Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New Release: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR HIGHLANDER

Launching a new novel is always exciting, but launching the last book in a series is an even bigger thrill. Today Mary Elizabeth and Harry's love story comes into the world, and I am over the moon! Thank you all for celebrating with me. How does a sword-wielding, knife-throwing Highlander win the love of a duke? Take a gander below for an excerpt and to learn a little more about the third installment of Broadswords and Ballrooms.



She's the Hellion of Hyde Park...
A foolproof plan to avoid marriage:
1. Always carry at least three blades.
2. Ride circles around any man.
3. Never get caught in a handsome duke's arms.
Wild Highlander Mary Elizabeth Waters is living on borrowed time. She's managed to dodge the marriage banns up to now, but even Englishmen can only be put off for so long...and there's one in particular who has her in his sights.
Harold Percy, Duke of Northumberland, is enchanted by the beautiful hellion who outrides every man on his estate and dances Scottish reels while the ton looks on in horror. The more he sees Mary, the more he knows he has to have her, tradition and good sense be damned. But what's a powerful man to do when the Highland spitfire of his dreams has no desire to be tamed...


Mary Elizabeth arrives at the Duke of Northumberland's country seat and immediately befriends a stable boy who she starts calling Atlas, for his shoulders are broad enough to hold the weight of the world. Little does she know that her new friend is really the duke in disguise...

Mary Elizabeth was about to dismiss all thoughts of dukes and their strange stable boys when said stable boy appeared at her elbow, following almost at her heels like a dog on a lead.
“Would you like to see the horses?” he asked.
It was the first thing of sense he had said since she met him, and she stopped in her tracks.
“Why yes,” she answered. “You know where they are?”
He looked at her as if she was the simpleton then, and she knew she had been too condescending, which was unkind and beneath her. She followed him, walking along beside him, as he took her to a mansion about half a mile beyond the ducal gardens. The flowers bloomed right up to the mansion’s gate, so she wondered if the boy had gotten confused after all and led her to the dower house by mistake.
But then the wind shifted, and she smelled the horses.
“Who put the horses in a human house?” she asked. “That’s as fine a place as any in Edinburgh.”
The two-story mansion filled three acres at least and glowed with the warm light of the sunshine on the windowpanes. Atlas did not respond to her question, other than to raise one eyebrow. He offered her his hand to help her over the cattle break and opened the half gate for her.
“These are the richest horses I’ve ever seen,” Mary Elizabeth said, startled into bluntness by the heat of his palm. He wore no gloves, as servants never did, and she had left hers behind in the carriage. His hand was hot and dry, with calluses that had long since hardened to blend with the skin around them. She discovered in that moment that she liked a man with callused hands.
Then Mary Elizabeth forgot all else, for she found another soul mate standing alone, looking fraught, in the body of a great stallion.
“There now, ye wee beastie. And what might be your name?”
She crooned to him as she had seen her da croon to newborn foals. The black stallion heard her voice and shifted on his feet. The groom who had been trying to open his stall door backed away to make room for her, his eyes on Atlas.
“Don’t get close to him,” Atlas said. “He’s mad.”
“Is he now?”
Mary Elizabeth dismissed that nonsense for the foolishness it was.
“I’ve ridden him twice, but he is too fierce. I hope he’ll breed well, for he’s not good for anything but his bloodlines.”
Mary Elizabeth turned on him then. He could not speak ill of a horse in its presence. Not when she was there to stop him.
“Bite your tongue. That horse there is a king and a champion and a discerning beast to boot. He’ll not let the likes of you ride him, but he loves me.”
“He loves no one. Please, step away from there.”
His hand was on her arm then, and she raised one eyebrow, letting her eyes linger on the place where his calluses warmed her through her ruined dress. Atlas was smart enough to drop his hand, quick like, and she turned her gaze back to the horse before her.
“There now,” she crooned, offering the heel of her palm. “Here’s a great beastie who needs a bit of love.”
The huge horse shifted toward her, and instead of taking a nip at her as she expected him to, he sniffed her hand, then snuffled along it, searching for a treat.
She kept her voice low as she spoke to Atlas. “Hand me a carrot, quick.”
Atlas ignored her, but his companion groom offered her a carrot from a great sack hanging close by.
“And no wonder this one’s in a foul humor,” she said. “Good carrots so close and not one in his mouth.”
She offered the carrot, and the stallion ate it whole. He slobbered on her hand, and when she reached up to pet his forelock, where a blaze of white shone bright, he let her.
“And what is your name, sweet boy?” she asked him.
Atlas said, “That is Sampson.”
“And a fine, braw name it is,” she said. “And what’s yours?”
The man beside her flinched, and the other stable boy took a deep breath as if to speak. He stayed silent though, and Atlas answered her. “My name is Harry.”
She felt a strange weight in the moment, as if her new friend did not often give his name. Perhaps the mad English simply called him boy or some other ridiculous title.
Mary did not want to embarrass him further, so she kept her hands and eyes on the horse. “Sampson, this is Harry. Be sweet to him, and he’ll be sweet to you. I’ll come back in the morning and ride you. Until then, eat your oats, and don’t bite these boys here, or there’ll be no more carrots for you.”


Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. Sometimes an actor, always a storyteller, Christy works happily with Sourcebooks Casablanca to bring the knife-throwing women of her novels to life. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in western North Carolina.


2 comments: