Monday, 28 November 2022

OUT NOW: Love You More - by Julia Kent [Love You, Maine, bk 3] @jkentauthor #romanticcomedy #romcom #contemporaryromance

New Release

Love You More 

Love You, Maine, Book 3 

by 

Julia Kent

Release date: November 10, 2022

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance

Cover Designer:  Najla Qamber, Qamber Designs (https://www.qamberdesignsmedia.com/)

Audiobook Narrators:  Erin Mallon and Teddy Hamilton (COMING SOON)

Tropes/Themes:  Small Town

Retailer Description:

Colleen Luview's love life is cursed. No—really. The small-town nurse is notorious in her touristy mountain community. After every third date she's ever had, the guy ends up in her emergency room.

She's untouchable now, and it's not her fault. 

Resolved to branch out and find a way to have a life with a partner, children, meaning, and free from being a love pariah in a town devoted to it, she decides to leave her beloved Love You, Maine—where every day is Valentine's Day—to find a bigger dating pool.

And a better nickname.

Moore Mottin hates feeling like damaged goods. Married and divorced twice before thirty, he has a fourteen-year-old from a teenage pregnancy, was cheated on during his second wedding, and now even his best friend, Luke Luview, considers him the butt of every bad-luck joke when it comes to love. 

When Luke's sister, Colleen, picks him up from the airport and a freak snowstorm forces them off the road, he rescues her from an icy pond and finds an old hunting cabin for shelter and safety. Vulnerable and shaking, the two give in to long-simmering feelings for each other, but when they're discovered in the worst way possible, what seemed like a new lease on life turns into a life-altering mess.

Can Moore and Colleen overcome all the obstacles holding them back from a love that's been in front of their faces all this time?

If you're looking for a story featuring two star-crossed lovers doomed by unfair reputations, featuring a smooth-talking single dad who runs a jewelry store and his best friend's sister, set in a small town in New England, with a calico cat named Sandwich, a heroine with a dry wit and a can-do attitude, and a hero who just wants a good relationship with his estranged child and the chance to find permanent love…then this is your book.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea, and maybe some peanut butter for your burger (what? It's a thing…), and get your happy meter ready as you read the third book (a standalone!) in the Love You, Maine series—where love isn't just a feeling…it's a way of life.

Standalone

One-night stand

Forced proximity

Best friend's sister

Single dad

… and a calico cat named Sandwich

Buy Links: 

Amazon US:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09WLZ7T4H 

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09WLZ7T4H

Amazon AU:  https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B09WLZ7T4H

Amazon CA:  https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B09WLZ7T4H

Apple Books:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/love-you-more/id1616025157

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/love-you-more-17

Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-you-more-julia-kent/1141629132?ean=2940186715801

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=kL5rEAAAQBAJ&PAffiliateID=1101l8zJ

Print:  https://www.amazon.com/Love-You-More-Julia-Kent/dp/1638800669/

Website:  https://jkentauthor.com/books/love-you-maine/love-you-more/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/love-you-more-love-you-maine-book-3-by-julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59694722-love-you-more

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. Since 2013, she has sold more than 2 million books, with 4 New York Times bestsellers and more than 21 appearances on the USA Today bestseller list. Her books have been translated into French, German, and Italian, with more titles releasing in the future.

From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men's room toilet (and he isn't a billionaire she met in a romantic comedy).

She lives in New England with her husband and three children where she is the only person in the household with the gene required to change empty toilet paper rolls.

She loves to hear from her readers by email at julia@jkentauthor.com, on Twitter @jkentauthor, on Facebook at @jkentauthor, and on Instagram @jkentauthor. Visit her at http://jkentauthor.com

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/2PIBi9n

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jkentauthor/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3238619.Julia_Kent

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Kent/e/B00A99V268/

Excerpt:

Pulling her close, he tried to warm her. They were on the floor, about three feet from the edge of an unmade bed.

      “Colleen!” he said sharply. She blinked rapidly, then squeezed his arm.

      “I’m not shivering,” she said slowly, slurring. “Nee’ to ge’ warm.”

