Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Return To Ballycashel...

Hi Miriam, and a special greeting to all lovers of Celtic romance! It's so lovely to be back at the Celtic Rose. And I'm so thrilled to announce the publication of Everlasting, Book IV of the Claddagh Series!

Everlasting is Shannon Flynn's story, and it's set once again in that tiny, wind-swept west-of-Ireland village of Ballycashel that was the setting for the first two books of the Claddagh Series. Ballycashel, and all of its residents, are very dear to my heart, and when Shannon Flynn visited my dreams one night, whispering her story to me, I could hardly refuse to write it.

Everlasting is a story of revenge and redemption, of fathers and daughters and the love that draws them together...and tears them apart.


Where does justice end and retribution begin?
She was driven by anger
When her fiancé died trying to feed his family, Shannon Flynn vowed to punish those responsible…even if it alienated her from her family, even if it put her—and them—in danger.

He returned to exact revenge
Eight years after he was forced to flee his beloved Ireland, Liam Collins returns to Ballycashel to find his family devastated and the person he holds responsible for his exile dead.

Can these two wounded spirits come together to battle a common enemy? Or will anger and pride destroy them both?


Ballycashel, Ireland, Off Galway Bay
January, 1874

“I see them! Sweet Mary be praised, they’re safe!”
Shannon Flynn gripped her mother’s hand so tight she felt the bones crack. On Ma’s other side, her sister Peggy let out a harsh sob. Little Fiona stood a few feet away, white-faced, hands pressed to her mouth in silent horror.
Icy needles of rain slashed Shannon’s face, and though they stood well away from the waves, she could still feel the sting of the sea, taste its sharp, briny tang. She blinked hard against the cloying mist. Was that really the Noreen, Da’s currach? That tiny craft bobbing over those vicious waves, helpless as a cork?
She flinched as the little fishing boat disappeared from view.
“They’ll be fine.” Nora Flynn’s voice rang out, stern and bracing even as she kept her gaze riveted on the storm-tossed sea. “Sure, yer da knows these waters better than anyone. He’s been through many a storm worse than this. He’ll be fine.” Her voice teetered on the edge of despair as wind and rain scored them with merciless claws.
He’s never had Mike with him.
The boat reappeared, teetered at the crest of a towering wave and tumbled sideways. Nora cried out once, pressed her fist to her mouth. The anguished sound echoed in Shannon’s heart. Before she could react, Nora drew a deep breath and set her shoulders. “Come ye, now. They’ll be needin’ us.” She threw a sharp gaze to her two younger daughters. “Peg, look after Fiona. Shannon, come with me.”
Hand in hand, they raced into the sea.
Shannon’s breath gushed from her lungs in painful gasps as icy water clawed up her legs and tangled in her long skirts. Had the sea ever been so vicious and cold? The waves so high? Oh, where was Da? Was he safe?
Was Mike safe?
She clung to her mother’s firm, strong hand as she slipped and almost fell on the sea-drenched shingle and sand. Thick strands of seaweed twined about her legs. Ma pulled her to a stop, her hoarse cry snatched away by the shrieking wind. Could Da and Mike triumph over the furious sea?
Sweet Mary protect them. Keep them safe. Bring them home.
Two heads, one dark and the other fair, burst from the waves, went under, surfaced again. Oh, God, was it possible? Could they really be farther out? The sea clawed greedily at them, pulling them under, down and down. Away from her. The wind tore her hair from beneath her red headscarf, and she lost sight of them for a moment. She swiped the flying strands away, staring harder through a stinging mixture of rain and fog and tears.
Dear sweet Lord, where are they?
“I see them! There’s Da!” Fiona appeared beside them, fighting to stay on her feet as a wave broke over her shoulders. She pointed a trembling finger. “Look, there’s Da!”
“Fiona, get back!” Shannon fought to make herself heard over the crashing waves and the devil’s howl of the wind.
“But I see him, Shannon! I see Da!”
Mike can’t swim! Even as icy realization swept over her, Shannon knew her father would fight to the death to save him.
To the death
She squeezed her eyes shut, fighting back the tears.
“They’ll be all right.” Peggy clasped her hand, swaying against the fierce current. “Please God, they’ll both be all right.”
Please God…
“Tom, look out!” Her mother’s scream reached above the greedy fingers of sea foam just as a mighty wave knocked Da under once again.
Please God… Please God…keep him safe. Keep them both safe.
Moments, hours, days later, Shannon stood frozen under the leaden skies. Da stumbled into the shallows and fell into Ma’s waiting arms.
Da stared into Ma’s eyes, touched her cheek. “Noreen. Ah, Noreen. The currach’s torn to pieces, so it is, but sure, we’re all right now.”
“Ye are, thank God.”
“Da?” Her own eyes wide and dry and burning with salt, Shannon searched her father’s beloved face, saw his anguish.
Fissures shot through her heart.
“Mike?” Shannon scanned the beach in desperation. The gray sea roared and frothed wildly. The broken currach lay on the strand like an exhausted shark. Rain and tears blurred her vision. “Da? Where is he? Where’s Mike?”
Her father’s dark eyes filled with sorrow. “He’s gone, love.” Tom Flynn blinked away tears. “The sea took him.”
“Gone? No!” Her heart ceased to beat. Something was strangling her. Ice held her feet frozen to the beach even as she swayed drunkenly.
“I’m sorry, a storín, so sorry, my dearest. I did everything I could.” Dimly, she saw her father release her mother, move toward her. “But I couldn’t save him for ye.”
He reached for her, his big hands open, his face etched with grief. She flung up her hands, shook her head. Denying. Denying. No. No!
Then she spun away, ran from her father to mourn alone the loss of the man she loved more than life itself.

