I have a new release coming out July 3rd from Taliesin Publishing under my traditional romance name, Theodora Lane. I started this story years ago, before I was published. I tried to pitch it to editors and agents, but was told no one wanted to read a Russian historical, all the while calling for something “different.” So I let it sit, until recently and dragged it out. I had started with Taliesin and knew they were interested in “great romance stories” not just the usual, so I pitched it to them, and they loved it. Now, it’s ready to see the light of day and I couldn’t be happier.
It’s a erotic historical set in 1623 Russian. I found this era to be fascinating, and rarely written about. Years ago, I spotted a picture, a drawing really, of a mounted soldier. He was so dashing, yet dangerous looking, and there was only a small cpation, “A Druzhina soldier.” I did some research and discovered a group of fighters I’d never heard about. That image just captured my imagination, and a story started in my head. These men were the Tsar’s elite mounted guard, the Druzhina. They were like enforcers. If you were good, the Tsar might loan a garrison of them to sit around your lands, at your expense, keeping the peace or showing off his love for you. If you were bad, he’d send them in and basically kick your ass and bring you back into line. They rode warhorses trained for battle, were experts with sabers and knifes, and were feared and fearless.
Her Lieutenant —
Alexei is waiting to go into battle, when his captain sends him on a mission to return the daughter of the Duke of Bagry. Alexei is pissed about being used this way, but he must follow orders.
Arisha Bagry is tarnished by her past. She’s been sent away from her family, but she’s survived, adapted and is leading a quiet, content life. Bagry is a memory she’d rather forget. Having a Druzhina show up, demanding she return is not what she had planned for her life.
His mission is to bring her back. Her mission is never to return.
Here’s an excerpt —
“Are you having me on, Captain? You would waste me on this…errand?” Rising to his feet, Alexei’s brows furrowed as he glared at Cherburko from across the desk. Papers lay in stacks on one side, the other held pens, ink, and wax. A courier’s leather pouch lay open, envelopes spilled out of it, red wax stamped with the seal of the Druzhina.
“Lieutenant Zolvar, take your seat.” Captain Cherburko raised his bushy black eyebrows, and those thunderous grey eyes pinned Alexei where he stood.
He sat, fists on his thighs, and willed his breathing to slow, his heart to stop its gallop, his temper to cool.
Cherburko picked up a letter, glanced at it, and then put it down. He tapped the paper with his finger. “Do not mistake the importance of this mission, Lieutenant.”
“I beg your pardon, Captain, is this what the Tsar’s Druzhina have been reduced to here in Bagry? The duke’s own errand boys?”
Cherburko leaned forward. “No. But you are my errand boy, Lieutenant Zolvar, to send where I will. To battle, to death, even to some back country village to retrieve the duke’s daughter.” He picked up his pen and spun it in a slow circle in his fingers.
Alexei ground his teeth. Where the captain sent him, he must go. But this assignment was so far beneath him, unless… Was this a punishment?
“Sir, have I displeased you? Failed in some way?”
“No. Your service has been exemplary. What you have done on the battlefield and here in Bagry…well, I could ask no more of any man. Now I am sending you to Kolyma. You are the only man in my command I trust for this duty.” He pushed a bundle of papers and a pouch across the desk. “Here is the map and the coin for the journey from the duke’s own purse. The sealed letter is for you to deliver into his daughter’s hand.”
“Yes, sir.” Alexei scooped up the purse and the papers, and then pushed to his feet.
“Have that huge red horse of yours ready by dawn, you will need all the day’s light to make it there in four days. The duke’s daughter and her great-aunt must be returned in all haste.”
“As you command, Captain Cherburko.”
With a wave of his hand, Cherburko dismissed him.
Passing the clerk without returning the lad’s salute, Alexei strode out into the crisp night air.
Halfway across the courtyard, he stalked a tight circle and then halted. He jerked his hat off his head, slapped it against his thigh, and swore an oath between gritted teeth. By all the saints, how had he come to this? A letter carrier and a retriever of little girls?
With an exhale that emptied the air from his chest, he headed to the stables to speak to the grooms about readying his horse in the morn.
It’s out from Taliesin Publishing on July 3rd, and should be up at Amazon and all the usual suspect places.
I hope you’ll give this a try and fall in love with my Russians, just like I fell for them.