I have a little story to share today. When everything went so horribly, horribly wrong with this book’s initial release, and when I realized that it wasn’t going to get better and that I probably could have sold more copies had I printed the ms up myself and sold them for a pound outside the grocery store, I almost gave up. Was going to give up.
Then I got this review, from the Romance Junkies website. JT, the reviewer, said:
December Quinn spins a spell-binding story of two lonely souls fighting for a better future amidst the tempestuous and dangerous times of thirteenth century Wales.
She has been fascinated by Gruffydd ap Hywel since their first meeting six years ago. A man who stood out among all the other nobles gathered together in celebration of a royal wedding. But more than his dark good looks, his intense demeanor and timely actions left a lingering presence upon her mind.
He remembers Isabelle de Harvington as a naive inquisitive miss who is not afraid to speak her mind. And though they parted under strained circumstances all those years ago, Gruffydd’s thoughts of Isabelle never ceased over the ensuing years.
Now by royal decree, they are to wed and the reality of their marriage is far different then what any of them can ever imagined. The guardian knight is a solemn stranger burdened with responsibilities, and the fascinating girl has grown to be a headstrong, beautifully bewitching woman. Will they be able to resolve their differences and build upon their feelings and affection for each other, or will these two lost hearts remain forever solitary?
Finding out how this enigmatic couple makes their marriage work despite the burdens of their past make this book an intensely riveting read. When all else seems to be lost, December Quinn reminds us that love finds a way to bring the wounded home, even larger than life legends like THE BLACK DRAGON are no exception.
That review really got to me, because it was exactly what I was trying to do. Exactly. I’d never had someone understand my work like that, and express it so beautifully. It actually brought a tear to my cynical eye.
So I decided to fight for it. I got my rights back. My EC editor loved it and wanted it. I took out some stuff and added some stuff, and now here we are. So special thanks to JT at Romance Junkies.
Here’s an excerpt!
A puppy whimpered. It must be hungry, the poor thing. Why was it not downstairs with the other dogs? How had it made its way up the stairs alone? It sounded so young, so sad…if she could just get out of bed and open the chamber door…if she could just get up.
Isabelle was trying so hard to get out of bed that she was awake and sitting up before it dawned on her that she was dreaming. There was no puppy. Instead there was only darkness and the heavy sound of Gruffydd’s breathing.
It was too heavy and fast for sleep and her mind barely finished the thought when she realized someone was crying out in the room. That heartbreaking sound she’d heard was not a puppy at all, but it was real.
And it was coming from her husband.
For a moment, she was too shocked at the sight of him actually in the bed with her to react. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light from the fire’s last embers, she saw his handsome face contorted with pain. His tawny skin, now bare, glowed with sweat as he clutched the bedcovers closer.
Between moans, he spoke, the words tumbling from his mouth. Isabelle assumed it was his native tongue, for she could not understand any of it, but the sound was horrible, fear and misery transforming his voice from the deep, self-assured sound she was growing accustomed to into something almost like a child’s.
She looked around the room for a moment, hoping that someone else had heard him and would enter to render aid. But there was no one and it dawned on her that she was Gruffydd’s wife. ‘Twas her job to soothe his brow and chase away whatever demon assaulted his sleep.
“My lord,” she said softly, hoping her voice would wake him. It did not. He was still sleeping and, to her shock, she saw a tear escape from his tightly shut eye as he continued to moan. It sounded as if he was begging someone for something, his voice so plaintive and sad that her own eyes stung in sympathy.
“Lord Gruffydd.” This time she reached out to touch him tentatively on his broad, bare chest. His skin felt hot and smooth, but Isabelle had barely enough time to register it before a hand closed painfully around her wrist and an arm like steel clutched her waist and yanked her across the prostrate body of her husband. She gasped in terror and was about to scream when cold metal touched her throat.
Her husband’s face loomed above her, his ragged breath hot on her neck. It was his hand holding the blade to her throat, his body which had grasped and pinned her beneath him, and his eyes that were quickly losing the dazed look of fury and coming back to seeing the waking world.
Isabelle started to speak, but could not get the words out before Gruffydd threw the dagger aside and leaped away from her in one swift, smooth movement. He was still gasping, but even as she watched, he regained control of himself, taking one last deep, shuddering breath.
The reddish glow of the dying embers in the fireplace illuminated his gleaming chest, emphasizing the contours and planes of muscles and sinew. He looked like a demon himself as he ran a hand through his dark hair and turned away from her.
She expected him to speak, to ask if she was unharmed, but he did not. Once again she found herself in the uncomfortable position of wanting to ask him a question but feeling that her words would be unwelcome, or at least an embarrassment to her.
So she did not make a sound either, only watched as Gruffydd slid out of the bed and closed the curtains behind him. Through the madness of thoughts that swirled in her mind, Isabelle heard rustlings and quiet clickings, then the slight creak of the door as it opened and closed.
She was alone again. Alone and scared, wondering who this stranger she had married truly was.
You can buy the book here!