      “I’m trying,” he said, looking at the fire, which thankfully was showing signs of catching. Standing, he scanned the room. A small trunk served as a coffee table, in front of two wood-frame chairs with cheap vinyl cushions.

      The chance there were blankets in that trunk was good.

      His attention pinged between the trunk and Colleen.

      “Sit up,” he ordered her.

      “Can’t.”

      If he kept her talking, everything would be fine.

      “Maybe you just cursed yourself,” he told her, trying to get her goat, get a rise out of her, anything to keep her talking.

      “Huh?”

      “Third Date Colleen. Never thought you’d end up in your own ER after a third date.” He lifted the lid of the trunk.

      She blew a laugh through her nose. “Too far away from Luview for me to be in the ER.”

      Score! Two big feather-down comforters, both of them a cream color with a patina that spoke more to their age than to a color palette at a textile factory. His fingers screamed as he gripped the thick, soft fabric, but he grabbed the top one and brought it to her, covering her.

      As he started to wrap himself in the other one, he realized he was still soaking wet.

      So was she.

      Thin hints of warmth began to creep out of the tiny woodstove and he turned his attention to the fire again, blowing on it lightly, then checking the flue.

      Whew. All was well. He added a few small pieces of wood he found littering the backside of the woodstack and hoped the fire would continue to take.

      “I’m cold. Wet. Brain slow. Mouth slower,” Colleen whispered, with a tiny smile.

      “Since when do you have a slow mouth?”

      “Moore.”

      His stomach dropped. Looking down at her, his down comforter on his shoulders, he panicked. Stress flooded him like he was underwater again, fumbling for her seatbelt, her life in his hands.


Release blitz organized by Writer MarketingServices

Thursday, 24 November 2022

NEW RELEASE: The Wedding Laughbox [Laughbox Boxed Sets, bk 3] by Julia Kent @jkentauthor #romanticcomedy #romcom #contemporaryromance

NEW RELEASE

The Wedding Laughbox 

Laughbox Boxed Sets, Book 3

by 

Julia Kent 

Release date: November 8, 2022

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance

Cover Designer:  Angela Jenks

Tropes/Themes:  Weddings, Runaway Bride, Bridezilla, Momzilla, Bridesmaids, Honeymoons, Friends and Family

Retailer Description:

The Wedding Laughbox contains FIVE full-length novels and ONE ALL NEW NOVELLA! - from a variety of New York Times bestselling romantic comedy author Julia Kent’s series.

It’s wedding season, and what’s better than a wedding in rom com style?

Julia Kent’s madcap style, that is. 

How about a campground double wedding with three grooms and two brides? (What? Yep…) Or a billionaire and his betrothed escaping their own wedding to flee to Vegas? Paparazzi galore and a stubborn father of the groom ruining a CEO’s planned nuptials until he takes matters into his own hands and does love his way? A disgruntled older sister watching her sister find wedded bliss and maybe, just maybe, finding her own love with a rival billionaire?

With five different stories you get bridezillas, momzillas — even a billionaire dadzilla - with over-the-top fun and lush, luxurious settings, all wrapped up in community, connection, and loads of fun.

This boxed set includes:

Shopping for a Billionaire’s Wife

Shopping for a CEO’s Wife

It’s Always Complicated

Random Acts of Love

Hasty

And Tasty, an ALL NEW novella featuring Will and Mallory from the book Fluffy, as they go on their honeymoon and discover that life is nothing but a series of coincidences as their past comes back to haunt them with hilarious results.

Sink into SIX humor-filled books that pour you into wedding planning, bachelorette and bachelor parties, give you all the wedding jitters and proud family moments, all wrapped up in a huge boxed set you can sink into and find your way to long-term love.

Note: each of these books can be read as a standalone, but they are part of larger series. All of my Laughbox boxed sets are designed to give readers a taste of my books, centered on a specific concept (in this case, weddings). Full disclosure for readers.

