Guest Post by bestselling romance author, Collette Cameron–Group Projects-Hate ‘Em or Love ‘Em?

Let’s welcome one of my favorite ladies, Collette is back!!!


Collette C.


About Collette

Award winning, bestselling author, Collette Cameron, has a BS in Liberal Studies and a Master’s in Teaching. Author of the Castle Brides Series and Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, Collette writes Regency and Scottish historicals and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five mini-dachshunds. Mother to three and a self-proclaimed Cadbury Chocolate chocoholic, Collette loves a good joke, inspirational quotes, flowers, trivia, and all things shabby chic and cobalt blue. You’ll always find dogs, birds, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels.

Her motto for life? You can’t have too much chocolate, too many hugs, or too many


She’s thinking about adding shoes to that list.


Group Projects-Hate ‘Em or Love ‘Em?

Novella Sets as Promotional Tools


I’ll tell you straight-up, I’m not a fan of group projects.

Okay, I’ll be totally honest; I hate them. Passionately.

Even though I’m a teacher, and supposedly best practices suggest group projects are great for all the kiddos involved (snort-envision me rolling my eyes here) I’ve seen and experienced the opposite. Personally, I don’t ever impose group projects for grades. It allows the sluggards to do nothing at the expense of the hard-working students who want to achieve.

Recollections of high school assignments, or worse yet, college projects where an entire grade hinged on a teacher-selected group completing a task, still gets the old irritation juices flowing in me.

I’m having an unpleasant flash-back to a particular college math class right now. Ugh!

You see, I’m a doer, and I see things through to the end. Not only do I finish on time, I do my very best. Some have called me an over-achiever. My answer to that has become, “As opposed to mediocrity or under-achieving? Why thank you for the compliment.”

I ticked me off royally to have to carry the weight of the slackers, and more than once, I worked my tail off (not literally, ‘cause I still have a big butt-darn it) to get the A while at least one person in the group, and often more than one, didn’t even do the minimum, but still slid by because of my diligence.

So what does that have to do with using novella sets as promotional tools?

Well, indulge me, please, and read on.

I was privileged to be asked to be a part of a Regency novella set early last summer. Originally Captivated by His Kiss had eight authors, but one had to drop out because of other obligations.

My first thought was, “Wow, I get to work with these ladies?”

The mix included what I considered to be quite prestigious authors, and let’s face it, as someone who’s been published less than two years, my name isn’t exactly on everyone’s lips. (Family members and friends don’t count.)

My next thought was, “How will they be to work with, and will the work-load be shared evenly?”

Will they be nice to me an unknown?

We are all overly busy, so that excuse wouldn’t fly with me. Still, anxious for the experience and the association with this lovely group, I dove right in. I’m thrilled that I did. Not only because Captivated by His Kiss continues to be an Amazon Regency bestseller—yes, I confess, I wanted to be able to add that to my author credentials. Go ahead, call me obnoxious—but even more wonderful, was the relationship that developed with these women.

I’ve said over and over again that authors are the most supportive, generous people I have come across, and with few exceptions, that remains true. Two of the authors in our group were USA Today Bestsellers (one also a NYT Bestseller) yet everyone pitched in, cooperated, and did their best to make this venture a success.

Now we come to the crux of this article.

Yes, anthologies and novella sets are wonderful promotion tools, if—and that’s a huge if—you have a group of authors who are like-minded and agree to work equally hard to make the venture a success. I also strongly suggest either the same or similar genres (they seem to do better than extremely diverse genre sets) and a linking theme is helpful too. In our case, we choose Regencies.

I’ve no doubt my December releases, Triumph and Treasure (Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series) and A Kiss for Miss Kingsley (a Regency short story) saw increased sales as a result of the novella set, and so did my author ranking on Amazon.

Undertaking a task of this sort is a tremendous amount of work, especially for the persons doing the publishing of the set, bookkeeping, and the promotion. If you have a well-organized group, a detailed plan of attack, and a promotion budget and schedule you stick too, then participating in a novella set or anthology can be a highly successful promotional tool.

