Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bringing Claire Home: The final story in the series

“Bringing Claire Home” blurb:

A year ago, Paul took his sister Claire away to escape Lord Jeffrey’s attacks on the hamlets. Mitchell and Claire were in love, but Mitchell hadn’t asked her to marry him before she left. Now he aches for her, and goes in search of her to bring her back to his home as his bride. But no one has seen or heard of her, and the hamlet where she was to go is empty.
Finally Mitchell meets Ivan, who takes him into the forest where Claire and Paul, and Ivan himself, have been living for the past year. But Ivan loves Claire, too, and Claire owes him her life. Mitchell suggests he and Ivan share Claire. Can this possibly work—two men with no tie to each other and the one woman they both love? And can they survive a dangerous journey home? 


Claire had adjusted to living in the forest, but she longed to be back at the stronghold, or even living in Paul’s little house in the hamlet. Winter was coming, and winter in the forest was horrible. Even though Paul and Ivan had dug down deep into the soil to keep the heat from the fire inside their shelter and covered their walls and roof with mud, and later, snow and ice, it was still much colder than inside a stone building with a huge fire. In the stronghold, they could always wrap themselves in a fur and sleep in the great hall when it was very cold. Here, the shelter was just big enough for them all to be inside. Her brother always hugged her to him to share his body heat, but the small fire, all they could afford to use as gathering fuel was a time-consuming task, never seemed warm enough to Claire.

From outside, the shelter was very low to the ground, easy to disguise, as the men had dug it a long pace deep, and she appreciated the enormous amount of work that had been, so the temperature inside would be more moderate, and the shelter itself much less obvious to anyone searching for them. But it was not, and never would be, home.

It was no use asking to go home. Paul was convinced that life with Lord Jeffrey on the rampage was much too dangerous. Even here, so far north in the valley, there were signs Lord Jeffrey had attacked people. Several hamlets were derelict, all the people gone. One had been burned to the ground.
Meeting Ivan had truly been a life-saving experience. He and Paul together had been able to kill some larger animals that provided them with plenty of meat and furs for warmth. When Paul was by himself, it was much too dangerous for him to tackle a larger animal because if he’d been hurt, Claire wouldn’t have been strong enough to carry him back to the campsite to care for him. But with the two of them, life had been easier, and the tiny shelter was built as well. Claire knew Paul wanted her to marry Ivan, and she was grateful to him, truly she was, but the man she loved was back at the stronghold. She loved Mitchell with all her heart, and gratitude to Ivan didn’t change her feelings for Mitchell at all.
“Before winter sets in, you really ought to visit some hamlets and find out what has been happening in the valley,” she said to Paul that evening as they at around a tiny fire.

“I don’t want people knowing where we are. It took a lot of effort to build that shelter, and it’s important no one learns where it is,” he said dismissively.

“You can go to a more distant hamlet, travel in a roundabout route. Your tracking skills are excellent. No one need know where you’ve come from,” she said coaxingly.

“It’s been almost a year. She’s right. It’s time for one of us to see what’s been happening. Only one of us need go. One person can hide their tracks much more easily than a group,” said Ivan.
“Do you think so? What can have changed? Lord Jeffrey is young and strong. He’s not a frail old man like Lord Ceadda.”
“In a year, anything may have happened. Possibly nothing’s changed, but I agree with Claire. It’d be good to know.” 


Berengaria Brown

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Elinor's Stronghold Book 3: "Restoring Garnet's Heart"

Blurb: Restoring Garnet’s Heart

Tragically widowed, Garnet is loved by two men. If a noble lady can have two men, why can’t a mere sewing woman? Garnet decides she’ll marry them both! Then she adopts two orphaned, starving little girls.

Garnet, Byram, and Carlysle are sent to repair the demesne. Can they achieve this huge task before the harvest is gathered in? First a high stone wall needs to be built to protect them from attackers. The buildings must be cleaned and repaired, the crops sown, weeded, cared for, and hopefully reaped. Is it possible to complete such a huge undertaking before the next vicious winter arrives? Will the peasants help them?

Meanwhile Lady Elinor gives birth to the heir of the stronghold, and Lord Rhys and Lady Rhyannon, with Alistair and Lord Devon, go to court to sort out her inheritance.

And what about Garnet’s threesome relationship? Will that be successful?


Lady Elinor stared at the two children in front of her. One, a girl, looked to be about six years old and dragged a cooking pot with a few possessions inside it. Her arms and legs were stick-thin, her hair was falling out in clumps, and her belly was swollen.

The child had been eating bark and leaves to try to stem her hunger, and her belly was full of air, assumed Garnet, who was standing beside Lady Elinor among the other sewing women of the castle.

The younger child, which could be either a girl or boy, and was maybe three years old, clutched the older one’s tunic in one hand, and sucked hard on its other thumb. It, too, was painfully thin, though less bloated by starvation.

