Not counting e-Bay, or last year's best dressed blog award--ooh, or that game of Bingo I played while on vacation with my grandmother when I was about nine years old--I don't think I've ever won anything. It's no big deal or anything, just the luck of the draw. Some people have it, others don't. I generally don't. Which is why it was such a huge surprise when my book Iron was chosen as one of the finalists in Epic's 2011 e-book awards for Paranormal Erotic Romance. I guess for once I entered something in the right category. Much thanks to everyone who dissuaded me from entering it as a Historical Romance!
The winners will be announced tonight and even though I took one look at the books I'm up against and said, "It's an honor just being nominated," I'll admit to feeling a bit excited today. Lightning could strike twice...couldn't it? I also love that this is all happening so close to Saint Patrick's Day because this is such an Irish book and that's such an Irish holiday and maybe I'll have the luck of the Irish...
Anyway, to celebrate all this good stuff--'cause it's still a pretty cool thing either way--I thought I'd post a couple of excerpts. I also wanted to take the chance to remind you all to stop back here between Thursday and next Saturday for the Luck of the Irish Blog Hop--and maybe you'll get lucky too.
We're doing something different again this hop; creating short, Irish-themed stories for you to vote on.
Yes! More voting! I'm clearly on a roll here!
My story for the blog hop will involve the characters from Iron (because, c'mon, given the theme, who else am I gonna write about?) but I'm not going to say any more about that now. You'll just have to come back and read it on Thursday.
In the meantime, on to the excerpts...
Excerpt #1. This scene occurs very early in the book--the day after Aislinn's arrival when Gavin still has a lot to learn about the Fae. I've included this one because it will help explain part of the story I'm posting on Thursday.
Since several of the windows in the cottage faced the road, Gavin had hoped Aislinn might have been looking out one of them, so to have observed his victory over her enemy. But, when he let himself in he found her seated by the fireside singing softly to herself as she sewed, seemingly unaware of anything that had transpired outside of the room.
He stared at her for a moment, entranced not just by her song but by the cozy, domestic picture she made. Though the fire had burned low, the room had never seemed so warm or welcoming to him. By comparison, his usual existence seemed colorless and drab.
When she glanced up at him, the look in her eyes had him wondering if she hadn’t read his mind. Was she mocking him again? Surely the glow on her cheeks was suspiciously rosy, but when she smiled it was with such disarming sweetness Gavin couldn’t help but smile back.
“What’s all this?” she inquired, laying aside the green gown she was repairing and nodding at the bundles in Gavin’s arms.
“Why, I’ve brought home the Christmas,” he replied, feeling suddenly expansive as he deposited his bounty on the table and shrugged out of his jacket. “Come and see.”
His neighbors had done him proud this year. He’d been gifted with both a Barm Brak cake and a loaf of brown bread, a jug of ale, several hand-sized mince pies, one sack of oranges, one of turnips and another of potatoes, and a dressed goose all ready to be roasted for tomorrow’s dinner.
The fae eyed the food greedily. “But is it all for tomorrow then? Can we not eat at least some of it now?”
“Now?” Gavin glanced at her, askance. “Why, today’s a Fast Day. Don’t you be knowing anything about church law? You shouldna have more than one full meal today.”
“Indeed?” the fae replied waspishly. “Well, and if ever I should feel myself bound to abide by the rules of your religion I do hope I shall recall that. But, at present, I feel no such compunction. Besides, you’ve already left me here to fast for most of the day, as it is. Do ye really mean to starve me then?”
Gavin frowned. “And, if you do starve, how would that be my doing? Are ye so helpless then, you could not have fed yourself? Or is it that you think I exist to be your servant? If you wanted to eat, why did ye not cook yourself something afore now?” Aislinn’s lips tightened and she looked away as though reluctant to answer. Gavin glanced toward his hearth where all the implements anyone would need to fix a meal stood ready, most of them made by his own hand, or that of his da. All of them of iron. And, finally, understanding dawned. “Ah-ha. You couldn’t, could ye?”
Aislinn hesitated for a moment then finally shook her head.
“’Tis because of the iron, isn’t it?”
She nodded, even more reluctantly.
Crossing his arms over his chest, Gavin allowed himself a small gloat at the fae’s expense. ”Well, now, my fine lass, this is a pretty mess you’ve made for yourself, is it not? Perhaps you should ha’ given a little more thought to what you were about afore you forced yourself upon me and made me take you in.”
“I did think about it. I knew exactly what I was facing coming here.”
Gavin grimaced. “Having met your intended, I canna say as I’m surprised. I believe I’d sooner take a chance at starving, too, rather than find myself fallen into his clutches.”
Aislinn’s mouth tilted in a rueful smile. “Aye. ’Tis what I thought as well.”
“Ah, well,” Gavin sighed, unbending just a little. “I suppose a spot of tea wouldna be out of place. Especially when I’ve a heathen such as yourself as a houseguest.” As the insult registered, anger flashed in Aislinn’s eyes. Gavin smiled mockingly and allowed his own gaze to rove openly over her figure, feeling certain that her treatment of him this past twenty-four hours more than justified any insolence he cared to show her. But insolence soon turned to incredulity. “Sweet Saint Joseph. Woman, where the devil did you get that dress you’re wearing?”
“’Twas in the chest in your bedroom,” Aislinn replied, sounding puzzled by the question. “You did seem offended by my nakedness this morning, and I thought it more fitting that I find something other than your shirt to wear. Did I do wrong?”
