Sunday’s Sample – The Lady and the Falconer

This Sunday’s Sample is The Lady and The Falconer by me, Laurel O’Donnell!  Here’s the Sample from my historical romance.  Enjoy this romance sample!

Laurel-ODonnell-The-Lady-and-the-Falconer-800px-197x300“Who are you?” she asked softly.

“Logan,” he replied.

Solace’s heart pounded, her eyes captivated by the way his lips caressed the word.  “Logan,” she repeated dully through the haze of fog that had enveloped her.  Her gaze shifted to his silver eyes, eyes the color of glinted steel.  She could smell the thick scent of leather and something musky and…  masculine.  Even though their bodies weren’t touching, she could feel the strength emanating from him, the power.  She wanted him to touch her, wanted to feel his fingers on her skin, his lips on hers.  The thought frightened her, and she pulled away with such force that her head smacked the plate armor behind her.  Even with Logan’s hand on it, it swung backward.

Suddenly, she was swept into his arms, and he turned his back to the suit of mail as it lurched forward, clutching her in his embrace and hunching his shoulders to protect her.

The suit of armor toppled around them, crashing to the floor.  Solace hid behind Logan for a long moment after the noise had ceased.  Then, realizing what had happened, she lifted her head.  His arms were still around her, a fact that was strangely reassuring.  But it was in his eyes she found true comfort.  There was something tender and caring deep within his orbs, and for a moment Solace thought it was worry as his gaze swept her face, looking for something.  So intensely did they search that she believed he could see into her very soul, see the reason why she still clung to him, see the reason for the ease with which her body lay against his.

Embarrassed, she looked away.  The scattered pieces of plate mail on the floor caught her attention, and she lowered her eyes to the fallen shield.  Blue and gold reflected up at her in the sun’s bright light.  There was a crest upon the shield, but before she could look at it, Logan’s hand was at the nape of her neck, turning her head toward his.  His lips descended over hers, desperately, warming hers with his, igniting a fire so hot that it threatened to consume her.  She clung to him as if he were her only hope at salvation.  She tilted her head to his in an innocent mixture of curiosity and relinquishment.  His desperation turned into a slow seduction as he gently coaxed her mouth to open to him with gentle touches of his lips and tongue against her soft skin.

She tentatively parted her lips for him, and he urged them wider, entering her mouth with his tongue, exploring the soft recesses.  A groan escaped her lips, and she leaned fully against his strong, hard body.

Logan broke the kiss, pulling back slightly.  “You shouldn’t be here alone,” he repeated.

His body was pressed against hers, and his arms were still securely around her, binding her to him.  Solace stared at him through half-opened eyes.  She felt she was floating, caught in a foggy dream.

“It’s dangerous,” he whispered.

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Angel’s Assassin is here!

You know you work very hard on a novel.  Well, for my newest release, Angel’s Assassin, it was a very long road.  I started writing it in 2006.  In 2007, I entered a ton of contests because I really wanted feedback.  Was the beginning strong enough?  How about the characters?  The plot?  That year, Angel’s Assassin took third place in the Marlene contest, third place in the Mary Reade Writers Choice Award, third place in the Winter Rose contest, third place in the Romance Through the Ages contest and finally, winner of the Happily Ever After contest.

It was a good year.

However, I still didn’t think Angel’s Assassin was ready.  I went back to revisions.  I had previously rewrote the ending four times until I felt it was the right ending for my characters.  I was sidetracked by life and other novels.  But finally, after all this time, I think it’s ready for you!  This is the book I wanted to present to readers.  This is the book of my heart.  It is exactly the book I wanted to write.

I hope you enjoy it.  Here’s a quick scene from my new medieval romance, Angel’s Assassin.  Please let me know what you think!

Damien shot to his feet and left the room, fighting back the flow of blood that threatened to cloud his judgment even further, resolving to depart the castle.  His word be damned.  He had to get away from her.  She was becoming a distraction to him, to his mission.  She was too damned beautiful.

