Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The pine tree riot flag and the Veterans Exempt flag

 We've all heard about the Boston Tea Party rebellion. But two years prior to that there was the Pine Tree Rebellion. 

 The Pine Tree Riot was an act of resistance to British royal authority undertaken by American colonists in New Hampshire in 1772.

By the late 17th century the construction and maintenance of the huge number of ships required to build and defend the British Empire left few suitable trees in Britain. Eastern white pines from colonial New England were superior timber, and England needed them  to maintain Britain's navel and trading advantage.

Laws were passed in North America making it illegal to cut down "any white pine tree of the growth of 12 inches of diameter" or face a fine of £5 to £50. Hence the small width of hardwood floors back then.

 "Surveyors of the King's Woods" were assigned by the crown to mark the desired trees with a broad arrow symbol. The law caused more anger than the Stamp Act or tea tax. Mill owners rebelled and were arrested and fined. The next day the sheriff and his deputy were attacked and run out of town. The perpetrators were found and fined and rebellion ran high, planting the seeds for the Boston Tea Party and the revolutionary war. 

The pine tree flag used in the rebellion was not new. This image had been around since the 1600's as a symbol of the colonies, especially Massachusetts. 

Later, the flag of New England came about with two prominent symbols: a pine tree and the red color. Other features, like the St.
George's Cross is not always displayed on the flag, but the pine almost always is.

George Washington then adopted the idea adding "An appeal to heaven" as he asked for Divine help to win the upcoming war of independence. 

My favorite flag emerged during the War of 1812. 
The battle of Plattsburg, also known as the Battle of Lake Champlain, was a major turning point in the war. The Plattsburg flag is also  known as the Veterans Exempt flag. 

   As the war raged on, a New York State militia group was formed in July of 1812, led by Captain Melvin Woolsey. The group was made up of Revolutionary War veterans who were otherwise exempt from military service due to their age, but who volunteered their service during the Battle of Plattsburgh. 

 Still a mystery!detailed description of the flag and its association with the Veterans Exempt group was published in the Plattsburgh Republican newspaper in 1812. Other than this single reference, no one knows the exact origin of this impressive flag.

This is not to be confused with the Gadsden flag named after the American general and politician Christopher Gadsden (1724–1805), who designed it in 1775 during the American Revolution.

And then there's the Culpeper flag flown by The Culpeper Minutemen, a militia group from Culpeper, VA that was formed in 1775 by the 3rd Virginia Convention to fight in the Revolutionary War

             Sheldon was correct, flags are fun! 

Friday, October 2, 2020

99 CENT SALE, Trapper's Moon

                 OCT. 2nd thru OCT. 15th 2020   
       Winner of Reader's Choice Award 
           at Still Moments Magazine         
As a free trapper, mountain man Kade McCauley is wary of the Hudson Bay Company. Their form of vengeance against those who are not part of the company can be deadly. When he and his partner are attacked, he fights back, only to discover one of his shots struck an innocent. A woman who touches his soul, and he will do anything to keep her safe. 

While searching for her Native American tribe, Blind Deer crosses paths with Kade—with near fatal results. Once she is patched up, she decides it is safer to travel with him than alone Their uneasy alliance turns to genuine caring, but Blind Deer's past gets in the way, and she must choose between love or old obligations. 

