12 Magical Nights Teaser from Tami Lund

“I know Christmas is still a few days away, but I’ve brought you a gift. A small token to prove to you I’m sincere.”

Asher cringed as the royally annoying Prince Julian Montclair spoke in his oily, far-from-sincere voice.

And no doubt he was talking to Princess Charlotte. Julian had been chasing the princess’s skirts for nearly as long as Asher has known him. Since that day, ten years ago, when he’d come across Asher and Charlotte kissing in the woods and had been so furious, he’d gotten Asher thrown into the dungeons beneath his father’s castle.

Sure, Asher was a pauper and the princess, well, she wasn’t supposed to be locking lips with someone so beneath her station, but gods be damned, they’d been thirteen at the time. The punishment hadn’t exactly fit the crime.

Shaking his head, Asher turned to head back to the stable. He’d intended to give one of the horses a run, but not if it meant he would have to interact with the two people around the corner—out of sight, but not out of earshot.

“You’re giving me a necklace? Why do you think you need to prove your sincerity, Julian?”

Asher paused, curiosity overruling the knowledge that being anywhere in Julian’s vicinity was never in his best interest.

“The serving girl comes to mind,” Julian said, and Asher’s fist tightened around the reins until the leather bit into his skin.

“You insisted that was entirely innocent. Are you changing your story?” There was a layer of frost to Charlotte’s voice now.

“No, not at all. It’s just … I know you were upset by it. Even if it was innocent. Because, of course, it looked … well, we all know what it looked like.”

Asher leaned forward to better catch her response, which was silly since he doubted she would say, “Yah, it looked like you were trying to convince that serving girl to share your bed that night. And considering you’re a fucking prince, it probably happened. Even though you’re supposedly courting me, presumably falling in love with me, treating me like the princess I am, the queen I will someday be.”

But the words were only in Asher’s head. In fact, she didn’t say anything at all, and eventually, Julian cleared his throat.

“It’s enchanted,” he said. “See how it has started to glow with a blue light? That’s how you know your one true love is near.”

Give me a break. An enchanted necklace? Fucking parlor tricks. Asher could create magic like that in his sleep. And he’d bet the ten silver pieces he was paid last week that Prince Julian either bought the necklace that way or paid someone to cast a spell over it. Because everyone and the gods were fully aware the man could barely invoke the simplest of spells.

But power and control were all about the station one was born into, and Julian Montclair has been one lucky son of a bitch—no, son of a queen—since the moment he came into this world, wailing like a gods-damned banshee.

“It’s lovely,” Charlotte said. “And it’s warm to the touch.” Asher grimaced as her voice drifted over him, like it always did, making him hard, making him grit his teeth, making him angry for being so stupid. There were plenty of women in the village who were of an acceptable station and perfectly happy to warm Asher’s bed for a day, an hour, a year, however long he was willing—and he wouldn’t end up in the gallows the next morning, either.

Yet all he did was yearn for a woman he couldn’t have. A woman he didn’t really want.

Okay, didn’t want to want.

“It’s channeling my feelings,” Julian’s unctuous voice said. He was touching her, too, no doubt. He’d likely removed his gloves so he could rub his hands over her arms, his fingers probably grazing the sides of her breasts. Asher had seen him do it too many times to those serving girls he swore he wasn’t sleeping with. It was his signature move.

Bastard.

Wait, no, Julian wasn’t the bastard. That was Asher. He was the one born without a father, while Julian had been born into royalty, his mother a queen, his father, the king, standing by, prepared to declare him heir to the kingdom.

Clearly tired of skulking here instead of going for the ride Asher had promised, the horse nickered and pawed the ground.

Damn it.

“Oh. Who’s there?”

And then the princess stepped around the corner, resplendent as ever in a pale blue cloak lined with white fur, white leather gloves, and a matching hat perched at a slightly off-kilter angle on her golden curls. Those almond-shaped blue eyes widened for a moment when her gaze fell onto Asher, and the sides of her rose-colored lips lifted into a smile. For him. And the fact that they moved at all meant she hadn’t been smiling before.

Gods be damned, he’d spent his whole miserable life pining for things he couldn’t have, and this woman was most definitely the farthest out of reach of all his unobtainable dreams.

“Asher.” The way she said his name, slightly breathy, almost hopeful, slammed into his balls like it always did, and he shifted his hips and willed his hand not to reach down to adjust his swelling cock.

“Were you taking Juniper out for a ride?” she asked.

He glanced at the snow-covered ground, at the woods on the horizon, at the garland of evergreen boughs dressed with red ribbons adorning the stone structure next to them. Pretty much everywhere but at her and her companion.

