10 January 2013

Excerpt Thursday: Captive of the Border Lord by Blythe Gifford

This week, we’re welcoming author Blythe Gifford, a regular Unusual Historicals contributor, whose Brunson Clan trilogy continues this month with CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD from the Harlequin Historical line.  (The series launched in November with RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR and will conclude with the March 2013 release of TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL.)

Blythe will be here Sunday to talk about the series in more detail and offer a copy to one lucky commenter.

The Brunson Clan trilogy is set on the Scottish Borders during the early Tudor era and centers on a family of Border Reivers.  Here’s a glimpse of CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD:


Bessie, the selfless sister of the powerful but stubborn Brunson clan, has sacrificed herself for her family’s honor and is at the mercy of the court of King James. Ill-suited to court life, she must confront their mortal enemy, Lord Thomas Carwell, dressed in nothing but borrowed finery and pride.

Underneath the relentless gaze of her captor, she’s enticed not only by him but also by the opulence of a world far removed from her own. When the furious king demands her brother’s head, Carwell is the only one to whom she can turn. But she must pay the ultimate price for his protection….

**An Excerpt from Captive of the Border Lord**

In the excerpt below, the hero has followed the heroine to the kitchen, where she needs to replenish food and drink.  Suspicious of his reason for coming to the celebration uninvited, she has just asked him bluntly why he is there.

Carwell kept a smile clamped on his lips.  He was learning not to underestimate Bessie Brunson, but it was hard to keep that in mind when he looked at the woman.  Red hair tumbled over her shoulders, her brown eyes sparked with suspicion, and her lips were full and soft and ready…
He stopped his thoughts.  “Leave this night for celebration.  I’ll speak to your brothers tomorrow.” 
“Tomorrow?  When Rob’s head is double its size because of the wine he’s drunk this night and Johnnie is comfortably abed enjoying his new bride?”
He swallowed a sour retort.  “They’ll be ready to listen when they hear why I’ve come.  It’s a matter for men’s ears.”
She looked to Heaven before she met his eyes again.  “You’ve no women in your household.”
He blinked.  He hadn’t.  Not for years.  “No.  Not…now.”
The memory cramped his heart.  He would never take a woman for granted again.  A twinge, a weary sigh, these could signal the threat of something worse. 
He set the thought aside.  That was not to be shared with anyone, least of all with this stranger.  Yet for a moment, he had imagined she would understand.
“If you had,” she said, “you would know that we do not need to be protected from the truth.” 
Looking at this woman, he doubted that her family had protected from anything at all.  “Then you’ll know it when they do.  And it will be tomorrow.”  The king had no more patience than that.
Despite his offer of help, she asked for nothing as she moved around the room, effortlessly scooping up oat cakes and putting another batch near the hearth.  When she finished her sweep through the kitchen, she shook the girl awake and told her to watch that the fire did not burn the kitchen down.
Finally, she joined him at the door. 
“You wanted to help.”  She set down her cakes, filled two flagons with ale from the barrel, and shoved them at him, her eyes flashing with anger.  “Carry these.”
Silent, he followed her into the cold, proud that he had refrained from pouring her precious ale into the dirt.  The woman was stubborn as the rest of her kin.  Maybe more so.
But as he watched the sway of her walk, he remembered the way she had leaned toward him in the dance, following his lead through the unfamiliar steps.  For those few moments, there had been nothing but music and movement and the two of them.
Well, her hatred would be back in force tomorrow. 
Just as soon as she discovered he was here to take her brother hostage.

Blythe Gifford has been known for medieval romances featuring characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. Now, she’s launching a trilogy set on the turbulent Scottish Borders of the early Tudor era, starting with RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, November 2012, Harlequin Historical. CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD will follow in January 2013, and TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL in March 2013. The Chicago Tribune has called her work "the perfect balance between history and romance.” Visit her at www.blythegifford.com, www.facebook.com/BlytheGifford, or on Twitter @BlytheGifford. 

Author photo by Jennifer Girard.  Excerpt Copyright © 2013 by Wendy B. Gifford.  Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.  Cover Art Copyright © 2013 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited.  Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.