After this delightful experience, I’ve rethought my abhorrence of cooperative projects, and I’ll be involved in at least three more author sets over the next year.


Connect with Collette




Blue Rose Romance Blog:



Amazon Author Page




Sign-up for her Regency Rose Newsletter for all her latest news


Captivated by His Kiss

A Limited Edition Novella Set

An absolute delight to read! Simply put, WOW! I loved this collection.” ~April Renn

“This is by far one of the best historical anthologies I’ve read.” ~Booklover




New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Cheryl Bolen and USA Today Bestselling Author Bronwen Evans are joined by Barbara Monajem, Collette Cameron, Wendy Vella, Heather Boyd, and Lauren Smith in this exciting collection of regency romances. Be CAPTIVATED BY HIS KISS in these seven emotional stories of second chances, scandalous wagers, and the quest for true love. Lose yourself again and again in beautifully written romance.  His Lordship’s Vow by Cheryl Bolen – The exceedingly plain spinster, Miss Jane Featherstone, helps the earl she loves woo an heiress in order to honor the deathbed vow Lord Slade to his father.  To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone by Bronwen Evans – Marcus Danvers, the Marquis of Wolverstone, is renowned for his cynical demeanor. It’s rumored that long ago, a beautiful woman broke his heart. Now he lives life for pleasure. That is, until the beautiful, as she is deceitful, Contessa Orsini re-enters his life with a wager he cannot resist.  The Christmas Knot by Barbara Monajem – Widowed and destitute, Edwina White takes a job as a governess in a haunted house, and if that’s not trouble enough, her new employer is the one man she’d hoped never to meet again.  Bride of Falcon by Collette Cameron – Faced with spinsterhood, Ivonne Wimpleton takes fate into her own hands, determined to win the heart of her wholly unacceptable childhood love . . . scandal be damned.  Christmas Wishes by Wendy Vella – Desperation makes strange bedfellows, and when the only person left to turn to is a dissolute Rake, Miss Hero Appleby realizes she is about to forsake more than her reputation.  Miss Watson’s First Scandal by Heather Boyd – Overworked London banker David Hawke had two goals for his week in the seaside town of Brighton: one, recover a debt from a friend and two, relax for his remaining holiday. Marriage wasn’t part of the plan…until the girl next door barges in and turns his life upside down.  The Duelist’s Seduction by Lauren Smith – Helen Banks, disguised as her twin brother, fights a duel against Gareth Fairfax but he has other ideas in mind of how to have Helen repay her debt starting with a sinful kiss and a wicked embrace…


Excerpt from Bride of Falcon

By: Collette Cameron

Chancey Faulkenhurst inhaled Ivy’s perfume, relishing the unexpected gift of holding her in his arms. He wanted to kiss her, drink in her essence, water his parched soul with her sweetness.

God, he’d missed her.

“Falcon?” Wonder in her voice, she turned and touched his face. “Is it really you?”

He released a low chuckle. “Indeed, Ivy, it is.”

Her nickname slipped from his tongue as if, instead of six long years, he’d seen her yesterday. He’d dubbed her Ivy a score ago—whenever he and Allen came up from school on holiday, she’d clung to them as tenaciously as an ivy vine—and the pet name stuck.

She’d been infuriated and began calling him Falcon instead of Chance as his friends did. He’d rather liked the nickname until her brother started tossing it about. Now, most of Chance’s intimate friends addressed him as Falcon.

He wished he could see her features clearly. The fragmented moonbeams revealed little more than ivory skin, dark plum lips, and shiny eyes.

Ivy’s gaze sank to his cheek. Her glorious eyes widened, and her breath caught. She brushed a hesitant finger across the scar. “What’s this? You’ve been hurt? Why did no one tell me?”

The puckered inch-long streak was the least of his wounds. Nonetheless, her concern warmed his cynical heart. A heart he’d long ago given to her, though she mustn’t know.

