Monday, January 31, 2011

WIZARD'S WIFE by Toni V. Sweeney

Cross the Magic Portal into Ais Linn…where unicorns roam and werewolves prowl…where a faery wizard and his mortal wife struggle to protect the Earth from the Lord of Dark fire…

That’s the story of Wizard’s Wife in a nutshell.

Inspired by the Harmonic Convergence of 1987, and aided by the Encyclopedia of Fairies,  I found the story of white wizard Tavis McMuir’s fight against black wizard Exeter Dubhtina required more than a little research into not only faeries, hobgoblins, brownies, bogies, and other supernatural beings, but into the Celtic literature and language itself.

Beginning with the name of the magic dimension from which Tavis comes—his name is Celtic for David and that’s what he’s called for a good part of the story—I googled and binged and poured through and other vast references, to set the stage for my story.

Ais Linn is a faery realm, a dimension where magic abides and guides the inhabitants’lives.  Its people are the ailiff fae, the people gifted with Power, called by the Irish the Little People.  There are many type of fae, from the Trooping faeries, which are human-sized and indistinguishable from mortals when under the guise of glamour, to the sprites, butterfly-winged creatures able to sit on the palm of a hand.  There are good fae and bad fae and the worst of the lot are the solitary faeries, who live alone and like it that way.  Like everywhere else, there are those who rule and those who are ruled.  In Ais Linn, the Lords of Fire –the Tiarnas d’Tina rule, the Tiarna d’Geal Tina (Lord of White Fire) in the North, the Tiarna d’Doit Tina (Lord of Black Fire) in the South.  As their names indicate, one practices white magic, the other black, and as would be expect, soon there is a power struggle between the ruling families, when the son of the previous Lord of Black Fire inherits his father’s domain.

Exeter Dubtina wants power and doesn’t care what he does to get it.  He and Tavis have always been rivals.  Even as lads when sparring with each other during the feiles-- to which all fae are invited, the festivals being a neutral ground—they always fought to a draw, so Exeter is smart enough to realize he may need more than his own power to overcome the Champion of White Fire.  His first attempt is accomplished while his father is still alive, sending his sister Siobhan to seduce the—at that point—virginal Geal Tina heir—and get herself with child so her brother can raise a White Fire wizardling in the Doit Tina faith.  Though Tavis falls in love with her, Siobhan fails in her mission due to the intervention of Tavis’ father, Prince Padraig.  Undaunted, Exeter sets about for other nefarious ways to accomplish this end.

Physically, Exeter himself is an alpha fae, beautiful to behold and frightening in that beauty. 

Like all the other male faeries, he was exceptionally handsome.  At the moment, his wings and antenna weren’t visible. Megan wondered if he would have the same dragonfly-like wings as David, Brigid, and Ossian possessed, or if—being a purveyor of dark magic—he would possess wings like those of a bat or some other nightdweller.  Oh, yes, my Lord Exeter’s handsome, she thought.  In a Fallen Angel-sort of way.  Wings aside, Exeter could easily have been mistaken for the stereotypical  portrait of a vampire…tall,  pale,  his black hair brushing his waist in a thick,  straight fall. His eyes were so dark they appeared black.  There was only one difference Megan could see.  His pupils were dark crimson, and oblique.  Like a cat’s.  

His magic aside, Exeter is Tavis’ exact opposite in appearance, one as dark as the other is light.  Davis, as described by Megan:

Copper brows winged above his eyes, not arching as they had before, but arrow-straight.  And the eyes but...there’s no white in them.  They were like an animal’s, the entire eye a deep green iris.  That,  however, wasn’t the most disturbing thing.  Protruding from his forehead were antenna.  Not butterfly-like but smoky, feathery tendrils floating in the air above his head.  They wavered  back and forth, like seaweed drifting in a stream,  then stiffened and pointed in her direction.
            He turned his head slightly, an ear twitching, Nearly lobeless, peaked on top.  The left one sported a small golden ring with an emerald set in it. 
            Dragonfly-like, his wings didn’t come from under his shoulder blades as she’d always suppose wings should, but grew on each side of his upper spine. Not the tiny things shown in drawings of fairies either,  but equaling David’s height.  Delicately translucent in  bronzes and golds, the colors of a Monarch's wings magnified. 

