Release Day – The Last Guardian Rises

The Last Guardian Rises is available. The Last Guardian Rises

Even now, after the publication of my second book, I still find it difficult to believe it’s real. I never thought I’d have one book published, and now I have two. Amazing. It’s all thanks to the readers who buy my work. Without that, I wouldn’t be published. Thank you!

The Last Guardian Rises picks up a few months after the ending of The Last Keeper’s Daughter. Lily is grappling with her feelings for Krieger, the Vampire King of North America, and how she fits into the Other world. Krieger has been patient with her retreat into the vastness of the archives, but he knows that the force the Other’s feel is growing, and he will need Lily by his side to defeat it.

 

 

The Last Guardian Rises – Cover Reveal

My second book, The Last Guardian Rises, will release on November 15th. The Last Guardian Rises This is the sequel to The Last Keeper’s Daughter. I’m so proud of this book and hope you will enjoy it.

Here’s a little about it:

Lily Ayres, Sanguis Ancilla to Krieger Barnes, has retreated into the shadows of the archives, hiding from the king and the intense emotions he arouses in her. How long can she deny him? Will she accept her role in the Other world and the abilities arising within her?

Krieger Barnes, Vampire King of North America, has shared his blood with Lily, his kingdom, and his heart. He summons Lily, needing her nearness, needing her to attend the council meeting with him.

Merlin, the king’s advisor, must fight the darkness that threatens to overtake him. Can he survive the dark magic?

Lucien Black, the wielder of the Dragon Sword, is once again charged with Lily’s protection. How will he explain his avoidance of her?

A being buried deep underground, inside a cage of iron and wrapped in chains, escapes. Is he the dark entity that the Others feel and fear?

 

Outlander, Episode Eight – Both Sides Now

We were jolted out of the romantic wedding night episode of last week into the midseason finale of Both Sides Now. In this episode Claire is nearly raped twice, kills a man, and is back in the clutches of Black Jack Randall. And, to top it all off, Outlander won’t be back until April 4, 2015. All I can say is Good God Man, that’s too blasted long.

Both Sides Now begins with Frank sitting in the police station waiting to speak with the detective  handing the case of the missing Claire. I truly can’t imagine what it would be like to have a loved one vanish. As I’ve written before, when I read the books I never really felt that much for Frank. But now that I know a bit about him, I feel horrible for what he is going through. The police think that Claire ran off with the Highlander Frank saw staring up at Claire’s window. Frank doesn’t believe that and storms out of the police station. He’s staying with Reverend Wakefield and seeks out his advice for what he should do. The Reverend, kind soul that he is, believes Claire has been kidnapped, but Frank is beginning to doubt it. Or, he’s doubting that he can find Claire at this point. He stomps off to a bar to drown his sorrows when a woman approaches him. She’s seen the Highlander posters Frank’s placed about Inverness. She will take him to the man.

Now we know she’s up to something, but Frank is grasping at straws and meets her only to be jumped by two men. Frank is ready for them and chases off the one before pummeling the other into unconsciousness. It would seem Frank and Black Jack Randall aren’t so different. Well, Frank does have a conscious.

Meanwhile Jamie and Claire are still feeling the afterglow of their wedding night. They’re having a  private picnic on a hill overlooking the unbelievably beautiful countryside of Scotland. Jamie is stunned by how wonderful being with Claire feels, and asks if it is normal. Claire responds that what they have is special. Before Jamie can get to loosening her corset, an  arrow lands just a few feet from them.

Up the hill comes a scraggly looking man, Hugh Monro. By a combination of sign language and guttural noises, he communicates that there is a redcoat who knows that Jamie did not commit the murder he was charged with. Hugh isn’t deaf, but had his tongue cut out by the Turks, I think. He was a slave and wouldn’t change his religion, so he was tortured. Now Hugh is a professional beggar, as the many badges he sports around his neck attest.

Jamie is ebullient. If he could find this man, he might get the price off his head, and return to his  home without fear of being captured. Before Hugh leaves he gives Claire a wedding gift, a dragonfly in amber, and disappears down the path. Alone, Jamie gets to that corset undoing and hikes Claire’s skirts up. Unfortunately, two deserter redcoats attack them. Jamie is held while one of the soldiers tries to rape Claire. Earlier she’d been taught how to use a small blade, and now while the man is on top of her she uses her newfound skills to stab the rapist multiple times.

The scene of Claire after killing the man is amazing. She’s cold from shock and can’t keep her mind from roaming. She’s a nurse and knows the symptoms, but it doesn’t help her from spiraling. While the men hide the deserters bodies, Claire paces and tries to rein in her myriad of emotions. She lashes out at Jamie for not keeping them safe. He castigates himself for going too far away from the group. The honeymoon is over.