He wasn’t free to woo her.

“Shh. It’s naught.” Chance caught her hand with his good one. He pressed her palm to his chest, the only affection he dared show. “I take it you’re hiding from that half-sprung brute?”




Barnes & Noble




Countdown for that big release … ready???

I’ve over-washed my hair, ran the battery down in my phone too many times to count, have stayed logged in on Facebook and other social networks (something I never do), had “meetings” with my publisher and agent, asked my husband night-after-night “think I’ll do good?”, ordered swag, formed a street team, scheduled a blog tour, encouraged reviews, checked presale ranks, planned a release party, prayed, kicked myself in the ass (yes, it’s possible), and a bunch of other stuff no one needs to read about…






Yes, I’m about to enter the NO Return Zone. My second debut. If you’ve published with a small house and get a bigger one, you’re considered a debut author. New genre, new author. New dreams.

Okay. Got it.

So here’s my new author checklist (in no special order).


Updated author website … CHECK

Swag … CHECK

Street team … CHECK

Reviews … CHECK

Social media campaign … CHECK

Release party … CHECK

Blog tour … CHECK

Fed husband and pets … CHECK (I need to check)

Seek reassurances from family and friends … CHECK

Listed for presales … CHECK

Book trailer … CHECK

Meetings with agent and publisher … CHECK

Writing new books … CHECK

Going crazy … CHECK


Stick with this checklist, and you’re guaranteed to make a bestsellers list. Right? Nope.

That’s up to the readers.

I’ve had a blast writing and learning from all the wonderful authors, readers, my perfect agent, and editor/publisher over the last year. Thank you. There’s no room left in my heart–it’s so full of love and gratitude.

Now it’s time to let go. Readers will choose and reviewers will judge (smiling).


My first book with Random House/Loveswept — Surrender: A Devil’s Den Novel releases on January 27, 2015. If you like steamy contemporary/NA/erotica/women’s lit, take a chance. LOL.


Promo Card Surrender





Welcome to the Devil’s Den, a Texas strip club where the air is heavy with desire . . . and sometimes dreams come true.

Ever since her mother kicked her out, twenty-year-old Robyn Gonzalez has been working the poles at the Devil’s Den, saving up to finish college and travel the world. With only her wits and her gorgeous body to rely on, Robyn has learned to be independent—fiercely independent. She’s never been tempted to let a man distract her from her dreams . . . until she meets the dead-sexy Garrick Dempsey.

The club’s new head of security, Garrick had walked away from a career as a mechanical engineer to return to his roots in Corpus Christi. He hadn’t planned on getting to know someone like Robyn, with her sinfully sweet combination of vulnerability and strength, at the Devil’s Den. She acts tough, but only because she’s been hurt. Soon Garrick knows he will do anything to win Robyn’s trust. And if that means surrendering to the red-hot chemistry between them, all the better.


And for the really ambitious, here’s my blog tour schedule–follow and win a prize.


Jan 19th- Book Reviews and More by Kathy– P/Exc
Jan 20th– Mythical Books– P/Exc
Jan 21st– Sassy Moms Say Read Romance– Rev/P
Jan 22nd– Craves the Angst– Promo
(Stop 2) Lustful Literature– Rev/P
Jan 23rd– Falling in Fall Book Blog– Rev/P
Jan 26th– As the Pages Turn– Int/Exc
(Stop 2) Jodie’s W.I.N.E. List– Rev/Exc
Jan 27th– Booknerd– Rev/P
Jan 28th Books N Pearls– P/Exc
(Stop 2) Queen of the Nights Reviews– Ch Int/P
Jan 29th– Illustrious Illusions – P/Exc
Jan 30th– My Favorite Things– Rev/P
Feb 2nd– Underneath the Covers– P/Exc
(Stop 2) Crystal Blogs Books- Rev/P
Feb 3rd– Musings and Ramblings- Gp/Exc
Feb 4th I am, Indeed– Rev/Exc
Feb 5th– A Tasty Read Book Reviews– Rev/P
(Stop 2) Undercover Book Reviews- Promo
Feb 6th– Ellesea Loves Reading– P/Exc
(Stop 2) Those Crazy Book Chicks– P/Exc