In Casteal Dubtina, Exeter surrounds himself  with those predisposed to evil …indeed, his band of trusted knights, his Wolf Pack, are just that…faery werewolves, roving the Damhain Garrai, the Dark Garden, in search of sprites to terrorize.   Surprisingly, there are no females visible in his casteal, other than his sister.  The Tiarna Doit’s sexuality isn’t mentioned one way or another, though he does (SPOILER ALERT HERE:  skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to know) seem more than taken with Megan and gets into her bed by magical and less than fair means while corrupting Tavis’ fidelity, also.  Tavis, on the other hand, while admitting to being less than a choir boy before he met Megan, is almost desperate to assure his new wife she has his complete faith and trust.

“Yes,  I suppose you wizards are the  Rock Stars of the faery world?  Do you have groupies?  Wizard-groupies panting at the bedchamber door?”
            She was startled to see him flush slightly, the color rising up his throat and  disappearing into his hairline.  “We do have a reputation for attractin’ th’ lasses, though I’ve na been as free as some in that department.  An’ na at all since th’ night I set eyes on you, Megan, I swear.”

Tavis loves Megan enough to disobey his father’s orders and marry her.  He confesses his previous “sin” with Siobhan Dubhtina, but there are some things he keeps quiet about, things he doesn’t want to hurt his wife by having her know.  And there’s always a chance those very things will one day rear their ugly heads and attack him.

Ais Linn’s other inhabitants are no less magical or wonderful…Sir Liam, Exeter’s chief knight, a werewolf torn between his love for Brigid, a White Fire follower and his allegiance to the Dark Lord; Denis, a leprechaun, and Siorchain the unicorn, a creature who sure he can’t be touched by anyone deemed a sinner.  Siorchain’s aware of the secret David harbors as well as the shattering of his purity by a single involuntary act, and chooses to keep that secret.

So there they are, two powerful men, each with millennia of magic behind them, each trained to be the most frightening force in his own realm, pitted against each other…one fighting for his wife and unborn child, his domain, and a small planet called Earth, the other fighting for ownership of everything.

“Scrioss agus tina! Titim gan éirí ort!”

The curses fall as they square off against each other, girded in armor, wielding their magic.  Two men, equal in age, physical strength, and magical knowledge…and only one will walk away from the fight…only one will claim all of Ais Linn, the Earth, and Megan McMuir and her baby.

Which will it be?

Wizard’s Wife is available from Class Act Books 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This is neat!

I know that yesterday was Robert Burns's birthday, but I received this in my email this morning. I thought it was fun and interesting. I hope you will think so to! It is an interactive page with information, Scottish recipes, and facts about Robert Burns.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Valentine's Day is fast approaching and, just coincidentally I'm sure, we're approaching a 3,000-hit milestone for The Celtic Rose.  I couldn't have done it without you.

As a token of my appreciation, I'm offering a free PDF download of my novella "Stupid Cupid" to commenters who leave an email address.  This quick read, set in Ireland, is the story of what happens when both Cupid and a pair of pugnacious humans invade the peaceful meadow where my faerie band from "Confessions of the Cleaning Lady" is now living.  Valentine's Day is fast approaching in my book, too, but an estranged couple intent on fisticuffs is going to make it even more of a challenge than usual for Cupid.  He may need a little help...

The cutoff date for this offer is Valentine's Day!  And here is the adorable book cover:

The prequel to this book is "Confessions of the Cleaning Lady" available at

Thanks again.  It's been great hearing from so many of you and I hope you've had fun reading my blog.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011


January 25th marks the celebration of a birth that occurred 252 years ago. This person came into the world before America was its own country; before the regency and Victorian eras swept England; before my ancestors had any inkling how the world would turn out.

The dry facts go like this: Robert Burns was born in Alloway, Ayreshire, in Scotland, in a farmer’s cottage. Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect was his first published work. Burns’ poem To a Haggis, is recited across the world during the annual Burns Night celebrations every January. His tongue-in-cheek exaggeration of his love for this oatmeal, onions, heart and liver concoction boiled inside a sheep’s stomach has elevated the simple sausage to a national icon.

Still wondering what all the hoopla about a guy long dead is all about? Do the English host a party on Shakespeare’s birthday? Do the Americans honor Longfellow? Not to this extent. The world has celebrated this poet’s life since a few years after his death when a group of Burns’ friends got together to read his poems and drink a little Scotch Whisky.

But, why has this January celebration evolved to include over 200 countries, hosting over 3000 separate celebrations in the dreary month of January? A friend of mine, David Bruce, wrote “Robert Burns lived and worked during the time of the great Scottish Enlightenment, that period in the eighteenth century when Scotland produced more men of letters, more men of learning and more men of science than any other nation on earth.”