Clearing his throat, he finally nodded. Julian glared at him like he wished he could conjure daggers with his mind and toss them at Asher. Too bad for Julian he couldn’t even create a simple poison and convince Asher to drink it.

“Perhaps I would like a ride,” Charlotte said, brushing her gloved hand along the horse’s neck. “Julian and I are heading to the stable so he can be off. He really needs to go so he is home in time for Christmas.”

“I told you, I’m happy to stay—”

She shook her head and talked over Julian’s protest. “Nonsense. Go home and spend the holiday with your family. You’ll be back again soon enough. Too soon, undoubtedly.”

Asher bit the inside of his cheek to keep from chuckling, while Julian gave the princess a look as if he couldn’t quite determine if she was insulting him.

“Would you mind saddling a horse for me, Asher?” Charlotte asked.

He was the horse trainer, not the stable boy, but those of high stations didn’t always understand the difference. Or care. Sighing, he followed along behind when she and Julian began walking toward the stable.

Asher watched as the prince reached out as if he meant to clasp Charlotte’s hand, and she tucked her own into the folds of her heavy cloak. It may have been an entirely innocent movement, but Asher wasn’t convinced. Which was interesting, because he, like nearly everyone else in the kingdom, was under the assumption Charlotte welcomed Julian’s advances. For most of the last ten years, the king and queen have been anticipating the day they announce their betrothal and therefore finally make the move to merge the two kingdoms.

For Asher, it was the day he planned to move on, to pack his meager belongings and strike out on his own, to go in search of a new home. He would never live in a place ruled by Julian Montclair.

“Hey, stable boy,” Julian said when they stepped inside the stone and wood structure.

Asher snorted. His arms were twice the size of Julian’s, his chest wider, his legs thicker and stronger. With the mop of dark hair on his head and the thick growth of beard on his face that he was too lazy to shave, he was far from being a boy, and Julian bloody well knew it.

“Horse trainer, actually,” Charlotte said. Asher caught her eye and arched his brow. She didn’t need to defend him. He didn’t give a fuck what this loser thought of him.

“Well,” Julian muttered, flapping his hand. “Do you see a stable boy around anywhere? I presume one who trains horses can also prepare them for a journey.”

“I presume one who rides horses can too,” Asher snapped back before he could catch himself.

Julian narrowed his eyes and glared at Asher, who didn’t flinch or look away. Julian may carry the title of prince, but until he married the princess, he had no authority while they stood on her father’s land. Not like ten years ago, when he claimed Asher and Charlotte were on his parents’ property when they’d been kissing by that stream that created the boundary between the two kingdoms.

“Oh gods above,” Charlotte said, and she shouldered her way past the two men and stomped toward to the stall where Julian’s horse had been housed for the past seven days while its owner called upon the princess and tried to woo her into becoming his wife. When he wasn’t wooing serving girls into his bed, at any rate.

Not wanting the finicky animal to bite or kick Charlotte, Asher hurried after her, reaching the stall door first and nudging her out of the way so he could tend to Julian’s snorting, glaring beast. The necklace around her neck glowed more brightly for a scant second.

Stupid parlor tricks.

Asher shook his head and guided the horse to where Julian’s saddle and tack were being kept, near the stablemaster’s office. The moment the last strip of leather was secured around the horse’s belly, Charlotte stepped up to the beast, Julian trailing along behind her.

“Thank you for visiting,” she said, patting the horse’s shoulder. “And for the token.” She touched the slightly glowing gem, a bright blue resting against the pale blue of her cloak.

“I’ll be back on Christmas Day,” Julian said.

“That really isn’t necessary,” she said. “You should stay home, be with your family.”

Julian reached for her and hesitated. “Could you give us a moment?” he said, glaring at Asher, who shrugged and led his horse outside into the snow, securing it next to the one he’d intended to take for a run before he bumped into the courting couple.

In short order, the prince strode from the stable and snatched the reins, smoothly leaping onto the horse’s back. Glancing down at Asher, he lowered his lids and said, “Paupers don’t marry princesses, boy. Perhaps you should set your sights lower.”

Asher arched his brows. “I’m not the one unsuccessfully courting the princess. Or whoring around with serving girls in the interim. I recently heard another has discovered herself with child, and with no man about to lay claim to her bastard.”

Julian’s face turned as red as his cloak, his ungloved hand squeezing the reins so tightly, the knuckles were white. “Do you recall your visit to my father’s dungeon? Do you recall the smell? The sounds? The fear that permeated the place?”

