the handle.
She toed off her boots and padded on stocking feet to investigate the offering. The sweet scent filled her nostrils as she sniffed the flowers, her hand already reaching for the card. It was a simple card, elegant and very masculine in its stark whiteness and blue print.
Merry Christmas, and welcome to the Mistletoe Charity Auction. I hope you'll find these small tokens useful. The masculine scrawl along the card curved upward to a seasonal graphic.
Holly tore into the goodies left by the hotel. A delicate flush climbed her cheeks as she pushed the cellophane away to reveal the contents of the basket. "No wonder it has dark wrapping." She whistled as she lifted out a bottle of massage oil. "Cherry flavored, hmm. Ooh, what's this?" She pulled out a slim package and turned it over. The simple silver box offered few clues to its contents. Her long nails scraped under the flap and pulled it upward. Inside lay a simple bottle. "Menthol lubricant, for that extra tingle." Holly laughed and set the bottle down next to the bed.
A quick glance at the clock revealed it was nearly seven. He must have arrived by now. Was he settled into his room, impatient for the culmination of their very own little ritual? She shifted, the bare skin of her thighs rubbing together to create a sweet, heated friction. Beneath the satin of her panties her body throbbed with a deep longing.
Desperate to hear his voice she grabbed her cellphone from the bedside table. Flipping it open, she stretched out on the bed. She slipped the fingers of her free hand between her legs to fan the flames as she punched in the familiar numbers. She listened to the musical tone of the ringer.
"Hello, you've reached Tyson. I can't come to the phone. Leave your name and number, and I'll be sure to call you back."
Holly trailed a finger down her throat as she listened to the rich twang in his baritone. At the beep she inhaled.

Widow Amy Harvard has spent years married to one man while lusting after another. Now she's free to follow her heart if only Bradley Harvard were more cooperative.

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The orange and scarlet streaks across the sky cast a warm glow across the wrap-around porch, broken when Bradley opened the front door of the two-story ranch house he called home. Spurs jingling, Bradley moved to sit in the porch swing, a cheroot smoke between his teeth, his dark gaze searching the horizon. He braced one foot on the white railing, casting the swing into motion. Exhaustion clung to him as he glanced with dismay at the spurs sparkling in the light. His father would have tanned his hide for wearing them inside—but he was too tired to care. Heavy, warm air wove itself through the dusky air, settling like a blanket on the yard. From the corral the sound of horses nickering and stomping filled the summer air with a familiar cadence.
Across the yard, the cheery glow from the bunkhouse spread across the yard along with the boisterous songs the cowboys were singing.
The day had been hell. Every muscle ached from the hours spent in the saddle chasing cattle. Between the ill stock, annoying in-laws and the distinct lack of cooking skills by the men, his life had become a living nightmare. He'd spent the better part of the afternoon with his brother Garrett's father-in-law, going over the details Garrett had always taken care of. He cursed his brother for being so stupid as to challenge the ruthlessness of a band of rustlers. His pride had cost him his life.
Bradley glanced up the drive, his gaze sweeping it easily in a habit he'd long since established. Every muscle tensed at the sight of the fancy buggy rolling along the pebble-strewn road. Pale flesh peeked from beneath the lace at the driver's throat, and damp hair curled across her forehead. "Temptation in fancy lace and bows," Bradley muttered to himself and ground his smoke out beneath his boot heel.
The rig stopped by the gate separating the barnyard from the small, quaint patch of green grass his mother had insisted everyone avoid so it could flourish without horses and men tromping it into the hard New Mexico ground. His blood throbbed hotly in his veins when Amy met his gaze. Icy blue eyes flashed with a familiar heat in the fading light.
His body unfolded, his boots landing with a thud as he planted them on the floor, the wood beneath him creaking in protest. "Evenin'." His drawl rolled down the steps to where she clambered from the carriage, her skirts gathered in one hand. "Tad chilly to be traipsing around in a thin dress, ain't it?"
Soft, musical laughter drifted on the evening breeze. "It's lovely weather. Pleasant."
"If you so say so. What do you want, Amy?" He crossed his arms over his chest and stared at her.
A smile on her face, she stepped past the rose bushes and climbed the steps with a measured movement. Amy fingered the buttons at her throat, her lashes falling to hide her expression. He sucked in a quick breath and stepped back at the sight of her nail drawing a circle above her breasts.
Silently, he cursed his brother for being the one to claim Amy Morris. He'd spent years watching Garrett ignore his young wife, while Bradley hid the burning lust that had gripped him from the day he'd met her. With a self-derisive snort, he shook his head. He'd been his brother's foreman and, even now he didn't own a damn thing more than when Garrett had been alive. The woman before him held everything.
"Your pa know you're out here?"
Elegant fingers tucked a pale strand of hair behind her ear as she shrugged. "Bradley, my father is busy. He hardly pays a moment's attention to what li'l ole me does." She smiled. "What with the bank's demands for their money, his hands deserting him and my mother planning a trip back to Boston, his attention is understandably elsewhere. Besides, I'm a big girl. There's no need for me to check with Daddy."
Bradley smirked. "Yeah, and next you're gonna be telling me you're going into the service of God." His heart tugged at the thought of her wrapped in the black habit the nuns wore. What a waste of a woman.
"No," she whispered, easing closer to him. "I'm hardly the type." She tugged on the worn leather of his belt, easing the wide band from the buckle. Her fingers plucked at his buttons, raking through the thick hair beneath the denim. "I'm into the serving of something much more pleasurable. For both of us, Brad."
"I've told you before..." Bradley pried her fingers from his clothes and pushed her back a step.
"I'd love a cup of coffee." She twisted the doorknob and pushed the door open. Amy smirked at him, brushed past him and into the cool interior of the house. The door closed with a soft click, reverberating through him like a gunshot.

