While I’m off traveling for the day job, my good friend Renee Vincent wanted to share the latest in her series of delicious Viking heroes! Whoo hoo! Here’s a little taste of:
He was her champion. She was his weakness.
Together, they loved with wild abandon.
Gustaf Ræliksen lives by the blade of his sword. After avenging his father’s murder and reuniting with his family, he wants nothing more than to settle down and have sons of his own. Only one woman will do—a fiery redhead he saved from the spoils of war.
No longer forced to warm the beds of the men who’ve taken everything from her, Æsa has nothing to offer the noble warrior but her heart.
When someone with a deep score to settle seeks revenge upon her, Gustaf’s world is torn asunder. He has but one vow—saving the woman he loves from the ignorant fool who dared to best the temperate warrior.
“Dying a thousand deaths in my head to protect you is better than losing you one time in the flesh. I would never recover if I let anything happened to you.”
His voice was devoid of emotion, monotone as he laid open his heart for her. Most would think he was just being aloof, uncaring as he rattled off sentimental words in an impersonal way. But Æsa knew better. He was not only bearing his soul to her, but doing so the only way he knew how; by occupying his mind and body with a simple task so his heart couldn’t entertain the idea of failure.
Moved by his words, she stood and made haste to join him on the hide. Dropping to her knees, she laid her hands atop his wrists, impeding his progress with the knife. His eyes met hers and they stared at one another.
Long, heartfelt seconds ticked by as she absorbed the magnitude of his pain. She plucked the tools from his hands and set them at his feet. “I am so sorry for bringing this burden upon you.” Gustaf opened his mouth for rebuttal, but she pressed her finger to his lips, feeding his words back to him. “Yesterday, you were without burden, at peace knowing you had fulfilled your duty as a loyal son. Ready to start your life anew…remember?”
He closed his eyes as if forcing himself to hear her and wait his turn.
“And now, I have thwarted your future happiness with a dark past that follows me everywhere I go. You can deny all you want what I used to be and pretend that I am a woman of worth if it makes it easier for you to accept my shame. But I know what I used to be and I will not let you add me to the list of things you will punish yourself for should you fail. I am not worth it. I am not worth any man’s grief. Or death,” she added.
Slowly, Gustaf opened his eyes and stared at her. His lips drew a straight line across his face. He removed her finger from his mouth and held her wrist in a tight grasp. “May I speak?”
Æsa nodded, steeling herself for the tongue-lashing she knew would follow. He took his time replying, which was worse than having him berate her on the spot. The look in his eyes foretold of his disappointment, and his quiet reserve prefaced the exceptional temperance this man was capable of.
“I shall do my best to make myself clear,” he began, his eyes never leaving hers. “We all have a past and oftentimes we have an unfortunate moment in our existence we would rather erase from our memories. But it matters not what we have failed to do, but what we succeed in doing from those failed moments onward. In my past, I have failed to protect my family, as I am the only one left, save for my nephews on Inis Mór. While their deaths, brought about by various regrettable circumstances, were not a direct cause of my own negligence, the burden is still the same. Like you, I face that demon every day of my life.
“That being said, our demons do not become us. They are not the bones and flesh of our bodies, nor the substance of our hearts. They are recollections of what used to be and what is no longer. Your demon—or your previous life as a whore, as you like to beat upon my brow—is not who you are inside. Your worth is diminished only by the demon you place across your shoulders like a royal cloak. Divest yourself of that, my dearest Æsa, and you will understand the depths of my love and the extent to which I will go to protect you. Gladly protect you,” he reiterated. “Until then, you will just have to take my word for it.”
I am an author with a passionate interest in Irish and Norse history. I live in the rolling hills of Kentucky with my husband and two children on a beautiful secluded farm of horses and hay fields.
I am a sucker for a good cup of coffee (lots of cream and sugar…and whipped cream if I can get my hands on it), great conversation, and a lilting Irish accent. I love to read and I can’t resist watching great epic historical movies.
From an early age, I’ve always had scenes playing out in my head. Whether it was a story with a moral or a tale with a twist, those ideas have never let me sleep until I wrote them out. And considering I have an eclectic ensemble of stories swarming in my brain at any given time, I write under a couple pen names to accommodate the various genre categories.
(Historical & Contemporary Adult Romance)
From the daunting, charismatic Vikings, to the charming, brazen Alpha male heroes of modern day, you’ll be whisked away to a world filled with fast-paced adventure, unforgettable romance, and undying love.
Visit my website at http://www.reneevincent.com/
Gracie Lee Rose
(Lighthearted, Fancy-free Women’s Fiction)
For those who love to read fun, wholesome, and endearing romantic stories that your mother, sister, friends, and daughters can enjoy.
Visit my website at http://www.gracieleerose.com/
Romance Blog: http://www.deepintheheartromance.com/