Asher still regularly woke from a restless sleep, bathed in sweat, his heart beating erratically, as his mind relived those moments when he’d thought he was going to perish in that underground prison.

“It’s gotten worse,” Julian continued, one side of his lips quirking. “And I cannot wait for the day I make the princess mine. Because that’ll be the same day you return to that place—and this time, you won’t leave alive.”

Magic coursed through Asher’s veins and he struggled to control the urge to knock Julian from his horse and beat the man to a bloody pulp. Instead, he touched his fingers to the horse’s rump, giving it a slight zap, which caused it to snort and jump, bucking and leaping around in circles while Julian tugged on the reins and shouted at the animal.

Turning away from the sight, Asher came to a stuttering halt when Charlotte stood not ten feet away, holding Juniper and another horse both by the reins. While he’d been verbally sparring with Julian, she had saddled her own horse.

“I would have done that for you,” he said.

She shrugged. “Like you said, if one can ride the beast, one should know how to prepare it for the journey.”

Right. He hadn’t meant for her to take that particular insult to heart.

“Help me up?” she asked. Apparently the interaction with Julian had made him bold, because instead of lacing his fingers so she could use his hands as a step up, he grasped her around the waist and tossed her into the saddle. She gave a startled eep and covered the glowing pendant with her hand. “Thank you.” Her voice was breathy again, like she’d gotten some sort of enjoyment out of that brief moment of physical contact.

He nodded and leaped onto Juniper’s back, tugging the reins to guide the horse down the path leading to the woods where he often exercised the animals. Julian, he noted, had gotten his own beast under control and was cantering away in the opposite direction, toward the road that would take him back to his home. The same path Asher and Charlotte had taken that fateful day ten years ago, when their innocence had been striped in more ways than one.

Asher spurred his horse on, needing the speed to help chase the demons away—not to mention the lust swimming through his system. Which was ridiculous. Charlotte was untouchable, a princess; one who was all but engaged to another. To Julian Montclair, no less.

When would he ever learn to stop yearning for things he could not have?

Sound interesting? It’s the first chapter of my contribution to an upcoming Christmas anthology called 12 Magical Nights of Christmas. Releases on Christmas Eve. The cover reveal is in a couple weeks, September 15-17, over on Facebook. Here’s the link:

12 Magical Nights of Christmas Cover Reveal Party

Head on over; it’s guaranteed to be fun. There will be prizes, books, and a bunch of authors having a grand ole time. Pretty sure the book will be up for pre-order by then, too. Oh yeah, and all proceeds from sales of the anthology will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. This same group of authors worked together on a Valentine’s anthology and ultimately donated thousands of dollars to St. Jude’s!

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

 

 

Tami Lund is an author, award winner, wine drinker, and contributor to fun anthologies. Her website is here, if you want to scope it out for a free read: http://tamilund.com.

 

#AudioBook One Night with the Best Man from @SSaraDaniel

Hey friends! Earlier this summer, I promised you the rest of my One Night With the Bridal Party series would be coming out in audio, and then … radio silence. I’m back, and I’ve brought Alex Cortez, the heroine’s fun-loving little brother from One Night with the Groom.

Will a one night stand from Madame Eve give them the courage to face what they fear most or drive them apart forever?

Alejandro “Alex” Cortez vowed never to return to the family farm, but when his sister makes it the destination for her wedding, he has no choice. The farm’s new owner, sexy agricultural professor Dr. Susan Gundersen, is his only hope for a diversion from the haunting memories.

Susan knows better than to count on people sticking around for her. The farm gives her the roots and permanence she’s craved her entire life. As she helps Alex clear out his family’s mementos from the house, Susan is drawn to the raw and vulnerable man under his carefree exterior. A few kisses later, she falls hard and fast.
Despite their mutual attraction, Susan will never leave the farm and Alex will never consider staying. Will one passionate night with the best man give them the courage to face what they each fear most or drive them apart forever?
Buy links:

Amazon


Narrated by Hollie Jackson

Buy Links:
Amazon
Audible
iTunes

Ever want to direct the writer where to go? Now’s your chance!

Guys!! I’m announcing my first ever reader-directed novel! Where your feedback directs the story! Basically, read the chapter, post some feedback, I read the feedback and write the next chapter. Rinse and repeat until the book is done. Once it is, this will go up as a FREE read you can download in its entirety with this fancy lil’ cover.

What?? Oh, yeah. It’s gettin’ crazy round here!