Phantom Pleasure
Forced into an arranged marriage, Frances MacKenny is murdered on her wedding night. After spending decades haunting her ancestral home, a handsome cowboy arrives. Shedding her one-hundred-fifty-year, self-imposed isolation, she decides to focus all her attention on the sexy male resident.For the first time in years, Logan Harris has a shot at living his dream by owning the best horse ranch in Virginia. At first, everything appears to be lining up perfectly. But then strange things begin to occur. And when he finds himself longing for beautiful ghost, he fears he's losing his mind. Can true love transcend death?

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1859, Bellantaine Plantation, Virginia
From the edge of her four-poster bed, Frances stared out the window at the smattering of sunlight on the manicured grounds. From a distance, the echoes of raised voices, the crack of a whip, and the faint throb of singing from the slaves working the cotton field met her ears.
With each passing moment, her attention flittered from one raised voice to the other like a bee in her mother's rose gardens. Which of those working had told her secret? Who would betray her so?
Her father's incensed roar drifted up the stairs to her chamber-the tone enough to send a shudder of fear through her.
"Why?" she whispered and plucked at the lacy thread of her nightshift.
In the distance, the local church bell rang, drawing guests for the wedding from every plantation that fell within range of the brass-toned clangs. She shivered, her heart pulsing, roaring like thunder in her ears as each toll struck like the lash of a whip against her soul. Ding-dong. The musical knoll heralded not a wedding...but her very demise.
A soft creak of the hinges drew her attention. For the first time since she'd gotten out of bed that morning, the door swung inward to reveal her personal slave.
"Good morning, Mammy." She turned from the window, a slight but warm smile lifting her lips. As welcome as the autumn rains after a drought, Mammy had, simply by coming to her, settled her to some extent.
"Mornin', Miss Frances." Mammy offered a sympathetic smile, the gap between her front teeth showing. She nudged the door closed with her well-rounded hip, her worn black dress hugging her ample bosom. Waddling over to Frances' chest, she opened drawers. "Why, the ballroom be all filled up! Got more guests than I ever seen in the house. Miss Frannie, you's got a pretty kettle of fish, if'n I do say so."
"Oh, come now, Mammy, surely you're jesting. Father couldn't have invited that many people, could he?" Frances swallowed against the rising tide of fear. It was hardly a bit of truth, he wouldn', it wasn't possible for him to humiliate her in such a manner. Not when he wanted to keep the reasoning behind the marriage so quiet. "Why, that would mean he invited nearly the entire county."
"Now, Miss Frannie, you done know your daddy will do as he sees fit. Ain't no sense to worrying yourself grey." Mammy pulled out the pale satin gown Frances would wear and hung it on the hook on the wall. With practiced speed she set Frances' stay, petticoats, pantaloons, and stockings on the bed. Her petticoats rustling, she laid out the grooming tools she would use to prepare Frances' hair. She gestured to the cushioned bench with an ornate silver hairbrush. "Come sit down, child."
Her stomach twisting with dismay, Frances shuffled from the bed to her dressing table. "I simply don't see-"
"You'd best recall the mas'ers words." Mammy rapped her on the head lightly with the brush. In the mirror her dark eyes held sympathy and understanding. "He could have done worse..."
"I've no desire to wed Robert," Frances whispered tightly. "Does that not matter? I love Nathaniel. Why can't I marry whom I wish?"