“Nay,” Gavin muttered, looking away. It was just that he remembered the garment too well and had thought never to see it again—one of the reasons he’d stored it out of sight, rather than giving it away. It was the dress Mairead had been wearing the day she’d informed him he was to be a father. He remembered how her breasts, swollen by her condition in a way he’d found endlessly fascinating, had filled the bodice to the straining point. He’d wanted to fill his hands with them, to draw their distended nipples through his fingers and marvel at the sweet globes in all their ripe fullness. But she’d waved him away when he tried to embrace her, insisting she was too uncomfortably sore to endure his touch. And also insisting that, until such time as she could conceive again, there was now neither reason nor need for the two of them to lie together. Gavin had never been certain which had given her more joy—the thought of the babe growing inside her, or the fact that she’d finally found an excuse to avoid his bed.
“You’re not pleased,” Aislinn said quietly.
Gavin shook his head. “’Tis not that. I’m just surprised to see it. And I wouldna thought it would fit you so well as it does.”
“Well, I did have to let the hem down.”
“Aye, that you’d have had to do,” he sighed, as he hung the kettle on the hook over the fire. “She was just a little slip of a thing as wore it.” Small but spirited, or so Mairead had seemed to him at one time; with eyes of the brightest blue, a smile he thought would surely one day break his heart. And an unexpected coldness that seemed to grow worse each day they were together, and which was what finally ended up doing to him what her smile could not. He took the dishes down from their shelves and the silverware from their drawer and stacked them on the table. “Well, now,” he said, after clearing his throat to dislodge the lump that had formed there. “If dishware isn’t a problem for you, why don’t you see about setting the table for us?”
Excerpt #2. This scene takes place several months later and, obviously, Gavin and Aislinn have grown much closer.
The weeks continued to pass and it seemed to Gavin that if only time were not rushing away from him, as it was, he might have a chance to think rationally about the matter. But time did not stop and rationality was nowhere to be found, and all too soon it was summer.
All at once, the roses were in bloom and the constant chirping of baby birds begging for their next meal had been replaced by the lazy drone of bees foraging among the flowers. The branches of the apple tree, which had long since lost their blossoms, were bent now under the weight of green fruit and the warm, sweet scent of clover greeted Gavin whenever he stepped foot out of doors.
But the changes to the landscape were insignificant next to the alteration the season had wrought in Aislinn’s appearance. She was even lovelier now than she’d been when first he saw her. Though how that was possible he didn’t rightly know, for she’d seemed then to be the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes on. Now, however, her cheeks were rosy and flushed—even though she’d not set foot outside since that day he’d dragged her to the forge—and there was a new lushness to her body that held him utterly transfixed. It was as though she embodied summer; as though the season itself radiated from her, charging the atmosphere around her until Gavin would have sworn he was living within a sun-drenched glen, or a palace of sorts; anything other than an ordinary cottage.
But, that was just by day. At night, her presence infused his rooms with all the warm, wild glory of a sultry, star-studded night—and she the brightest star of all—until the mere sight of her, lying beside him in bed, left Gavin awe-struck and dazzled, too hesitant to even touch her.
“You’ve a peculiar look about you,” she observed, on one such night, her brow puckering slightly as she studied his face. “Is aught wrong with ye?”
He started to shake his head no, and then changed his mind. “Aye,” he answered, struggling for words. “Perhaps. Or, nay, now I think on it. ’Tis you. ’Tis everything about you...do you know how beautiful you are?”
An amused smile curled one corner of her mouth. “I do, aye, for ’tis summer, is it not? Do you not recall my saying you knew naught of my true nature, having never seen me at this time of year?” She cast back the covers so there was nothing hiding her from his sight and stretched languidly. “So, Gavin O’Malley, do you like what you see? Does it please you? What is it you feel when you look at me? Tell me. For ’tis been a long time since I’ve been admired by a man who was seeing me thus for the first time.”
Gavin’s eyes roved greedily, taking it all in. But his thoughts were a muddle and, “How do I feel?” Ah, if only he knew the answer to that. He felt...distracted, conflicted, confused, humbled and, “Fearful,” he replied at last.
“Fearful, are ye?” A silvery laugh broke free from Aislinn’s lips and swept through Gavin, brightening his spirit like a sudden shower after a dusty day. “And what is it you’re afraid of then, my darling one? Surely not of me?”
He nodded, still reeling from the effects of her laugh. “Aye, of you, indeed. Mortally afraid, I be.”
“You silly man,” she murmured, circling her arms around his neck and grinning up at him. “And why, pray tell? Dost thou think I would ever hurt you?”
Gavin sighed. Reaching a hand to her head, he fingered a strand of her hair, which still gleamed gold, even in the starlight. “Lass, I think you could very well destroy me. And I think you know it, too.” He shook his head. “I’m a simple man, Aislinn, whereas you...”
“Are not so simple?” she supplied helpfully, as her smile dimmed and turned mocking.
“Not even a little bit.”
“Perhaps not. But, I didn’t ask for it to be thus, you know. Besides, mo chroí,” she murmured wickedly, her smile returning as she rubbed her mound against him. “I’ve always been one who’s enjoyed the simple things life has to offer.”
“Have you now?” He took hold of her hips and pulled her against him, letting her feel the growing length of his shaft, enjoying the smoky look it brought to her eyes, the slight hitch in her breathing. Fearful or not, he planned to take full advantage of all that she offered; for he was a man, after all, and she was a risk well worth the taking. “And would I be one of those simple things to which you’re referring, then?”
“Oh, you are indeed, mo chroí,” she breathed delightedly. “Without a doubt.”
When Aislinn Deirbhile, an immortal, shape-shifting fae, arrives on his doorstep, Gavin O'Malley knows he’s in luck. For Aislinn can give him everything he’s been missing. Now, all he has to do is find a way to keep her—without losing his immortal soul in the process.