Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Awakening by Scarlette Valentine

The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter, #1
Scarlett Valentine
ISBN: 9781465986122
Length: Novella
Genre: Historical Erotic Romance
Price: $2.99

Buy here: Tirgearr Publishing

Ysbail of Ellesmere is a pawn in her guardian's war. For decades there has been unrest between the marcher lords and Owain Gwynedd ap Gruffydd, King of Gwynedd. The most recent war had been the bloodiest she could remember in her eighteen years. Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys, and his allies lost untold numbers of men at the hands of Owain's soldiers. When a settlement of truce is presented to Madog, it's at Ysbail's expense. She is to marry Bedwyr ap Owain, one of King Owain’s bastard sons, and his most notorious henchman. If all the rumors and stories she's heard are true, she knows her marriage will be rife with horror and fear.

Since proving himself worthy with his sword, Bedwyr fights at his king's side. He's shed oceans of blood and sent untold numbers of men to their graves. He's become what his name foretold—the grave-knower. He's afraid of nothing, least of all death. All men fear him, including those who fight at his side, and sometimes even his own king. Terror of him lives within women's hearts; only the bravest of whores accept him into their beds. And children weave their own tales of the monster they hear him to be, embellishing the details to their own gruesome degrees.

When King Owain informs Bedwyr that he's to marry Ysbail of Ellesmere as part of a peace settlement with Madog, Bedwyr is furious. A man such as Bedwyr can only survive on the battlefield. For without love, hatred will send a man like him to the edge of insanity. Then push him over. But when Bedwyr sees Ysbail for the first time, blood-thirst turns to blood-lust, and he vows to show her that she should have no fear of him.

• • •

Rhyd Ddu, mountains of Eryri, Cymru — 1149

“Take it off, Ysbail.”

She stood her ground, shoulders back, gazing into her husband’s black eyes, daring him to make her.

Their marriage was still fresh in her mind, as was the humiliating bedding that followed. He had granted her some respect in the task by ushering would-be witnesses from the chamber, but he had done no more than that before laying her on the bed, lifting her gown, and taking her most precious possession. While he had apologized for what must be done, she still had not liked it. His taking of her had been swift and every bit as horrible as she had heard it would be.

Her father, Alun ap Wnffre of Ellesmere, had been the governor and close friend of Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys. Her mother had died in childbirth, and Ysbail had barely been out of swaddling when her father was killed fifteen years previously during one of the frequent border wars. Madog had promised to raise her until she was of marriageable age. With the rapidity of the event, she felt Madog could not wait to be free from his responsibility. So afraid she might bolt, he had waited until her arrival in Oswestry from her home at Ellesmere to tell her of her betrothal.

He was right to worry, for she was to marry Bedwyr ap Owain, one of King Owain Gwynedd’s bastard sons, and his most notorious henchman. Legends preceded Bedwyr. She grew up hearing tales of his bloodlust and the carnage left in his wake. He was what his name foretold, for Bedwyr meant grave-knower.

“Take it off, Ysbail. I would see you now.”

She inhaled sharply at his repeated command, his gaze piercing through the chamber’s heavy shadows. The only light came from the small fire in the hearth, which only served to enhance her husband’s fearsome visage.
Bedwyr was not unpleasant to look upon. Had she not already known of his reputation, and despite the scar crossing his left brow, she might have called him handsome. Dark, unruly waves hung about his shoulders. More often than not, they also shielded his eyes and hid high cheekbones. Belying his shaggy and unkempt appearance, he preferred a shaven face, which accented his ever-present scowl and served to deepen his features. His smile, if it could be called such, looked more like a snarl—the white of his teeth being the only brightness about him.

Just the size of her husband should have frightened her, never mind his looks. But in the time it took to travel from Oswestry to Bedwyr’s keep high in the mountains, he had been nothing but considerate and thoughtful. He had not tried to bed her again during their journey, but she knew once they arrived he would waste no time forcing himself upon her. He was a man after all. At least he had given her a pair of weeks to adjust to her new home before making it clear he would come to her. Earlier in the day, he had ordered she and her meager belongings be moved into his chamber. The lustful look she saw on his face told her in no uncertain terms that he would take her again this night.

She knit her brows together, hoping to emphasize her scowl and displeasure at what was to come. When she made no effort to yield to him, he reached up and pulled free the laces at the top of her gown. He slipped a single finger under the edge of the fabric, letting the back of it brush one of her nipples. She gasped at the sensation.

“Remove it or I will do it for you.” His voice was deep in timbre yet low in volume, yet spoke of his determined insistence. Stranger or no, she knew she would do his bidding or suffer his wrath.

She felt her nostrils flare as she breathed deeply, trying to control her racing heart.

With trembling fingers, she loosened the ties and pulled the gown over her head, letting it fall to the floor beside her. The fabric of her shift rasped her breasts. She knew without looking down that her heaving bosom was well in evidence, for the look on her husband’s face told her.
“The shift as well.”

She swallowed hard while continuing to gaze at him. She kept her spine stiff, refusing to cower before him. She would not let him see her apprehension.

Removing the final barrier between them, she let it slip from her fingers onto the pooled gown.

It was her wifely duty to give her husband what he wanted without their private chamber, and within. Her only solace was that if the task went as quickly as before, she could endure it. Just.

“Ysbail,” he murmured, gauping at her and unmoving. Was there a hint of surprise in his voice?

Perhaps he had changed his mind about bedding her once he saw her petite form and the smallness of her breasts. Now that he was seeing her fully for the first time it was very possible she repulsed him.

Not so, she found.

• • •

Scarlett Valentine was born and raised in Northern California in an area known as America's Salad Bowl. It was home to many authors, including John Steinbeck, and for a while Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson.

In 1997, Scarlett had the opportunity to travel to Ireland on an extended holiday. She met a man and stayed. Celebrating more than fourteen years in Ireland, she has traveled the country extensively and has lived in Dublin, Cork, Wicklow and Kildare, loving every minute of it.

Scarlett has always enjoyed writing. Her professional writing life began as a book reviewer in 1995 and has published travel articles since 1998.

She's an avid castle hunter and photographer so it's no wonder castles show up in most of her stories. She loves travel and research, both of which give Scarlett ideas for her stories.

If all this sounds familiar, it's because Scarlett is the erotica alter ego of romance novelist, Kemberlee Shortland.

Tirgearr Publishing is the proud home of Scarlett's unique erotica series, The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter. Her first title, Awakening, was released October 2011 (Night Owl Reviews Top Pick Award), and we anticipate two titles per year.

Check out Scarlett's website to learn more about this series.

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