Feb 9th– Lusty Penguin Reviews– Rev/Exc

Feb 10th– Karen’s Killer Book Bench– Promo
(Stop 2) Crazy Four Books– Rev/P
Feb 11th– Life with Two Boys– Rev/Exc
Feb 12th– Books Like Breathing– Rev/P
(Stop 2) We’re Jumpin’ Books – P/Exc
Feb 13th– Books Need TLC– Rev/P
(Stop 2) Between the Lines– Rev/P



Interview with sci-fi romance writer, S.C. Mitchell…

Super excited to have S.C. Mitchell here today. I enjoy romances written by men; it’s a rare treat. And S.C. added something into the mix–science fiction, which really captivated me…



S.C.Mitchell grew up an avid reader of comic books, science fiction and fantasy literature. He’s been writing stories for over thirty years. In 2010 he left his job as a computer desktop support specialist to pursue his passion for writing full time. He is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as the Wisconsin chapter.

As a writer of paranormal and sci-fi romance, fantasy, and science fiction, Steve crafts unique and wondrous worlds where his characters explore, romp, and fall in love. Whether traveling through dark, demon filled dimensions, the edge of wild space, or ancient mythological heavens, his heroes and heroines, guided by their adventurous hearts, discover hidden strengths on their pathway to enduring love.




Sci-Fi is such a competitive genre, and you added romance into the mix and pulled it off magnificently! What inspired you to write your latest story?

I’ve always loved Science Fiction. Star Wars, Star Trek, and the like. I think it was this summer’s smash hit, Guardians of the Galaxy that got me really thinking about setting a series in outer space.

Share your favorite scene.

Two come to mind. The zero gravity sex scene was a really fun challenge, but I think my favorite scene was the birth of the baby Blarmlings. It was very touching, and at times while writing the story, I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen.

Who are your favorite authors?

Anne McCaffrey, Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R.R.Tolkien, R. A. Salvatore, Nora Roberts, and pretty much whoever I’m currently reading.

What are your top five romance books of all time?

I have so many favorites, but off the top of my head, and in no particular order: Enchanted by Nora Roberts (My first romance book. You never forget your first romance.), Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Fantasy Lover, Rogue Countess by Amy Sandas, Biting Nixie by Mary Hughes, and Bloodstone by Helen C. Johannes.

Do you have a favorite quote?

Do or do not. There is no try. – Yoda

How long does it take for you to write a book?

Anywhere from two months to two years. It really depends on my level of inspiration, and how much congestion is in my life. I tend to have the attention span of a canine (Squirrel?), though I am going to try for at least two novels per year going forward.

Where do you do your writing? Describe your space.

Quiet and candles. We recently moved, and I’m in the process of constructing a new writing den, but once built it will have bookshelves, a crafting table, and a comfortable reading chair and lamp. I have dual monitors on my computer to allow me to have my manuscript up and do research (or play games) at the same time. Also, some inspirational knick-knacks.

How many books do you read a year?

I’m an incredibly slow reader. Even slower now that I’m writing more. I tend to tear apart a sentence/paragraph/chapter (especially a good one) to see how the author constructed it. At times I have to go back and reread because I got so caught up in the mechanics I lost the story line. If I’m lucky, I probably read a book a week. So many books, so little time. And my TBR list keeps growing.

If you could meet any author (past or present), who would it be?

I would have loved to sit down and talk with Anne McCaffrey. As a man writing in a female dominated genre, it would have been interesting to talk with a woman who did so well in a male dominated genre.




Where would you have lunch?

Home, in front of my computer.

What meal would you order?

A peanut butter sandwich, potato chips (sour cream & onion), and a glass of milk. Cookies for desert. (I’m a pretty simple guy)

Any words of wisdom to share?