Some of us idolize the man for his poetry and songs. Today, he is remembered in Scotland where a beautiful museum has been erected, dedicated to Robert Burns. This modern facility is located in his birthplace of Alloway.

January is here, again, and I miss the annual Robert Burns Night held by the St. Andrews Society of New Hampshire. My husband and I are lifetime members of the organization and attended the festivities many years running, but we moved to North Carolina to be near family and so I can write fulltime. I miss those gatherings. Upwards of 200 people attended dressed in Scottish attire to enjoy music, Highland dancers, fine whisky, great food, and a story about Robert Burns. The evening ended with everyone joining hands to sing one of Robert Burns’ songs, a very familiar song…Auld Lang Syne.

Happy Birthday, Robert.
Nancy Lee Badger
About the author: Nancy loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of dirks and broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. She and family volunteer at Highland Games while Nancy writes romantic stories with a light paranormal flavor. Whether its a time-traveling witch who meets the Highlander of her dreams, or a cursed dragon-shifter who hides from the beautiful seer on a lonely Scottish island, Nancy lives the dream. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Sisters In Crime, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and Celtic Heart Romance Writers. She lives and writes in North Carolina. DRAGON’S CURSE is available for download from

Monday, January 17, 2011


Hey, never say I won't give credit to another beautiful blog! I am blogging all this week at about my forthcoming historical romance, The Comet.

   Don't hesitate to stop over to see Andrea and Corrina's Write Life.  It's wonderful.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Just in time for Valentine's Day, here is a sweet little romance novella in ebook form.  Actually a spin-off from my novel "Confessions of the Cleaning Lady," this is a stand-alone set in Ireland.

When the son of Zeus and Aphrodite bumbles into a meadow south of Killarney, he is met by a band of indignant faeries outraged by his target practice.  Soon, however, all the supernatural creatures are overshadowed by an estranged couple intent on fisticuffs!  Can Cupid effect a reconciliation between the humans?  Or is just a wee bit of intervention by the Fae in order? 


“You, Fat Boy.”
            Such an insulting tone from a faerie could only come from one with Vixen blood.  Burlap took on the enemy.
            “That’s Cupidon to you,” Cupid lisped in his irritating falsetto.  “What do you want, Vix?”
            “Yourself out of here.  This is our meadow.”
            “But my day is about to be observed.  I have leave to pursue humans where I may.”
            “Not from us.”
             “This is a crucial time and those two seem to be in need.”
            “Well, we’re sick of your bloody arrows and we want you out.”
            “Take it up with my father,” Cupid yawned.  “Right now I need a nap.  That woman moves faster than fire from the sky.”
            It was a none-too-subtle reminder that Zeus had fathered him and had dominion over the skies.  Having been dislodged from one tree home by bolts from the heavens, the band had no wish to repeat the experience.  Even Burlap was silent as Cupid took wing, fluttering in his usual lackadaisical manner into the fringe of woods.  No doubt he would find the most comfortable roost well padded with moss or even a human tree house—he loved those—and pass the evening in comfort while the faeries picked his arrows out of their meadow. 
            “It was only the one.”  Violet, ever the peacemaker, located Cupid’s projectile.  “That’s not too bad.”
            “Not yet,” Burlap groused.  “But wait till all the young lovers start coming down here.  They do, you know, every spring.  Just like the salmon, spawning upstream.  He’ll have his pick then.”
            “But for now it’s too cold,” Blossom said authoritatively.  “There won’t be much trouble yet.”
            “Ye dinna call those two trouble?” Heather-Bloom snorted.  “Rolling on the ground like hedgehogs in a fight?”
            “Near as prickly,” Burlap agreed.  “I give her the edge, though she’s smaller.”
            “Weel, ye know what humans say,” Heather concurred.  “Tisn’t the size of the dog in the fight, but the fight in the dog.”
            “She’s got plenty,” Burlap said approvingly.  She did admire moxie in whatever species.
            “It’s none of our concern,” Blossom ruled, but she feared the band would ignore her.  Living in forced proximity to humans for several seasons after they had been trapped in luggage and transported to a distant land, they had acquired a taste for gossip.  Even now that they had been returned to their own fair Isle, the boundaries between human and Fae were growing ever more flimsy, in Blossom’s opinion.  She feared for the future.  This was but one more example.  She sincerely hoped they had seen the last of the silver-haired man and his feisty mate.   