Buy Links: 

Amazon US:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BDJ6N5JX/

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0BDJ6N5JX/

Amazon AU:  https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B0BDJ6N5JX/

Amazon CA:  https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B0BDJ6N5JX/

Apple Books:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-wedding-laughbox/id6443371428

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-wedding-laughbox

Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-wedding-laughbox-julia-kent/1142465749?ean=2940186697930

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Julia_Kent_The_Wedding_Laughbox?id=csSHEAAAQBAJ

Website:  https://jkentauthor.com/books/book-bundles/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-wedding-laughbox-laughbox-boxed-sets-book-3-by-julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/62575614-the-wedding-laughbox

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. Since 2013, she has sold more than 2 million books, with 4 New York Times bestsellers and more than 21 appearances on the USA Today bestseller list. Her books have been translated into French, German, and Italian, with more titles releasing in the future.

From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men's room toilet (and he isn't a billionaire she met in a romantic comedy).

She lives in New England with her husband and three children where she is the only person in the household with the gene required to change empty toilet paper rolls.

She loves to hear from her readers by email at julia@jkentauthor.com, on Twitter @jkentauthor, on Facebook at @jkentauthor, and on Instagram @jkentauthor. Visit her at http://jkentauthor.com

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/2PIBi9n

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jkentauthor/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3238619.Julia_Kent

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Kent/e/B00A99V268/

 

Excerpt : Tasty (all-new novella)

     “You look extraordinary," Will whispers in my ear as the slow, sensual lyrics taper off into the final notes of a beautiful love song.  We’re dancing, my cheek against his shoulder, and I am breathing all the breaths.

      Every woman should have this at their wedding. Their perfect wedding.

      We've pulled it off, Will and I. Five bridesmaids, five groomsmen, one mother of the bride, one father of the bride, one mother of the groom, one father of the groom – and one big, new extended family.

      Color coordination to the point of perfect alignment.

      Ratios of food that create culinary masterpieces in each individual mouth.

      My sister's artisanal Manchego cheese.

      My best friends, all happy, all at peace with their perfect partners.

      This wedding couldn't be more exquisite, and now the ante is about to be upped because the reception is almost over and it is time to head to our cottage rental.

      A gift from my best friend, Perky, who booked it for us before our flight to Los Angeles.

      No, we're not honeymooning in L.A. That's just a pit stop, an overnight before the real deal.

      Fiji.

      That's right. We're spending our honeymoon in Fiji paradise.

     “Need some water?” he asks, making me smile as I nod, because he’s tracking me. Watching out for me. We’re in symbiosis mode, and it’s a delight to have someone who cares so much that he notices my state. As he walks over to the bar, I watch, mesmerized.

      He’s mine.

      All mine.

      Forever.

Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

New Release - Kisses and Winter Wishes - A multi-author Anthology #regencyromance #historicalromance #theromancecafe @trinitywoodwrites @DS_Promotions1

★✩★ NEW RELEASE ★✩★

Kisses and Winter Wishes 

A Historical Romance Collection 

Romance Café Collection Book 17

Goodreads: 

Hosted by DS Book Promotions


AMAZON 

US 

UK 

CA

AU 

Available on Kindle Unlimited


Blurb:

Hot kisses and scandalous wishes...

Join amorous rakes, shy wallflowers and a powerful maharani on a journey through the racy Regency to the turbulent 1940s.

Petticoats fly, cravats are crushed, and silk saris unravel in this collection of historical romances from USA Today best-selling and award-winning romance authors, curated by The New Romance Cafe. HEA guaranteed.



Participating Authors:

Angelina Jameson

Clyve Rose

Emma Brady

Evangeline Gold

Grace Hartwell

Heather Osborne

Rose Pearson

Shanti James

Tanya Wilde



About The New Romance Cafe

The New Romance Café is the place to get your daily dose of romance books. 

Hang out with like-minded readers and authors at different stages of their writing journey, in a diverse and inclusive group. 

Find out about new releases, take part in fun discussions, and recommend your favourite reads in the safe space of the Café.