But nothing in life is carved in stone except the mountains, and those formidable peaks have been known to change the course of a man's life or a woman's.
               Only 99 Cents for a wagon-load of 
                       adventure and romance.
     Sitting by the door of the cabin, Kade tipped his chair back against the wall, then he reached down to scratch the big dog lying at his side. “Where do you hale from, Blind Deer?”
      Coming at her out of the blue, the question took her by surprise. She considered her answer. The Bitterroot Valley had been her home, but she had yet to make it back there in her current travels. Besides, why should he care? 
   “Where I am from depends upon whom you ask.” At her evasive
answer, Kade raised a brow in exasperation. Regretting her sharp words she continued. “Having a white mother, and an Indian father, the Salish say I am from the circle that overlaps. They think I am honored to walk in two worlds. The Missionaries say I belong nowhere, and I corrupt both worlds.”
     “And what do you say?”
     She hesitated before answering. Here was a question no one had bothered to ask her before. “I am just me. And for now I am where I belong.”
     “Or maybe you’re a world unto yourself.” Kade tipped his chair forward, and the front legs thumped back down onto the floor.
     Did he laugh at her? His expression was serious, and kindness lived in his eyes. 
     Kade McCauley seemed very different from most of the dogface white men she’d met. 

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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Welcome back to Redford Falls with Kissed By Winter

                            Book 2 in Darlene Fredette's                                                Redford Falls Series
A woman who knows what she wants
       and a man who knows what he needs.
Back Cover
She's been on a flight from hell for over eight hours, lost four hours of daylight, and arrived in temperatures twenty degrees lower than accustomed to. Disliking winter for a reason she refuses to discuss, Danielle Lerato would rather be anywhere than in Redford Falls. She needs to get the job done and return home before getting caught up in the small town's charm—and the arms of the handsome, brown-eyed restaurant owner.

Andrew Bailey's first encounter with the buttery blonde didn't go so well, and he well-remembers the chill of the glass of water she dumped over his head. Now, nine months later, a raging storm drops Danielle back into his life. She's determined to leave, but he'll do whatever it takes to convince her to fall in love with Redford Falls…and him.

“You!” she said.
Wearing no hat or scarf to offer warmth from the cold, she glared a stare frostier than the freezing rain falling from the sky.
“You’re the guy from that restaurant. The one who spilled tomato sauce on my designer suit.”
Andrew dropped the shovel. Blondie? He never thought he’d see the sassy blonde again. Nine months ago, unsatisfied with the restaurant and its menu, she barrelled toward the door, knocking into his arm and causing him to drop a plate of chicken parmesan. She called him a country redneck and poured a glass of water from a nearby table over his head. The thunderous blonde swore she wouldn’t set foot in Redford Falls again. So what was she doing here in the middle of a blizzard? Sighing, he reached inside the car.
“What are you doing?” She held up a shaky hand.
“Saving your butt.” He slipped an arm around her waist and pulled her close.

  My review: 

 My first introduction to Redford Falls was in a previous story by Darlene called His Candy Christmas. Having truly enjoyed the first book I was excited to get updates on the previous characters, as I returned to this enchanting resort town in Kissed by Winter.
    Danielle Lerato is a strong heroine with a mind of her own. Work is a big part of her life and she seems to love the fast-paced lifestyle, the fashions, the ritzy food, and being warm in Victoria British Columbia. None of these things are abundant in Redford Falls, but being a loyal friend and employee, Danielle heads there and ends up stranded inn a blizzard. 
  (Darlene's spot-on description of this deadly situation had me chilled to the bone and reaching for a comforter and a hot toddy.) 
   The hero Andrew, enjoys the rugged out-of-doors, has a down-home philosophy, and owns the best restaurant in town. He seems destined to try and save Danielle in more ways than one. 
    There are some well thought out twists to keep the plot points believable, and the writing style, of which I am a big fan, keeps the story moving quickly. 
    Change seems the underlying force. The town is changing as it grows, the locals are caught between the old and the new, and Danielle undergoes a change as to what might be important in her life.
   Challenges are also abundant for Andrew and his sister Chloe, as just like Danielle, prior tragedies effect all their lives. 
   There are well written supporting characters making the reader feel right at home as they stroll down the snow laden streets of Redford Falls. I'm guessing some of these interesting characters will take center stage in books to follow, and that's good news for all of us. 

Ask the author: 
What is your favorite meal to cook? 
Roasted chicken breasts with all the trimmings.
That sounds wonderful!

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?