Jamie is insistent that they find the man, Hardrocks, that Hugh told him about. Jamie makes Claire promise she will stay where she is until they get back. Does she? No, of course not, but she has a good reason to wander. She see the rocks of Craigh Na Dun, just over the rise. How can she not go? She’s been desperate to get back to her own time, to Frank, and there they are waiting for her.

In the future, Frank is leaving Inverness having decided that he must get back to his life. On the  way out of town, he drives past the sign for Craigh Na Dun. Mrs. Graham, against Reverend Wakefield’s wishes, told Frank the story of the stones. She says Claire will be back, that he just has to wait for her to return. I can’t fault Frank for not believing her, or rather for not understanding the legend. Who would? He turns back and walks up to the stones. He’s overcome with emotion and calls out Claire’s name. She hears him through the stones and calls back to him. But just as she’s about to lay her hands on the stone two redcoat soldiers grab her. She was right there, and Frank was there, but fate would not let her go back to him.

Trussed up and plopped down in a wagon she’s taken back to Black Jack Randall. Claire plays the only card she has to possibly secure her freedom. In the 1940s she remembers Frank saying that Black Jack must have a powerful benefactor. the Duke of Sandringham. Claire tells Frank that she works for the Duke and he would be none too happy to find out Black Jack has interrupted her mission. The ploy almost works until Black Jack mentions his wife, and Claire falls into the trap of saying they’ve corresponded. The Duke of Sandringham is not married.

Black Jack has her hands tied behind her back and thrown over a table ready to ravish her or cut  her with a blade when Jamie appears at the window and orders Jack to take his hands off his wife. The look of pure joy on Black Jack’s face at seeing Jamie is terrifying.

And that is where they leave us until April 4th. Cruel, right.

My thoughts.

Everyone is trying in some way to get home. Jamie wants to return to his home and is willing to try and find a discredited soldier in order to do so. Claire knows what she feels for Jamie is love, but how can she have two husbands and two loves? Her one night of passion with Jamie is almost enough to make her forget Frank until she sees the stones. She runs to get back to her home, to her life, to her husband. And Frank without any hope of finding Claire, makes the difficult decision to leave Inverness to return to his home.

I can’t believe we have to wait seven long months…

Oh, I almost forget, we saw Roger has a young boy. 

Outlander, Episode Seven – The Wedding

Last night’s episode of The Wedding was sumptuous and tender and sexy and, sometimes, a bit funny. The writer’s leveled and squared the groundwork with the previous episodes, so that last night it was seamless perfection to see Jamie and Claire exchanging their vows and consummating their marriage. So much was riding on this one episode, because everything that is to come between Claire and Jamie truly started that night.

Claire wasn’t happy about marrying Jamie, not that she doesn’t like him, but she is still desperate to get back to stones. She loves Frank. I didn’t understand how much until I watched this series. In the book, Frank is almost a ghost of a character, while Jamie is vibrant. We’re shown a flashback of Claire walking with Frank to meet his parents. He stops her in front of the courthouse and asks her to marry him. The way she says yes, filled with hope and excitement, made me sad. How would I feel torn from the one I love? Tossed into a world where I don’t fit. Where everyone thinks I’m lying about who and what I am.

Jamie has no qualms about his feelings towards Claire. He’s been entranced by her since she took charge and snapped his shoulder back into place. He’s never pushed his feelings upon her, but instead has come to her aid while keeping his attentions respectful. When he walks into the room and Claire, nervous and her heart torn, is waiting for him, I felt myself hold my breath. Her under gown – she is still bustled and skirted – is delicate, though it keeps her waist and breasts synched. Jamie is ready for the bedding business, and yet, he’s extremely patient with Claire. She is not ready. She wants to talk. To hear about his family. To learn more about this “boy” she has been forced to marry.

On more than one occasion, Claire has called Jamie a boy. She hasn’t let herself think of him as a  man. Dougal she thinks of as an equal. She even told us as much when she thought he was the one she would marry. I’m not sure why Dougal didn’t marry her. He must have his reasons. Jamie…was the boy who was whipped, the one she mended, the one who recaptured her on the road to Castle Leoch, but not the one that she thought she’d be marrying.

After a lot of talking and laughing and quite a bit of whisky, the moment finally arrives. There  is nothing gratuitous or salacious in this scene of  two people who really don’t know each other well, anxious and nervous, coming together. The tenderness of Jamie turned me to goo. Truly, his expressions and the way he would touch Claire was lovely. And Claire, she is a truly beautiful woman with the most amazing skin, returns his tenderness.

