Author: Gina Conkle
Publisher: Entangled, Scandalous
Publish Date: 17 June 2013
A Viking Romance
Two lives collide when Helena, a captive Frankish woman, finds herself in desperate need. Hakan, the Viking chieftain who takes her, has plans…to lay down his sword and live a quiet farmer’s life.
Trouble brews when Helena, not born a slave, longs for freedom, and the chieftain who bought her longs for peace. They discover one surprise after another that hot Viking summer. But, will deceit and old loyalties destroy what is their greatest discovery…each other?
He saw wetness on her lashes. She turned her face to the fields, and another piece of the riddle that made Helena fell into place.
Hakan cupped her chin. His thumb stroked her scarred jaw. “Your pouch, the stone is the reason for this. Magnuson said as much.”
She nodded, sniffling and swiping at tears that rolled down her cheeks.
His thumb brushed a tender stroke over her cheek’s curving pink scar. “The stone almost cost you your life. Why?”
Hakan, with great tenderness, stroked her face. The salve had done its work: smooth, touchable skin remained. But the salve only healed skin deep wounds. Some wounds lurked deeper than the Dane’s cut. What ached beneath the surface? More fat tears rolled down her cheeks.
“I am a peasant maid.” Her voice quivered. “When Guerin wanted me, I felt…” Helena sniffed and chewed her lower lip. “I was suddenly important. A woman of value. Without it…”
Her vulnerable admission was a tender spot for her. Couldn’t she see her worth was higher than any stone?
His thumbs wiped away her tears. “Keep the pendant. It came at a great price. Wear it for all to see.”
Hakan took her hand in his and set the necklace in her palm. He curled her fingers over jewel and chain.
“Aye, Helena, the stone could buy more thralls. But ‘tis metal and stone. They do nothing for me.”
Her lashes, spiked with wetness, fluttered at him. Bewilderment writ on her face, he soothed his voice as if calming a babe.
He shook his head. “I’ll not trade you for that.”
“I don’t understand.” Her eyebrows knit together.
How could he explain what he didn’t fully understand? He was on shaky ground. From the corner of his eye, part of a red sail caught a strong breeze and fluttered. Selig replaced the rocks that tamped down the sail before the whole cloth blew free. The vibrant red waved at him, a banner by which he could escape explaining why he’d not let her go. Hakan waved his arm at the sails drying in the meadow.
“Look what you’ve accomplished in so short a time. You promised me great talent weaving fine linens…to expand my wealth.” Hakan’s arms folded across his chest. “Strong sails for my ships. This I understand.” Tilting his hand toward the jewelry in her hand, the corners of his turned down. “Stones do nothing for me.”
A thousand glittering stones couldn’t equal her worth. He stared into the depths of her blue eyes and called himself a coward for not admitting this to her.
Helena sniffed again and clutched the pendant, returning it to the leather pouch. “Is there no custom? No means to gain my freedom?” she asked, her voice hoarse with emotion.
Hakan sighed. “There are ways.”
“Mardred told me a thrall can earn her freedom after some years of service. Is this true?”
“Aye.” His arms stayed crossed, unmoving. He’d give no more.
“Then, may I strike such an agreement with you?”
“I want to earn my freedom.” Her eyes pleaded with him.
Hakan shifted his stance, cagey about giving an inch. His neck and shoulders knotted.
True, many a valuable thrall gained freedom after years of service. Most stayed.
“Serve me well for seven years, Helena, and you’ll be a freewoman.”
“The time cannot be shortened?” She clasped her hands together. “Seven years,” she groaned. “So long.”
“I will not be swayed on this.”
She canted her head at him, doubt clouding her features. “But, will you keep your word, my lord?”
“What makes you doubt me? The way I’ve mistreated you?”
Helena flinched at his sarcasm. She was not satisfied. Seven years must feel like one hundred to her. Her fingers plucked at her apron, and she kept silent. A stab, like a hot brand, hit him. This was rejection. An arm’s length from her, Hakan shut himself away as if in a distant fortress. “I require your respect. For seven years.”
Pain flashed from her eyes. She dabbed at their corners and nodded.
Hakan needed to move. He needed something to ease the itch that plagued him. He needed to keep a good distance from her. His ax leaned against the barn. He grabbed it and swung the heavy tool over his shoulder.
“I have to clear some trees,” he announced. The field did need widening, and he needed wood.
The tree line would keep him a safe distance from her, yet he could keep an eye on the longhouse. And the loom where she would sit. Hakan walked to the edge of the yard and something pushed him to needle her.
“I expect fresh bread at my table tonight. See to it.”
Her eyebrows shot up at his harsh command. He hadn’t spoken to her that way since the journey to Svea. Her body visibly bristled at his tone. He waited, and Helena bowed her head in exaggerated servitude. Hakan whistled on his way to chop wood, pleased at gaining the upper hand.
Much could happen in seven years.
Thank you, Cerian, for inviting me to be part of your blog. I enjoyed your fun questions!
Share 4 fun facts about yourself!
- I eloped at midnight after winning at billiards (the wedding was contingent on the win)…and yes, we’re still happily married after 19 years.
- I hiked alone to Half-Dome by myself, then borrowed a mountain climber’s carabiner (the metal clip) and hooked onto a cable to climb to the very top of the rock (pre-slat stair days).
- The most expensive item in my closest? My wetsuit for ocean swims.
- Despite the above “adventure girl” stuff, I’m really a quiet nerd. I used to collect stamps and rocks and have always been a reader.
Could you tell us a little bit about Norse Jewel?
Norse Jewel’s the tale of a stolen woman and the Viking chieftain who saves her. Hakan buys Helena from some unsavory types but takes her to the far northlands of Svea. Not born a slave, Helena seeks freedom to go home to the land of the Franks.
Warrior Hakan wants to lay down his sword and live a peaceful farmer’s life. Trouble is he’s drawn to his thrall, Helena. She weaves happiness in his life, yet vexes him for freedom at every turn.
Old loyalties and betrayals haunt the Viking chieftain, calling on his warrior’s ways. Danger stalks the kingdom. Can Hakan save his homeland and keep the only woman who’s ever touched his heart?
What inspired you to write Viking romances?
I’m a history buff. But, what sparked me about Vikings was a combination of things. I read Josie Litton’s book Dream of Me. I also had taken a trip to Stockholm around the same time and discovered the Smithsonian book, Vikings, the North Atlantic Saga. Add visits to my parent’s home in Minnesota (they live very close to the Viking Trail where Viking artifacts have been found), and you have how I found my way to Viking romance.
If Norse Jewel was made into a movie, who would you choose to cast as Helena and Hakan?
Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy” actor) and Cobie Smulders (“How I Met Your Mother”).
Funny, I’d said in the past a younger Kate Beckinsale because I don’t watch much TV. Then I ran across Cobie’s picture and she epitomizes the down to earth look that is Helena.
What books have inspired you the most in your life?
As a writer:
The Creativity Book by Eric Maisel
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
The Bible (life changing wisdom, poetry, history…living text)
Katherine by Anya Seton (that’s when I fell in love with history as a young teen)
Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
I’m bouncing between two time periods: the Viking era and the Georgian era.
I sold a 3 book Georgian series to Sourcebooks. The first book, “Meet the Earl at Midnight,” comes out summer 2014.
So, I’m working on that “Midnight Meetings” series as well as two other Vikings projects. One Viking story is tentatively titled Norse Fire, a follow up to Norse Jewel. That’s the story of fiery thrall, Sestra, and a hard-nosed Viking named Brand. They’ve always traded barbs, now they must work together to find a treasure hoard that could save the kingdom. Sparks really fly on that story!
The other Viking story is part of a series on a group of Viking mercenaries.
About the Author
Gina’s a lover of history, books and romance, which makes the perfect recipe for historical romance writer. Her passion for castles and old places (the older and moldier the better!) means interesting family vacations.
Good thing her husband and two sons share similar passions, except for romance…that’s where she gets the eye roll. When not visiting fascinating places, she can be found in southern California delving into the latest adventures of organic gardening and serving as chief taxi driver.
Author Links: Web | Monthly Newsletter | Twitter | Facebook
GiveawayGina is having a tour wide giveaway for a $100 Williams Sonoma gift card, a $25 B&N/Amazon gift card and 3 wooden spoons (makes sense from Norse Jewel).
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You can also win a PDF copy of Norse Jewel by entering the rafflecopter below. Good luck!
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