He moved into the hallway and down the stairwell to the first floor, all the while staying in the comfort of the shadows, in the security of obscurity.  Suddenly, a scream echoed down the hallway from just around the corner.  His muscles tensed, his knees dipped slightly, preparing for a fight.  He cautiously peered around the corner.

Aurora stood in the center of the stone passageway, blindfolded.  She wore a glowing smile on her lips as she reached out before her.  A group of children circled her, keeping out of reach of her searching fingertips.  The children called out to her and scrambled away as she moved toward them.

It took but a moment for Damien to realize there was no threat.  He straightened, his jaw tight with tension, and forced his pounding heart to still.  He watched the scene for a moment.  The laughter, the playfulness of the game was so foreign to him that he found a certain charm to it.  He slowly walked towards them.

The children’s laughter quieted instantly and they backed away from his approach.  Damien frowned.  He had just destroyed their joy with a mere glimpse of him.  He could never be part of something so innocent.  The children recognized him for what he was.  Dangerous.  As he advanced, a young boy no older than ten years retreated from him.  His round brown eyes reminded Damien of another child.  A child less fortunate, a child marked for pain and solitude under Roke’s watchful eye.  At Castle Roke, the boys came in young, about the age of the boy before him, usually bought from slavery as he had been.  They had nothing and no one to interfere with their training.  No one to save them.  They were usually wracked with hunger, thin as arrows, deep distressed frowns permanently etched on their lips.

The boy who stood in front of Damien was well fed and happy.  His clothing lacked rips or even tattered edges.  The boy he remembered from Castle Roke was nothing like this child.  His clothing, speckled with stains and tears, had been too large for his malnutritioned body.  His eyes were haunted with images of the terrors he experienced.  His innocence had been lost.  He had never been given the chance to smile or laugh.  The boy from Castle Roke had not made it past a week of training.  Roke had killed him as an example to the others, an example to Damien, that failure was not tolerated.

Hands brushed his waist, bringing him back to the present.

Damien turned to see Aurora standing beside him, a grin curving her lips.  Blindfolded, she couldn’t glimpse the evil she touched.

“Hmmm,” she thought, her hands traveling lightly up his stomach to the V in his tunic.

One of the girls giggled.

The memories of the past faded completely beneath her gentle touch.  Damien was rooted to the spot.  Surprise and arousal erupted through him.  He felt his manhood stir.  He did not break the contact as her fingertips moved up to his shoulders, brushing the ends of his hair.

“Could it be — Lady Helen?”

The children teetered with laughter.  A boy called out in disbelief, “No!”

Aurora’s playful smile grew.  It was apparent she knew he was not Lady Helen.  Her searching touch moved to his gruff chin.  “Is it — Sir Rupert?”

“No!” the chorus echoed.

“No,” Aurora said definitively.

Damien stood motionless beneath her exploration, his gaze trained on her soft lips.  Perfectly bowed and full.  It was not the want of this silly child’s game that held him still.  It was her.  It was the touch of Aurora of Acquitaine.  Her fingers were long and slender, bare with the exception of a golden band on her ring finger, etched with a red rose.

Her touch eased up to his lips and hesitated.  Her smile faded and her fingers continued their blind study across his lips.  Softly.  Delicately.

He stared at her mouth.  No longer smiling, her lips were wet as if she had just licked them.

He had never been allowed to play games, at least not since he and his younger brother, Gawyn, were very young.  But this game… this game he had never played.  He studied her lips, her smooth skin.  The subtle scent of roses floated to him, sweet and fragrant.

She lifted up the blindfold.  “Damien,” she gasped.  Her cheeks blazed with a flash of red.

A round of cheers erupted as the game ended.

Aurora smiled and looked at the children as she removed the blindfold from her head.  When her gaze came back to him, her smile faltered.

“More!” one of the smaller boys exclaimed, tugging at her skirt.

Aurora grinned and laid a hand against the child’s dark hair.  She held the blindfold out to Damien.  “Would you care to take a turn?”