Mammy sighed, and Frances hunched her shoulders against the old woman's opinion. She stared at her hands in her lap. Young, handsome, Nathaniel didn't care about money or wealth. His simple concerns freed her. Was there enough wood to warm the house, to cook the dinners? Was she happy? Oh, yes, Nathaniel always wanted her to be happy. They'd had so many plans, so many dreams of their own.
She loved that Nathaniel wanted her-Frances Elizabeth. Not her dowry. Not her father's business alliances, or land, or any of the numerous reasons Robert had agreed to marry her. No, Nathaniel had simply loved her. It would have been better to run away together than to have to endure this.
"Yer daddy don't want no tainted blood in the family." Mammy tugged the brush through Frances' long hair. A short nod of satisfaction preceded her setting the brush down. "You be knowing that, and that boy ain't nowheres as well off as Mas'er MacKenny." Her fingers worked feverishly to untie all the laces of Frances' pale nightdress and slide a satin chemise over her head. With the short stay in place, Mammy smoothed it over Frances' breasts before tugging on the lacing along the back.
"Hmph. What is money? Ain't worth a damn to me." Frances tightened her fingers around the bedpost before her. She glanced over her shoulder, her eyes locking onto Mammy's. "I loved Nathaniel, and I am not ashamed of it. Why, if he'd wanted to run off and get married, I'd have gone-"
"Quick!" Mammy tensed, her head swiveling toward the door. "Sounds like herself's coming. Best put aside those words and get into this here delicates."
Frances glanced from her servant to the door. Following Mammy's urging, she lifted her arms and allowed the older woman to wrap a corset around her slim figure. Impatience tightened her nerves while Mammy set to work on the tedious chore of tightening the lashings. She adjusted the whalebone beneath her breasts, pushing them up so they spilled beyond the lace of her camisole.
Frances and Mammy both turned to the door as it swung inward with a gust of perfumed air. Compared to the simple gown Frances would wear, her mother had dressed lavishly. Grey and blue bows were sprinkled about the bodice of her gown, flowing into the wide, layered skirts that fell over her hoops. A delicately stitched snood held her mane of chestnut hair above her shoulders, and a slim, elegant choker adorned her throat.
"My daughter, you're going to make the most beautiful bride."
Frances couldn't help the bitter thought that darted across her mind. Trying to outshine the bride. Frances rolled her eyes at her mother's delighted tone. She shuddered at the ice in Josephina Willinton's dark eyes as they swept over Frances with eagle sharpness. Frances lifted her chin at the flare of disgust in her mother's gaze, unwilling to allow the older woman to intimidate or shame her.
"See that she wears the blue ribbons," Josephina ordered, her attention drifting to the collection of stockings and pantaloons on the bed. Dropping the folded stockings on the bed next to the others, she turned and smiled-a cold, belittling movement of muscle.
A chill raced through Frances and she shivered.
"All but a few fashionably late guests have arrived." Josephine clasped her hands before her. She raised a delicately shaped brow and smirked at Frances. No matter how hard Frances tried, she couldn't avoid shifting beneath the weight of her mother's disdain.
"The ceremony will begin shortly."
"Yes, ma'am." Mammy nodded, her fingers already tucking the loose laces of the corset out of sight. "I'll see to it for you."
"And prepare her for this evening." Her mother reached for the doorknob. "Although considering why this wedding is being rushed upon everyone, you probably only need to mention that her duty is to provide heirs...the ‘how' is, of course, something the little harlot is familiar with."
Frances narrowed her eyes at her mother's cutting accusations but held her retort. It would do no good to argue. Her mother's sharp tongue hadn't dulled one whit in the weeks since her involvement with Nathaniel had been discovered-and when Frances found out which of the slaves told on her, she'd tan their hide or cut out their loose tongue.