It’s okay to not be an international bestselling author. Just enjoy the art of writing the story and seeing your work published.

What great advice. The pressure of trying to "hit the big time" can lead to forgetting why we write, and crush the joy out of it. 

See you in October for.....
Darlene resides on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where the summers are too short and the winters are too long. An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loved to develop the many stories coming to life in her head. She writes contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When not working on her next book, she can be found with her husband, her daughter, and her yellow Labrador. Darlene’s favourite pastime is taking summer day-trips to the Valley to soak in the small-town feel.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

5 STARS for Catamaran Crossing by Douglas Carl Fricke


   The allure of the sea has always called to humankind, and Douglas Carl Fricke certainly answered that call. 

   Fricke has written a wonderful firsthand accounting of his catamaran crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. The spirit of adventure, the camaraderie of the crew, and the bravery shown by all onboard would have made Thor Heyerdahl smile. I soon learned that facing down the ocean in a small craft, with no land in sight, takes a special kind of person.

   The writing style and pacing kept the story flowing even when more in-depth sailing information was addressed. And the author’s gift for describing his world with but a few well-chosen words, made the people and places around him come alive. I especially enjoyed reading about the first mate, Joni. Adept in the galley or at the helm, she kept their bellies full regardless of the rolling waves or what was available in the larder. 

   This nonfiction read is set in 1986 with the mention of songs, books, and the social culture of the 70’s and 80’s nicely sprinkled in around the sailing lingo. I also found the historical references, and the chapter quotes of interest.

   If you’d like to learn what sailing is really like, you’re sure to enjoy this adventure of the high seas. 

Catamaran Crossing is available at...



Barnes & Noble 

An image posted by the author.

Doug has been a family historian for years and has published genealogical works covering two of his European ancestral families.

Recently, he has ventured into sharing some of his most daring sailing adventures through storytelling. He has sailed in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the Aegean, the Gulf of Mexico and across the mid-Atlantic. He has a collection of passport visas from over forty foreign countries while traveling for pleasure, for the military, and for corporate America as a software engineer.

Monday, August 31, 2020

His Candy Christmas A Redford Falls Story ~ Book 1

    Welcome to Redford Falls 
A wonderful town
filled with delightful characters,
 and captivating stories 
created by Darlene Fredette. 

You can visit there, and fall in love through these four sweetly romantic, tug-at-your-heartstrings books.        

Today we get a peek at 
                            His Candy Christmas 
                       Available August 31, 2020

    Who knew returning home would contain a cool nip in the air, irresistible chocolate, and a Santa suit?
   It’s going to take more than a few pieces of chocolate to fill this Scrooge’s heart with Christmas cheer. Luckily Candy has a whole shop full.
   Candice Cane is not proud of the way she acted after her last encounter with Jackson Frost. Sure revenge was fun, but now Jackson is angry and looking for answers, and standing on the welcome mat in her chocolate shop. Now he's after some revenge of his own.
   Jackson returned to his small hometown for one reason and one reason only. So, he's not sure how he ended up in a Santa suit in the middle of a chocolate shop, at the behest of its beautiful owner, instead of high-tailing it back to the city as fast as he can.

   She tapped the pen against her chin. Yes, this plan could work.
   “Why the hesitation? I thought you’d be just as eager to end our marriage.”
   Not just yet. Candy had a problem and Jackson was her solution. “You need a divorce, I need a Santa.”
   “What?” He raised an eyebrow.
     She flashed a sinister smile and winked, pointing to the clothing bag hanging from a hook on the wall. A Santa hat peeked from the open zipper. 
   “Give me your best ho ho ho.”
    “No...no way!” Jackson stepped back, colliding with the wall. “If you think I’m going to dress up as Santa, you’re out of your mind!”
    “No Santa, no divorce.” Candy flicked the pen through the air and it clattered onto the table.