I hope everyone enjoys reading Everlasting as much as I enjoyed writing it!

You can buy Everlasting at Barnes & Noble

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Saxon Bride - the story behind "Abigail"

As some of you may know, my sister passed away a year ago July. She was really the impetus for me finally publishing my first book, The Bruised Thistle. How that came about is a great story-the "gives you goose bumps" kind. I hope you'll check it out at my blog (www.ashleyyorkauthor.com) but my latest release, The Saxon Bride, is connected to her as well.

I think it was just the two of us staying at our family's cottage in Maine. It was a great visit, we were getting close again. She told me about her boyfriend and his "hanger on" girlfriend that was making the relationship really hard. His name is irrelevant but her name was Abigail. Needless to say, my sister had some pretty strong words for Abigail.

I had been kicking around the idea of a story about a forced marriage between a Saxon and a Norman where he leaves her untouched only to return years later, meet her but not recognize her, and try to seduce her. I had already come up with my favorite line - "You know me not!" (little play on words there)

The idea of someone nasty like Abigail as a secondary character made the whole story come together.
I like to think Carol, my sister, would appreciate my characterization of the woman.

Here's an excerpt from The Saxon Bride when Rowena, the heroine, first meets the woman. 

"My lady!" Joan's voice preceded her flinging open Rowena's bedchamber door. "My lady!"

"What is amiss?" Rowena held her breath as she stepped toward her. "You look as if you've seen a ghost!"

On a whisper, Joan found no additional information much to Rowena's irritation. "My lady!" Shaking her head in disbelief, she stepped out of the door just as a tall woman would have pushed her aside. 

"So you're the wife my lover is saddled with."

Rowena was unable to exhale the gasp that had been sucked into her belly. Her eyes bulged as she tried to process what the woman had said. She couldn't possibly have heard her right. Like a tempest, the woman stormed into Rowena's private chamber as if she'd every right to be there. Her disdainful gaze did not miss a thing as she looked around the room. "I'm a little surprised he has stayed away from me this long."

Joan's mouth gaped open in disbelief as she looked from the regal woman with the black hair and green eyes and back to Rowena. The petrified look on her servant's face finally broke the spell.

"And who are you, pray tell?" Rowena stood a little taller as she addressed the woman who seemed to tower over her. The woman blinked as if discerning whether Rowena truly had the audacity to speak directly to her.

"No. Better you tell me." She paused, no doubt for effect, assessing Rowena from head to toe, finally lifting the corner of her lip and raising one eyebrow. "Are you 'the wife'?"

I think I succeeded in making Abigail pretty unlikable and obnoxious. What do you think?

Available at Amazon.com The Saxon Bride