"She'll be down within twenty minutes," Mammy promised. She slipped the heavy wedding gown over Frances' shoulders.
"See that she is." The door slammed shut on the command.
"I can't do this, Mammy," Frances choked out. "I can't stand before God and lie in such a manner. I don't want to marry him, and to lie would be-"
"Hush, child. You knows as well as me that your daddy'll have your hide a'fore he allows word to get out of your indiscretion."
"Surely you could help me? There must be something that would be of aid. Dear God above, Mammy, I've done nothing to..." Frances grasped Mammy's sleeve. Her heart raced, and she ran a finger beneath the lace at her throat, certain it had tightened around her neck. Frances gasped for air, each inhalation tripping over itself. Her head spinning, she stumbled to a nearby chair and sank down onto the padded cushion.
Mammy twisted the fold of her apron, the weathered skin of her brow puckering while she stared at Frances. "There be one thing." Her voice low, the old Negro woman glanced around as though expecting someone to jump out and cut her into bits. "You can't be a getting out of the wedding, but I's something that will help you with your nerves. Something that'll settle 'em down right proper to make what's a-coming a mite easier to deal with."
"Anything," Frances pleaded, desperation clawing at her like a beast.
Mammy hustled Frances to her bed and sat her down. "You wait here. I'll go get you a glass of water. If'n anyone asks, I've gone to get you a drink. I'll be but a minute, my child."
"Thank you." Frances pulled her servant close, hugging her tightly, and then released the old woman to her task.
The strains of the waltz filled her bedroom when the door opened and closed. A light breeze blew the smell of roses through the open bedroom window, filling the room with its sweet, intoxicating aroma.
With a growl of anger, Frances slammed the window shut and sank back onto bed. "Oh, drat," she huffed.
Frances whipped around with the creak of the door opening, relief flooding her. Mammy slipped into the room, carrying a silver tray with a tall glass of water. A small pouch hung from her apron pocket.
"You'd best drink this. It'll help you relax." Mammy poured the white powder into the glass and handed it to Frances. "Drink it all down."
Frances grimaced at the bitter taste but drank it all down. She handed the glass back and swallowed against the faint aftertaste. "Is that it?" She coughed into a delicate lace handkerchief.
"By the time the vows be exchanged, you'll be relaxed, maybe even a bit sleepy. I be thinking that is what you're a needing. Not like you want to remember this night anyway." A sly smile curved her lips, and her dark eyes sparkled with mirth.
"No, I don't." Frances stood and leaned on Mammy while the older woman slipped her shoes on and hooked the buttons into place.
Mammy smoothed Frances' gown, stepped back, and smiled. "Come. I'd best be changing into my fancy dress and such. I'll be at the party, don't you worry none."
"Thank you." Frances choked back tears of gratitude and love for her friend and leaned forward to press a kiss to her cheek. "What would I do without you?"
Mammy cackled gleefully. "Suffer the coming hours awares."
"Go, change." Frances pushed her out the door and closed it.
Her back pressed against the wood, she surveyed the room with a critical eye. Feminine and pretty, most of the lace would vanish when her husband moved in. Her childhood gone, brushed aside by her father in his bid to secure her a husband and all the while avoid revealing she had disgraced him...and yet only she knew the truth.
She pressed her hand to her heart, pain slicing through her at the knowledge of what she'd lost. With Nathaniel gone, there could be no going back. Her heart ached for the loss even though her mind rebelled. The future uncertain, she clung to the faint hope that maybe someday he'd return for her.