                  Read my 5 STAR review for 
                   His Candy Christmas click here

 Google Play
                Questions for the Author:

What is the farthest you have traveled from your home? 
   In 1992, for our honeymoon, my husband and I traveled through Maine, New Hampshire, and Boston. Then in 1994 we went back to Boston to see The Rolling Stones in concert. 
   That sounds like a wonderful honeymoon, and an anniversary with the Rolling Stones sounds amazing!
  What music do you enjoy, and do you listen while writing? 
  I like lots of music - oldies, rock, and country. I have the radio on in the morning, but I rarely hear it while writing.
   Well we know you like the Rolling Stones:) I find music great for inspiration, but like you I rarely listen while writing. 
  Other than family or a religious figure, name one person (dead or alive) with whom you would like to spend the day.
   Carol Burnett (the best comedic actress ever).
   Oh my gosh I love your answer. Humor can often be a saving grace. 

                        Join me in September 
               for our next visit to Redford Falls 
             and the release of Kissed by Winter

  Darlene resides on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where the summers are too short and the winters are too long. An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loved to develop the many stories coming to life in her head. She writes contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When not working on her next book, she can be found with her husband, her daughter, and her yellow Labrador. Darlene’s favourite pastime is taking summer day-trips to the Valley to soak in the small-town feel.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Trapper's Moon 5 STARS from Readers' Favorite

      Author Gini Rifkin’s Trapper's Moon takes you back to America around 1840, a time when the British tried keeping control by law and order; some used it to their advantage when it suited their purposes. 
    Kade is making what will become his final journey after emptying the winter traps, taking furs to the trading post with his partner, Tucket, the man who took him under his wing as a boy and raised him. The aim is to return down from the mountains at the end of the bitter winter and earn enough to keep them until the next season.

     Their journey is filled with danger and trouble from the start, having to defend themselves from men of the Hudson Bay Company whose instructions are to eliminate all independent trappers by any means possible. This band has a captive Indian girl called Blind Deer, who is injured during the scuffle. These three now have their lives linked and become dependent on each other’s differing strengths and talents for survival. Revealing details from their pasts add further drama to the story.
    Trapper's Moon is an exciting read with action, drama, and deepening love, leaving you wanting an ending that both delivers the characters a happy future and ensures justice is meted out the lawless. 
    Gini Rifkin uses easy to follow language, with no fancy terms needing explanation while reading, making this a delightful story. There is a glossary of

terms at the end. You’re gently drawn into the lives of each character, painting in your mind a picture of events, both good and bad. Whilst you are focused on the current event, you’re also still thinking about what may be happening elsewhere. 
    The author has taken great care to develop this story in a logical order and make it believable, considering the time frame and the events throughout the pages. Anyone new to this genre will be pleasantly surprised. An excellent, well thought out and planned book, giving you a chance to look back at this not too distant history.
       Reviewed by Bernadette Diane Anderson for Readers' Favorite

Thursday, August 27, 2020

You could win 66 E-Books

                      The Dragon and The Rose 
                 will be included in the give away. 
                    Runs August 25 – 31, 2020.
       Winner will be drawn on September 7, 2020.
     He was the Dragon of Normandy. She was the Rose of Flanders. They met in the North of England and together they changed the course of hearts and history.
     Sir Branoc Valtaigne, ordered to Northumbria by King William II, fights to keep peace along the Scottish border. He is a formidable battle-tested warrior, but as he honors his vows to God, king, and country, a young woman’s smile proves to be his undoing.
     Martanzia Verheire, tricked into standing as good faith hostage for Flanders, seeks freedom from castle Bamburgh and love from Sir Branoc. As she clings to the Celtic dragon statue given to her by her mother, she leads them all to the brink of an era where true magic will be gone forever but where dreams can still come true.

