Vikings, Twins, Deception, Treason, Lies and of Course, LOVE by Alaina Stanford #LettersFromtheAuthors
Hello Night Owl Readers,
Since love is in the air what better way to celebrate than with a new Romance novel?
My new series called Royal Duty is multi-genre with a central theme of romance suspense designed around a Royal facing the choice between love and duty. Virtuous Trickery is a Historical Romance that promises love, treachery, Vikings, lies, and deceit all surrounding twin princesses in ancient Italy.
In a time when the Plague and the Franks are sweeping across the land Princess Gabrielle, the first-born of twins faces a grave situation. Her younger twin, Francesca is shy and delicate, unlike her older more adventurous sister. The King has decided it is time to choose his daughter's suitors. He decides Gabrielle is to marry Duke Randolph from a wealthy nearby providence while Francesca's new husband will be a Viking Prince from the far North.
To make matters worse, Francesca confesses her secret love for Duke Randolph, having met him on her last trip to Venice. Gabrielle is heartbroken for her sister and terrified of the fate that awaits Francesca in the frozen north. Gabrielle would do anything to rescue her sister from an icy death at the hands of a Viking. So, she chooses to give up her crown and secretly take Francesca's place.
Together the twins weave a web of lies and deceit that leaves a trail of treason, treachery, and death in its wake.
Here's a sneak peek:
The stable master called after her, “Your Highness, please wait for your escorts!”
Gabrielle ignored him and raced down the road toward the palace gates. Soon she was galloping through the forest, headed toward her favorite glen. The narrow dirt trail ended in a small grassy field lined with large twisting cork oak trees surrounding a bed of tall grass speckled with wildflowers.
Heading for one of the larger trees decorated with white strips of cloth tied around the branches, she urged her horse into a slow walk and fired arrows at the makeshift targets. Gabrielle hit every mark as her frustration flowed through her into the arrows, but no solution came to save her sister from an icy death.
She pulled a long leather strap lined with small silver knives from her saddlebag and strapped it across her chest. She urged the horse into a canter and plucked each knife from its sheath, throwing it as she neared the tree. A line of knives climbed up the main trunk, equal distance apart. Bringing the horse to a halt, Gabrielle jumped off and tucked the front of her skirt into her belt as she approached the tree. The cork oak was nearly forty feet tall with long, stout branches reaching up toward the sky like an open hand.
She pulled each knife out of the tree and stuffed them back into the sheath on her chest, then climbed up onto the lowest branch of the tree. She yanked out her first arrow then headed up to a higher branch. Scooting out onto each branch she pried the arrows free, tossing them to the ground. The last two arrows were close together on a high, crooked branch. She pried the first arrow free and bit down on it as she climbed until the branches below thinned out and she could toss it to the ground. The last arrow sat near the outside end of the branch beyond a V-shaped crook in the limb. Carefully, Gabrielle slipped past the crook and strained to reach the arrow, not wanting to move further out onto the narrowing branch.
Her fingers brushed the feathered end just as the branch creaked and cracked. Gabrielle gasped and lost her grip as the limb dipped slightly and began to sway. She took hold with her free hand as her feet slipped out from under her. Gabrielle’s heart pounded as she dangled from the branch. She didn’t dare look down. She knew the fall would kill her.
She swung her legs up to try to reach the branch, but failed. She spat out the arrow and tried again. She couldn’t hook the branch with her foot. She tried to climb hand over hand toward the trunk, but the branch dipped lower, and she heard another cracking sound.
“No!” she cried, and glanced around for the nearest branch. It was too far! She swung her feet wildly and kicked for the branch again, but still couldn’t catch hold with her foot. This time when her legs dropped back down, she swung them wide beneath her and tried again. Her foot hooked around the branch! She grunted and tried to pull her body up. She hooked her arm over the branch. Snap! The branch gave way!
Gabrielle screamed and plunged toward the ground. She heard a shout. Suddenly a man on a horse appeared beneath her. She crashed into his open arms, knocking him off his horse. They hit the ground as one. Everything went dark.
When Gabrielle woke, she was lying on top of the stranger with her head on his chest. She bolted upright and stared at the man. He was a large, muscular fellow with strange clothes made of dark brown linen and trimmed in fur. Everything was trimmed in fur, right down to his fur- lined boots. He was unconscious and wasn’t moving.
