Saturday, September 15, 2012
NEW RELEASE: THE EAGLE'S WOMAN
In just ten days I leave for Ireland to research the sequel to my book The Eagle's Woman, which was released on August 2.
During the last week of December, I will explore the rocky coast of Western Ireland, known as Eire in 856 A.D. when Ari Bjornsson raids a peaceful fishing village and monastery for booty and slaves he needs to sell at the thriving Viking market of Hedeby. Second son of a dying chieftain, Ari will have nothing but the ship he sails once his father dies. His older half-brother stands to inherit and they are murderous enemies. Ari plans to leave his home along with his mother, but hopes there is time for one last raid before his father dies. It never occurs to him to keep any of his captives, at least not until he sees Maeve, whose scornful temper somehow fires his blood.
Daughter of a simple fisherman, Maeve is about to be betrothed to the village blacksmith, a lusty giant whose advances frighten her almost as much as the Vikings. But after a lightning raid on her village, she finds herself aboard their ship with other captives, bound for Ari's home in Norway where he will offload cargo before sailing on to Hedeby. He fully intends to sell her. But will he?
“What?” Ari asked, reaching with his free hand to take her chin in it. His thumb caressed her bottom lip and she thought she was not out of danger with him, no matter how disheveled her appearance. This man wanted her, no doubt of it. Not enough to commit violence on her, apparently, but she thought gentleness held its own dangers. If she was not careful, it could weaken her will. He was not unattractive—with fair skin, strong angular features and striking eyes—though just then he looked like a drowned rat as all of them did. It did not obscure the strength of his body or the keen intelligence in those eyes. She turned her head to the side, dislodging his thumb.
“I have not seen tears from you before,” he said thoughtfully, “though many of the others are crying. What has finally broken you?”
“I am not broken,” she spat, “only mourning two good people who raised me. But I am sure you know nothing of such feelings.”
He sat back on his heels. “Do I not? Two good people raised me as well. One lies crippled in his sickbed and the other waits for me to bring coin to buy things a sick man needs.”
Maeve was silent, surprised and momentarily chastened. She had never seriously supposed he had motives other than greed.
“Do you think raiding is worthy of a fighting man?” he persisted. “I would rather face an army than hungry children.”
She stifled an impulse toward sympathy. “Ours are dead or captive. You seem to have no trouble facing that.”
Abruptly, he set both feet beneath himself and got up, undaunted by the motion of the ship which made such things impossible for Maeve. She had not noticed a wineskin hanging from the rigging, but she saw him reach for it then. “I cannot help your children.” He took a fulsome swig. “Just mine.” Wiping the neck with his wet tunic, he held the wineskin out to her.
It was decent wine, probably from their monastery, tasting of strength and summer. She needed strength to remember that summer would come again, so she drank.