Damien looked at the blindfold, then at Aurora.  “I don’t play games.”

Aurora stared at him for a moment.

In her bright blue eyes, Damien wasn’t sure if he saw disappointment or curiosity.

She stroked the boy’s head and handed him the blindfold.  “I am afraid that is all I have time for now.”  A unison of disappointed voices welled up around her.  “But we shall play on the morrow,” she quickly amended.

The little boy at her skirt looked up at her.  “You said you would play.”

Aurora knelt before the child.  “I can hardly neglect our guest,” she told him patiently.  “We will have time later.”

The boy lowered his head and kicked at an imaginary pebble before following the rest of the children down the hall.

Aurora stood and looked at Damien.  “I must apologize for touching you so… inappropriately.”  She glanced away from him to study the floor, but not before he saw a slight smile curve her lips.

Damien’s senses flared to life, responding to even the merest glimpse of her smile.  She was so damned beautiful.  Damien had liked her dainty fingers on his lips, the scent of her in his nostrils.  It almost made a man forget who he was.

“I must say that something like this has never happened before.  We usually play in the field beyond the castle.  With the current situation, I was advised not to leave the castle without an escort.”

When she glanced up at him with luminescent blue eyes that sparkled in the torchlight, Damien was left breathless.

“I hate to be a burden,” she added.

She could never be a burden, he thought as he gazed at her.  Her eyes were like gems on a portrait of perfection.

Aurora turned and began to stroll down the corridor.

Damien walked beside her for a silent moment.  I’m leaving, he thought to tell her.  But the words did not come out of his mouth.  Just being with her was intoxicating him into wanting to remain at the castle.  Her presence brought warmth to his cold soul, a feeling he hadn’t felt since… since he was a very young child.

“Why did you save me?”

The question caught Damien off guard.  She stared at him with such open confusion he scowled.  Did she know?  Had she discovered why he was there?

“I am forever in your debt,” she said quickly.  “Please make no mistake.  It is just that… well, you are not from Acquitaine.  You are not one of my people, nor a guard.  What interest could you have whether I lived or died?”

Damien could not answer.  What could he tell her?  That she was the reason he had come to Acquitaine?  That her life or death determined his freedom?  That he hadn’t meant to save her as much as stop the assassin from stealing his freedom?  In the end, a partial truth was enough.  “How could I do nothing?”

Her lovely brow wrinkled with perplexity.  “But you endangered your life…”

“It happens often,” Damien said softly.

Aurora stared at him in distraught concern.  “What do you do that often endangers your life?”

Damien hesitated for a moment.  He certainly couldn’t tell her the truth.  Then, he smiled.  “Save ladies from assassins.”

Aurora returned his smile.  “A true hero,” she said, a note of playfulness in her voice.  “And I suppose there is a lady who needs saving in every town.”

“There is always a lady who needs to be rescued.”

“I should feel slighted.  Here I believed you had done such a noble deed just for me and I find it is an everyday task for you.”

“A deed is only noble in the eye of the beholder.”

“It is,” Aurora agreed.  “Then, your deed is more than noble.  It is… treasured.”

Damien stared at her.  “I’ve never been treasured before.”

Aurora looked deeply into his eyes.  “A man with your talents should always be treasured.”

“Killing is not usually seen as a treasured talent.”

“I was speaking of saving my life.”

Yes.  He had saved her life.  But for what purpose?  His mission loomed large in the back of his mind.  His freedom waited to be claimed.  And yet, he was glad she was alive.  “You’re welcome,” he finally said.

Excerpt from The Angel and The Prince

Here’s an excerpt from my medieval novel, The Angel and The Prince!  Enjoy!

