Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lady Knights of Barony Release Party/Scavenger Hunt Feature

Book  blurb:
Three women. Three stories. One Sisterhood.

With the war in Barony at an end, peace reigns and rebuilding efforts continue beneath the steady vigilance of King Serge and Queen Isabelle. The lady knights have returned home, unchanged by new titles and lands. But with a rash of kidnappings spreading across the province, the lady knights will find themselves torn apart by the machinations of a mad man.

Ava Longley, captain of the lady knights, never expected to become the target of an obsessed murderous madman. When a kidnapper is sent to abduct her, Ava sees it as the perfect opportunity to bring the mastermind to justice. To Julian Vincent, Lady Longley is no more than the means to an end. However, when sparks fly between them, Julian is faced with an impossible decision.

After being sold into slavery by her king and washing up onto the shore of Cardenas, the friendless African Amazon, Mudiwa Akua, was taken in by Barony’s female soldier’s regiment. When her tranquil existence is disturbed and she finds herself on a ship bound for the exotic island of Martinique, Mudiwa faces certain death and possible enslavement for the second time in her life, dredging up ghosts of a past she had long thought forgotten. When planter Isaac Prideux comes upon a mysterious African woman, beaten and half-dead, he takes it upon himself to care for her. He never imagined doing so would shake up his monotonous life so completely.

After the highly honored title of onna bugeisha—the feminine equivalent of a samurai—begins to lose its power in Japan, Hanako Kiyomi sees no choice but to flee. But when her deserted husband comes searching for her, Hanako escapes him the only way she knows how: marriage in name only to a stranger. Lord Garrick Overton has always admired the cool, stoic Hanako from afar. Marriage to the woman he’s desired for years seems like a good idea; until she proposes the marriage be in name only. As he sets out to win her heart, he faces not only a tough task but a begrudged man that will stop at nothing to win back what he has lost.

Their courage will be tried. Their hearts will be put to the test. Can three headstrong women maintain their independent natures while surrendering to love?