The New Romance Cafe Links

Group: 

Website: 

Romance Cafe Publishing: 


Hosted by

Thursday, 3 November 2022

#99cents Pre-Order Alert: Mine This Winter [A Multi-author Winter Romance Collection] Release Date 12.01.2022 @trinitywoodwrites #minethiswinter #theromancecafe @DS_Promotions1

 ★✩★ 99¢ PREORDER ALERT ★✩★


Mine This Winter
A Winter Romance Collection
Romance Café Collection Book 18


Release Date: December 1

Hosted by DS Book Promotions


Blurb:

Craving swoon-worthy happily ever afters?

This winter romance collection delivers.

Keep cozy with stories featuring enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, fake relationships, and forced proximity, all set during winter-time.

Seventeen titillating stories from USA Today best-selling and award-winning romance authors in a spicy collection curated by The New Romance Cafe. Available for a limited time only, HEA guaranteed.


Participating Authors:

A.R. Bell | Anna Volkin | Charlotte O'Shay | Chele MacCabe
Chrissa Rose | Danielle Bellwood | Harper Michaels
Heather Scarlett | Karigan Hale | Katherine Moore
Lila Grey | Megan Hetherington | Melanie A. Smith |
Rebecca Conrad | Sofia Aves | Suki McMinn
Toni Denise | Trinity Wood

About The New Romance Cafe

The New Romance Café is the place to get your daily dose of romance books.

Hang out with like-minded readers and authors at different stages of their writing journey, in a diverse and inclusive group.

Find out about new releases, take part in fun discussions, and recommend your favourite reads in the safe space of the Café.


The New Romance Cafe Links



Romance Cafe Publishing: https://romancecafepublishing.com/

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

New Release - I Gave You My Heart - A Multi-Author Christmas Anthology #SweetRomance #YA #NA @DS_Promotions1

 

 ★✩★ NEW RELEASE ★✩★

I Gave You My Heart

A YA/NA Sweet Romance Christmas Collection

A Multi Author Anthology

Hosted by DS Book Promotions


Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Nook:



 This Christmas join the authors of I Gave You My Heart for young and new adult short stories in a limited-edition anthology. Small towns, big cities, competitions, vacations, and so much more. Let the magic of the season warm your heart with these reunions, second chances, and sweet and clean romances.  


Participating Authors:

Red Beret by USA Today Bestselling Author Katherine Moore

Merry Band of Freeloaders by USA Today Bestselling Author Lorah Jaiyn

Scouting Our Love by Audrey Rich

Serenading Santa by C. Wallace

Giving Class by Diana Dawn

Sweet Candy Kisses by Cedar Rose

Emma's Three Christmas Wishes by Elena Shelest

Back to December by Megan Grooms

Small Town Problems by Pamela Gail

Hometown Christmas by RK Phillips

The Promise of Snow by Sarina Langer

Kissing Rudolph by September North

Christmas in Winslow by Sofia Ann Hoffman

Someone Special by Susanne Ash

A Game of Chess by Vic Quest

Friends Ignited by Whitney Gayle

A Whiskey Run Christmas by Zoey Drake


Hosted by



Thursday, 6 October 2022

#FlashbackFriday - Enjoy an excerpt from The Devil Take You #historicalromance #histfic Braelynn stands toe-to-toe with the devil

Feisty Heroine

Braelynn Galbraith begins her story as the woman in the wrong place at the wrong time but she eventually evolves into a character who can stand toe-to-toe with the devil and hold her own. 

Blurb:  

Braelynn Galbraith wants peace for her beloved Scotland, marriage to her childhood sweetheart, and a house full of children. In that order. But evil incarnate, in the form of Gard Marschand, turns her life inside out and destroys all hope of a decent marriage. 

Known in the Highlands as the legendary devil, Gard Marschand raids his way across Scotland and England amassing power and property in his malevolent wake. He will stop at nothing in his pursuit to regain what is lost— even conceal his true identity and associate with his enemies. His determination is all-consuming until he and his men lay siege to Ross-shire and one feisty Scottish lass obliterates his single-minded purpose. 

Can Gard abandon his deep-seated need for revenge for a love that just might save his rotten soul? Or will he succumb to the demons that hound him and surrender to the devil within?