             Even now, she could not concentrate.  He filled her mind, dominated her thoughts.  She wanted to see him, to touch him.  Ryen imagined being held in his strong arms, pictured how tenderly he would gaze at her, and then lower his lips to hers –

            She shook her head harshly, driving the thoughts from her mind.  He is the enemy! she told herself.  Even as she did so, she reined in her horse, allowing Lucien to pass her, a scowl clearly creasing his brow.  Andre was next, his eyes boring into hers with concern.  Then, the rest of her knights filed by.  They were weary from the long ride that was bringing them ever closer to De Bouriez Castle, and some grumbled as they rode by.  Ryen paid them no attention.  Her eyes were searching the middle of the column of men where the prisoners were guarded.

            She spotted him immediately.  His tall form sat straight in the saddle.  With the sun behind him, his bare shoulders glowed red.  His hands were bound and his ankles were tied beneath the horse, but the guards still game him a respectful distance.

            “You certainly don’t look like the Prince of Darkness I pictured,” Ryen heard one of the guards say as they drew closer to her.

            “They must give out titles to any beggar off the streets in England,” another mocked.

            “Where are your horns?”

            “Where is your legendary strength?”

            “If this is the best England has to offer, then we have nothing to worry about – isn’t that true, dog?”

            “Come on.  Show us how strong England is,” one of the men goaded.

            Bryce’s head remained bent, his eyes lidded as if he were resting, but Ryen saw his shoulder muscles bunch and release, noticed the stiff set of his jaw.  She knew if he were not bound he would have her men’s hearts in his hands.

            “He has no strength.  Why, my woman could bring him to his knees.”

            “And she’d like it, too,” the second guard guffawed.

            The first guard clubbed the second with a clenched fist. 

            “Do you think he understands us?” the third man wondered.  “Maybe he speaks no French.”

            “He understands,” Ryen said, guiding her horse up beside Bryce’s.  “Look at his eyes, see how they burn with hate.  All the fires of hell are locked within his body.”

            “And they burn only for you, Angel,” Bryce said in English, his dark eyes swiveling toward her.

            Ryen felt herself being swept away by the heat of his gaze.  Her heart began to pound, and flames of excitement burned up and down her spine, leaving her weak.  She could not tear her eyes from his.  As the horses moved, their thighs bumped, and even through the chain mail she wore, she could feel the strength in his legs.  Ryen felt a tremor race through her body.

            “Have you come to torture me with kisses?” he wondered in a husky voice.

            Ryen could not take her gaze from his lips as they caressed each word.  Remembering their kiss, she felt her own begin to tingle.  Finally, Ryen looked away, licking her lips as she did so.  Bryce’s soft chuckle reached her ears and she straightened her shoulders.

            “Apparently, your legend precedes you,” Ryen stated, quickly changing the subject.  Bryce did not answer, and Ryen raised her eyes to his.  She saw the frown of confusion that darkened his brow.  “Many would meet you.  And make you suffer for the sins of your king.”

            Bryce’s jaw tightened.  “Sins I would gladly suffer for.”

            Ryen watched him, amazed at the regret she felt constricting her chest.  They would throw him in the dungeon or have his head on the executioner’s block.  Either way, Ryen wished…

            She had no right to wish anything where he was concerned!  He’d murdered her people.  He’d pillaged French towns.  He had the most mysterious eyes…

            Ryen dropped her gaze again.

            “Perhaps the Angel of Death’s heart is not made of ice, as the stories say,” Bryce ventured.

            Ryen steeled herself against the emotions she felt stirring in her heart.  “You are mistaken.”

            “Am I?”  He chuckled softly.

            Ryen glanced at him.  It was a mistake; she knew it immediately.  He was staring at her, the corners of his lips curved up in a smile.  Warm tingles shot up her spine; fire ignited in her lower stomach, warming her.  She wanted to touch him.  She felt an overwhelming urge to run her fingers through his mane of wild black hair and was shocked to find herself leaning in to do just that.  She quickly straightened.  She was shaking with the emotions he aroused in her.  She had to escape the trembling that raced through her body.  It wasn’t right!  She spurred her horse and returned to where she belonged…the front of her army, wishing she could flee her emotions as easily as she had the Prince of Darkness.