How eager would the bridegroom be if he knew he could never bed the bride?
Lady Emma of Ravenwood Keep is prepared to give Sir William l’Orage land, wealth, and her hand in marriage. But her virginity? Not unless he loves her. The curse that claimed her mother is clear: unless a Ravenwood heir is conceived in love, the mother will die in childbirth. Emma is determined to dodge the curse. Then William arrives, brandishing raw sensuality which dares her to explore her own.
William the Storm isn’t a man to be gainsaid. He’ll give her protection, loyalty, and as much tenderness as he can muster. But malignant memories quell the mere thought of love. To him, the curse is codswallop. He plans a seduction to breach Emma’s fears and raze her objections. What follows is a test of wills and an affirmation of the power of love.
In the author's words . . .
While writing this story, I fell in love with both the hero, Sir William l’Orage (William the Storm) and heroine, Lady Emma. They’re passionate characters, and I reveled in my research into their world and their languages. Interestingly, my heroine’s name and that of her home—Ravenwood Keep—popped into my mind simultaneously when I first decided to write the book. Later, I learned the Anglo-Saxon word for “ravens” is hremmas. As you can see, “emma” is embedded in that word. Just one of many things which fell into place like magic!
Enjoy a sneak peek from Flight of the Raven
by Judith Sterling
William stood before the cold hearth with his back to the door. His commanding presence diminished the sweeping arch of the vacant fireplace.
“Leave us,” he ordered without turning. “Shut the door behind you.”
The heavy, oak door slammed shut. The stone walls reverberated from the force of it.
Emma studied the sheen of his straight, black hair, the proud set of his shoulders, and the wide, leather belt which cinched his ebony tunic at the waist. An eternity might’ve passed while she waited for him to acknowledge her presence. When at last he turned, his dark eyes blazed.
Her stomach lurched. “Y-you wished to see me?”
He glowered at her in silence. A chill of foreboding ran through her, but she stood her ground.
A full minute later, he still hadn’t spoken. Her patience waned, and she cleared her throat. “You obviously need time to collect your thoughts, so I’ll leave you to them.”
“You will stay right here,” he ruled in slow, measured words. His scorching gaze belied his smooth tone of voice. “I sent for you to discuss your betrayal.”
She swore under her breath. Someone must’ve divulged her plan to stay celibate. If only she’d told him sooner. “I can explain,” she said.
“Save your breath. There’s only one explanation.”
“You said ‘discuss.’ A discussion requires two opinions.”
“An opinion laced with lies doesn’t count.”
“But if you—”
His shout echoed off the prison walls. Her stomach churned, but she clamped her lips shut.
“Now,” he said, lower in pitch, “listen and learn. A traitor can challenge the king’s reach, but only a fool underestimates mine. My men know this. Legions of Saracens—alive and dead—know it. Wulfstan will know it too.”
“What has Wulfstan to do with this?”
William grunted. “You play innocence well.”
“Truly, I know not whereof you speak!”
“I speak of your escape...tonight...with Wulfstan.”
“My squire was in the mews while you were plotting your little scheme.”
“Holy Mother!” Frantically, her mind snatched up the pieces of what was said and where. “’Twas Gertrude’s idea.”
“A welcome one, reportedly.”
“I considered it, but—”
“So you confess.”
“No! Your spy heard but part of the conversation. In the end, I chose you.”
He snorted. “Right. And I sell genuine relics of the saints.”
She glared at him. With quick, deliberate steps, she closed the space between them. “Then I’ll fetch my purse, for I speak the truth.”
“I am no fool.”
No, she thought, but you’re a veritable god of arrogance.
A lord of intimidation, too. Why else would he summon her to the prison tower? With dispatch, her desire to explain the curse, and its implications to their wedding night, died.
For an instant so brief she might’ve imagined it, his expression changed. He looked almost...wounded.
“Does the thought of marrying me so disgust you?” he asked.
His dark, infinite eyes became her world. “Not at all.”
Large, warm hands clasped her upper arms. “Is Wulfstan your lover?”
His mouth claimed hers. She wrenched her head to the side, tried to break away. His grip tightened. His lips demanded more.
Emma thought fast. She couldn’t match his physical strength. But maybe, if she didn’t resist, didn’t react in any way, he’d release her.
She willed herself to relax. Almost at once, his lips slackened. They became softer, gentler. Intrigued, she relaxed further.
His lips brushed hers and left a tingling warmth in their wake. She liked the sensation, but the longer he fed it, the more she wanted the full pressure of his mouth. A low sound of protest vibrated deep in her throat.
William moaned, and his hot tongue nudged her closed lips. A curious action. Not unpleasant, though, so she opened her mouth. His tongue slipped inside and began a slow, thorough exploration. In response, she flicked her tongue against his.
He groaned. The sound was raw, exciting. His hands burned a path from her arms down to her hips. His tongue darted deeper, faster. Her mouth tingled. Heat tantalized her belly. Never had she felt so alive.
End of Excerpt
Copyright © by Judith Sterling
Learn more by visiting the author's website. FLIGHT OF THE RAVEN was released September 2016 by Wild Rose Press.
Meet the Author
Judith Sterling’s love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Her favorite themes include true love, destiny, healing, redemption, and finding the hidden magic which exists all around us. She loves to share that magic with readers and whisk them far away from their troubles, particularly to locations in the British Isles.
Her nonfiction books, written under Judith Marshall, have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.
Flight of the Raven by Judith Sterling
Genre: Medieval Romance
Heat Level: 5
Language Level: 3
Violence Level: 3
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