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Ashe Barker New Release The Laird and the Sassenach

  It’s a pleasure to begin the new year with Ashe Barker as my guest. Ash is here to tell us about her new, very steamy book, The Laird and the Sassenach. Be prepared for some Highland historical erotic romance that’ll definitely heat up your January. And while the holiday season my be over, Ashe is still in a giving mood, so be sure to sign up for the rafflecopter. Ashe is giving away a free ebook — reader’s choice — to three lucky winners, so don’t miss out! 

 

 

   Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Laird

  She faces justice, truth, and a Laird’s vengeance

 

 

Hi K.D. and thank you so much for asking me over to chat about The Laird and the Sassenach. The book is set on the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands in the 1400s, one of my favourite periods of history and in my opinion one of the most evocative and atmospheric. It’s easy to create a sweeping drama against such a stunning backdrop, and the scenery remains pretty much as wild today as it was when my hero, Blair McGregor walked those hills as chief of his clan.

 

 

It’s some years since I was on Skye, but I remember my visit there vividly. It’s an isolated, windswept place blessed with stunning scenery as this picture will attest. The landscape is truly spectacular, beautiful and dramatic certainly but also rugged and harsh in many respects. The climate too can be equally unforgiving. I have no doubt at all that the clans of the medieval age had a hard time dragging a living from the land, not just surviving but thriving there.

Skye’s four-legged inhabitants too are made of stern stuff too. I recall driving along a coastal road, and rounding a bend to be confronted by a huge highland cow. These look cute and cuddly, but they have horns that could disembowel a tank. The animal planted itself in the middle of the road and showed no sign of wanting to move anytime soon. We tooted a bit, then a bit more. It just stared at us. We considered getting out and doing a sort of shooing thing, but did I
mention those horns? He – or she – looked placid enough but in my view even the most docile of highland cows deserve respect. Eventually we lured the bovine roadblock to the side of the road with a rich tea biscuit and carried on our way.

Our next encounter with the local wildlife was less peaceful. It was dark, we were on our way back to the bridge linking Skye to the mainland and had to pass through a wooded area. Suddenly something huge hurtled out from the trees into the road in front of us. Two somethings in fact. It was a pair of stags, involved in what looked to be a fight to the death.

I was driving and slammed on the brakes. The battle raged on, caught in the headlights in front of us. If the cow’s horns had looked daunting they had nothing on these bad boys. No way was a rich tea biscuit going to help us now. Nothing would. We cowered in our car while these two slugged it out, quite oblivious to their audience. At one stage one of the stags was on our bonnet – we had the dents afterwards to show for it – before the pair of them disappeared back into the trees, still locked in deadly combat.

Give me an angry Laird with a score to settle any day.

 

Speaking of which, here’s the blurb for The Laird and the Sassenach.

 

After her half-brother attacks the kinsmen of Blair McGregor, Lady Roselyn of Etal is brought before the stern highland laird to answer for her reluctant, unwitting role in the crime. Once she has told her story, she throws herself at his mercy.

 

Blair soon realizes that Roselyn is as much a victim of her half-brother as anyone, but his people’s demands for justice cannot be ignored entirely, so he strips the young Englishwoman bare and chastises her firmly with a switch applied to her naked backside.

 

The painful, humiliating punishment both assuages Roselyn’s guilt and leaves her yearning to be even more thoroughly mastered by the handsome laird. Though Blair makes it clear that she is free to return home, she instead chooses to remain with the him in his castle… and in his bed. Their passion soon blossoms into romance, but can the highlander protect his beautiful Sassenach when the villain who caused them both so much pain tries to tear her away from him?

 

Publisher’s Note: The Laird and the Sassenach includes spankings and sexual scenes. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this book.

 

… and an excerpt:

 

“Will you beat me again?”

“Aye, if you deserve it. For disobedience or disrespect. I am master here and that will apply to all. But you would not find me cruel. Indeed, I believe you would find pleasure in what I offer.”

“Pleasure, my lord? I do not quite take your meaning.”

“Will you not own to the slightest stirring? You may deny your arousal but your body betrays ye, Roselyn. Your nipples are swollen, your eyes have darkened as you consider my offer. I believe if you were to spread your thighs for me now I would find you wet.”

“Wet?” She drew in a shuddering breath. “My nipples… it is chilly in here.”

“Nay, it is not. I banked up the fire afore I woke you. Stop making excuses and open your legs for me, Roselyn.”

“I will not.”

“Yes, you will, and you will do it now.”

“I…”

He trailed his fingers the length of her body, tracing a path between her breasts and across her flat stomach to her mound. There he teased the auburn curls which protected her most intimate place.

“Open for me.” He leaned in to whisper the words into her ear, his familiar male smell overwhelming her senses. He was spice, and he was musk, heather, pine, and something mysteriously unique, an essence which was only his.

Roselyn was lost, mesmerised. She rolled fully onto her back, even managed not to wince as her weight settled on her punished buttocks. Bending her knees a little, she allowed him to tease her thighs apart. His slid his hand between her legs and stroked her moist folds.

“Ah, so deliciously damp. Roselyn, you do indeed delight me.”

“My lord…” She was lost, her words buried under the waves of pure sensation. “What are you doing to me?”

“I am pleasuring ye, sweetheart. Be still for me, and open wider.”

As though in a trance, wrapped in fog of unaccustomed sensuality, Roselyn obeyed. She arched her back and let out a sharp cry as he slipped one long finger into her wet channel.

He paused. “Did I hurt ye?”

She shook her head. “No. It was… oh, please do that once more if you would.”

He thrust his finger into her again, then added a second digit. Unfamiliar sensations assailed Roselyn, both confusing and exciting. And intense. It was incredible, unbelievable. Her head whirled. She felt tight, stretched, yet at the same time she wanted nothing other than to spread her body open, to welcome this intrusion. He was right, this was about pleasure. It was a strange sort of joy, but she craved it nonetheless.

“That feels good, my lord.”

“My title is laird, not lord, but I believe we are on first name terms now. You will use my given name, most particularly when my fingers or indeed any part of my anatomy is lodged within your sweet cunt.”

“Oh, God…”

“Nay, just Blair will do.” He withdrew his fingers and resumed stroking her outer lips. He found a spot which brought Roselyn’s hips right up from the mattress. “Ah, now I see I have your complete attention. Perhaps you might like to practice using my name.” He paused in his sensuous rubbing and Roselyn moaned her need.

“Say my name,” he urged.

“Blair.” She whispered it.

He resumed the torturous caress. “Again. Say it again. Louder.”

She raised her voice a little. “Blair.”

“Better. And you will scream my name when you find your release.”

“My…?”

He took that most sensitive nubbin between his fingers and he squeezed. Something clenched within, deep in her core, and Roselyn longed for his fingers to be inside her tight channel again. She yearned to be filled, stretched, owned.

“Could you…? Blair, I need…”

“I know.” He continued to roll her sensitive flesh between his fingers, whilst he used his free hand to open that most secret place and plunged two digits into her again.

It was too much. Roselyn could no longer speak, could not even form a coherent thought. She could only feel as irresistible shudders rocked her slight form and her inner walls clenched helplessly around his fingers. She arched further, lifting her hips, pleading for something, anything…

“Oh, Blair. Blair, Blair, Blair!” She let out a keening wail as the sensations peaked and her body convulsed, then, gasping, she stilled.

 

Buy Links   Amazon   Barnes&Noble

 

Read Chapter 1 for free

 

Rafflecopter Link

Remember, Ashe is giving away a free ebook — reader’s choice — to three lucky winners, so don’t miss out!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1f4e27b38/?

(runs until 7 January)

 

More about Ashe Barker

 

USA Today best-selling author Ashe Barker has been an avid reader of fiction for many years, erotic and other genres. She still loves reading, the hotter the better. But now she has a good excuse for her guilty pleasure – research.

Ashe tends to draw on her own experience to lend colour, detail and realism to her plots and characters. An incident here, a chance remark there, a bizarre event or quirky character, any of these can spark a story idea.

Ashe lives in the North of England, on the edge of the Brontë moors and enjoys the occasional flirtation with pole dancing and drinking Earl Grey tea. When not writing – which is not very often these days – her time is divided between her role as taxi driver for her teenage daughter, and caring for a menagerie of dogs, tortoises. And a very grumpy cockatiel.

At the last count Ashe had over forty titles on general release with publishers on both sides of the Atlantic, and several more in the pipeline. She writes M/f, M/M, and occasionally rings the changes with a little M/M/f. Ashe’s books invariably feature BDSM. She writes explicit stories, always hot, but offering far more than just sizzling sex. Ashe likes to read about complex characters, and to lose herself in compelling plots, so that’s what she writes too.