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Cursed Island's Romantic Reprieve

by Nancy Lee Badger

The art of writing a historical novel of any kind must start with a period in time. When I conceived the basic plot for DRAGON’S CURSE, I needed something to tie my characters to an actual historical event. Otherwise, I would consider my entire story a fantasy. History was never my favorite subject, but the internet has opened my eyes to the easy access to information. In addition to surfing the web, I researched several books and consulted a colorful clan map of Scotland. I found the perfect, horrific story, set on the island of Eigg.

Horrific? How can I call a story that horrified me perfect? Besides sympathetic characters and action packed scenes, every romantic novel needs a conflict. Conflict either keeps the hero and heroine at odds or breaks them up the moment it is revealed. Eigg’s 16th century history would work nicely, so I took the liberty of adding it to my novel. When my first Scottish historical novel was released by Whispers Publishing, the hours I had spent researching historical facts were worth it. DRAGON’S CURSE is a paranormal romance, but my addition of fact-based occurrences added a layer that makes my romance ‘pop’.

I stumbled on the story of how a band of Macleod’s massacred an entire village of Macdonalds in 1577. Wait a minute: a massacre as a plot line in a romance novel? There is a reason I pursued this avenue. Here is what happened. A small band of Macleod’s visited the island of Eigg and were accused of doing something nasty to some island ladies. The Macleod’s were tied up and sent adrift so they might return to their homeland on Skye if the lord so willed it. They survived and later returned to have their revenge. The islanders saw them coming and hid in a cave. The Macleods could not find any of the 400 or so islanders, so returned to their boats.

This is the part I refer to in my story. One of the islanders left the cave to watch their departure. Unfortunately, he was spotted. The Macleods returned to shore, covered the cave entrance, and smoked the islanders to death. Nasty. I used artistic license to make my hero, Draco MacDonald, accused of causing their deaths. A vengeful witch levies a curse that makes Draco change into a dragon at inopportune times.

Hiding out for fifteen years in a huge cave on the real Scottish island of Staffa, he meets Brianna Macleod when she accompanies a boatload of hunters. They have come to drink, carouse, and hunt the various beasties. Little do they know a dragon watches their every step! Close to Staffa, the island of Eigg sits surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean near the Isle of Mull and is easily reachable from the mainland of Scotland. The Cave of Frances, known back then as Uamh Fhraing, is known today as Massacre Cave. Moss, undergrowth, and a waterfall hid its tiny entrance, but hikers follow easy maps to find it and visit.

Eigg, Gaelic for ‘notched Island’, is part of a group of islands in the Highlands local authority known collectively as the Small Islands. It stretches some four miles long from end to end, and supports about 70 inhabitants. Along with its picturesque homes, village shop, post office, and school, tourists also visit the lovely beaches, craft shops, and restaurants. Birders visit in order to spot the Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Long-eared Owl, Cuckoo, Kestrel, and many more. A favorite stopping point is the Bay of the Singing Sands, named for high-pitched notes that the sands make when they are walked on once they have dried out. But, it is the infamous Massacre Cave that gives this lovely little island its historical prominence.


Sometimes a special gift and an unwanted curse cannot keep destined lovers apart.
Brianna Macleod has accompanied a shipload of her guardian’s friends to a remote island off the coast of Scotland. She eludes these Highland hunters to keep her innocence…and her gift of sight. Her attitude against falling for womanly desires changes when she nearly drowns. Saved by the talons of a terrifying winged beast, she awakens—naked—in a cave, beside an unusual man.

Cursed by a vengeful witch to transform into a dragon at inopportune times, Draco MacDonald hides on this deserted island to live alone: until he plucks a servant girl from certain death. Fueled by jealousy, and tempered by fear for her safety, he succumbs to an unfamiliar desire to mate. Her kisses propel him to dare to make her his own.

Set in 1592 Scotland on the Scottish island of Staffa, the cursed hero battles a ghostly witch, a hunter set on rape, and his own growing desire for a young woman with premonitions of his death. Her kisses propel him to dare to make her his own.