A few things before jumping into this party: 

  • This is a free read and open to all readers, all ages. That means I will be writing a nice, clean read. Sorry, ladies!
  • Even though this is a free read, that doesn’t mean stealing the content is okay. Please don’t be a pirate. Unless you’re Jack Sparrow. Then by all means…
  • Be kind. To me. To other readers. To everyone (except maybe that creepy guy at the grocery store–stay away from him). 
  • I will not accept your content to add to the story. Ideas only, please! You can write what you want, but I will only publish my words. Copy right, legalities, all that apply to this rule.
  • Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for joining me!

Take me to chapter 1!!

 

 

 

Life and Books Collide

eclipse Diamond RingAs I watched the full eclipse on Monday, I remembered the importance of an eclipse in the first book I ever wrote.

ladyhawke-pic.jpgMy heroine took her code name from the original French version of a fifteenth century story which was made into a movie in 1985. Have you ever heard of Ladyhawke? It had a great cast including Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick. A full eclipse of the sun played a key role in the story, a.k.a. the black moment. Pun intended.

Unrelenting Love 150 dpiIn Unrelenting Love, Katlin Callahan takes the code name, Lady Hawk, not from the movie but from the original French version of the story which she was forced to read in high school.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the title for this blog.

Ladyhawke pic2To briefly explain the ancient story, Captain Navarre and Lady Isabeau had fallen in love, but the Bishop wanted her too. When the two lovers escaped, he placed a curse on them. From sunrise to sunset Navarre was a man and Isabeau was a hawk. From sunset to sunrise, she became a woman and he shifted into a wolf.

Sidebar – I guess we can thank the French for the original shifters.

Only during a full eclipse of the sun could Captain Navarre and Lady Isabeau face the Bishop together in their human form and break the curse. Then they could have their happily ever after.

Want to know more about the movie?

Click here to watch the movie trailer #1.

Click here for the movie trailer #2

Click here for more movie information.

To Buy Unrelenting Love, click here or on the cover above.

I want to thank my friend Janice Maynard (Click HERE to check out her books, especially her new Scots series) and her husband Charles for the wonderful picture of the eclipse taken a few miles from my home. This shot is called the diamond ring, taken just as the moon begins to reveal the sun once again.

These are the Days of My (Fall) Life

Life is hectic right now. So yeah, I’m writing this blog post the night before it’s scheduled to go live. No promises on how good it’ll be, let alone whether I’ll manage to catch typos and grammatical crap that isn’t called out thanks to Word’s swiggly red and green lines. Like swiggly. Word doesn’t like that word. Thinks it’s misspelled. Should be wiggly or swingy.

To be honest, I didn’t know ‘swingy’ was actually a word, and okay yes, ‘wiggly’ would probably work to describe those handy reminders Word offers up. But I like swiggly. It’s wiggly with swagger, and who doesn’t like a good swagger?

Especially if it’s attached to a desperately in need of redemption bad boy.

Speaking of—side bar—I just finished an amazing book with a hella sexy bad boy. I spent a fair portion of the book working myself up, figuring there was no way in hell this author could redeem him properly. He was that bad. And she did what I thought was impossible, thank God, because I truly thought I would finish the book and throw my phone against the wall with fury because the hero ended up not being much of a hero. I was so relieved I damn near cried.

The book’s called Beautiful Beast and the author is Aubrey something-or-another. I’ll have to look it up for you.

(Here it is: Beautiful Beast on Amazon)

So back to swiggly and swagger and my hectic life. (Although maybe now that I’ve finished that incredibly addictive book, it suddenly won’t seem so hectic. Because yeah, I was having a hard time focusing on the real world while reading it.)

It’s always crazy this time of year. It’s that part of the summer when it hits you that it’s almost over, so you do whatever you can to spend as much time doing summer stuff as possible, like you should have been doing for the past three months.

And then there’s back to school, which, now that we moved the kid to a different school means earlier than normal (public schools in the state of Michigan don’t start until after Labor Day, since tourism is an obscene amount of our state’s budget—hello, have you seen our state?—and Labor Day is a huuuuuuge tourism weekend).

Like next week earlier. Which will likely sneak up on my every single year until she graduates, I’m sure. Because geez, summer’s still in full swing, and now I have to make sure she has a haircut and that her uniform fits, make sure her shots are up to date (that makes it sound like she’s a dog, doesn’t it??), purchase all those school supplies we suddenly have to have in less than a week. Oh, and we’re going out of town for the weekend prior to the first day of school (not exactly well planned), so yeah, everything has to be done by this Thursday.

And let’s not forget football. Just to be clear, I could give two shits about football. The only game I ever watch is the Super Bowl and that’s only because I’m surrounded by friends and drinks and delicious, unhealthy food, watching the best commercials I can expect to see all year long. And for whatever reason, all those aspects make the rest of the game pretty fun too. Usually.

