The Red Lion
The Highland Warriors of Munro #1
By: Kathryn Le Veque
Genre: Medieval Romance
Release Date: October 3rd, 2016
Publisher: Dragonblade Publishing
1288 A.D. - Sir Jamison Munro is a Highland warrior known as The Red Lion. Big and burly, with a crown of wavy red hair, as the son of the chief of Clan Munro, Jamison's path in life was more unconventional than those of his clansmen. His father is a progressive thinker, knowing that in order to survive his clan must become allied with the English. When Jamison is involved in an offense against a neighboring clan, George Munro has no choice but to send his greatest son south into England to protect him.
Jamison finds himself serving the House of de Lohr, old allies of his father. When the call goes out to defend a de Lohr garrison against a Welsh attack, Jamison rides to the siege and finds himself caught up in a nasty battle. With the gatehouse breached, he charges in to defend the occupants only to be attacked by one occupant in particular. What he first believes to be a small and slender knight, he soon finds out differently. He is met with ferocity by a skilled lady warrior.
Lady Havilland de Llion is the daughter of the lord of Four Crosses Castle. Part-Welsh, her family is nonetheless loyal to the English and to de Lohr. When she sees the big Scotsman, she assumes he is siding with the Welsh and goes after him with a vengeance. Even upon discovering his loyalties, she doesn't believe him and their fight goes on long after the battle itself is finished. But soon enough, the contention between them turns to something else.
Politics, battles, loyalties, and roaring passions play out in a story of high emotion and high adventure. To the big Scots knight known as The Red Lion, nearly everything in his life has come at a price, but in the battle for Havilland's affections, there is no price too high that he will not pay.
Havilland’s heart swelled at his words; to travel to London and Paris had always been her dream, but to travel with someone like Jamison Munro… he was handsome and educated, kind and well-spoken… he was everything a young woman would want. But a man like Jamison would want a fine and elegant woman for a wife, not a female who had lived as a man most of her life. There was no appeal in that. A backwoods, uneducated, scrub of a girl wouldn’t make anyone a good wife.
Knowing he made the offer simply to be polite and for no other reason, Havilland held disappointment in her heart for reasons she couldn’t begin to understand. For the first time in her life, she wished she was something that she was not –
“You are kind,” she said, fighting off extreme melancholy. “But I am certain that I am destined to stay at Four Crosses my entire life. I have never believed I would truly ever leave. But I know that some women travel with their husbands when they marry, at least I have heard of such things, so mayhap that is the best I can hope for.”
He lifted his shoulders casually. “Are ye the marrying kind, then?”
She grinned, embarrassed. “I suppose I must,” she said. “All women must, at some point.”
He could see a grand opportunity to push her a little, to see what, exactly, her thoughts were on marriage. With talk of Tobias’ interest in her, and even Thad’s, he didn’t want her attention to turn to them. He wanted to keep it. Was he, in fact, the marrying kind? He didn’t even know. He’d never given it much thought. But perhaps with the right woman….
“Ye dunna want tae marry, then?” he asked, sounding concerned. “Even if I promised ye a grand trip tae Paris?”
Her head shot up, her eyes wide on him. “A trip to… you would promise me a trip to…?”
He flashed that smile, the one he used to send women’s hearts a-flutter. “Ye must marry sometime,” he said. “Me da expects many sons and who tae be a better mother tae me sons than a lady warrior. If I have tae bribe ye with a trip tae Paris, then I’ll do it.”
Havilland’s mouth popped open. “You cannot be serious!”
She was even more astonished. “Because… because you cannot be,” she said, off-guard and fading fast. “It is most inappropriate to jest on such a serious subject. You do not know me and I do not know you, and this is not an appropriate conversation.”
“Because you jest about something quite serious!”
With a heavy sigh, he stood up. As Havilland watched, he removed a very sharp dagger from his belt and put the sharp edge of the blade against his pale wrist. He looked at her, pointedly. “Are ye sure ye willna marry me? I am prepared tae show ye my sincerity but before I bleed all over this table, I must ask ye again.”
She wasn’t entirely sure he was jesting, but in the same breath she couldn’t believe he was serious. She had no idea what to say, a thrill such as she had never known filling her heart. Never in her life had she had any suitors, not ever, so she had no idea how to play the flirting game with this man who was evidently quite adept at it. He was charming and persuasive. But he could very well be toying with her. She simply wasn’t sure so the best thing to do, as she struggled to reclaim her composure, was jest right along with him. Then, perhaps, if he wasn’t serious, it wouldn’t break her heart so much to pretend that she wasn’t serious, either.
“Are you really going to cut your wrist?” she asked.
He was firm. “I am.”
She stood up and began looking around. “Very well,” she said. “But let me find something to stop the bleeding first. I want to be prepared.”
His face fell. “So ye’d let me cut meself over ye?”
He said it rather exaggeratedly and she fought off a grin. “Well, of course,” she said. “I have never had a man declare his undying love to me. Let me call my sisters so they can watch, also. Can you wait a moment before you do it? It should not take me long to find them.”
He scowled. “Ye wicked wench,” he said. “Ye’d let me cut meself tae pieces over ye before ye’d agree tae a marriage between us? I willna cut meself over the likes of ye.”
She was trying very hard not to giggle. “I am sorry,” she said, struggling to keep a straight face. “I know I am terrible. But truly, you do not want to marry someone like me. I am sure you will find a much better candidate someday.”