Ask me again in 20 years. If I’m a success I’ll have some wisdom to share. If I’m a failure, I’ll probably have more to share. And if I’m dead, I’ll probably ask you how the hell you got the interview.


Cover for The Blarmling Dilemma…




The blurb…

“They’re not animals. They’re people!”

Phoebe Callista’s pleas fall on deaf ears and she’s forced to rescue two helpless Blarmlings from certain death. Fleeing across a backwater sector of the galaxy, with Galactic Marshals in hot pursuit, Phoebe falls into the hands of a handsome but determined bounty hunter.

Rigel Antares has captured wanted criminals throughout the galaxy rim, but he’s never come across anything like Phoebe Callista. The gorgeous blonde is playing the innocent, and something deep inside wants to believe her, but Rigel has problems of his own—a ship that’s falling apart and an unscrupulous Galactic Marshal looking for any excuse to send him back to the prison planets of the Theiler System.

An intergalactic circus, vicious space pirates, and a planet full of backtechers cross their paths as two hearts go into orbit to save a pair of adorable Blarmlings.

Hearts in Orbit – Volume 1: The Blarmling Dilemma is a science fiction romance set in the far-flung space traveling future, and sets a new course across the galaxy that leads to love and adventure.


A teaser…

Rigel sighed. Without the full rap sheet, he didn’t even know exactly what she’d stolen. It could be anything from a subatomic particle to a Ramuligan Horned Calophant. He’d hoped she’d just hand him the merchandise. Maybe a bluff?

“You know I’ll be searching your ship.”

The woman nodded, but her eyes never left his. “You will find no stolen biological specimens on this ship.” Her gaze never wavered.

The statement, and the honesty behind her words, floored him. Rigel wanted to believe her. Her sincerity and defeated attitude made him feel like a pirate. Deep in his soul, something knotted. Should I let her go?

Realization of what he’d been tempted to do hit him like a gut-punch and new resolve flowed through him. Oh yes, this woman was dangerous. With just one look in those incredible emerald eyes, he’d almost melted.

Phoebe Callista was possibly the most dangerous criminal he’d ever faced.


Where to connect with S.C…

Web Site:




Amazon Author Page:


Thanks for joining us today, S.C.


Interview with romance author Lily Baldwin…

Happy Wednesday. I’m excited to welcome bestselling author, Lily Baldwin, who by the way, has some of my favorite romance covers!




Tell us about that AHA moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer.

I have always loved to write. I attempted my first book when I was 12–a coming of age in Nazi Germany of all things :)–but To Bewitch a Highlander was my first real writing attempt as an adult.

Share your favorite scene from any of your books.

I love the scene in Highland Thunder when Brenna cuts her hair. I love the end of A Jewel in the Vaults–I cannot reveal why, it would spoil the moment for those who have not read it.

Romance is such an incredible and exciting genre to write in. However, if you could be a bestseller in any other genre, what would you choose? Why?

There is a historical fiction story I am dying to write–I will get to it.

Who is your latest book boyfriend/girlfriend? Why?

I just finished writing To Love a Warrior, and I am admittedly still in love with the hero, Garik. He was all twilight to me with his black hair and wintry blue eyes….sigh…




What is the most romantic place you’ve ever been?

Hay upon Wye–loads of used book stores and a beautiful castle. What more could a girl ask for?

Name your favorite real life hero. How have they influenced your life?

My sister–she taught me to strive and not to be afraid of the grandness of life.

What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned from your journey as a writer?

Time management! Balancing writing and marketing and being a stay-at-home mom…tricky business.

Lightening Round

Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Actor/Actress: Too many fabulous actors to pick a favorite.

Favorite Movie: Currently…Cairo Time

Favorite century and why?: Right now…the 19th…a time of grappling for the old while new horizons unfold.

Favorite Food: Indian

Least favorite vegetable: Egg plant

First boyfriend/How old?/Why did you like him?: Daniel, 9, he liked my skirt.