He knew where to put things, but had a bit of trouble when he tried to take Claire from behind. What could have been extremely awkward was deftly handled by Claire, who turned to face him and they tumbled into the bed. The coupling didn’t take long, and Jamie was crushing her for a bit, but he quickly rectified that. Afterwards, he asked if she enjoyed it. When she hesitates, he says that he heard women don’t enjoy it like men do. Apparently the men gave him all sorts of pre-wedding advice. Claire, who we know to be very sexual from her time with Frank, smiles and says she enjoyed it very much.

There is more talking and sharing and feeling each other out until Claire rises from the bed pulling Jamie with him and asks to see him. Their first time he wore his long shirt and she was still wearing her shift. She runs her hand along his shoulder, down his legs and across his backside, and stands before him, looking him up and down. It’s a hot scene. He unties her shift and runs his hands over her skin. She asks if he’s seen a naked woman before. “Not one that is mine.” Oh… the way he delivered that line makes all the years of waiting to see this on the screen worth it! The sex this time is mutually satisfactory, and Claire gives him a taste of her knowledge by using her mouth on sweet Jamie.

With Jamie asleep, Claire wraps his tartan around her to go downstairs for some food. Dougal comes in and tells her that he’s just delivered the news to Black Jack Randall. He can’t touch her now. Dougal also declares how enthralled he is by Claire. That this marriage shouldn’t keep her from having a taste of other men….Dougal. Why didn’t Dougal marry her, if he felt this way? Why would he think that on her wedding night to Jamie, she’d even want to hear this? She puts him in his place and returns upstairs.

Through this episode we’re given scenes leading up the marriage. Of Ned, the attorney, in a whore house finding a dress for Claire. Rupert and Angus getting the blacksmith to convert Jamie’s key into a wedding ring for Claire. Not sure what the key goes to. How Claire had a hangover and didn’t remember much of the wedding. The priest being coerced to perform the ceremony, partly because Willie had a Bible verse joust with him, and partly because there was the promise stained glass windows . Jamie demanding that the ceremony be in a church and performed by a priest. Murtagh, Jamie’s godfather, saying that Claire’s smile reminded him of Jamie’s mother. Jamie placing his mother’s pearls around Claire’s neck.

The next day Jamie is dressed and going downstairs for breakfast. The two are relaxed in each other’s presence. They are like any young couple after a night of love making. As she’s picking up her gown from the floor,  the wedding ring Frank placed on her finger rolls out. She’d taken if off to marry Jamie. All the heartache and memories flood back at once as she slips it on.

Claire’s wedding dress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamie’s wedding attire:

 

My thoughts:

Bravo! I don’t think this could have been done better. I’ll probably wear out my remote replaying this episode.

Claire is a deeply loyal person. When she married Frank it was for life. Now her loyalties are torn. How can she left herself love Jamie when all she wants to do is escape back to her time. No matter what happens now, Claire’s heart will be broken. It’s a terrible situation to be in. She might never be able to make it back to the stones. Even if she does, it might not work. Or, perhaps, she will decide to stay, with Jamie.

The mid season finale Both Sides Now.

 

 

 

Outlander, Episode Six – The Garrison Commander

What a week! You know when everything hits at once, and you feel like it can’t possibly be Saturday already. I had intended to post about The Garrison on Sunday, and then on Tuesday, and then Thursday, and here it is Saturday and I’m just getting to it.

I’ve watched The Garrison three times now. The writers packed a lot in this episode.

The English, by and large, are buffoons. That’s what I came away with. The commanding generals aren’t in charge because of merit, but by the quirky fate of birth. The most able and competent are most likely subordinate to someone who’s never been responsible for anything.

Now, of course, as with all generalities this isn’t always the case. But I think it is valid in the opening sequence with Claire seducing the generals with charm and a good story. She even manages to take up for Dougal, as he stands there listening to the English comment about the Scottish and their savagery. Unlike, the generals, Dougal is a man who has earned his place in the world. He’s snubbed at the table, and takes his leave from Claire to go downstairs and have a proper drink, knowing for now, she is in no danger.

All that changes when Black Jack Randall, the Garrison Commander, comes stomping into the room announcing that Dougal  MacKenzie, a known Jacobite sympathizer, is downstairs. The officers chide Randall on his appearance. Ever notice how the least competent armies always have the most elaborate uniforms. Anyway, Randall sees Claire. Like a cat with a mouse, Randall stares at Claire for a long time deciding exactly how he should play with her. He begins by pretending he doesn’t know her, and then through verbal jousting lures her to express her sympathies for the Scottish. Claire makes the grave mistake of siding with the Scottish and saying that it is their land and that the English have invaded it.