Ashe has a pile of story ideas still to work through, and keeps thinking of new ones at the most unlikely moments, so you can expect to see a lot more from her.

Ashe loves to hear from readers. Here are her social media links:

www.ashebarker.com

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

Goodreads

Or you can email her direct on ashe.barker1@gmail.com

 

Scandalously Yours…

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So, what is scandalous? It all depends on who’s defining the adjective, which can apply to people, acts, and so on. It can mean “causing general public outrage by a perceived offense against morality or law,” or a shocking, outrageous, monstrous, criminal, wicked, deplorable or intolerable state of affairs, “typically as a result of someone’s negligence or irresponsibility.”

ScandalouslyYoursIn this awesome box set of eight sensual, historical romances, each protagonist creates a scandal, or malicious gossip or rumor that would tend to sully his or her name in the period the story is set.

Wilder’s Thief, by Josie Jax, casts the heroine as a bank robber, something certainly not socially acceptable in any time or place, particularly post-Civil War Missouri, where the infamous James gang terrorized towns with alarming regularity. She’s stealing money that belongs rightfully to her, admittedly—but her temporary avocation certainly creates a scandal!

Aphrodite’s Necklace, by Anh Leod, certainly would scandalize Victorian England! The goddess of love, exiled to staid, proper London as punishment, casts a spell on a young, innocent lady and the family butler, making them insatiable for each other… Scandal, indeed!

In Madamoiselle Makes a Match, by Kate Rothwell, a chambermaid is nudged into giving her virginity to a customer at the inn, only to find he’s a virgin, too. A courtesan called Madamoiselle makes the gentleman realize it’s not only sex but more that makes him want to make the improper liaison permanent.

Lynne Connolly’s novel, Seducing Laura, brings Laura’s old scandal back to life as she and her lover race to prevent a similar scandal from befalling her headstrong niece. Set in Regency England, the tale includes a delightful hint of intrigue as well as the message that love can conquer all.

The Brass Octopus, by Maeve Alpin, brings together a notorious rake and the plain, bookish librarian. With the intervention of her sister and the magical brass octopus, Piety becomes a swan who attracts the rake and awakens her libido despite her determination to remain unwed.

Ann Jacobs’ Beneath a Cornish Moon pits a cursed earl and his selected bride against the forces of evil that have caused mysterious deaths in his demesne. Giants and piskies, bastard brothers, and an evil mother complicate the road to happily ever after for Alain and Lea!

Timeless Voyage, by Cornelia Amiri, demonstrates in Iron Age Ireland that deathly enemies aren’t always what they seem when Anwen’s captive turns out to be the reincarnation of her Roman love.

Finally, in Wooing the Librarian, Jane Leopold Quinn takes readers to 19th century California, where an ex-gunfighter preacher and a would-be mail-order bride find each other despite her determination to avoid emotional entanglements.

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Excerpts:

From Wilder’s Thief, by USA Today bestseller, Josie Jax

Well, she was robbing a bank. That certainly qualified her as barmy. But dang it all to hell, she couldn’t afford to slip into the coddling arms of her wild imagination, not in the middle of a cussed hold-up of all things.

From Aphrodite’s Necklace, by Anh Leod:

Holding the necklace and feeling quite steamy in her private area, she stepped into the hallway. She pressed her thighs together and when she separated them, they were sticky with some kind of hot fluid that had moistened her inside. She swallowed her shock as her nipples thrust against her corset. What was happening to her?

From Madamoiselle Makes a Match, by Kate Rothwell

Summoning all of her bravery, she darted in and landed a quick kiss on his chin but then backed away at once. “There. I was the first to touch. You want to touch me now?”

From Seducing Laura, by Lynne Connolly

That reminder of her one disastrous youthful indiscretion nettled Laura. It was something she preferred to forget. She sipped her tea and allowed her quick temper to subside within her. “That was an entirely different case, and our parents dealt with it smartly. Besides, I wasn’t an heiress. Belinda is. You know we have to be constantly on our guard against fortune hunters.”

From The Brass Octopus, by Maeve Alpin

“You seem uncharacteristically bothered. You do love to judge others, but you are usually quite calm about it–especially here among all your friends…the books.” Polly’s eyes gleamed as she flashed a wry smile. “What did he do?”