Copyright © 2019 H.K. Carlton



Or on Sale @




I hope you enjoyed the snippet from The Devil Take You.
Have a wonderful weekend!
~ H K 


Friday, 22 January 2021

#Flashback | "The Devil Take You starts off with a bang—Braelynn passing messages to the rebels. From there it’s a wild ride of fantastic Scottish accents, history, action & romance!"

I'm sorry I haven't been around much lately. Blogging and writing, is sort of on the backburner for now, as the hubby and I prepare to move house. We're downsizing. We don't need all these big empty rooms anymore, but to be honest, I'm rather sad about it. I have loved this place. We raised three amazing children here, and lovingly sent them on their way to pursue their own dreams. We loved, spoiled, and were forced to say farewell to two wonderful little fur-babies. I learned to enjoy gardening here, carrying on my mum's love of all flowers and plants. We made this place our own, changing things and renovating, some out of choice, others not so much—thanks to the great flood of 2017. And though I've always written, in this house, I found a burst of creativity that lead me to fulfill a childhood dream of being an author. Within these walls I wrote Swap, The Devil Take You, You Found Me, The Always Cambridge Series, Lost Time, and Autumn's Healing, all favorites of mine and all with backstories of their own, on how and why they came to be. But that's another story. I've written and published over 30 titles in this home. 😢 So, on this gloomy wintery Friday, I hope you enjoy this post, originally shared January 3rd, 2020, of historical romance, The Devil Take You.

Thank you for sticking around.

Take care, folks. Stay well.
~ H K



I believe your stay in purgatory has only just begun...

Braelynn Galbraith wants peace for her beloved Scotland, marriage to her childhood sweetheart, and a house full of children. In that order. But evil incarnate, in the form of Gard Marschand, turns her life inside out and destroys all hope of a decent marriage.

Known in the Highlands as the legendary devil, Gard Marschand raids his way across Scotland and England amassing power and property in his malevolent wake. He will stop at nothing in his pursuit to regain what is lost— even conceal his true identity and associate with his enemies. His determination is all-consuming until he and his men lay siege to Ross-shire and one feisty Scottish lass obliterates his single-minded purpose.

Can Gard abandon his deep-seated need for revenge for a love that just might save his rotten soul? Or will he succumb to the demons that hound him and surrender to the devil within? 


Add The Devil Take You to your Goodreads TBR List

Enjoy the Preface —

Ross-Shire, Scotland, April 1307 

Braelynn Galbraith ran as if the hounds of hell were nipping at her heels. This time they might well be. “Please God, if ya get me outta this one last scrape, I promise I will never pass another message to the rebels again.”

Since Brae had taken up the cause she had been chased many times, yet she had always managed to avoid capture. By now she should have learned her lesson. This would be her final escapade one way or the other. The territory was becoming much too dangerous for such folly.

The steady beat of hooves pounded in her ears as the unknown pursuers bore down on her. Brae ran for the cliffs. The strategy had worked in the past.

Brae rounded the dune with her plaid bunched into her fists to keep her legs free. With an additional burst of speed born of pure fear, she veered for the bluff. By the time she reached the crags, more horsemen had appeared on the rock face. She skidded to a halt, caught between the two. She had to make a decision, and fast.

Following her first instinct, she scurried over the rocks and ducked under the overhang, then slid through an arch that water and wind had eroded over time.

Brae launched herself into the shadowy mouth of the first tunnel she came to.

Molding herself against the cavern wall, she listened intently for the horsemen above while gulping much-needed air into her burning lungs. Though her chest heaved, she tried not to make a sound.

Trembling in the darkness and unable to keep the memories at bay, Brae found her thoughts returning, as they often did, to the one other time she had nearly been detained. On that occasion, she had hidden in a narrow crevice. Not by design and quite by accident, she had fallen into it while fleeing from her would-be captors.

Fortunately, the crag had been deep enough to swallow her whole. At the time, she had been certain she’d broken every bone in her body. Before she could take inventory of any injury, she’d heard the clip clop of a horse’s hooves dancing very close to the gap. Luckily, she had not been wedged so far down that she couldn’t see the surface.