He tasted of salt and the sea, causing a laugh to bubble up from between her bruised lips.
“What, pray tell, have I done to amuse ye?”
“Ranald smells of blood and dung and tastes of ale. Ye smell—and taste—delicious.” She pulled his head back down and drank him in. The soft cries of seabirds mingled with the gentle boom of breaking waves. The salty breeze swept over her and cooled the heat rising from her body.
His fingers thrust inside her secret place repeatedly. Passion rose and she nearly swooned. When his gentle touch disappeared, she groaned her displeasure. He chuckled.
“What is so funny, sir?” Her words came out weak and breathy.
“I plan to taste ye as well.”
“Ye have already accomplished this, sir. Have ye forgotten so soon?” His response, another low chuckle, caused her brow to furrow, and when he dropped kisses on the tight fabric of her frock, just below her breasts, she nearly asked the man why he headed in the wrong direction. Then, he placed a kiss on the meager piece of thin chemise covering the sensitive juncture of her thighs.
She froze.
“Relax, sweet one. Accept my offering and enjoy the moment. Ye will thank me, when the task is complete.”
The man spoke in riddles. She closed her eyes and relaxed her thighs. I trust him. He will no’ harm me, this I know.
“Ye honor me, sweet lass.”


Nancy Lee Badger writes fulltime and lives with her husband in North Carolina. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Celtic Heart Romance Writers, and Sisters in Crime. She also writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Nancy Lennea:

DRAGON’S CURSE is available from Whispers Publishing
Buy link:

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Why a member of her Clan (Bell) says "Norway is the new Scotland"!

Before you condemn this lassie, here's my story:

I've been to Scotland; it's a beautiful country. But when I started writing novels in 2006, I wanted to go a different direction from the highly over-crowded and fanciful "kilted warrior" market. Trust me - I totally understand the appeal of a man in a plaid. Still, I didn't think the world needed another romance about one. There simply aren't enough bookcases.

The key is the man IN the kilt. He needs to be sexy hero material.

So who else is sexy? Vikings! Big, blond, buff, and beautiful, with oceanic eyes. But the Viking era was pretty harsh. And limited. And dirty. So my Norwegian hero's story takes place in the 1800s. And it quickly grew to a trilogy, with the second book pulling my Nicolas Hansen to Norway to candidate for a reclaimed Norse throne!

But, as enamored I became of my Norse men, I wasn't willing to ignore my own heritage, so while my heroes are all members of the fictional Hansen family of Arendal, Norway - up to now, the heroines are all Scots. In homage to the Bell clan, I have given them the name - or use of it.

My fourth book - a Hansen prequel - begins in 1354 on the northern coast of Scotland and tells of the re-establishment of the Hansen family following the Black Death. Loving the Norseman is scheduled for a Fall 2011 release, as is the sequel, Loving the Knight. There, my heroine takes the Bell name as she steps into the role of Lady of the estate and raises the plague-orphaned Bell heir on the Scots/English border in 1355. The hero is a Scottish knight from whom she is keeping her true "English/bastard/servant" identity a secret.

Trust me - there is a Hansen in that story as well! I must remain true to my brand.

So. Is it time you found a new sort of hero? Please allow me to help.

For every 10 people who comment here, I will give away one free e-copy of A Woman of Choice - the beginning of the trilogy. And, yes. Commenter #11 warrants 2 copies! Comment #21? I'll give away three.


In February at the end of my blog tour, I'll give away one SIGNED PAPERBACK SET of the trilogy. Here's how you can get in on that deal:
1. Go to and find the "Secret Word" on my home page.
2. Send an email to with "Signed Trilogy Giveaway" in the subject line. Put the secret word in the body.
3. Comment on any blog at any time in the tour to activate your entry. Each day's blog location is listed at

A Woman of Choice, A Prince of Norway, and A Matter of Principle are all available at

A Woman of Choice - Missouri Territory, 1819
A woman is viciously betrayed and abandoned by her unfaithful husband. She is rescued by a widower uninterested in love. In desperation, she becomes engaged to his best friend. One woman, three very different men. Life is about choices.

A Prince of Norway - Christiania, Norway, 1820
American-born Nicolas Hansen has been asked to candidate for his great-grandfather's throne. His new wife Sydney isn't about to let him go to Norway and face that possibility alone. The moment they arrive at Akershus Castle, the political intrigue and maneuvering begin. Can Sydney trust anyone? Will Nicolas resist the seduction of power? Or will he claim the throne for himself? Most importantly: will their young marriage survive the malicious mischief of the ambitious royal family?

A Matter of Principle - St. Louis, State of Missouri, 1821
Nicolas Hansen has returned from Norway determined to change the world. But when he runs for State Legislator in the brand-new state of Missouri, the enemies he made over the past two years aren't about to step quietly aside. Sydney has made enemies of her own, both by marrying Nicolas and by practicing midwifery. When a newspaper reporter makes it his goal to destroy them, Nicolas must rethink his path once again. But this time, it's a matter of principle.