“He read a passage of Early Experiences out loud.”

From Beneath a Cornish Moon, by Ann Jacobs

The night seemed as fitting as any might be to stand vigil o’er her sire’s earthly remains. While her silent future husband stood the first watch at the foot of the bier, Lea sat beside the window, her head bowed as she fingered her rosary beads.

Silently Lea grappled with stark reality. She glanced toward Alain. His expression told her naught. He appeared as dark as the night, as mysterious as the Eucharist. No less overwhelming now than when he had worn full armor, he made her tremble, yet lent her strength by his presence.

A strength Lea appreciated more as hours went by and she endured the rituals of saying farewell.

From Timeless Voyage, by Cornelia Amiri

Her captive’s extraordinary eyes, fathomless as the sea, drew her to him. How could a Roman be so handsome?

Thoughts swam in her head. I do not know him. Even if I did, he’s a Roman. I have to hate him.

Laig the Dark headed scowled. “We leave no survivors, save for the Roman slaves we set free.”

From Wooing the Librarian, by Jane Leopold Quinn

In his life before becoming a preacher, in his bounty hunting days, he wouldn’t have bothered with a proper looking woman. He’d needed the easy, no commitment, no responsibility, no-morning-after type of woman back then. It was all different for him now. Now he wanted the morning-after woman, the family, the promise of forever.

About Scandalously Yours authors:

In August 2014, a well-known publisher of erotic romances announced a downturn: slowed sales, layoffs of editors and cover artists, and most important, later and later royalty payments. Authors began requesting reversion of rights, and subsequently a group formed, consisting mostly of former authors of this publisher. Box sets had become the project of the time, and so Under the Sun Publishing was formed as a division of Inkwell Royalty Solutions, to revise former titles from this publisher and bring those that fit the UTS guidelines out in box sets. We have since expanded our offerings to include books originally published elsewhere and never-before-published novels and novellas.

The guidelines: all books would be romances between one man and one woman, sensual to frankly erotic but without the coarse language many readers find objectionable. The first of these sets was released in September 2015, followed by two more in October and November. Book four, the first historical set, was delayed while we evaluated effectiveness of promotion, and Scandalously Yours will enjoy a twenty-stop blog tour before and immediately after its release on March 8, at multiple booksellers rather than as Kindle exclusives.

Under the Sun hopes readers will enjoy the stories it has compiled for them and pass the word along that its box sets are not only great reading but also great bargains!

image UTS logo

Buy links:

Amazon.com— http://amzn.to/1QG7y2d

Amazon UK– http://amzn.to/1POPAdZ

All Romance Ebooks– http://bit.ly/1Vk1rED

Kobo– https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/scandalously-yours-2-166.html

Smashwords– https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/612550?ref=cw1985

Books will also be available at barnesandnoble.com and iTunes (Apple), but buy links are not yet available for them.

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GIVEAWAY!

Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here: http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/scandalously-yours/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Siobhan Daiko (@FCourtesans) Talks about Her Latest Release: Veronica Courtesan

Shiobhon Daiko tureunnamed

Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, KD. It’s great to be here and to share about my new release with you and your readers. Veronica COURTESAN is inspired by the life of Veronica Franco, one of the most sought-after courtesans in 16th Century Venice, who was also a poet and writer. She was well-educated at a time in history when most women were barely literate. Yes, she was a self-promoter, but she also loved deeply and was loved in return. In the following excerpt, Veronica is entertaining two of her patrons, aiming to be invited to a literary salon. There she meets Domenico Venier, who becomes her editor. Even in the 16th Century, having an editor was vital to a writer. I don’t know how I would manage without mine, the fantastic John Hudspith, who also worked with me on my time-slip historical romance Lady of Asolo.

 THIRD! Correction

 

Excerpt

We make polite conversation throughout the meal, but, as soon as we progress to the portego for after-dinner drinks and entertainment, I get right to the point. ‘My lord, Signor Ludovico tells me you frequent a literary salon.’

‘That’s right. Domenico Venier’s. ’Tis the most important gathering place for intellectuals and writers in Venice.’

‘Are courtesans welcome there?’

‘I’ve noticed a few. Why?’

I’m seized by a sudden shyness. Will he think I’m being forward? Thankfully, Ludovico answers for me.