“Oh, please, don’t be dead,” she whispered, kneeling beside him. She shook his shoulder. He gasped and sat up so suddenly Gabrielle fell backward onto the grass.
His eyes opened wide in surprise as he tried to catch his breath. Gabrielle’s heart skipped a beat as his dark blue eyes turned to gaze at her. His long brown tunic was bound with a broad gold-chain belt. His fur cape was lined in green satin. He was no pauper. His braided golden hair was longer than her ebony curls. He was the most handsome man she’d ever seen.
He reached out to touch her and asked in a deep, sultry voice with a strange accent, “Are you injured?”
His voice sent a shiver down Gabrielle’s spine. She flinched from his touch and scrambled to her feet. “I am unharmed, sir. Thank you for saving my life,” she answered, quickly glancing around for her bow.
The stranger moaned and clutched his head then fell backward onto the grass, unconscious. Gabrielle gasped and dropped to the ground beside him. “Oh no!” she cried. “Don’t die! Please! Don’t die because of me!”
She lay her head on his chest and sighed in relief. His heart was still beating. She glanced up at his face. “Sir?” she asked. “Sir, are you injured? Please wake up. How can I help you?”
His arms slipped around her waist as his eyes opened. “I need…” he whispered.
She leaned close. “Sir, what do you need? Water? Wine?”
In one swift movement, he rolled and pinned her on the grass beneath him. He smiled down at her and said, “I need a kiss.”
His lips were on hers before she could respond. His lips were hot and moist. Her heart pounded from the sensation. When his tongue forced its way into her mouth, she pushed against him with all her might and flinched in pain. He instantly released her. He pulled her with up with him as he rose, and moved to push the fabric of her sleeve further up her right arm.
She slapped his smug face.
He chuckled and said, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’d never been kissed before.”
“I haven’t!” she snapped, and raised her hand to slap him again.
This time he intercepted it and added, “Then you should know, one slap is sufficient for an unwanted kiss; especially when the culprit is the man who just saved your life.”
You can find Virtuous Trickery on Amazon, Itunes, Google Books, Barnes&Noble.com, Kobo, Smashwords, and Audible.com.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! Have a great day!
Virtuous Trickery - Royal Duty Book 2
Gabrielle's shy twin sister is betrothed to a heathen prince from the far north. A Viking! Francesca would not survive the journey north much less the frozen wilderness of her new home. The only way Gabrielle can save her delicate sister is to take her place. Together the twins create a web of deceit that quickly spins out of control leaving a trail of death in its wake.Gabrielle is the elder twin and heir to the throne. Francesca was second born by a matter of minutes, but those critical minutes were enough to label her the spare heir and she felt it every day.
Gabrielle is a free spirit. Francesca, a shy shadow hiding behind her sister's skirts. As the eldest, Gabrielle did everything in her power to avoid overshadowing Francesca. So when the day came and Francesca whispered she’d fallen in love, Gabrielle gladly agrees to be the one hiding in the shadows until Francesca was wed. But the King has other plans. Francesca is to be wed to the savage heathen from the north. A Viking!
The only way Gabrielle can save her delicate sister is to take her place. Together the twins create a web of deceit that quickly spins out of control leaving a trail of death in its wake.
I've been writing books since I was a child. I've had an overactive imagination since I can remember and found the best way to lull myself to sleep at night was to lay and think of new endings to my favorite movies or better yet take a minor character from a movie or book and create a story around them. I've always loved science fiction, one of my first memories of watching TV was of a young Captain Kirk in some kind of trouble.
About Alaina Stanford: I've been writing books since I was a child. I've had an overactive imagination since I can remember and found the best way to lull myself to sleep at night was to lay and think of new endings to my favorite movies or better yet take a minor character from a movie or book and create a story around them. I've always loved science fiction, one of my first memories of watching TV was of a young Captain Kirk in some kind of trouble.
It wasn't easy being an expert trekkie in high school. But once I discovered Ray Bradbury the sky was the limit. I moved on to fantasy with great authors like Tolkien, Terry Brooks and RA Salvatore.
Eventually it occurred to me to start putting my stories in writing. I am constantly amazed at how my stories seem to write themselves. I write like most people read. Once a story is done, I am lost until I begin another.
I currently live in a small town at the base of the beautiful mountains in Utah. I couldn't ask for a more inspiring venue.