Before this declaration the Commander had thought her a damsel in distress, an English Rose that must be rescued. Now, he’s shocked by her statement and tells her it is the King’s land. Thankfully, for Claire, there is commotion downstairs. A man has been injured by an ambush and she rushes down to offer assistance. Dougal takes her aside, telling her that Randall is about. She tells Dougal to make himself scarce, because they will blame Dougal and his men for it, though Dougal assures her that they have not.

After the amputation is over, Claire returns to the an all but empty room. Randall is there and informs her the others have taken after the attackers. All this is happening while a poor private is giving him a shave with the very blade that her husband, Frank, has. The shaving blade having been been passed down through the generations. It triggers a happy flashback for Claire with Frank, probably on leave during the war.

The nervous private cuts Randalls neck while trying to shave him. Randall is very still, and quiet, like a predator about to strike. I held my breath as he grabbed the boy and took the blade to his neck. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that Randall would slice the boys neck open and let him bleed out. He doesn’t, instead sending him out and ordering him to guard the room.

Claire has heard the stories about Black Jack Randall, and even more importantly, she’s had her own experience with him. Will he rape her? As he tried to do before. She knows he doesn’t believe one whit of her story. Randall’s technique as an interrogator are quite remarkable. He starts by asking for her reason to be in Scotland. When she starts with her story, he interrupts and says he wants the truth, that she will not leave this room until he has it.

Very convincingly Claire tells him it was an affair of the heart. That she followed an officer to Scotland. She thought he loved her, but it turned out he only wanted to seduce her. When she refused, he tried to rape her. Which is why she was running around in her shift.

It could be true. Claire even drops some tears. Randall isn’t a man moved by tears, or not moved  in the way that one would hope. He tells her that Scotland has changed him. Made him darker, driven, not that same man that he was in England. We are shown the flashback of Jamie being flogged for the second time. A hundred lashes administered by Randall. It’s a gruesome scene that I’d rather not write about or see again. It does show the sadistic tendency in Randall, and what he perceives as the masochistic tendency in Jamie. No matter how brutally Randall whips Jamie, he will not cry out. That silence from Jamie, stokes the dark desires of Randall. He feels a kinship with Jamie. That they are two parts of the same whole. That Randall could reveal himself to Jamie, could act out his desires with this man who can take as much abuse as he could give.

He plays on Claire’s sympathy asking if there is any hope for him. She is truly crying now. I don’t think it is because she feels sorry for Randall, but because she knows how dangerous he really is. He could do anything to her at this point. Randall says perhaps it would be best if she is escorted to Inverness, something the Commander had promised. He stands beside her chair to help her rise, and delivers are hard blow to her stomach, causing her to double over in pain and gasping for a breath. Grabbing her by the hair, he yells at her that he will have the truth. That she will testify that Dougal has been raising money for the Jacobite cause. Randall calls for the private and orders him to kick Claire. The poor boy has no option and reluctantly kicks her twice. Who knows how long this would go one, but Dougal storms into the room and helps Claire up.

Dougal, even outnumbered, commands respect. He demands Randall release Claire. Strangely, Randall does just that. Randall says she must be back tomorrow to speak with the Commander. Barely able to sit a horse, Claire rides out of the garrison. Thank God! Dougal takes her to a foul-smelling stream to drink from. He asks again if she is a spy. Poor Claire. She tells him that she is just plain Claire. Finally, thankfully, he believes her. But why? she asks. Because she drank from a stream that is magic. It will fry your gizzard – or something like that – if you tell a lie.

He has a plan that will keep her from having to go back to The Garrison. She must become Scottish. If she is Scottish, she can’t be forced to go back without the Laird’s approval. Claire must marry. She thinks Dougal is to be the groom. My favorite line of the night was Dougal’s response. “The thought of grinding your corn does tickle me.” But it’s not Dougal she will marry…..It’s Jamie.

 

Sitting on a log and reading the marriage contract Claire is interrupted by Jamie. He’s fairly subdued, but he isn’t unhappy about marrying Claire. She asks if he cares that she isn’t a virgin. He gives her a slightly bashful look and says no. He asks if she minds that he is. And adds that someone must know what their doing. Claire’s face is priceless here. She’s shocked and a little intrigued by his admission.

So, because of Frank’s ancestor, Black Jack Randall, Claire must marry another man…Think on that…

Tonight, The Wedding