“You wish to become my slave?” Lady Elinor’s voice was even and mild, but Garnet knew she was shocked. Peasant men from the smallest of uncaring Lord Jeffrey’s hamlets had begged to become slaves of the castle in return for food during this terrible winter, but few females, and no one as young as this little child.

“Yes, Lady Elinor. I can scare birds from the crops when they’re planted, and clean for you. Ysabel will stay with me. I’ve always looked after her since Ma died, and she won’t touch the seedlings. She’s a good girl, and no trouble at all. And I will grow big, and learn to fight for you and Lord Rhys, and then I’ll kill the men who murdered our Pa and took all our hamlet’s food,” the child finished fiercely, almost in a shout.

Garnet felt her eyebrows rise and forced her face not to break into a grin. It was plain this tiny, starved child had the heart of a warrior indeed.

Lady Elinor rested her hand on her huge belly. It was almost time for the heir to the stronghold to be born.

“Well then, Nerida is already learning warrior skills, and if the heir to the stronghold is a girl, she will be a warrior, too. I see no reason why you can’t also be a warrior, if that is your desire. What is your name, and where are the other people from your hamlet?”
“I’m Ava, lady, and I promise to serve you forever. Most of the people left after the soldiers came raiding. Some have tried to help Ysabel and me, but I’d rather work for my food.”
Garnet watched Ava’s thin, little shoulders straighten as she spoke. At her age, Garnet would never have dared to approach the Lady of the Castle, and Garnet had never been a shy child. But this girl was truly a warrior born. She was that rare being who combined the ability to think of a solution to a problem with the courage to step outside any rules of society and do it, no matter what the consequences may turn out to be.

Without stopping to think, Garnet moved to stand where Lady Elinor could see her. “The two girls may share my room, lady, and I will supervise their activities.”

“It is decided then, Ava. You and Ysabel may join the stronghold. We will feed you, and you will work. You will obey Garnet in all things. Do you understand?”

“Yes, lady, thank you.”

Ava dropped to her knees and pressed her face to Lady Elinor’s feet. Ysabel copied her.
Garnet’s eyes flooded with tears. Peasants always died when there was trouble in the land, especially the very old and the very young. They weren’t strong enough to fight back or fast enough to run away. But this child deserved to live.

Garnet’s husband, Roldan, had been one of Lord Rhys’s soldiers, and was killed in the battle that took the lives of Lady Elinor’s father and brothers and caused Lord Rhys to lose his demesne to Lord Jeffrey. They had been married only six months, not long enough for her to worry about not getting pregnant, but now he was dead, the parents of these children were dead, and Ava was a daughter any woman would be proud to call her own. 

 Berengaria Brown

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book 2: Defending Rhyannon's Inheritance

“Defending Rhyannon’s Inheritance” blurb:

Hated and incompetent Lord Jeffrey wants to marry Rhyannon, and her bad-tempered cousin, Coll, wants to steal her jewels. She needs a good protector.
Alistair has loved her faithfully for years, but he has no assets and can’t support them both. Lord Devon is a suitable husband, but does he even like Rhyannon? It’s a big challenge, but maybe together Alistair and Lord Devon can protect her and her jewels from Lord Jeffrey and Cousin Coll.
Meanwhile, winter is settling on the stronghold and Lord Jeffrey is attacking the people once again. And Cousin Coll is determined to get her jewels any way he can. Surviving the winter is hard enough to do without all these other things happening as well. Everyone in the stronghold is living on a knife edge. Alistair and Lord Devon focus on Rhyannon. They’ll love her and protect her—and each other as well.

“Lord Devon, you are the only suitable unmarried noble here.” Lord Rhys stared at the warrior. He was good-looking, broad of shoulder, and strong of arm. His hair was a pale gold, his eyes blue, and Rhys thought a lady would not find him unappealing. Certainly he was neither old, nor did he dribble.
“I don’t— I haven’t—” Lord Devon visibly pulled himself together and bowed. “Yes, lord, I will marry the Lady Rhyannon. It will be an honor. I should tell you, I was reared only with men and know nothing about ladies, but I shall endeavor to learn, and I give you my solemn vow to protect her from all dangers, not just Lord Jeffrey.”
Lady Elinor leaned forward across the high table. “Lord Devon, as a soldier you are used to sharing everything with your fellow warriors, are you not?”
“Yes, lady, of course.”
“And you know that the Lady Rhyannon and Alistair love one another?”
Lord Devon’s fair face colored red. He swallowed and said, “Yes, lady.”
“It is you who must marry her. You are noble and a fitting match. But there is no reason why Alistair could not assist you with caring for the Lady Rhyannon. As a soldier always has a man to watch his back, Alistair would be the one to watch your back, and Lady Rhyannon’s.”
Father Augustus drew in a breath noisily, but no one said anything. Then, to Rhys’s relief, Lord Devon nodded again. “That sounds reasonable, Lady Elinor.”
Rhys’s heart was pounding, the blood pouring through his body making him feel hot and cold all at once. Had his wife just said, in front of a group of men, one of them a priest, that Lord Devon should marry Rhyannon and then allow Alistair to fuck her as well? Yes, she had, and with a straight, innocent face. What’s more, Lord Devon had agreed! Never would Rhys have suggested such a thing, even if he’d thought of it, which he hadn’t. But then, he and Hammond shared Elinor, and that had been her idea, too, so he supposed he shouldn’t be too shocked she’d done it again.
Rhys lifted an arm, and Byram, the steward, came over to the high table. “Yes, lord.”
“Please ask Alistair to join us.” 