Mudiwa sunk her toes into the wet sand and sighed, closing her eyes as the wind sprayed salty drops of ocean onto her skin. Frothy white waves lapped at her feet and the sea stretched beneath a cloudless and starry sky. She took a few steps in, stopping when the water reached just up to her calves and stared out at the dark horizon.
Akoko had shown her the path from her cottage down the side of the mountain to the beach with sand made black from Mt Pelee. Mudiwa did not know what to expect when told that the sand on this side of the island had been tainted by volcanic ash, but she certainly hadn’t expected such beauty. When the two women arrived that afternoon with the children and a stuffed picnic basket, Mudiwa had been awed by the beach’s unusual beauty. The sand gleamed like polished ebony wood in the sun and now glittered like precious onyx in the moonlight.
Her romp with the children down by the shore had been fun. After eating they’d waded for crabs and dug in the sand for seashells. Mudiwa returned now for some time alone with her thoughts. They were turbulent and much harder to muddle through in Isaac’s presence.
Her thoughts drifted back to the handsome Frenchman as she ran her hand over the thin fabric of the sarong he’d given her. The vibrant yellow, green, and white fabric was beautiful, and she’d told him so when he gave it to her upon his return from St. Pierre that afternoon. He’d also come with the news that her friends were on the island looking for her. While his eyes lit with pride when she’d expressed happiness over his gift, she’d noticed their hooded sadness as he related news of her friends arrival. As much as she didn’t want to think about what it meant, she couldn’t help but wonder if his sadness was over their impending farewell.
She certainly hadn’t expected to form any attachments while in Martinique, but here it was, this ache in her chest at the prospect of leaving Isaac behind to return to Barony. It wasn’t that she didn’t miss home, she did. It was him. It was Isaac that made her feel empty at the thought of boarding a ship to leave for good.
How had this happened? Not since Asita had she felt such comfort and easiness around a person. Not since the death of her love had she gazed into the eyes of a man and longed to be held. She had once thought those feelings dead, buried in the ground with Asita’s corpse. Now they were alive again and burgeoning to the surface like the green stalk of a flower bursting through warm soil after the first thaw of spring. While her feelings were still young and tender, Mudiwa knew that time would only magnify them.
The sooner Ava and the others found her, the better. She did not know how much more she could take.
As if her thoughts had conjured him, Isaac appeared on the beach, coming toward her off the path she’d taken down from Prideux. The soft evening breeze tugged at his loose hair and half-unbuttoned shirt, whipping the material around his hardened body like a ship’s sail in a storm. The moonlight kissed him with a soft glow, alighting on his features as he neared. She stood still, hypnotized as he approached, studying the chiseled lines and smooth angles of his face. His lips softened into a smile as he neared, his boots splashing in the water as he joined her.
“There you are,” he said. “Akoko mentioned your trip down to the beach today and warned me that I might have a hard time pulling you away.”
Mudiwa smiled and turned to gaze out at the crashing waves as Isaac stood beside her, his shoulder touching hers.
“It’s so beautiful,” she replied. “A beach with black sand…who would have imagined?”
“It is very unusual. I see that you are making use of my present.”
She sneaked a glance up at him and ran a hand over the fabric at her hip. “I love it,” she said with a sheepish grin. “It was a very thoughtful gift.”
“I wanted you to have a garment for swimming if you so wished. I want you to be comfortable during your time here, Mudiwa, however brief it may be.”
His voice wavered on those last words and his eyelids lowered over darting eyes. Mudiwa turned to face him, her hands folded tightly in front of her as her heart expanded in her chest. She couldn’t resist bringing her palm up to his cheek. The rough stubble lining his jaw tickled her skin as Isaac raised his head to look at her.
“I am grateful, Isaac. I will never forget what you have done for me.”
He sighed and closed his eyes, resting his cheek more fully against her hand. A trembled wracked his body as he stepped closer to her, so close that their bodies were nearly touching.
“Femi says that I am growing too accustomed to your presence. He thinks that I am using you to fill the void left by an unhappy life.”
Mudiwa’s eyebrows furrowed together as she studied his face. It mirrored her own confusion and agony.
“Is that true?”
He opened his eyes. “If it is then how will I ever get along once you’re gone?”
“But you have everything,” she argued as her hand slid away from his face and landed at her side.
“What I have is a future I neither asked for nor earned. A legacy built by my father and his father on the backs of slaves. Years and years of harvesting sugar cane and marriage to some spoiled planter’s daughter are in my future. Yes, I am wealthy and yes, I was born privileged. But I would forfeit all of it to be as blissfully happy as Femi and Akoko. Have you ever seen the way they look at each other? I’ve never experienced anything like it and if my life continues on its present course, it is unlikely that I ever will.”
“Never? You’ve never felt any depth of emotion for anyone?”
Mudiwa found that hard to believe. How was it that a man like Isaac, who could have his pick of any woman on the island, was so miserably lonely?
Isaac’s laughter was dry and humorless. “Yes, actually I have. I felt it when I first came into the rose room to find you crying in front of a mirror. I felt it when I took you into my arms and soothed your tears away. I felt it when I heard your story, and learned how very courageous and fiery you are. I felt it that night in the sitting room when we almost kissed and I went to my bed filled with regret that I didn’t touch you and hold you and kiss you when I had the chance.”
He paused, his chest heaving as his breath quickened.
“And I am feeling it right now,” he added, swaying toward her mindlessly.
Mudiwa swallowed past the lump in her throat. “Oh, Isaac.”
It was all she was capable of. His eyes grew sensual and his breath caressed her cheek as he bent toward her, sliding his lips slowly across the line of her jaw.
“This is madness,” he groaned as he buried his face against her neck. His hands shook at his sides but he restrained himself, their only bodily contact his mouth against her throat. “I feel as if I’m living in a dream. Are you some sort of spirit sent to torment me in my sleep, Mudiwa? Will I awaken in an hour to find that your presence in my life has been no more than a fantasy created by my aching heart?”
“I know what it is to feel that way,” she said, her eyes sliding closed as his mouth closed the distance between her jaw and her lips. He paused at the corner of her mouth, lingering there as he inhaled deeply her scent.
“Did you ever wake up from it?” he asked, his lips moving against hers as he spoke.
“I thought I had,” she replied, “but I seem to have lost myself to it again.”

Prize Pack: Signed copy of The Lady Knights of Barony & 1 ‘Warrior’ beaded bookmark 

Please enter the rafflecopter below, and know that the clue to the scavenger hunt is in the excerpt above.  Good luck!

And don't forget to go on to Carly Fall at 8:00 P.M. Central time!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. This looks like an awesome book! Thanks for sharing this wonderful author with us!


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