Holding her breath, she had hazarded a glance upward, only to meet the most ferocious set of black eyes she had ever encountered in her eighteen years. His predatory stare had chilled her.

The stranger had been dressed severely, all in black. Everything about him was dark—his eyes, his hair and clothing, even the billowing overlong cloak that snapped like thunder in the wind. The fine whiskers covering his cheeks only added to his sinister air. For a split second, she had believed she was enduring her last moments. But to her utter shock, he had gestured to his men and reported the all-clear. As she’d stared up at him in shock and gratitude, he had directed his mount slowly away from her hiding place.

Much later, to her horror, she had discovered he was none other than the man they called the devil. His misdeeds were legendary in the highlands. If the stories were true, he was a thief, a murderer, and a rapist. His innumerable offenses appeared to have no rhyme nor reason. One scheme seemed to benefit the English, the next gave advantage to the Scots. No one knew for certain where his loyalties lay.

Since then, Brae had been plagued by his actions. Many a morning when between wakefulness and dreaming she roused to find his black eyes swimming before her. The devil stalked her dreams, taunting her. Why had he allowed her to escape and not dispatched her forthwith, as she knew he was capable? Whose side was he on? She spent hours thinking of possibilities. Was he—like so many of her countrymen, forced to make choices—pretending to conform to English rule while remaining true to Scotland in their hearts? Or had he merely considered her inconsequential. His mistake.

Brae knew the messages she passed between the rebels not only diverted senseless slaughter and aided the efforts to establish Scottish independence, but also thwarted the English in their pursuit of domination. However, she was equally aware the missives she had traded had also caused harm and even death. And that was something she had to live with. She longed for the day when peace could be taken for granted.

Snapping from her reverie, Brae realized there were no sounds from above save the wind and the waves crashing.

Fairly confident she had lost her pursuers, Brae lifted the hem of her plaid and picked her way through the empty passageways.

“Ahhh,” she sighed in relief and even allowed a smile. She lowered her guard for just a moment and in the next instance found herself pinned against the slimy rocks. An unknown assailant slapped his filthy hand over her mouth.

Brae squirmed, while screaming into his smelly palm.

The man spoke in rapid French.

“I dinna understand ya,” she mumbled against his hand. She knew a bit of the language but could not speak fluently.

“I will not hurt you, Mademoiselle,” he repeated in broken English. “That is, if you can get me out of this hellish maze.”

Brae continued to struggle until he pressed his knee between her legs, then leaned his big body against her. Afraid of what else he intended, she stilled. Her heart pounded even more now than during the chase.

“I may even reward you,” he added, slowly removing his hand from her mouth, yet he kept her in his hold.

“Let me go,” Brae demanded, thrashing about.

“Help me return to my men. I was separated from them and became lost in these passages.”

“Why should I?” Brae’s voice shook.

“Could you not use the reward and save yourself some bodily harm?” he threatened, shifting his leg still lodged in her skirts.

“I dinna trust ya. Release me and I will get us both outta here.”

“And I do not trust you, Mademoiselle. ‘Tis obvious you know these tunnels well. You could outmaneuver me and leave me here to die.” He eased his knee away. Still crowding her, he kept a firm hold of her forearm with one hand while he rooted in his pocket. He pulled out a sizable oval stone then held it aloft. “Yours.” Easing his grip, he stepped back. He lifted her hand and placed the cold mineral into her palm. “Help me safely rejoin my men and you may keep this bauble. Create a diversion so we can make a clean getaway, and that will bring you much more. ‘Tis very valuable.”

Brae hesitated to accept anything from him, leery of what the more might entail once she led him to safety. Ross-shire had been under siege many times in the last few years. Living under an enemy’s rule had given Brae an extreme understanding of what men were about, especially in numbers.

“Mademoiselle!” Her latest captor snapped her from her musings, reminding her of the tight spot she found herself in.

She had no choice. “A’righ’. Follow me.” She pushed off from the rock wall.

“We will hold onto each other,” he said, grasping her arm. “Until we reach our destination.”

“Where are your men? Be they the ones above”—she pointed to the surface—”or the ones beyond?”

“Above.” His eyebrows rose.