  The sound of people, as they congregated for today’s event, drifted upward. 
   Still brooding and angry, Branoc stepped to the tower window to observe the guests below. Like a swirling sea of color, they ebbed and flowed across the courtyard. They chattered and laughed their gaiety profane in contrast to the anguish that surrounded his soul.  
    Hands clenched in frustration, he ground his fists against the rough edge of the window casement. The pain transformed his thoughts from despair to determination. 
   There was no time to remedy his plight. The ritual would begin shortly, and he dare not arrive late. He would be among the first to pledge himself to King William II, even as his father had pledged his loyalty to King William I.  
  Standing tall, he turned his back to the window slit. His lot had been cast, if not by his own hand then certainly by that of Fate. And now, as before, he was left to gather together the crumbling pieces of his life. Now, as before, he was left to carry out in personal tragedy the promises uttered by others in good faith. 
    “Damn your eyes, Rathgar,” he swore. “A dark knight you have made me, and a dark knight I shall be. From now until Destiny decrees otherwise, I will wear the shade of doom and retribution that you have chosen for me.” 
   Crossing the room he touched the rim of the shield, and studied in more detail the fearsome image depicted upon the painted hide. He did not believe in the existence of dragons, yet he felt an odd sympathy for the hoary worm; a mythical beast both feared and admired. An invincible creature who’s memory survived only in the hearts of men and the minds of children. Sad to be only an illusion. 
   Or perhaps we were all mere illusions. Reflections of what we could be, or what we hoped to be. Truth and illusion. Opposite sides of the same coin. And ’twas the toss of that coin that determined a man’s future. 
   Grabbing up the somber attire, he dressed with pride and care, while visions of Rathgar still dogged his thoughts. “Before this game is through, old friend, you shall know the fury of the beast you have created, and you shall tremble before his might. I will champion this day,” Branoc vowed, “and conquer all of my tomorrows. 
   “Neither God nor man shall deliver unto this earth a dragon more formidable than the one known as Valtaigne.”
The North Sea, July, 1100 A.D.
   A monstrous wave tossed the tiny ship about with disinterested ease, and the windblown sea-spray added another layer of freezing mist to all that it touched. 
   With a hand pale as death, Martanzia Verheire drew her sodden cloak closer about her shivering body. Now she was cold as well as afraid. 
   Another breaker of grotesque proportions swept the listing craft upward, and for one breathless moment, the boat clung to the frothy crest. Then the unseen pelagic hand relinquished its grip, and the floundering craft careened downward at a riotous angle.
   Clawing at the slippery surface, Martanzia fought to remain seated on the heaving deck. Her senses reeled and her stomach rebelled. Never in her wildest dreams had she imagined that sailing from Flanders to England would be such a dreadful ordeal.
   Lightning fractured the sky, and thunder spilled through the cracks left behind. The rain could wait no longer. It poured down from above, blurring the dismal panorama, creating a perfect backdrop for the fiery images that blistered and burned in the back of her brain. She could still see Uncle Malbourne, smiling smugly and waving good-bye. ’Twas because of his trickery that she was here. 
    Anger boiled anew, sparring in her belly with the nausea already well entrenched there. She clutched at her stomach, and hunkered down lower on the deck of the small ship. Thoughts of Uncle only made her feel worse.
   Another great paw of water tore at the boat. The craft nearly up-ended, flinging Martanzia backward.       She slammed against the rough-hewn framework. Pain exploded in her shoulder and speared down her arm. A whimper escaped her lips, and a new and horrifying idea surfaced in her mind and gasped for breath. Would it aid Uncle Malbourne’s purpose if she died in the crossing? He was capable of murder...
   She seized the knotted hemp that hung from the wooden hull, and braced her body against the strut. She must survive, if for no other reason than to spite him. Besides, she reasoned, even Uncle could not control the weather, and therefore he could not be assured of her demise at sea. If he had wanted her dead, he would have devised a method more certain of success.
    But why allow her to live, and cart her off to an English nunnery? Surely, it was more than simply a punishment for her refusal to marry the odious Rathgar Relentes. 
   Only time would reveal at what amusement Uncle played, and only then would she know her part in the game. One thing was most assuredly clear, he did not rescue her from Rathgar’s clutches out of pity, yet to be rescued at all must be considered a boon. 
   One day at a time, she reminded herself. That was how she would survive. There was no point in worrying about the future when none might exist.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Magnar Release Day Celebration with Mary Morgan

    The Wolves of Clan Sutherland are coming! 
Another wonderful series to sweep you away to a time long ago... you may wish you could stay there forever!