Sibhon Daiko tour‘I’ve told you about Veronica’s abilities. Don’t tease the girl!’

The count laughs and drains his glass. I reach across to refill it, my gaze meeting his. ‘I write poetry. My greatest desire
is to learn from others and improve my own work.’

‘Will you read me one of your poems?’

‘With pleasure.’ I go to my desk and return with the verse on which I’m now working.

‘If you are overcome by love for me,

Take me in far sweeter fashion

Than anything my quill can describe.

Your love can be the steadfast knot that pulls me towards you,

Joined to you more tightly than a nail in hard wood;

Your love can make you master of my life,

Show me the love I’ve asked for from you,

And you’ll then enjoy my sweetness to the full.’

‘Very good!’ Andrew Tron rises from his chair and bows. ‘You have talent, Signora Veronica. I shall be delighted to introduce you to Venier. Pray tell me, in what far sweeter fashion can a man take you than your quill can describe?’

I laugh. ‘Ah, that’s something I have yet to discover – which is why my quill cannot describe it.’

Ludovico, who has been watching us up until now, his lips twitching with mirth, gets up from his chair and goes to close the door. ‘Shall we try and give this lady the sweetness she desires?’

My jaw drops. The count’s blue eyes look into mine. He inclines his head and gives a lopsided grin. Intrigued, I glance from one to the other.

Ludovico unbuttons my skirt. Under it, I’m wearing my breeches. He cups my buttocks, and wetness floods me. ‘What say you?’

I pretend to consider, although I know the answer already. ‘I say, yes.’

 

Teaser 2


Blurb

 

Veronica COURTESAN

I watch him watching us, imagining how he would take me.

I send him the message with my eyes. This is who I am. I am Veronica Franco. I am a COURTESAN.Teaser 3

I court the cultural elite for fame and fortune, giving my body to many.  And I’m good. So very good. After all, I was taught by my mother, and mother always knows best.

How else to please the future King of France than with the imaginative use of Murano glass? How else to fulfil the desires of all yet keep my sense of self-worth?

But when disaster strikes and my life begins to unravel, I’ll have to ask myself one question: Is it too late to give my
heart to just one man?

Set in Venice 16th Century.

Advisory: sensuously erotic. 18+

Buy links

Amazon Kindle: http://viewbook.at/Veronica_FC1

Paperback: http://viewbook.at/Veronica_pb

 


Author Bio

Siobhan Daiko is an author of romantic historical fiction and a new series of erotic novellas featuring famous courtesans – strong women who held their own in a man’s world. A lover of all things Italian, Siobhan lives in the Veneto region of northern Italy with her husband and two cats. After a life of romance and adventure in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK she now spends her time, when she isn’t writing, enjoying the dolce vita near Venice.

 

Tracy banner-2

 

Social Media/Web links
www.siobhandaiko.wordpress.com
www.fragrantpublishing.com
Facebook Page
Fragrant Courtesans Facebook
Amazon Author Page
Twitter
You Tube Book Trailer

 

GIVEAWAY!

Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here: http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/siobhan-daiko/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

A Dead Man’s Debt by Grace Elliot

A Dead Man's DebtBlurb

After publicly humiliating a suitor, Celeste Armitage is sent from the ton in disgrace. Exiled to the country she discovers a sketch book of nude studies and is shaken to discover the artist is her hostess’s eldest son, Ranulf Charing, Lord Cadnum. This darkly cynical lord is exactly the sort of dissipated rogue she most despises – and yet her blood heats at the thought of him!

Ranulf Charing, Lord Cadnum is being blackmailed over his late brother’s debts. Whilst visiting his mother, he discovers her new companion, Miss Celeste Armitage, to be a woman of unusual perception and starts to fall in love. But then the jealous fury of the blackmailer is unleashed and Cadnum must cast Celeste aside in order to protect her. However, in underestimating her resolve to clear his name – Cadnum places his true love in mortal danger…

 

Available from
Amazon US 
Amazon UK
Smashwords

 

Excerpt

So be it.  Cadnum gritted his teeth as he grasped the leading leg and pushed.  It was like fighting against a brick wall, the calf barely moving.  A lamb was difficult enough; how much more so a calf?  Just as he was wondering if one man was strong enough, a shower of pebbles rattled down the bank.  Concentrating on the calf, he barked to whomever approached, “Don’t just stand there.  Get down here!”