She was pushing him to see how he would react and he fell right into her trap. Rather than him manipulating her, now she was doing the manipulating. But he didn’t catch on. Frustrated, he shoved the dirk back into its sheath.
“I dunna want another candidate,” he said. Then, he pointed a finger at her. “Mark me words, Havilland de Llion. Ye’ll go tae Paris with me someday if I have tae drag ye every step o’ the way.”
“Had the Welsh not attacked us, you would never have come to Four Crosses,” she said. “I suppose it is strange to be grateful for dangerous situations, but in this case, I... I suppose that I am also glad the Welsh attacked.”
He leaned in her direction, flirting openly with her. “Are ye, lass?” he asked. “Does that mean ye’ve thought more on me marriage proposal?”
She flushed red, unwilling to look at him. “Mayhap.”
She kept turning her head because he was trying to look her in the face, moving closer and closer. The closer he drew, the more she turned her head away to the point where she had to turn her back on him. But Jamison wouldn’t let her. Reaching out, he grabbed her by the shoulders and spun her about, causing her to fall back against the trunk. He was right next to her, his big body against hers, his warmth scorching her tender flesh.
Having never been this close to a man that she felt something for, Havilland was having difficulty breathing. He was big and fleshy, powerful and handsome... and his nearness to her... Sweet Jesú, his nearness had her entire body quivering. When a big hand came up to touch her cheek, she thought she might faint dead away.
“And?” he pressed, his voice a husky whisper.
Havilland’s heart was pounding against her ribs as she gazed into his eyes. A deep, dark shade of blue that looked like a sapphire she’d seen once. Had he asked her a question? She couldn’t even remember what it was.
“Are ye going tae make me beg, lass?”
She was breathless, her mouth dry. “Beg... beg for what?”
“For an answer,” he murmured. “Will ye be me wife.”
She nodded. She couldn’t manage anything more than that. With a grin on his face that nearly made her swoon, Jamison’s lips slanted over hers, gently at first, acquainting her with his touch. He wanted this kiss to be careful and sweet and special, a promise of things to come, but the moment he tasted her, he knew this kiss wouldn’t be a brief one.
It was going to take all of his strength not to ravage her.
Warmth. Honey. Sweetness. Those were the thoughts rolling through his mind as he touched her, his first impressions. Sweet Jesú, he could smell her and it was an intoxicating mixture he’d never smelled before – her own sweet musk mingled with leather and something that smelled fresh, like green leaves. He couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was but all he knew was that it excited him beyond reason. It filled him. She filled him.
He had to have more.
“Jamison, please stop,” she begged through her tears. “Please… you are destroying me.”
He wouldn’t release her, his mouth still latched on to her neck. “Tell me ye love me, Havi.”
“Tell me ye love me.”
“I will not!”
“Tell me so I may live on it the rest of me life.”
She burst out in a fresh round of sobs. “I love you,” she whispered, utterly and completely miserable. “I have never loved anything in my life like I love you. And I hate you for asking me. I hate you for forcing me to tell you!”
The only sound after that was her loud weeping, so painful that tears stung Jamison’s eyes. He couldn’t believe he was going to lose her. That wasn’t what he wanted; it wasn’t in his plan. His plan was to marry Havilland and return home to rule his clan, but increasingly, he kept remembering Beaux’s words… ye canna force the lass tae marry ye no matter how badly ye want tae. Was it actually possible that Havilland would stand her ground, that she wouldn’t succumb to his wishes? He couldn’t stomach the thought. He was starting to panic, just a little.
“Ye dunna hate me,” he crooned, kissing any flesh his lips could come into contact with. “But I would like tae know why ye dunna believe me when I say I will marry ye against the wishes of me da. I will happily accept the consequences of me actions. For ye, I would do anything.”
Havilland struggled to gain control of her weeping. “Because… because marriage is not something to be based on emotion,” she said, sniffling. “Marriages are to strengthen bonds and gain allies. If you marry me, what will happen? Your father will be disappointed and your clan will hate you. They will hate me. Do you think that is fair to either of us, Jamison? And what of our children? Will they be hated, too?”
KATHRYN LE VEQUE is a USA TODAY Bestselling author, an Amazon All-Star author, and a #1 bestselling, award-winning, multi-published author in Medieval Historical Romance and Historical Fiction. She has been featured in the NEW YORK TIMES and on USA TODAY's HEA blog. In March 2015, Kathryn was the featured cover story for the March issue of InD'Tale Magazine, the premier Indie author magazine. She is also quintuple nominee (a record!) for the prestigious RONE awards for 2016.
Kathryn's Medieval Romance novels have been called 'detailed', 'highly romantic', and 'character-rich'. She crafts great adventures of love, battles, passion, and romance in the High Middle Ages. More than that, she writes for both women AND men - an unusual crossover for a romance author - and Kathryn has many male readers who enjoy her stories because of the male perspective, the action, and the adventure.
On October 29, 2015, Amazon launched Kathryn's Kindle Worlds Fan Fiction site WORLD OF DE WOLFE PACK. Please visit Kindle Worlds for Kathryn Le Veque's World of de Wolfe Pack and find many action-packed adventures written by some of the top authors in their genre using Kathryn's characters from the de Wolfe Pack series. As Kindle World's FIRST Historical Romance fan fiction world, Kathryn Le Veque's World of de Wolfe Pack will contain all of the great story-telling you have come to expect.
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