19 April 2012
Excerpt Thursday: Surrender to the Roman by M.K. Chester
This week on Excerpt Thursday, we're welcoming historical romance author M.K. Chester. Her title, SURRENDER TO THE ROMAN is available now from Carina Press. When the Romans destroy the nation of Dacia, their princess Ademeni fights for survival and against her growing attraction to the general Marcus. Join us Sunday, when M.K. will be here to talk about the novel and give away a copy. Here's the blurb:
106 A.D – Trajan and his legions move to end a tiresome rebellion…
As the Romans storm the last stronghold of Dacia, Princess Ademeni awaits her fate. Taken as a slave, she is deposited into General Marcus Cordovis's home as a gift.
Driven to avenge her family, Ademeni plots to kill her captor and escape. Though not the cruel victor she expects, Marcus keeps her too close to make escape easy--so close that Ademeni is soon tormented by an unbidden, traitorous attraction. In a moment of weakness, a passionate kiss almost undoes them both.
But the handsome, widowed general has another surprise for Ademeni: a young daughter. Marcus dares ask Ademeni to help him bridge the gap between him and his little girl. And now, Ademeni is growing too fond of those she is supposed to despise. As Marcus prepares for the triumphal march and the opening of the gladiatorial games--where captives of her homeland will be sacrificed--Ademeni readies for her own battle between revenge and love.
**An Excerpt from SURRENDER TO THE ROMAN**
“Go,” Flora repeated. “He waits for you.”
Bile rose in the back of Ademeni’s throat. She’d lingered as long as she could, put off the inevitable duty Flora insisted she perform by sleeping at the foot of Marcus’s bed.
Gods, if she’d only known of his impending arrival, she would have been prepared to face her enemy. She needed the upper hand. And a weapon. One could not improvise murder and escape. Not when facing a man like Marcus Cordovis. Smart, strong…
Her pulse stuttered. He had seemed surprised to see her, yet he had to have ordered that she be taken to his house. He was in charge of his own soldiers, in charge of that horrible Tertullian. He was responsible for everything that befell her, Imaj and Lilah.
Forcing one foot in front of the other, she steadied her nerves and crept into the room. With a whisper, the curtain dropped behind her, dulling the sounds of night.
The great general lay across a raised pallet, a blanket twisted around his body. His head rested against his forearm at an awkward angle.
Relief escaped her chest in a sigh. He seemed to be asleep, pulling in deep breaths. He’d bathed, the faint aroma of rosewater mingling with his masculine scent. So far as she could see, he wore nothing to sleep in, a fact she found easier to ignore than entertain.
A breeze fluttered the curtain, and moonlight dappled the general’s face, splayed across his rounded shoulders. She counted one scar, then another and another marring his skin.
Marcus groaned and shifted in the bed. Ademeni froze in her musings when she glimpsed the edge of a dagger held loosely between his fingers.
She stepped away, then toward him again, triumph darkening her common sense. Taking and holding a deep breath, she reached for the weapon.
She grasped the dagger and fell forward in the same moment, her limbs tangling with his.
Before she could blink, his hand clasped hers, crushing her fingers. He covered her mouth to stifle her scream and leveraged his weight to flip her onto the bed.
Gasping for breath, Ademeni found herself on her back, her arms pinned and mouth covered. She struggled to turn her hand and the knife toward him.
His hold slipped and she took advantage of the moment to force the blade toward him. He cursed as it slid across his shoulder. She cursed him back. “What did I tell you?”
With a grunt, he slammed her wrist against the wooden bed frame. The dagger flew out of her grasp and clattered against the stones.
She froze, all too conscious of the way her ragged breath mingled with his. Long ignored parts of her body sparked to life. One wrong move and that sheet would unwind itself down to the ground, and she’d be faced with a different sort of problem.
In the near perfect darkness, she could still make out the anger in his eyes.
He released her, taking a seat beside her, his hand clamped over the cut she’d inflicted. She gathered her wits and scrambled to her feet, inspecting her wounds, which were mere scrapes but included damaged pride.
When she darted toward the doorway, he rose, grabbed her by the elbow and spun her around. Her pulse thundered in her ears. She barely heard his question.
“How did you come to be in my house?”
The query seemed ludicrous. Had he not initiated the chain of events that led her to this very spot? She lashed out with her free hand and he ducked to avoid her claws.
He caught her wrists in his hands as she continued to fight against him, unable to either injure him further or break free. Reduced to whimpers and desperate curses, Ademeni stopped her struggle.
One glance at the impassive face of Marcus Cordovis told her all she needed to know. Even the blur of tears could not ease his hard lines, his cold nature.
“Let me go, dominus,” she rasped, defeated only for the moment.
He released her at once, and she scampered into the night. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw him washed in white moonlight. He looked like a marble statue, unmovable and unbreakable. Without the element of surprise, it would take everything she had to bring him to his knees.