Today, we are featuring Starry Knight by Nina Mason, the author of The Queen of Swords and Devil in Duke's Clothing, among other books. Starry Knight is Ms. Mason's fifth novel and the first in a new erotic paranormal/urban fantasy series titled The Knights of Avalon. The series--which combines paranormal and occult elements with Celtic and Arthurian legend--tells the story of four "knights" under the spell of the evil faery queen Morgan Le Fay.
More about the series from the author:
The Knights of Avalon, the four-part erotic PNR/UF series Starry Knight launches, was born of a simple idea: to write a series incorporating different forms of divination. From that kernel grew the far more complex world of the series. The “knights” of Avalon, the enchanted otherworld isle featured in Arthurian and Celtic legend, were Scottish noblemen who, after falling in battle, were taken by the fairies to serve as breeding drones to their queen. Each of the four books in the series tells the story of a particular knight and the heroine whose love saves him from his unhappy existence.
Each knight grapples with a different relationship with Morgan Le Fay, the cruel and selfish queen of Avalon. Callum Lyon, the hero of Starry Knight (book one), is free of Morgan’s influence, having escaped enslavement after faking his own death. Leith MacQuill, the hero of Dark and Stormy Knight (book two), was expelled from Avalon after the queen discovered his amour with one of her scouts. In book three, which I’ve yet to write, Axel Lochlann, a rune-casting Scot of Viking descent, guards the portal between Hitherworld (our realm) and Thitherworld (the otherworldly realm). The fourth knight, Finn MacKnight, doesn’t know what he is or that he’s destined to fulfill an ancient prophecy telling of the queen’s overthrow by a “natural-born” drone. Because of this prophecy, Morgan kills all the male children she bears and punishes the knights who father them
Avalonian knights are vampire-like, but not vampires per se. Members of the Unseelie Fae, they drink blood and can assume the form of any creature they choose, but generally take the form of a particular animal to hunt. Callum’s preferred form is a lion, Leith’s is a Kellas Cat, Axel’s is a gyrfalcon, and Finn’s is a jaguar.
Astrology is the new-age element featured in Starry Knight (hence the name). Callum, the court astrologer to King James IV, fell in battle in 1513, after warning the king the stars did not favor the invasion of England. Ignoring Callum’s advice proved costly to the king and his astrologer.
In modern times, Callum lives in the northernmost county of Scotland as a reclusive political astrologer. The heroine, a free-spirited English aristocrat named Vanessa Bentley, comes to Caithness with the goal of getting inside Barrogill Castle. She’s just finished her training as a paranormal investigator and the London paparazzi have been giving her a hard time. Legend has it a vampire lives at Callum’s castle, so she decides to seduce the gorgeous, golden-haired baron to gain entry to his otherwise inaccessible abode. Needless to say, both get a lot more than hot sex (but also plenty of that!) from the bargain they strike.
Tarot cards, voodoo, ghosts, and the more traditional form of vampire also play roles in the plot. I hope readers enjoy Starry Knight and the rest of the series as much as I have enjoyed writing it!
(The Knights of Avalon #1)
by Nina Mason
Paperback, 248 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Kensington Books
Can these star-crossed lovers bridge two worlds?
British aristocrat Vanessa Bentley has beauty, fame, and fortune, but she gets no respect for her decision to become a paranormal investigator. Determined to prove the naysayers wrong, Vanessa ventures to the misty moors of Caithness, Scotland. There stands the immense Castle Barrogill, where a vampire is rumored to be stalking the dungeons—a vampire Vanessa is determined to find. She’ll just have to get past the resident shape-shifter…
Callum Lyon is the gorgeous reclusive astrologer and faery knight who guards the castle. For free-spirited Vanessa, seducing him proves to be easy. After all, he was once a breeding drone to a Queen. But astrologically, their differences are harder to overcome. Will Vanessa’s mission—and Callum’s secrets—be more than their burgeoning love can take? Or will flesh—and blood—win over the ghosts that haunt them both?
In this scene, the hero, a centuries-old faery knight whose life has been devoid of romance, is doing his best to woo Lady Vanessa, a free-spirited “poor little rich girl” and paranormal investigator who, unbeknownst to him, is using sex to gain access to his castle. He’s spent the day showing her around Caithness and, in the midst of a sunset stroll on the beach, has suggested they take shelter from the wind in a nearby cave.
Callum got to his feet, took Vanessa’s hand, and pulled her across the dunes toward the cliffs. She couldn’t see the entrance to the cave until he swept back a curtain of vines. She followed him through the narrow entrance, holding tightly to his hand. The interior was cool, dark, and smelled a bit fishy, but not offensively so.
Stepping in front of her, he put a hand on her chin and lifted her gaze to his. The spark between them was palpable and she longed for him to kiss her. She licked her lips invitingly, hoping he’d take the hint.
“You’re very bonny, mo dearbadan-de,” he said softly, seductively, as he brushed back a wayward strand of her hair.