“They were headed for the waterside o’ the cliffs,” Brae explained. “We are best to go this way.”

Carefully she led him through the darkness, using the filtering light to guide the way.

“What if your men are entangled in combat with the ones who are trackin’ me?”

“They are not chasing you, Mademoiselle. ‘Tis I they pursue.”

“So, I’m leadin’ ya to your death, then?”

“You would not be so lucky. When they realize I’m not with my men, they will continue their search. I am the target, not my men.”

“And what will happen when they find me with ya?” Her stomach cramped.

“I will do my utmost to protect you.”

She did not believe that boast, since he was the coward hiding in the caves.

“Shhh,” Brae warned. “I hear voices up ahead.”

Her kidnapper’s hand tightened on her forearm.

“Stay here while I see who be aboot,” Brae whispered as she approached a shaft of daylight beaming through a cleft in the rock above.

“Merci, Mademoiselle,” he said, relief evident in his voice.

Cautiously, Brae boosted herself up, trying not to give their whereabouts away.

“Are your men dressed in opulent English splendor?” Brae asked acerbically.

“Oui.” He chuckled. “Be there a white horse with a black star on his left haunch?”

“Aye,” she replied.

“And the others? Giving chase?”

“No sign.” She eased herself down.

Immediately, the man took her place in the void. He took a moment, as if weighing his options.

“Merci, Mademoiselle,” he said, athletically hiking himself to the surface.

Brae blinked. In the darkness of the cave, she had been unable to see him clearly. His sweat-soaked shirt clung to his muscular upper body.

He offered her his hand, which she declined.

“Perhaps a wise choice, Mademoiselle,” he said, with an indulgent grin. “What is your name?”

Uncertain she should tell him, she raked her lower lip.

“I only ask so you might collect your reward in the future. One day you may be in need of my influence.”

“Who are you?” she blurted.

“Gaveston,” he said with a flourish, then he narrowed his gaze.

Should I know the name? It did not ring any bells.

“Galbraith,” she responded, in kind.

With a chortle, he bowed. “Mademoiselle Galbraith. I am indebted to you.”

Fleetingly, she thought he was quite handsome.

“Do not forget, the gem will prove your identity. Return it to its true owner and you will be granted any boon you may ask, in payment for saving my life this day.” He shrugged. “Or perhaps if you find yourself in need of coin, the bauble will bring a tidy profit. You cannot lose here.”

With a disreputable grin, he ran for the white horse, then vaulted onto its back with stealth and ease.

Brae poked her head out from the rock face. “How will I ken the rightful owner?”

“You will”—he said with certainty—”if, and when, the time comes.”

How cryptic. “How am I to find ya? You’re fleein’?”

“I will not be gone long. Perhaps even less time than some might wish. Bonne chance, Mademoiselle.” He kicked the horse into motion. “Keep up your end of the bargain now and create a diversion.”

“And you, good luck.” Brae slid the cold stone into her bodice for safe keeping, which left her hands free. She heaved herself onto the flat rock above, then ran in the opposite direction Gaveston had ridden. It was not long before the other Englishmen caught sight of her and gave chase. Once again, her familiarity of the terrain served her well. Within minutes Brae was safely ensconced in the maze of passageways while the soldiers above shouted and searched.

Having nothing but time while she waited for them to depart, she held the stone up to the light. The clear blue gem was hard and cold. “Beautiful,” she murmured. “Whatever it is.”

The precious stone was oval in shape, except for one damaged edge. She ran her finger over the flaw, convinced it had been sanded smooth.

“And what of the true owner?” she whispered. Gaveston had insinuated the person might be of some import. Yet how am I to know? She shrugged, dismissing it. Gaveston was most likely full of bunk, only concerned with saving his own skin. The bauble was almost certainly fake as well. She didn’t care. It was very pretty. She fitted it into her bodice.

As dusk descended, Brae climbed stealthily from the depression. With no riders in sight, she scurried over the escarpment and headed toward Ross-shire. First, she would alert the vicar she had survived another mission.

Universal Link (including Amazon)
Also Available in Print
they become available
Have a great weekend, folks