Describe yourself in 5 words: Earnest, forgetful, hard-working, caring, loyal


Here’s Lily’s latest release — To Love a Warrior.




Destinies unfold. Secrets are revealed. The Isle of Mull will be forever changed.

Half Highlander, half Viking, Garik MacKinnon was not born on the Scottish Isle of Mull, but fostered there in his youth. Now, he leaves behind his home, once more bound for Mull, to join the MacKinnon warriors as they answer Robert the Bruce’s call to arms. He is ready for battle, eager to fight for Scotland’s freedom. What he is not prepared for is his encounter with Nellore, a shield maiden from Mull, whose allure defies all reason.

Nellore has the strength and skill of a warrior but the heart of a woman. When the men are called away to war Nellore must aid those left behind to safeguard their village against attacks from the MacLeans—a feuding clan to the south. She understands her duty to her clan. She is ready to take up arms against the enemy if need be. What she is not ready for is the ache that fills her heart when war pulls Garik from her side.

Desire ignites and battles are waged as both Nellore and Garik learn what it means to love a warrior.


Where to connect with Lily…


Thanks for stopping by today Lily!


Fated to be together–the undeniable connection between a hero and heroine… By: B.J. Scott

Welcome back boys and girls–I hope all enjoyed a blessed holiday season. With the new year approaching, I thought it best to reflect on what we look for in our heroes and heroines, that special moment when fate intervenes so our favorite couples eventually find love.

I’m thrilled to have bestselling romance author B.J. Scott here today…

In a romance novel, no matter what the genre, it’s all about that special connection shared between the hero and heroine, that pivotal moment when the reader realizes that two people are destined to be together. Romance drives the story.


One of the most popular connections many authors utilize when crafting a romance novel are the star-crossed lovers; the couple least likely to be together. A hero and heroine who must overcome the odds and obstacles thrown in their path—be they inner conflicts or actual physical deterrents. If you look at famous couples in literature, Romeo and Juliet, Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre, Maria and Tony (in West Side Story) to name a few, they were forced to face what seemed like insurmountable odds to be together.

In my first novel, Highland Legacy, we meet Cailin MacMillan, a young spirited lass who has been promised in marriage to a man she does not love. When her father refuses to listen to reason, she attempts to run away, quickly learning the dangers of being a woman alone during this turbulent time in Scottish history. When she is accosted by English soldiers, Connor Fraser, a Scottish patriot who has dedicated his life to king and country, comes to the rescue. Despite his vow never to marry, he is immediately captivated by the beguiling Cailin and despite several attempts to put some distance between them, fate intervenes.

blue rose

When asked what moment in a book or movie has stuck with me, I recall a scene from Gone with the Wind. After speaking to Ashley and declaring her love, Scarlett O’Hara is told he plans to go through with his marriage to Melanie. Angry, Scarlett throws a porcelain figurine at the fireplace, missing Rhett Butler, but capturing the rogue’s attention. Until this moment, Rhett failed to announce his presence in the room while Ashley and Scarlett argued.


From that moment on, we know Rhett and Scarlett are destined to be together.

Where to find B.J.’s books…

Hugs of Hope for Victoria Zak Fundraiser…

Please join us on Friday and Saturday, December 12 and 13 for a wonderful cause…

Thirty bestselling authors have united to support Victoria in her fight…


Known for her incredible stories and vivacious personality, Victoria Zak is a cherished friend and colleague. News of her battle with breast cancer has inspired us to join together in the spirit of the season and aid her in this fight.

Hugs of Hope for Victoria Zak is our way of helping raise awareness for breast cancer and to give Victoria the financial and emotional support she needs. We are proud to offer a silent auction showcasing an array of beautiful gifts and a forum where readers and writers can get together and have fun, interact, and just remember how precious life is.