   Known as the Barbarian, Magnar MacAlpin is a fierce ruler for those under his command. As leader of the Wolves of Clan Sutherland, his loyalty and obedience lies with Scotland. However, the king’s last demand is not something Magnar will tolerate.
   After Elspeth Gunn’s brother the Chieftain of Castle Steinn is murdered, she flees with her nephew, and finds safety amongst a band of men who are rumored to be part wolf. When the king forces her to wed a heathen Northman, she fears losing her heart and soul not only to the man, but the beast as well.
   In order to restore peace to a shattered clan, Magnar and Elspeth travel a treacherous path that challenges their beliefs. When evil seeks to destroy ancient traditions, will Magnar be compelled to restrain his wolf or allow him free to protect those he loves?

  Standing abruptly, Elspeth glanced around the table.     She wanted to shout at them all. Did they not understand how exhausted they were? From the moment they arrived at Lord Sutherland’s castle, they were ushered into the great hall to await the king. No food given. Only wine served. Bright red splotches covered her nephew’s cheeks.
   Moving away from the table, she went to her nephew and placed a firm hand on his shoulder. “My king. If you would be so kind, I shall see Erik to his chamber.”
   King William smiled. “Do not fret, Lady Elspeth. There was not much wine in his cup. I deemed it best to acknowledge his new position as chieftain with a small amount.”
   Relief coursed through her, and she gave him her best smile. “Then with your consent, may I fetch him some food from the kitchens?”
   The king rose from his chair. “Lord Sutherland has prepared chambers for you both.”
   “Chambers in the south tower?” asked Magnar, taking a hold of her elbow.
   Lord Sutherland gave him a slight nod.
   Startled once again by the man’s silent movements, Elspeth remained mute, trying to control the warring emotions from the man’s touch. The heat of his fingers seared into her gown and onto her skin.
   Giving the king a small smile, she permitted Magnar to usher her out of the great hall. Erik kept a steady pace with their movements as he continued to entertain their overly bold guide with yet another tale of how they escaped their home.
Her steps slowed as the torchlight danced off the giant tapestry hanging on the wall near the stairs. The eyes of a white wolf bore into Elspeth as she drew near. Though only the head of the animal was represented within the woven threads, she half expected the wolf to jump out at her.
Elite Guards. Wolves. King William.
   Elspeth returned her attention to the man holding her in his grip. “I heard my brother once mention the elite guards for the king. He spoke with reverence and with fear. They are loyal to the king but had one leader—one who all of Scotland should fear because of his magic.”
  The man’s eyes darkened and a smile tipped the corners of his mouth. “Your brother was wise in his account.”
  Elspeth’s heart pounded fiercely within her chest. “You are the leader of the Wolves of Clan Sutherland.”

Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble
Amazon Ca
Amazon UK
Amazon AU

About the Author: 
Award-winning Celtic paranormal and fantasy romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.

Mary's passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. It wasn't until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling by writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.

If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of magic, then time-travel within the pages of her books.

Connect with Mary at these places: 
Amazon Author

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Iron Heat win 66 E books at N. N. Light

                            Iron Heart 
                     a 5 STAR read included in 
                      the N.N. Light give away. 
                    Runs August 25 – 31, 2020.
       Winner will be drawn on September 7, 2020.
    England: circa. 879 A.D.
    With the heart of a warrior and the soul of a poet, Faran Kilbraun travels far from home in search of the sword and shield of his ancestors. Protecting the ancient relics was his responsibility. Now, to regain his honor, he must recover the stolen artifacts and battle a life-long enemy.  
    Following the accidental death of her cruel husband, Leanora Wrenn is wrongly accused of his murder. Forced into exile, a small north shore island becomes her lonely refuge—exoneration her only hope. 
     When Faran discovers Leanora's remote sanctuary, both their lives are changed forever. Comrades-in-arms, they fight side by side for their chance at redemption and love. 