And yet football affects my life, adds to the insanity of fall, creates a whole additional layer of compaction as I try to balance an utterly impossible to balance load of life. How? Because the husband, who has a nice, normal day job, moonlights as a high school football referee. When my kids were little, I called myself a ‘football widow.’ It wasn’t quite as bad as being a football coach’s wife (okay, not remotely), but in my world, it was plenty bad enough. When you have two little kids and your husband is gone four or five days a week, it’s damn hard to manage. Oh yeah, and did I mention my day job gets insane at this time of year, too? And a few years ago, the owner had the brilliant idea to move the office thirty minutes further away from my home (I am convinced it was a personal affront and not because of the availability of real estate and tax breaks), which means my commute is a lovely, loooooong one hour each way. So when I work ten hour days, plus two hours of commute time, WHEN THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO WRITE?

And that’s the crux of all this whining. I miss my writing at this time of year. I want it, I crave it, I need it. It’s my wine. My chocolate, my sleep, my world. I need to write like normal people need to breathe. And finding time to do so at this time of year is hard. Really hard. (When you read that last bit, read it in a really, really, high pitched pitiful voice—there, that’s how I feel.)

Well look at that. Somehow, I managed to write a blog post after all. While I’m on this roll, I should probably try to get in some words on the latest manuscript.

After I make dinner.

And convince the kid to shower.

And walk the dog.

And clean the kitchen.

And do a load of laundry.

And water the flowers.

And … pass out on the couch.

Did I mention it’s already after seven in the evening?

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

 

Tami Lund is an author, award whiner (see what I did there?), and wine drinker. She prefers the wine without the ‘h’ whenever possible, but sometimes, a girl’s gotta vent.

Check out her website here: www.tamilund.com

Post Vacation Blues

My last blog post was about anticipating my annual vacation at the lake; this one is about the post-vacation blues. I’ve been home four days and I desperately want to go back.

Could be the day job. Not that I hate it, but it isn’t related to writing, and writing is my dream job, so…

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Could be the fact that I do not actually live on a lake, during my non-vacation time. Sure, there’s one at the end of the road, but that requires loading all the stuff into the car and driving down there. By stuff I mean a cooler full of drinks and a few snacks, not to mention rafts and tubes and towels and sunscreen and the dog and the kid and…the list sometimes seems endless. For a precious few hours’ fun. Not that we don’t do it regularly, but it sure would be nice to walk out my front door to the water.

Maybe it’s the fact I live in the city. Okay, in the ‘burbs. And I hate it. Okay, I don’t. I love my neighbors, I love my neighborhood. It’s nice that everything I need is less than a twenty-minute drive away. And when I want to get cultured, downtown is only an hour away. Easy, fairly convenient.

But that drive includes traffic and construction delays and then there’s the noise and the people and more traffic. I’d just like to try living in the middle of nowhere for a change. To see if I’d enjoy it as much as I suspect I would. If I hate it or get sick of it, I’ll wave the white flag and admit I’m wrong and move back to the city. I promise.

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Maybe it’s the inspiration created by sipping coffee early in the morning, perched next to a large body of crystal clear water, with only the sounds of nature accompanying me. Loons, mourning doves, water lapping at the shore. A fork rattling against a plate in someone else’s kitchen; a kid crying because he wants to swim before breakfast. Okay, those last two aren’t exactly nature, but they’re three doors down and part of lake-living. It’s amazing how far sound travels over water. How clearly, too. Can’t be a screamer when you’re living on a lake.

Wait, I’m getting off-track here.

“Up north” living as we call it here in the great state of Michigan, is inspiring. I always get a decent amount of writing done when I’m on vacation. Sure, it’s because I’m not at the day job for seven glorious days, but it’s also something else. The lack of distractions. Often, when we’re on vacation, we don’t have a decent internet connection, so I can’t spend a lot of time on social media or planning the next marketing ploy or begging readers to buy my books (although please do!) so I can leave the city and live on the water, you know, just to see if I like it.

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I suppose, if I’m truly going to live up north and write for a living, I probably have to choose a place with decent wifi. And then I’ll probably get distracted, thus reducing the amount of inspiration that lifestyle creates. But still … I’m still more than happy to try.

Really. I don’t mind.

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund is a writer, wine drinker, award winner, blogger, and dreamer. Mostly of sandy beaches and blue lakes. Oh, and of living on one, one of these days…Check out her website for books and more blog posts to entertain you: http://tamilund.com