(Hugs for Hope is a fundraising event with 100% of all proceeds going to the Victoria Zak medical fund. Hugs for Hope is not a non-profit 501 (c ) organization. Donations are not tax-deductible. Hugs of Hope is not affiliated with WordPress or Facebook nor is it endorsed by WordPress or Facebook. Hugs of Hope is a transparent drive and a record of donation deposits is available upon request. Hugs of Hope does not endorse any other fundraising events, drives, or sales affiliated with or using the Victoria Zak name and/or cause.)
Where to join the fun…

Release day for The Lady of the Garter by Marisa Dillon…

Don’t miss out on Marisa’s debut historical romance, The Lady of the Garter…


TLOG_FINAL Extra (1)



When Henry VII takes the throne, not all are loyal to the new king. Garter knight, Sir James, is charged with bringing dissenters to justice. Determined to fulfill his vows, he’s unprepared for Lady Elena, a girl from his past.
Lady Elena defies her family and disguises herself as a squire to reunite with the man she’s always loved. She might be able to wield a sword, but she still possesses a woman’s heart.
Thrust into a world of danger and family rivalry, James and Elena face the ultimate test.
Can James avenge his father’s death and find passion, or will his Garter oaths hold him to a life of service without love?
A sneak peek…

A group of boys, full of more than mischief, nearly knocked her off her perch before she found her knight on the field.

Her breath caught when she eyed the too familiar golden mane of hair. It whipped wildly in the wind. Sitting atop his warhorse in full armor, he did not disappoint. He was everything she’d imagined and remembered. He radiated courage, strength, nobility, and pride. She pitied his opponent.

Close enough to catch his attention with a shout, the temptation passed quickly. Instead, she would admire his handsome features. With a square jaw, a narrow straight nose, and a wicked smile, he represented everything she’d always been attracted to in a man. He was exquisitely made. She’d seen tapestries of the Greek Gods and even they could not compare. Oh yes, and those steel-blue eyes, the same color of the three lions emblazoned on his shield. His black destrier wore matching marks on its ornamented trapper and pawed the ground impatiently, as ready for action as his esteemed rider.

William startled her when he grabbed her by the waist and attempted to pull her off the fence. She resisted, slapping at his hands. No, she didn’t want to take her eyes off her knight. Not yet. Never. She’d waited too long for this moment.

“You there, Squire,” a noble shouted to William above the fray, “who are the knights that take up their arms on the tournament field?”

William let go.

“God’s teeth, didn’t you check the lists?” William answered. “Tis Sir James and Sir Hugh, both Garter knight champions. With King Henry in attendance, will make for a fine competition.”

“No. I just arrived at Warwick Castle from the north,” the man explained. “I ask not about these knights now,” he said, pointing toward the jousting area. “Who was the champion just leaving the field? The victor with the bloodied lance?”

“Sir Nicholas, the king’s cousin,” William answered, then leaned against the railing behind him. “What is the importance?”

“The man’s brutal style of fighting. I thought this tourney was in honor of the king’s marriage. Why the excessive violence?”

Elena could have answered. Her father had warned her about Sir Nicholas Luttrell. Although relatively unknown in Warwickshire, his sordid family history wasn’t. The man lived beyond the law. And now that he was part of the new House of Tudor, uniting the Yorkists and Lancastrians, he made his own decrees. Yet, this newly appointed Earl of Dunster, still lived in obscurity. No one outside the royal family had seen him in years, until today. And even then, he’d been helmeted while on the field.

A trumpet blast interrupted Elena’s thoughts. It also silenced the crowd. Everyone watched as the next competitors prepared to enter the field.

Elena eyed her brother’s friend, Jacob, the third squire who was assigned to James. He would manage the armor and was ready with the lances. She wouldn’t be needed until later, affording her time to watch the match from the sidelines.

She laughed nervously as James struggled to tame his wind-blown mane before covering it with his helmet. Now fully dressed, he took the lance from Jacob. With all the ceremonial decorum completed, the knights’ restless mounts were released.

Elena squeezed her eyes shut, afraid of what was to come. But the sounds of snapping lances and snorting warhorses forced them open again. Damn her curiosity.


Where to find it…