Love Thy Neighbor
Rylee Parys, like her father and grandfather is a small time rancher with a big time problem. Embroiled in a bitter war over water and land, she stands alone against her neighbors who are dismayed to have a woman in control.Ex-cavalry officer, Tom Duncan has returned home after the bloody civil war only to find himself in the middle of another war. Pitted against a slim, boyish looking woman, he’s uncertain who to believe. When the hostility boils over and becomes physical, Tom must make a stand.As the clues add up these two bitter opponents must rely on each other to save not only their way of life – but the love that has grown between them.

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“The wayward son has returned to the backwater, undignified town. Something I can do for you, Duncan?” The low, angry tone echoed in the sickeningly familiar cocking of a firearm. He glanced at the porch of the house to see a slim, boyish looking woman holding a carbine aimed at his chest.
Tom studied the perpetual burr under his saddle—Rylee Parys, short cropped black locks curled around her sunburned face in the humid air. A line of dust ran along the tip of her small nose, and her chapped and cracked lips were pressed together in a tight line. Despite her boyish looks, there was something about her that, even without a gun to his chest, made his pulse pound. The familiarity of that sensation unsettled him, and he shifted in the saddle. This wasn’t a game, and they weren’t children.
“You wanna put that down before you hurt yourself?” Tom asked as he eased his hand up his thigh, to the Colt he wore tied down. The last thing he wanted was gun play, but he wasn’t about to let the fool woman shoot him. In his jacket pocket the letter the other ranchers and farmers had written crinkled and rustled with the sway of his body in the saddle. The words cramped together were filled with disgust and hatred for the foolishness of the young woman who refused to listen to their counsel.

Master's Mistress
Sibling rivalry, deceit, and seduction flourish in Ancient Ireland as Amoda Ni Cormac struggles to free herself from the shadows of her enslavement.His brother’s wedding brings Norse Prince Mykyl back to Bratthl’id Norway, and face to face with the proud Amoda Ni Cormac, a woman destined to be his oldest brother’s concubine. Driven by revenge, Mykyl steals the emerald eyed beauty.Bound by duty, secrets, and lies, Mykyl and Amoda are caught in a battle for survival that will ultimately set them free.

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“A little something to keep you warm at night, Amoda? Mayhap we could settle upon the order of things without the need for violence.” Deep and rich, the voice filled the room around her.
Startled, Amoda whipped around to stare at the man lounging against the doorframe. His arms crossed over his chest, an unreadable look upon his face, he stared back at her.
“You slithering worm! How dare you go about scaring people?” Amoda dropped the sword in her hand at the dark look upon his face. She swallowed as he stalked toward her, his stride purposeful.
“I dare much in my own chamber!” She flinched as Mykyl kicked the trunk closed. “It seems I should be questioning your motives, Amoda. What does a slave need with her master’s weapons?”
Catching the dark look on his face, Amoda tensed, fear coiling within her as she stumbled backwards. She wouldn’t beg him for anything, regardless of what his intent. Her eyes slid down to his waist, settling upon the carved hilt of the dagger that rested on his hip near his sword.
Mykyl’s gaze followed her glance. She swallowed when his right hand came up to settle upon the dagger. Awareness sparked in his eyes. His expression shifted, tightened into an ugly mask of rage.
“Are you certain you wish to try it?” Mykyl asked icily.
“Come closer and see.” She knew she couldn’t win using physical strength, but mayhap with shrewdness, she could be the victor. If she had learned anything being Rognvaldr’s slave, it was to pick her opportunity. Sooner or later, a weakness could be exploited, whether successfully or not.
Mykyl unbuckled his belt, and tossed it at the bed without breaking eye contact. He stopped and waited a few inches from her. A blatant challenge in his eyes, he doubted her will. Amoda swallowed against the tangle of fear and anger. Her gaze darted from his face to his weapon as she weighed the risks. She backed up a couple of steps.
“Well?” He spread his arms as though in surrender. “Do you wish to please me woman?”
“Not particularly.”

The Viscount's Prize
The rogue spy and his sheltered courtesan must fight to find a far more ephemeral reward than mere passion – they must try to survive falling in love in a time when love isn’t fashionable.

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Frederique’s gaze slid past the queen as he knelt. His heart lightened when he recognized one of the queen’s maidens. “Elisabeth.” The name slipped past his lips in a soundless whisper. Shock reverberated through his body as she drifted into court a few steps behind her majesty.
 His attention wandered to the other women in the royal procession and his heart nearly stopped when he saw the last woman in line. Dressed in silver, her hair was swept up into a loose pile of curls atop her head. Powdered to perfection, it had a pale glow to it. Her clear, stunning blue eyes swept the room with curiosity and a touch of anger. Artfully applied cosmetics highlighted her high cheekbones and small nose. Her red lips were tilted in a smile that did not reach her eyes. A small black mole decorated her upper lip in the fashion of the times. A fan hung from her hand, and the ruffles along the edges of her skirts fluttered like butterfly wings with each step. Her breasts seemed near to bursting out of the lace of her bodice. Ribbons and bows cascaded over the gown in simple splendor compared to the queen’s lavish bejeweled gown.
 His body tightened as she bowed before the king and her full breasts pushed against the confines of her bodice. The king’s expression bore no hint of lust. Indeed, the king barely acknowledged her before turning to assist his wife into her seat. With the queen settled next to him, he motioned to the fair haired beauty standing a few steps beyond the dais.