Berengaria Brown

Find out more about my books at:

Elinor's Stronghold book 1: Pillaging Elinor's Castle

“Pillaging Elinor’s Castle” blurb:

Lady Elinor's father and two brothers are killed in battle, and Lord Rhys loses his demesne. To protect her people Elinor decides she will marry Lord Rhys, but only if he agrees the Captain of the Guard, Hammond, will share their bed and the decision making from now on. They agree and seal their contract in blood. Rhys and his people move into the stronghold.

After the wedding they begin to plan for how to survive the attack that will inevitably come. The stronghold is a wealthy one, and many will consider it an easy target with its lord and his sons dead. They also have to blend the two households together and prepare for the coming winter. At night Hammond and Rhys work hard in bed, learning to share Elinor, finding out what pleases her best, and arousing each other to new heights along the way.


Lady Elinor nodded to Hammond and took him and Lord Rhys into her solar.
It was evident both men were uneasy to be alone with a woman, even if she was now the lady of the castle.
“Should I call Madam Heloise to join us, Lady Elinor?” asked Hammond.
“My aunt is no doubt sound asleep in a chair by the fire, along with Father Augustus. Besides, she is the last person who I wish to hear what I’m about to say. It is for our ears only. Swear to me you will not repeat this conversation.”
A puzzled frown marked his handsome countenance, but Lord Rhys instantly crossed his sword over his chest and promised. Hammond followed him.
“Lord Rhys, as we all well know, your father and mine discussed our marriage many times over these past twenty years. However, we both remain unmarried, and you are now landless.”
Rhys’s face began turning red, and Elinor hurried on with her prepared speech. She didn’t blame him for losing the battle, or for the death of her family, but the facts were plain for all to see, and she needed these men to agree to her plan.
“As the sole survivor of my family, this stronghold now belongs to me. That is the law. However, we all know it will be the focus of attack by every landless knight and masterless man in the kingdom. Sooner or later one of them will take the castle, or take me, or both. Neither of these situations is to my liking.”
Once again Elinor stared at the men. Both clearly agreed with her statements, but also were obviously confused about where she was going with her speech. Quickly, before one or another of them could start talking, she said, “I have a different plan. We three will jointly rule this stronghold. It is mine, and I will keep it. My word on the lives of the people—my people—will ever be the law. Lord Rhys, you will marry me tomorrow, and will therefore take ownership of the land. Any child I bear will legally be your heir and mine. Hammond, you will share in all the decision-making. Your knowledge of strategy is second to none, and as Captain of the Guard you will train all our soldiers. You will also share our bed. We will be three in this relationship.”
Hammond gasped but remained otherwise silent, his warrior training having taught him never to speak out of place. Rhys, as a noble, was less reticent. “Let me understand your proposal, Lady Elinor. You and I will marry, so by law I will then control the castle, the stronghold, and all Lord Huart’s lands and wealth. My men will serve under the Captaincy of Hammond. You retain management of the castle and the people. And Hammond and I…share…your favors?”
“Exactly. We each give up a benefit to achieve a greater combined gain. I give up my lands to you, but I will manage the household, as many women do anyway. Hammond gives up the opportunity to have a wife and family of his own to serve us, but he achieves control over all the guards. He will also help train any of my sons, be they yours or his. A position of high status. You give up part of the control of the stronghold and must share my person with Hammond. But no one will ever know about that, and any child will bear your name. All in all I consider it a plan that gives all of us the best possible chance of living long and happy lives.”
“Such strong security will certainly deter others from attacking the castle. Whereas, with the lord and his sons all dead, we would assuredly have been attacked within a month,” said Hammond.
“And I am currently homeless and landless. I was planning to travel to cousins in the next county, but your plan ensures the safety of my people as well as of myself. Besides, as you said, many ladies manage their households and people.”
“And many ladies are not faithful to their lord,” added Hammond.
“How will that work?” asked Lord Rhys.
“Tonight you’ll both share me. That will seal our agreement in blood.” 

Berengaria Brown

Find out more about my books at: