Today, I have an exclusive excerpt from Midsummer Magick by Laura Navarre. You can also win 1 of 9 copies!
Midsummer Magick (#2 in Magick Trilogy)
Author: Laura Navarre
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: 12 August 2013
Tudor England, 1559
The Virgin Queen’s Court whispers about shy scholar Lady Linnet Norwood, who spent a year and a day trapped in the Faerie realm and returned as a ruined woman. Linnet, however, is not yet free of magick. Otherworldly forces plot to use her to incite a bloody uprising that will twist the fates of mortal and Faerie realms alike.
Exiled angel Zamiel wavers on the edge of accepting an offer from his fallen father to become Prince of Hell. Lucifer knows Lady Linnet’s significance, and urges his son to pursue and protect her for sinister ends.
As Linnet flees those who would make her a pawn, Zamiel follows, tempting her trust and her passion. But the more he employs his killing rage on her behalf, the more he dreams of laying it aside in favor of peace.
If the two can find faith together, they might sunder the unholy alliance that threatens the dawn of the Golden Age of England.
Lady Linnet Norwood is the whispered scandal of the Tudor court. Attacked in an abandoned courtyard by a fool in motley and a mute giant, she is trapped and desperate when a stranger arrives…
* * *
Someone else now commanded the courtyard—a lithe shadow clad in jet and glittering jewels. God love her, could this be rescue?
This was no ragged vagabond, not with a nobleman’s short cape slung fashionably over one shoulder and pinned with a starburst ruby the size of her fist, or the wicked rapier like a streak of silver fire that swung at his lean hip. A spill of raven hair poured around his shoulders beneath a dashing plumed hat as he stalked toward Linnet, silent and graceful as a cat on the icy stone. Silhouetted against the swirling snow, his slender frame seemed almost to glow with a nimbus of pearly light.
Before her, the giant groaned and fell to one knee, ham-like hands clutching his wounded thigh. Ribbons of blood snaked through his dirty fingers. His vacant eyes stared up at her, uncomprehending and somehow tragic.
Suddenly the fool was there—so close!—hopping into the wagon. Linnet cried out and swung around, raising her blood-daubed pitchfork with its lone tine. But the fool was staring at the fallen giant in dismay.
“What’s this, little bird? What have you done to my poor Burl?”
Silent as a spirit, the glittering nobleman materialized before the wagon, cape rippling like ebony wings around his shoulders. Close enough now to glimpse the face beneath his fashionable brim—all slanted cheekbones and angular jaw and a mouth to make any woman blush. Beneath a dramatic sweep of jet-black brows, his long lashes were lowered, eyes hidden as he gazed down on the fallen Burl.
Then that mobile mouth curled upward, as though he mocked the death spilling into the straw at his elegantly booted feet.
A heavy gauntlet, stitched in silver, hung crushed from a careless hand. As he watched, he slapped the glove idly against his thigh. She would have said he looked bored, a jaded playgoer enduring a familiar script performed by mediocre players.
The quality of light under these pewter skies lent his fair skin a pearlescent gleam, as though he glowed. His cloak unfurled in the air behind him, and that lush banner of hair rippled around his shoulders—even when there was no wind.
Both she and the fool were riveted.
The fool recovered first.
“Who are you? Some friend of the little bird’s?”
The stranger never lifted his gaze from the crippled giant, huddled in a spreading pool of crimson. But his sullen, exquisite face seemed to brood.
“I’m no man’s friend, and no woman’s. Mine is the face you see when it’s time for you to die.”
Linnet’s breath caught in her throat. At odds with the terrifying words, the music of his voice enchanted her. A silken tenor that caressed the ear, finer than any troubadour’s, flavored with a foreign accent. He spoke as though he sang, more beautifully than the Queen’s own choir.
The rippling magick of that voice sent chills down her spine and gooseflesh across her skin. Like the Merlin in the Summer Lands, he could sing the very stones into dancing…
But nay, she’d only dreamed that. There were no Fae and no Merlins in the world anymore. Any other belief led straight back to madness.
The fool shifted, as though he too sensed this strange enchantment. “If you’re no friend of hers, then you’ve no interest in this business. Forget what you’ve seen here, and my master may well forgive you.”
“Forgiveness,” the stranger mused, “is a vastly overrated virtue. Ask any soul in Hell. I care naught for forgiveness, Master Rune, son of Rudyard.”
The fool stiffened. “How do you…I’ve spoken my father’s name to no man since…”
“Since the night you drew the blade across his throat as he slept, and sent him to Hell with his own skinning knife?” the stranger murmured. “Yes, I know.”
“Curse you!” the fool exploded. His hand shook as he extended the hatchet to point, though the stranger never lifted his gaze from the dying Burl. “Curse you and begone!”
“Save your breath. I’m thoroughly cursed already.” The stranger’s mouth twisted in a bitter smile.
At his feet, the giant convulsed. Sweeping his cape behind him with a practiced flourish, he laid his bare hand on Burl’s shaven head—a gesture that looked strangely like benediction. Blood-colored rubies glittered on his graceful fingers.
Before Linnet’s astonished gaze, the stranger glowed as though the moon were rising behind his pale skin.
“Be at ease, Burl, son of Grufydd,” he whispered. “For you suffered greatly in life, and killed without malice to feed your ailing mother. Someone will make a case for you.” He paused. “If I were you, I’d ask for Gabriele. Avoid Michael like the smallpox.”
Even at such a moment, with the man himself speaking nonsense, he flashed a grin that was pure mischief.
A novel sensation fluttered low in her belly. For no earthly reason, her heart lifted. For one mad instant, she nearly smiled herself.
Beneath the light touch, the man called Burl heaved a breath and stilled. She could almost see the life leaving the giant’s body, a coincidence as well timed as though the stranger had planned it.
Despite her fascination with the scene playing out before her, the shock of that death hit her.
She had killed a man. Again.
Never mind that she’d acted in self-defense. How many misdeeds could she hide behind that fig leaf? Murder was a mortal sin. When she confessed for Jasper, the nuns at Glencross Abbey had feared for her soul.
“Sweet blessed Bride.” Wretched, she shifted her pitchfork to cross herself. “I’m going straight to Hell for certain.”
“Oh, I don’t think so.” Looking thoughtful, the stranger quirked a brow. “Not at my hand.”
About the Author
In her other life, Laura Navarre is a diplomat who’s lived in Russia and works on weapons of mass destruction issues. In the line of duty, she’s been trapped in an elevator in a nuclear power plant and stalks the corridors of facilities churning out nerve agent and other apocalyptic weapons. In this capacity, she meets many of the world’s most dangerous men.
Inspired by the sinister realities of her real life, Laura writes dark Tudor and Renaissance romance with fantasy elements. A member of Romance Writers of America, a Golden Heart finalist and winner of the 2012 Pacific Northwest Writers Association award for romance, she’s currently writing The Magick Trilogy, a series of dark Tudor romances with elements of Arthurian legend and fallen angel heroes, for Carina Press. Coming next in this award-winning series is Midsummer Magick in August 2013. Living on an island in Puget Sound with her screenwriter husband and two Siberian cats, Laura divides her time between her writing career and other adventures for government clients.
Author Links: Website/Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
GiveawayLaura is giving away 9 e-copies of Midsummer Magick- there are 9 stops in the tour. You can find the other stops here.
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