“I beg your pardon!” a woman’s voice answered.

With a flash of annoyance, he glanced upward.

A wide eyed young woman wearing a straw bonnet peered down.  “I say, is everything all right?”

“Does it look all right?” he muttered under his breath.  All he needed was some sensitive miss fainting on him.  “Go!  Fetch help from the house.”

He saw her hesitate, biting her top lip.  “But you need help now.”

A contraction clamped around his arm as the cow’s tail switched across his face, stinging his eyes like a cat-o-nine-tails.

In a flurry of muslin and lace, the miss slid down the bank, landing with a thud in the ditch.

“Ouch.”  She rubbed her ankle.

Cadnum glared back, dark eyes flashing.  “You should have gone to the house.”  Damn it all, she could make herself useful then.  “Hold the tail aside.”

Pulling a face, she limped over.  His gaze lingered; up close, she merited a second glance.  Of middle height with a tidy waist and curves where God intended them, she appeared quick-witted and bright-eyed.  Without further ado, she stripped off her gloves, throwing them onto a bramble bush.  Long, sensitive fingers grasped the muddy tail.

Practical, he thought, silently impressed.  “Why didn’t you go for help?”

“There isn’t time.”  Her bonnet slipped backwards, revealing a quirky face with a pointed chin, her lips finely drawn with an arched cupid’s bow.  The sort of face an artist could lose himself in; all shades of the sea were found in deep emerald eyes framed by a tangle of chestnut hair.

Cadnum tightened his grasp and pushed.  Sweat beading his brow.  The calf retreated an inch.

“What are you doing?”  Her voice was gentle and calm, if somewhat deep for a woman.

He guessed it would be husky in bed, whispering over a pillow after a night of passion.  Her eyes were on him, deep green eyes, lively and entrancing.  He suddenly remembered that he was undressed to the waist, her curious gaze on his skin as he imagined those lily-white hands gliding over his naked chest, her almond shaped nails digging into his skin.  He shook away the thought, trying to remember her question.

She watched with innocence and interest, blushing faintly in a charming way; and yet, he realized, she was no wilting flower.  He shook his head.  The woman had asked a question; damn it, he would answer.

“The calf is breech,” he grunted. “I need to push her back into the womb to turn her.”  He wanted to shock this stranger, to test how bold she truly was.

She stared back, biting her top lip, exaggerating her snub nose.  “Ah!”  Her gaze met his.

“Think of the calf as a carriage in a narrow driveway.  To turn it around, you push it back into the stable yard.”

“What can I do to help?”

“Nothing,” he growled.

Throwing him an angry look, she anchored the tail with a log and scrambled around to the beast’s head.  After a moment’s thought, she placed her pelisse under the cow’s head, stroking the broad nose and crooning words of comfort.

“She’s relaxing.”  Cadnum’s arm was numb from the contractions.  He fell forward as the first leg finally slid back into the womb.  “That helps.”  His hair had come free from the ribbon, falling thickly about his shoulders.  He glanced at the woman.  She was leaning forward, her bosom straining a tight bodice, a satisfying cleavage between her breasts.  He swallowed hard.  She was odd looking, he decided, not exactly beautiful but eye catching nonetheless.  Her face showed character and determination.  Her complexion was too healthy to be fashionable, all rosy cheeked and peppered with freckles.

The woman glared at him now, her skin glowing bright pink.  Had he been staring?  His heart raced as he returned to the calving.

Timing his efforts, he used all his strength to push the second leg back.  His shoulder felt as if it were being ripped from the socket.  With gritted teeth, he found a slippery hoof and clung to it, guiding it from the womb into the birth passage.  Grimacing with the effort, he found the other foreleg, dragging it forward to match its mate.  Pulling first one leg, then the other, he inched them forward.

The muscles of his back burned as he braced, digging his heels into the damp earth.  He pulled in time to the cow’s weakening contractions, but as her effort became more feeble, even that assistance was lost.  The beast lay stretched on her side, head extended, breathing erratically and growing weaker by the second.  It was going to be a close thing; all the effort would be for naught if he couldn’t pull the calf out soon.

After minutes of heaving, two small cream hooves presented themselves.  Cadnum sat back on his heels, sweat dripping into his eyes.  So intense had been his concentration that he’d completely forgotten the woman.  But there she was, slightly pale but watching him intently.