With his future already planned out, US Marshall Marsden isn’t ready for the spitfire who interrupts his wedding - or the feelings she stirs on a wild chase to find his errant younger brother. For Marie Logan, defending her sister is just another day on the farm. That is until she finds herself falling for the one man she'll never have.


The inward swing of the motel room door drew the attention of the room’s occupants. They turned in unison to eye the young, freckle faced deputy who stood apprehensively in the doorway, his hat in his hands.
“Well, Scott?” William Mardsen rubbed his calloused thumb over the shiny star pinned beneath his coat. An uneasy and all too familiar sensation settled in his gut as he contemplated where his youngest brother, Jack, could be.
“Sorry sir, he ain’t out at your place.” Scott shifted uncomfortably, inching back toward the hallway.
“Where in the hell did that kid get to?” William ground out. With a swift jerk of his hand, he loosened his tie and he turned to eye his deputy. “You checked the saloon?”
“I’ve checked every single place he’s ever went to.” Scott wiped at the sweat trickling down his face. “I even checked the barn and he’s not there. One of Miss Hattie’s girls said she watched him talking to some young blonde girl at the school a couple of days ago. Apparently, it weren’t no nice, polite discussion. Jack appeared right upset and so did the girl. Seems she was nigh on hysterical.”
“Well, did you go and ask the dean at the school?”
“Yes sir. He ain’t been by since then, seems Miss Logan left the next day and he ain’t…”
“Who the hell is this Logan woman?” Everyone glanced sharply at the older gentleman sitting by the window. A well-worn suit covered his frail body; his gnarled hands clutched the head of a worn old cane tightly.
With a sad shake of his head, William turned back to his deputy. “Who is Miss Logan?” He repeated his father’s question and waited, his weight shifted from foot to foot as the seconds ticked by.
“The girl Jack’s been sparkin’.” Scott cleared his throat. “Seems they were real close. Hardly apart until a few days a’fore she left. Then they had words, the dean even said it looked as though it might come to blows ‘fore Jack strode off. Miss Logan pulled up stakes, climbed on the train and headed north ‘fore anyone could ask about it.”
William exhaled sharply and turned back to straightening his tie. “I can’t wait around for him. He knew I was getting married today, if he ain’t here I ain’t gonna go chasing after him.”
“Uh, yes sir, you want me to keep lookin’?”
“No.” William pulled at his tie, his gaze never leaving the mirror. “Do a quick walk around town before you head to the church.”
“Yes sir.” Scott nodded frantically, his shaking hand reaching for the doorknob. The door closed with a soft click. His footsteps faded as he raced down the stairwell and outside.
William glanced out the window and watched the young man dart across the street to the jail. He frowned as his attention caught on a blood-red sorrel that trotted beneath a lean figure dressed in a worn coat two sizes too big for him. The butt of a Winchester stuck up from a scabbard attached to the saddle. The butt polished enough to shine. Another gun lay along a thigh, the handle partially hidden beneath the old, battered black coat. William frowned as he caught a glimpse of a long pale colored braid hanging down the rider’s back. His brother’s words distracted him and he glanced sharply at the younger man.
“Who is that?” His best man and younger brother by eleven months, Lloyd, leaned against the window sill to watch the rider pass them by.
“Trouble,” William declared. “I should go run ‘im off!”
“You’ll do no such thing.” Lloyd grinned at him. “You’re getting’ married in an hour. You don’t have time to go run some wanna-be troublemaker out of town.”
William turned to eye his brother a cocky grin on his face. “You gonna go do it?”
“That’s what you have deputies for,” Frank Mardsen drawled, and pointed his cane at his eldest son. “Now hurry up, best to be at the church before the bride.”
“Sure, Pop, whatever you say.” William shot a final glance out the window at the rider dismounting in front of the jail then turned to the last of his wedding day preparations.”

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