“What did you just call me?”
“My butterfly,” he said, “in Gaelic.”
She put her arms around his neck and offered him her mouth. He accepted, nibbling and flicking his tongue against her lips. She pulled the band from his ponytail, freeing his windblown mane. As it tumbled around his shoulders, she wove her fingers among its silky strands, pressing his mouth harder against hers.
When he offered his tongue, she greeted it with her own. He moaned—a deep, needful sound that dumped accelerant on her desire. She thrust her hips against him, finding him as aroused as she was. He pushed back, grinding against her as he walked her backward toward the wall of the cave. As her back met rough rock, warm fingers came under her blouse, climbed her ribs, and pushed under her bra. As he teased her nipples, something deep in her core turned all soft and molten.
She was air, he fire, and right now, she wanted his light and heat, wanted him to consume her in a crackling blaze.
He broke out of the kiss, moved his mouth to her ear, and nibbled the lobe. She grew weak in the knees as his tongue traced the sensitive inner folds.
“Why do you run away from love, mo dearbadan-de?” he whispered huskily. “Do you see it as a trap?”
“More a fraud than a trap.”
“And sex isn’t?”
“With sex, you know what you’re getting.”
“And when it’s over, you’ve got nothing.”
“How is love different?”
“I don’t know,” he said, “having never felt it.”
“We’re alike in that,” she said, “but from what I’ve observed, it’s a mirage people only chase because they feel incomplete within themselves.”
Taking her face between his hands, he trained her in his riveting gaze. “Do you truly believe that?”
He let her go, turned his back, and stepped away. For the longest time, he stood there, just out of reach, saying nothing. Then, as suddenly as he’d turned his back, he rounded on her with eyes like yellow coals. “Tell me, Madame Butterfly. Who made you feel so unlovable?”
The question impaled her like a red-hot spike. Damn him for asking it, for digging so deep, for skewering her with his probe. She suddenly felt ridiculous, like some poor little rich girl. She’d been born into wealth and privilege. What right did she have to be unhappy? So what if her parents didn’t love her or she had no true friends.
Boo-fucking-hoo. Get over yourself.
What right did she have to wallow in self-pity when children were starving, people were dying of Ebola, and the planet was being raped on a daily basis? She deserved no compassion, despite the searing wound she did her best to ignore.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she said in a voice that sounded faint and faraway under the blood-thunder in her ears.
“No? Then why have you closed your heart?”
Defiance bubbled in her heart like hot tar. Damn him for trying to get past the battlements she’d spent years erecting hurt by hurt and brick by brick. If anything, she should build her walls higher where this bedeviling baron was concerned, not let him wear them down like rain.
“Did you bring me in here to psychoanalyze me?”
“No,” he whispered, the heat of his breath caressing, soothing. His hand glided purposefully down her body and pushed between her legs. As he stimulated her through her knickers, she threw back her head and expelled a soft sigh—of pleasure and relief. A rapacious lover, she was equal to. A probing one, not so much.
As he stroked her through the satin crotch of her knickers, desire fluttered in her abdomen like an injured bird. He’d struck too close to home. She’d didn’t feel loveable because she’d never felt loved. Not for one single, solitary moment of her entire privileged life. She’d had a chain of nannies who believed children should be seen but not heard before being packed off to boarding school where she was treated with equal detachment. Her parents, in short, had hired others to raise her—no, make that train her. In their eyes, she was a hunk of clay to be molded, not a human being to be nurtured. How disappointed they must have been when they got an outspoken nonconformist in place of the pretty marionette they’d paid for.
Callum’s finger came inside her knickers and began to circle her clitoris, smothering her bitterness in the syrup of pleasure. The orgasm charged and retreated, charged and retreated, and then finally exploded in a heavenly cascade.
Setting his hands on the wall on either side of her head, he docked his forehead against hers and said, “I’d rather chase the mirage than die alone without hope in the desert.”
About the author:
Nina Mason is a hopeful romantic with strong affinities for history, mythology, and the metaphysical. She strives to write the same kind of books she loves to read: those that entertain, edify, educate, and enlighten.
She has four books out at present and three more on the way. Her current releases are, in order of publication: The Queen of Swords, a darkly erotic Scottish paranormal romance/urban fantasy; The Tin Man, a political thriller; and Devil in Duke's Clothing and The Duke's Bedeviled Bride, the first two installments in an erotic historical series titled Royal Pains. Book three of Royal Pains will be released in October.
Starry Knight is the first book in a four-part paranormal romance series titled The Knights of Avalon. The series combines Arthurian legend, Celtic mythology, and Scottish history to tell the story of four mortals taken by the faeries after falling in battle. The Knights of Avalon are the breeding drones of the legendary sorceress Morgan Le Fay. Book Two, Dark and Stormy Knight, will be released in January 2016. The series is being published by Lyrical/Kensington. http://ninamasonauthor.com
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