“I need your help…” It wasn’t so very difficult to say.  The woman nodded silently, her face so serious he almost laughed.  “The cow’s spent, she can’t push any more.  I need you to pull with me.”

Licking her lips she nodded weakly.

“Come here.  Grasp my waist.  Pull when I say.”

She stood and, with a whisper of skirts, was at his side.  As her arms wound hesitantly around his waist, he suppressed a shiver of excitement.  Her hands where peach soft and cool.  She smelled of lemongrass.

“Hold tight.”

The thin feminine arms around the hard plain of his belly made his body ache unexpectedly.

“Pull as hard as you can, when I say,” he barked more gruffly than he intended.  “Now.”

Digging his heels into the dirt, his muscles strained as he struggled to keep hold of the slippery hooves.  But his attention was not wholly on the calf as he became aware of the press of her breasts against his bare back, of her sweet warm breath against his neck.  If he wasn’t mistaken, he could feel her heart hammering against his ribs.

With a desperate heave, he pulled the calf and the woman pulled him.  The calf moved another few inches, the forelegs exposed to the wrist joint.

“Again,” he urged.

Another pull and half the forelegs were out.

“Stop.  I need to check if the calf’s head is coming nose forward.”

The woman released him.  Glancing over his shoulder, he noticed her pink tongue darted out of her mouth to moisten her dry lips.

Turning back to the cow, he knelt, feeling inside, satisfied that he could feel a muzzle lined neatly along the forelegs.

“Nearly there.”

The woman’s arms circled back around his waist, wiry with feminine strength.  This time they fitted snugly, her cheek against his back.  A ringlet had broken free of her chignon, brushing his skin.  His groin tightened—much to his annoyance.

“Ready?  Heave!”  Never had he been more glad of the distraction from a woman’s unnerving affect on his body.  He noticed her soft mossy eyes and sweetly tempting curves, yet her bravery and determination excited him most.  Innocent, yet bold.

The calf slithered free with a slippery suck, sliding to the ground in a flood of fluid and membranes.  Man and woman rolled backwards.  Cadnum landed on her skirts, pinning her down.  Her face was flushed, her pupils large.  He stared into her eyes, which were framed with thick dark lashes now modestly brushing her cheek.  He noticed her breathing heavily, a sheen of sweat on her neck, chest heaving.

Neither moved.

The temptation to lean forward and claim a kiss was dizzying.  It was like looking up at a high church tower against scudding clouds, making him giddy.

Scowling, he turned away.  When had he become such a cad that he’d consider taking advantage of an innocent stranger?  He deserved to be horse whipped.  It didn’t help that the throb in his groin reminded him of his weakness.

“The calf?” a small clear voice questioned.

It was a bull calf, steaming slightly in the cool morning air.  Hooking a finger in the calf’s mouth, he cleared away the mucus.

“The cord.  I need to tie off the cord.  Quick, find me something.”

With a whisper of satin, she held out the ribbon from her bonnet.

“Will this do?”

When she didn’t immediately release it, it occurred to him that she was waiting for him to say thank you.  He acquiesced.  With a humph she handed over the ribbon.

As he worked, she stood, regarding the newborn with wonder.  For some inexplicable reason he wanted to hold her tightly in his arms and smooth her hair, to kiss that perfect oval of a mouth.  Damn her for distracting him!

Cadnum rounded on her, squaring his bare chest.  She recoiled, threatened by his unabashed maleness.  She shrank back, making Cadnum angry at himself for frightening her.

“Well don’t just stand there, now go and fetch help!  Tell them to send men to the ditch between the five acre field and the hazel copse.”  Her presence had become intolerable, eating away at his self-control.  “Look sharp about it!”

She jumped and scrambled up the bank with a flash of neat ankle, but not before giving him on last angry glare.

A wave of heat washed over Ranulf, who silently gave thanks that her back was turned.  It was not his habit to ravish complete strangers, especially those so obviously gently born.  But for some reason that was exactly what he wanted to do to this mysterious chestnut haired stranger.  Only as she disappeared over the brow of the hill did it occur to him to inquire who this practical Miss was and what she was doing on his land.

Author Bio

Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. She is housekeeping staff to five cats, two teenage sons, one husband and a bearded dragon (not in order of importance)

Fall in Love with History (blog) http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com

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© 2018 K D Grace
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