Chapter One
The Farne Islands, September 879 A.D.

    They had stolen his past. And he was about to lose his future.
    Faran wrestled for control of the steerboard. He had never fought harder, not even at the shieldwall. Yet, try as he might to guide his small ship to safety, the storm howling down from the north thwarted his every move.
    Deadly rocks ringed the shore—looming dangerously close. He hazarded a glance at his three stalwart companions. Heads down, they strained at the oars, and while their loyalty and courage nourished his soul, he knew in his heart their attempt was futile.
    Who had conjured this pernicious maelstrom?
   Only moments ago, the sky had been blue and the sea calm. This raging tempest, wielded by a merciless hand, threatened to destroy his ship, his companions, and his hope for redemption.
    The gods had forsaken him yet once again.
    Exhausted, Faran lay prone upon the cold wet shore, his head turned to one side, the sand grating against his cheek. He groaned and willed himself to turn over, but muscle and sinew refused to follow where his mind desperately tried to lead.
   Resigned to immobility, he studied the area within his scope of vision. Where were his hearthmates? Did they live? Were they nearby, possibly in need of his help? These thoughts pounded through his brain even as the surf pounded the craggy coastline.
    A piece of flotsam washed up on the beach, and an inquisitive gull swooped down to inspect this treasure newly relinquished from the sea. The runes etched upon the smooth wooden surface were familiar to him—the board had once been part of his sailing vessel. But his ship had gone down—along with his good intentions.
      He closed his eyes and recalled the rasping sound of wood scraping rock. A mountainous wave had swallowed his ship, and he had been catapulted body and soul into the sea. Then along with the other aquatic grist, the ocean had chewed him up well and good, only to regurgitate him upon the shore like an unsavory bit of shell.
     At the memory of the underwater horror, his eyes snapped opened, and he sucked in a lungful of air. Surely the gods had made a mistake. He was Tyne Faran Kilbraun, the Iron Heart. Seventh son of the man who ruled the Storm Geats, seventh son of the woman who belonged to the tribe of the Wulfingas. He was keeper of the Word and protector of the sacred relics. Were these facts of no consequence to the deities who ruled the heavens and the earth?
    Faran, the Iron Heart. It was a name that set one’s mind to wondering. Did he pride himself on disallowing any woman to touch his cold hard heart? Did he woo ladies into love trysts with promises of treasure and pleasure only to tragically desert them?

     For certes he was unlike anyone Leanora had ever known. He approached life fearlessly, as if he dared anyone to cross his path, his mood, or the territory he called his own. And his generous mouth was an unbidden fascination. It could accommodate a childlike smile, tempering all the fierceness he worked so hard to portray. Or it could accommodate a reassuring smile, making her believe everything in her troubled world would be all right.

     He was handsome to be sure—with a rock hard body, thoughts of which occupied her mind much too often. And his mind was also intriguing. Developed equal to his form, it was a quality she truly admired in him. Knowledge could be a powerful weapon, and Faran appeared well armed.

      To her benefit, he seemed preoccupied with the present and not with prying into her past. Nor did he threaten to rule her future. He treated her differently, he treated her like...a friend. The idea stunned her. Life had never afforded her the opportunity to know or cherish another person in such a manner. Another new experience.

      Then a spark of yearning for more than mere friendship flickered inside of her. You can never trust a man, she chastised, you can only believe in yourself. Unyielding logic cooled this ember of need, but not before it claimed the barren part of her never before touched by warmth or light.